I promised a New Vegas review, and dammit, I’ll deliver one.
If Dave Bowman had piloted his craft into a giant copy of New Vegas instead of a floating monolith, his final words would not have been, “Oh my God, it’s full of stars.”
It would have been, “Oh my God, it’s full of bugs.”
Check out any message board about New Vegas on any of the gaming sites and the following words jump out at you — glitch, freeze, bug, crash, and “argh”.
New Vegas is actually a very entertaining game to play, though. For those of you who played Fallout 3, I really don’t have much to tell you — the game is basically Fallout 3: 2 — We Kinda Screwed Up.
You take the role of a Courier for the Mojave Express who is shot in the head and left for dead by a mysterious little cabal. The main quest involves figuring out why you were treated this way. It’s not quite as engrossing as Fallout 3‘s “Project Purity” storyline, but it works pretty well.
The engine is the same. The graphics are the same. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before. For those unfamiliar with the Fallout series, the game takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, which was preceded by a sort of “alternate timeline” where society basically never emerged from the 1950s.
V.A.T.S. (Vault-Assisted Targeting System) returns, which makes the game play a bit more like the RPG it’s supposed to be than a plain shooter. It’s definitely more RPG than Borderlands is. Still, there’s a lot of fun action to be had.
For those of you hoping this game would take place amid the glistening glory of the Vegas Strip, I have bad news — you don’t even get to New Vegas without a good 20 hours or so of gameplay in the Mojave Wasteland surrounding it. And it’s not easy getting in, once you get there — I’m trying to keep this spoiler-free, however.
Fallout has often been described as “Oblivion with guns”, referring to Bethesda’s other epic RPG. It’s a bit more than that, it really is. It’s a whole different universe, carefully crafted, carefully maintained.
New things in New Vegas include: A more complex Karma system, standings with different “Factions” within the Wasteland, and here’s the big one — “Hardcore” mode.
Hardcore mode is not a level above hard. You can play the game on “easy” hardcore mode, or “hard” hardcore mode, whatever floats your boat. And you can play the game without hardcore mode altogether (which is what I opted to do). For serious Fallout fans, Hardcore mode is a lot of fun. It adds new meters to your character and basically turns you into a Sim of sorts — you have to get enough sleep, you have to get enough water, Stimpacks heal over time and not instantly…and so on. The game takes ample space to warn you before you choose to go out in Hardcore mode or not.
Other essential Fallout standards remain the same. Excellent voice acting. Some fun Easter Eggs, if you choose the “Wild Wasteland” trait (I said “trait”, not “perk”). The level cap has been set to 30, but you only get “perks” (carefully scripted enhancements to your character, RPG-style) every two levels, as opposed to every level.
As I said, it’s a fun game. Here’s what’s not so fun about it: Despite a patch out for the console systems, and two patches out for the PC already, the game is, as mentioned earlier, coded like a hunk of dung. What they seem to have done is overloaded the engine with simply too much stuff. For instance, one of the new things in New Vegas is the ability to take a companion with you. Unfortunately, a lot of the time these companions fall through the map, disappear, or otherwise get glitched. Quests are often glitched. When moving through the vast map, there is a lot of stuttering and occasionally a 2-3 second freeze, and, a little rarer, a complete and total freeze that will force you to reboot your system completely.
So here’s my advice: if you like Fallout games, get New Vegas, get the patch (or patches), and save every other frickin’ minute. Save all the time. Make sure you have multiple save files backing you up. Cuz this game will crash on you, mark my words, no matter what platform you’re playing it on.
I’m giving Fallout: New Vegas a 7.5/10. If future patches clear up more bugs, consider it an 8. If there were no glitches at all, I might even hazard to give it a 9/10. But this is a fundamentally flawed game and, unfortunately, you end up feeling a lot like Obsidian’s beta tester.