Fallout 3 was my GOTY in a strong year. It had a lasting impact proving that Bethesda could turn its corporate hand to a previously adored franchise by blending the best of the originals with their own engine creating a killer RPG.
Now Bethesda have handed the game to Obsidian, pleasing original Fallout
fans because the original Fallout
devs have their hands on it again. Itís a full game, keeping the same first-person viewpoint and a lot of the features from Fallout 3
such as the engine, SPECIALS, VATS weapons system, trading and, Iím afraid, the dialogue option system.
Fallout 3: New Vegas
leaves me in trouble as a reviewer though. Itís not a dip-in, write-up type of game. Hence, this is your insight into my review. It's a pre-review. It is, like Fallout 3
, one that you lose yourself in; totally immersive, impressive and somehow important. Because of that (and here comes my admission) even though Iíve levelled up three times and played a good couple of eveningsí worth, Iíve barely scratched the surface.
It just makes me feel a bit guilty. What if New Vegas
is like GTA IV
and the first few missions are great before it steadily grinds itself down into meaninglessness? Hence the admission. Iíve not got out of Goodsprings yet, but I want to tell you all what Iíve seen and, hopefully, let you finish the story yourself.
The town of Goodsprings is named after the pure, rad-free water flowing just a short distance from the town. It is clear and restores health readily: highly important when, if you play in Hardcore mode as I did, not even Stimpaks can save you. The medicinal water is also completely free! Well, if you can kill the posse of mutated geckos which, like little raptors, are utterly bloodthirsty and not nearly as cute as they would at first appear, it is.
Goodsprings is your Megaton if, I suppose, you didnít blow Megaton up, you sick fuck. It has a saloon, which is open 24/7 and unmanned for half those hours (Iím just saying!); a kindly doctor with some useful and unattended medical supplies (what?) and a supplies store with a good selection of guns and bullets and 800-odd caps available in return for such seeming trash as mandibles, glands and hide. What he does with them, Iím not asking. So long as you keep a neutral reputation there, it seems, youíll have a bolt hole should it all go tits up on the strip.
Blue Sky Thinking
In terms of appearance, thereís not much to comment on until you get outside of the doctorís house where youíve woken up. But when you do...thereís...I donít know how to tell you this...blue sky! Grass! (albeit in patches) cacti and flowers! You can collect them and make food for yourself by the campfire!
It is strikingly different from the Capital Wasteland of Fallout 3
. Thus the spray-painted messages in empty caravans declaring the loneliness and desperation of their erstwhile occupants seem weirdly melodramatic in a way that they didnít in the ruins of DC. Sympathy is harder to come by when basking in the daylight, drinking pure water, knowing that a few miles away are casinos, law and order (of a sort) and electricity.
Although the game systems are reassuringly familiar, thereís plenty to reinvigorate that anxiousness to get exploring: a chance for a new character with a new skill set (particularly useful for my friend Loki whoíd fully skilled up in melee and had to quit soon after he met his first super mutant with a Fat Man); new traits such as Small Frame which makes you agile, but more likely to be limb-crippled; Four Eyes which gives heightened perception whenever you wear glasses; and Wild Wasteland, unfolding the bizarre and silly elements of the game (the one I plumped for).
Unfortunately something has been lost in the quality of the graphics. Textures on buildings look fine from a distance but are a mess close up, the cutscene at the beginning seems to be acted by Action Men, and everything in the wasteland looks weirdly superimposed. This is a shame, but not enough of a problem to make Fallout 3: New Vegas
unplayable by any means.
Roaming can start pretty quickly and in Goodsprings alone there are some interesting finds: a theme park over-run with convicts; gang members you can kill, purloin their clothes thereby infiltrating yourself into the larger gang; a caravan with a new radio station set inside and numerous new and old creatures to kill including coyotes who, while not friendly, wonít attack unless threatened.
When I reached the cemetery on the outskirts of town I climbed the hill and saw the lights of the Vegas strip for the first time. The sun was setting and streaking the sky with pink and purple and a few sarsaparilla bottles tinkled at my feet, indicating that, not long ago, a group of teens sat on this hill, partying silhouetted against the neon, or perhaps a young couple sat in this spot to hold hands and dream of moving to the big lights of the city. At any rate, when a game gets you like that, it must be worth playing. I canít wait to find out what happens next.
The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and does not reflect those of SPOnG.com except when it does.
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