Fallout: New Vegas Review

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Graphics: 7.0
Sound : 7.5
Gameplay : 7.0
Multiplayer : N/A
Overall : 7.0
Review by Chris Matel
Sometimes to convey an emotion you just have to go with a gut reaction. Often times they might not be verbose or composed of deep explanation, but in their brevity they're usually expressively succinct. Think of the scenario like a reasoning test. In this case:

Fallout: New Vegas :: samey 

Simply put, Obsidian Entertainment makes their debut in the Fallout universe with little innovation over the franchise's Bethesda undertaking. New Vegas once again offers players hours of becoming sidetracked with tertiary quests in its RPG setup; getting lost in its open-world, irradiated wasteland; and scavenging through an endless amount of seemingly worthless props, spying evermore glints in your periphery. It's just an all too familiar experience that ultimately shows off the game's weakest aspects.

The main deviating and most appreciable feature to New Vegas, however, is its dissolution of the emergence storyline. This time around you're not a Vault dweller stepping foot unto the post-Global Thermonuclear War landscape. You've lived this before and it's something Obsidian know. Three years in the future and in the Southwest, Vaults are portals for intrigue as your choose-a-face courier hunts down those who kept him from making a drop-off, by putting a bullet to his brain. New Vegas is comfortable in the world Fallout 3 created, which allows for more room to explore a story with a grander fiction. Ultimately, the relationships you foster with different factions play a big part in shaping your character's relevance to the struggle between the New California Republic and Caesar's Legion, and New Vegas in general.

Hidden beneath the game's numerous bugs, to-and-fro pacing issues, and overall unattractiveness lays an intriguing adventure full of twisting and crisscrossing possibilities—but as you decide whom you'd like to be buddy-buddy with, in order to extrapolate your character's real contribution to the game, you're often forced to watch more than play. Like 2008's hit, New Vegas is an action-RPG, but most of your time is spent walking around: to NPCs to initiate a mission; to somewhere directed in order to flip a switch or talk to someone else; and to get back to the mission giver so you can reap your experience points. It's not an unusual formula, but the actual action part is lighter fare; there's more town crawling than dungeon. At times, you'll see more of the loading screens than enemies as you travel to your destination.

If you want to spice up the slow and convoluted pace of the game you could try the new “Hardcore” mode. True enough, the experience lives up to the title as fatigue and the necessity to keep your character hydrated and fed cause you to balance your priorities. Worrying about how addicted to medication your adventurer is, because he ate too much radioactive food to stay satiated, is a task for the Fallout diehard-faithful. Weighted ammunition only adds to a micromanagement headache, but it's a challenge mode for a reason.

Some other tweaks to companion interaction here and the ability to play apothecary with vegetation picked in the world there aren't as impactful additions. You can also modify your weapons with parts plucked up from OCD tendencies, but this option, too, is as trivial as me glossing over the ability.

Where New Vegas loses face like a feral ghoul, though, is in its presentation—it's just not interesting to wander through. There are a few highlight locales with their landmarks, and the Lucky 38's tower is a faraway beacon that guides you back to the Strip's untouched haven, but without an update to the game's infrastructure, bland textures, slogging framerates and a whole host of animation and clipping bugouts detract even more from an already muted color palate.

As you pick your way through the Mojave Wasteland and into New Vegas, Inon Zur's soundtrack at least keeps you immersed in the desolate, mutated frontier. When you do run into action, audio cues slip seamlessly in and out of one another; you never feel disconnected from what's going on in the game. The same can't be said for the voice talent, unfortunately. Be it the headlining talent, or the workhorse actors playing multiple parts (noticeably), nearly all involved in reading scripts sound uninterested in what they have to say.  

Wade through the nostalgia for a moment and think about your time with Fallout 3. It may not have been a technically perfect game, but it hit many of those rudimentary role-playing marks in a large, open wasteland shaped by your actions—not to mention it successively brought the franchise to console players. 2008 was a standup year for Fallout. However, since then, we've seen better, more refined games push those action-RPG boundaries further. New Vegas is a proclaimed non-sequel, and it shows. By bringing little else new to the experience and with it being as buggy as ever, New Vegas could have been adequate as a smaller-sized expansion disc. Instead, it's a game where the play clock is measured in time spent plodding through loading screens and not actually doing much.

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