As I wandered through the wasteland of the greater Las Vegas region, I killed hundreds of gang members, insane slavers, a litany of mutated creatures, looted houses abandoned after the nuclear war of 2077, helped the poor & downtrodden, met a gang of Elvis impersonators, and sought revenge for the bullet in my skullâ€¦
And God help me, I canâ€™t help but go back for more.
Fallout New Vegas is developer Obsidianâ€™s hand at the Fallout franchise, specifically using the first-person method Bethesda used in my personal favorite game of 2008: Fallout 3. To their benefit, Obsidian added a couple of nice touches to the controls, most notably the inclusion of iron sight-style targeting. Though it doesnâ€™t always help, it feels more realistic than the extra zoom with the reticule of Fallout 3. Additionally they made the up button on the d-pad the default for switching your ammo types, so you can quickly go from an armor-piercing round to head exploderific hollow points. Itâ€™s little things like this that really improve the gameplay of New Vegas from where it was in Fallout 3, and itâ€™s the little things that make New Vegas so great.
Obsidian did an excellent job bringing a post-apocalyptic Vegas environment to life. The technology and structures are made in the traditional Fallout fashion: based very much on the drawings & ideas of where the future would be as imagined by 1950s America. The countryside is mostly desolate desert with a few highways and small towns dotting the landscape, but the pervading sense of gloom is constant. The Vegas strip somewhat survived the nuclear war and still has a few operating casinos, each with their own theme. Gomorrah is a den of sin, while The Tops is staffed by a group of Rat Pack-style guys, and the Ultra-Luxe is a high-class yet somehow unsettling locale. Even without the glitz and glamor of Vegas, the surrounding towns have their own unique personalities as well, and are likewise filled with great characters that make the game shine.
The biggest joy of the game comes from the interactions with the denizens of the Mohave. I struck up a conversation with a sniper perched in a giant dinosaur statue, and ended up helping him exact revenge on the person who made his wife disappear. I helped a man composed of computer screens in his efforts to regain the cargo I started the game with (and lost in the event when I got my head wound). I got to converse with the worldâ€™s most helpful robot, who spilled his bossâ€™ plans to take over and happily said that it would have been smarter to program him to only help the boss. These three are just a small sampling of the very different and interesting characters youâ€™ll meet in your huge quest across the Mohave, all of whom are fantastically written & realized.
The voicework and other audio work in the game is equally great. New Vegas has a fair bit of star power behind it, including Matthew Perry (Friends), Michael Dorn (Star Trek: The Next Generation), and Danny Trejo (From Dusk til Dawn). To their great credit, I could barely tell it was them; I think it always speaks highly when a well-known actor can pull off solid voice acting. Meanwhile Wayne Newton, known appropriately in the game as Mr. New Vegas, is the DJ for the radio station playing hits from Rat Pack members Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, along with Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, and others.Â The gameâ€™s original soundtrack is also well composed, with a generally foreboding and hopeless theme playing through much of the wasteland, and some truly imposing themes while in the ruins & more dangerous locales.
Despite all the greatness in the title, it does have a few problems. Though the wasteland is well-made and properly gloomy, the human charactersâ€™ movement and facial expressions are fairly wooden and could have used updating since Fallout 3. The game also has some serious bug issues that are being fixed, though are annoying when encountered. Sometimes youâ€™ll see enemies falling into the scenery or stuck in parts of it; it certainly makes killing them easier, but it definitely takes away from the experience. The game also freezes at times for no real reason, so youâ€™ll want to save your game often.
Even with those issues present, Fallout New Vegas is an outstanding title. Post-apocalyptic life has rarely been so enjoyable. Now if youâ€™ll excuse me, I have some mutated scorpions to snipe.
Overall: 9.25/10 ï»¿