New Vegas is a league away from its predecessor with a much better palette, a greater diversity of environments. The graphics engine has been tweaked a little and delivers a better experience all-round. There are some higher textures for many of the exterior environments and interiors as well as the characters themselves. They look better than their Fo3 counterparts and whilst there arenít as many NPCís as in Fo3, it doesnít matter since they all have a better sense of individual personality. The day/night cycle and the lighting effects in the Wasteland are the King of the Castle here with excellent transitions and some truly moody design.
It all combines to bring to life the post-apocalyptic world with a gritty (somewhat forlorn) and desolate atmosphere.Animations
The animations seem to have remained unchanged from Fallout 3, perhaps appearing somewhat smoother this time around and more fluid. King again is the excellent reactions from characters and enemies struck by critical shots and so on in VATS. You can get some truly vicious cinematic moments and takedowns, which are pretty slick if you like that kind of thing.Physics
On the whole the physics works pretty well, enemies are thrown around or blown to bouncing bits...by explosions. It ties in nicely to the animations via VATS or first person combat and works well now in melee to lend a real feeling of weight to hand weapon based battles.AI
A mixed bag, there are some pathing issues with companions still and even some of the enemies get stuck on the scenery. Itís passable but needs a lot of fixing to truly shine.Sound
The sound is very atmospheric and very spooky at times, especially when travelling at night in the game. It has a good mix of spot and ambient effects, along with weapon sounds and the various screams of agony for the bad guys.Music
The music boasts fully licensed tracks from artists like: Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Along with a score that compliments the in-game action and exploration perfectly, with a far more desolate feel to it along with a little bit of a Wild West vibe. Itís the perfect soundtrack for the game and brings to life the Wasteland as you move around, both unexpected and eerie at times.Voice & Dialogue
On the whole the voice work is solid in the game, the characters donít sound cookie-cutter as they did in Fallout 3 and they certainly have a more believable personality. One of my favourites so far is definitely Sunny Smiles. The VO artists deliver their lines with a good deal of polish this time around. Itís nice to hear the gravely tones of Ron Pearlman deliver his: War never changes speech.
The writing/dialogue is actually pretty good too, it doesnít have the same feel as Fallout 3 and the story in general is better.Bugs and Glitches
There are some game breakers, or there were, it seems that the patch has actually managed to fix lock-ups in the wait/sleep screen, as well as numerous other little bugs. Still I discovered a few minor ones as I witnessed a key NPC floating through the ceiling suspended between floors, requiring my character to leap on a table to talk to him. Iíve also seen characters standing inside objects like the bar in the Goodsprings Saloon.
Before the patch it locked up a couple of times and there were some dialogue/animation bugs. Worth remembering if you canít get an update, if youíre not on Live for instance.Quite a Gamble
Regardless of the little bugs and glitches, this is a better game than 3 due to the atmosphere, attention to detail and the amount of fun you can have. I would also dare to say that this is a far more direct sequel to Fallout and Fallout 2 than 3 was...and I donít think Iím alone in that sentiment. Thereís a lot to do in this game and thereís a lot of hidden content if you can find it...
It deserves a high score even when you encounter the odd little glitch, because it truly is a good quality gaming experience thatís bound to keep you coming back to the Wasteland for more and more. With promised DLC on the way (for the 360) the future looks bright for the Vegas Strip and I canít wait to get back out there.
See you in the Wasteland amigos!