Ain’t That a Kick in the Head? : Fallout New Vegas Review

I recently became obsessed with the Fallout universe, and with the recent release of Fallout New Vegas, I immediately knew I wanted to experience more of the greatness that was Fallout 3.  So, does New Vegas continue to keep my attention within the Fallout universe, or did it go bust?  Find out more in my full review after the jump.

Fallout New Vegas is actually less traditional than the usually Fallout entry.  Instead of beginning your life in a Vault, the protagonist [The Courier] is actually already an adult living in the wasteland of the Mojave Desert.  After being attacked during a delivery, you are shot in the head by a man in a very tacky suit, and your valuable package is stolen.  Thus begins your adventure to track down and retrieve the package, after being rescued by a robot that thinks it’s a cowboy.

To be honest, the plot isn’t as linear as Fallout 3 was.  From about the 3rd or 4th hour in the game, you knew exactly what was going to happen towards the end of the game, and knew which side you were going to be a part of.  Fallout New Vegas doesn’t do this.  The amount of possibilities within the main story is staggering, to say the least.  There are a number of factions that you can align yourself with [from mysterious “Oz-like” billionaire in New Vegas, to the remnants of the Brotherhood of Steel, and so on], and each faction can end up with a completely different ending, or you can go independent as the “wild card” and make the entire Mojave your personal playworld.

I was very impressed with the player-directed nature of the game.  We can quite literally [for once] actually choose the game’s fate and the fate of the entire western part of the United States, without there being obvious limitations or petty “Sorry.  This isn’t the ending we wanted you to choose, so please prepare to be shot out of a cannon and into the sun”.

The people of the Mojave Wasteland, which was lacking in Fallout 3, all seem to have a unique personality, and the differing voice actors helped to make each experience and interaction unique and fun.

The combat aspect of the game is almost a direct copy/paste from Fallout 3, with just a few minor tweaks here and there for the better.

V.A.T.S no longer has a damage reduction, and can therefore be used more freely.  Although, the aiming view has been massively improved, so V.A.T.S. isn’t as necessary as it once was.

Any and all characters that are cooperating with you can be more easily controlled.  Applying a stimpack or swapping inventory is no longer a massive reading quest through a huge number of menus in a conversation screen.

Speaking of cooperating characters, most of them have undergone a nice amount of training, and has better survival instincts than the first game.  Many of them also have a better weapons and ability to actually help you.  Fallout 3 cooperating characters weren’t horrible, but New Vegas really does a nice job of keeping them alive.  I’ve had the same 2 supporting characters for nearly 60% of the main story, and the other 40% was before I was able to recruit them.  Needless to say, I’m fairly impressed with this regard.

Weapons can now be upgraded/modified, and there is special ammunition to use in special circumstances [armor piercing, silent bullets, ect].  However, I’ve yet to actually be able to afford more than 1-2 modifications, but the new ammo is actually an interesting aspect.

Leveling up is a sadder tale, however.  The tradition “skill points”  and assigning skill points into whatever type of character you wish to have, makes a return, and I enjoy this method of leveling up as much as I did in Fallout 3.  However, perks are only granted at every other level.  Considering the HUGE number of perks, and the necessity of a lot of perks to make any kind of useful character, I’m somewhat disappointed with.  It adds a difficulty to the game, which some could view as necessary [the game is fairly easy, as is], but I wasn’t an overly huge fan.  This mostly comes from the fact that it removes the ability to choose the more “humorous” perks, and limits us to only choosing the necessary perks.

Another important aspect I enjoyed is the fact that money and equipment are much easier to come across.  Quests now reward with a lot more caps than Fallout 3 did, and with a high investment in “Barter” you can easily get more bang for your buck.  This makes the game MUCH more user friendly, and much more enjoyable now that we can afford ammunition and clothing!

Side quests have always been a critical part of the Fallout world.  With almost DOUBLE the number of side quests in Fallout 3, and the fact that they’re ridiculously simple to find in New Vegas, this game can last you for several months.

I specifically remember an instance on my 3rd day of game play, where I arrived at the town of Freeside, and I spent nearly my entire 6 hours of playing that day  just getting through the basic side quests in this ONE town.  I eventually had to ditch the remainder of the quests, so I could be able to finish the main quest and write this review!

Needless to say, if you enjoy LONG games with a lot of items to complete, this is definitely your game!  Since I had to rush through the main game in order to write my review, I plan on restarting the game and playing through it all over again.  I can list the number of games that I would do this with on my hands and feet.

The side quests just make the entire game FUN, and with the different character developments, you can have entirely different conclusions to each quest.

You may or may not have heard about the huge number of glitches within Fallout New Vegas, but let me confirm that these are definitely true.

I kept a rolling tally of my game crash/freezes that required a hard re-boot of my Playstation 3.  As of this morning, the count was at 23.  I can also report a lot of stuttering and rendering issues that causes a minor delay when walking long distances.  A good friend of mine [who has the PC version] has reported a great deal of stuttering, which makes long-range sniping almost impossible.  Thankfully, the PC version is getting a nice patch, but console gamers are going to be a tad more frustrated for a while longer.

I can completely understand that gigantic environments like Fallout New Vegas will have bugs/glitches here and there.  But in the case, it’s a game-breaking aspect.  Thankfully, the game’s auto-save feature will make losses minimal, but it’s still flow-breaking and annoying to lose several minutes to hours of work, and have to turn off/on the console.  This is something that big-name companies should really have fixed before a massive release.  Would we let Square Enix or Ninendo get away with this?  No!  Fallout’s developers are professional, and they should act as such.

Some have mentioned that the glitches aren’t as bad, and others have mentioned that it’s as bad as I’m describing.  Ironically enough, the game’s main theme of “luck” seems to apply.

______________________

Pros

+  Updated Gameplay/Combat

+  Fantastic level of player control in both plot and quests.

+  Side Quest Depth and Volume

Cons

– VERY familiar to the Capital Wasteland

– Bugs/Glitches make the game painful at times.

– Leveling perks removed at each level up

Score:  9.5/10

[Edited:  10/24 to fit proper format]

9 thoughts on “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head? : Fallout New Vegas Review”

  1. Good review! I really love this game, even more than Fallout 3, still haven’t played Fallout 1 and 2, but I have them, one day I’ll take the time and play them

  2. I mostly agree with the review. I however, would not give the game a 9.5 I have a PS3 and if I didn’t know better I would swear that I was playing a first iteration beta version. The damn game locks up on me multiple times every day. Once they fix the amateurish I would give the game a 10 until then I would give it a 5. The number of bugs is egregious; many of the bugs should have been caught. I guess deadlines trumped quality with this one. This is a major software company, I expect much better from them.

    “Like the sailor said, quote, ‘Ain’t that a hole in the boat?’” The line comes from an old Dean Martin song. The lyrics are posted on the internet if anyone is interested.
    I still don’t get what a kick in the head has to do with a love song?

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