Ah, good stuff, good stuff. If it weren’t for Red Dead Redemption I think this would be my game of the year. I’ve always been a fan of the Fallout series and its post-apocalyptic roleplaying stylings, leavened with a rare sense of ironic humour. I thought the direct precursor to this, Fallout 3, was a crashing success, and New Vegas is very much the same recipe, all in all, but moved from post-nuclear Washington and surrounds to post-nuclear Vegas and surrounds.
Initially, I’ve got to say, I wasn’t sure it would really satisfy. The opening is a little underwhelming compared to the iconic emergence from the Vault in Fallout 3. The wildey westey feel they’ve given this outing seemed a little jarring, and I’m still not sure that was necessarily a great move. But the more you play it, the more you realise they’ve made a lot of improvements. The system is very much the same but seems sharper, more responsive. I couldn’t really play Fallout 3 as a First Person Shooter, New Vegas I just about can. The array of weaponry is considerably bigger than ever, with all manner of modifications and ammo types available. They’ve added an interesting hardcore mode which makes things more ‘realistic’, with ammo having weight, water and food levels needing constant attention and wounds healing only gradually.
But it’s the game world that has really been fine-tuned. Things are a good deal more civilised and organised than in Fallout 3, with many more people around and those people organised into a range of factions which you can support or oppose as suits you, the central plot moving in different directions according to the friends you make. It’s by no means perfect, and some of the desperate feel of the end of the world which was so great about previous outings has been lost, but it’s probably the best effort I’ve seen at making a living, developing world in an RPG.
It’s also absolutely massive. I mean, Fallout 3 was big but this feels a lot bigger, and with its many different factions and play styles you can imagine there’s heaps of replay potential if you really wanted it. I think I logged somewhere around 75 hours on it, and didn’t pick the bones by any means. That’s BIG.
On the downside, it’s also pretty buggy. Occasional mismatched bits of dialogue and broken quests are probably inevitable and certainly forgivable in a game so big and with so many different possibilities. The frequent hangings and loading flops are less forgivable. The difficulty level also seems a little patchy – you can recruit suprisingly effective companions to greatly increase your firepower, and after a certain point I was rarely finding myself in trouble. Probably should have had the guts to try that hardcore mode. Maybe the next time I have 75 hours spare I’ll run through it again. I sure can think of worse ways to spend the time…