Viva New Vegas

Welcome to New Vegas!

To say that I’m a big fan of Fallout and Fallout 2 is an understatement. Both of these games really set the standards on how a great computer role-playing game should be. For that, I worshiped these games, treating them as if they were sacred and gunned down every naysayers like they were blasphemers. Their developer, Black Isle Studios, I also followed religiously. So when news came to me that Black Isle was permanently closing shop, and the Van Buren project (supposedly Fallout 3) scrapped with it, I almost threw a tantrum at my school’s library.

News of Bethesda taking over the Fallout franchise didn’t help either. In fact, back then, I’d rather have Fallout dead than let some other developer make it. But, of course, the game turned out just fine. While it didn’t gave me what I wanted, it gave me what I needed: A first-person view so I could explore the retro-futuristic wasteland up close and in detail. Now, two years after the release of Fallout 3, Bethesda hands the reins of Fallout to Obsidian (a studio that consists of ex-Black Isle employees). I have to say this is the best decision Bethesda made since Morrowind.

One of the things I love about Fallout: New Vegas is its story. Unlike other Fallout games, you won’t start out as a vault-dweller in here. Instead, you’ll begin as a courier, freshly murdered by a mysterious man and his gang. Hell bent to find your killers, you set out on a trek after being revived in the town of Goodsprings. What starts out as a quest for personal reasons will expand into a bigger story, as you get swept into events and meet new factions along your journey, that will eventually decide the fate of New Vegas.

Since the team behind this game also made Fallout 1 & 2, the lore and feel of the original games are palpable in New Vegas, making it a part of the universe’s continuity than Fallout 3 ever was. You’ll meet people here, settlers from NCR that came from places like Broken Hills or Shady Sands, and they will chat about some of the events that happened in the first two games, giving you a dose of nostalgia. New Vegas also have a lot of wacky stuff in it –a gang of Elvis impersonators and space traveling ghouls to name a few– a trademark of the franchise which I sorely missed in Fallout 3.

The gameplay in New Vegas hasn’t changed much. There are some additions but only a few are of note. Namely, the “Hardcore” mode and the Caravan. The hardcore mode doesn’t really make the game more difficult. Instead, it will make the game a bit more realistic. When turned on, you’ll experience fatigue, hunger and thirst, all of which bestows negative buffs. So you’ll need to rest, nourish and hydrate to counter those effects. The Caravan is a side game, a card game, which you can play with NPCs throughout the wasteland. I haven’t played much of it though. Other than that, it still has all the goods that Fallout 3 has, like the VATS and a huge map to explore.

But with all the fun I had playing this game, it’s far from being perfect. New Vegas, this town is plagued with bugs. Luckily, I didn’t encounter any of the major ones –like the one that corrupts save files or the one that causes show stopping crashes– as reported by many gamers. But I experienced low frame rates. Especially in some interior areas of the game. I did encounter a lot of minor bugs though, like the missing companion bug and some others that halts the progress of your quests.

Even with its fair share of bugs and other technical misgivings, Fallout: New Vegas is still one of the best games I’ve played this year. Its developers, both the old (Obsidian, aka ex-Black Isle) and the new (Bethesda), really came together on this game. The result of both developers’ efforts is an astounding post-apocalyptic game. The story is epic, the hardcore mode adds a bit of realism, the VATS is still fun to use and the huge map will leave you breathless. This game is definitely a huge contender for “Game of the Year” award.

Score: A-


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