Friday, November 21, 2014

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Fallout: New Vegas"

...really? I didn't review this when it came out? Really? I'm beginning to think I'm slacking or something. Anyway, some might remember that I covered the various DLCs for New Vegas before this point, but never the actual vanilla game itself.  Well, with the lack of a steady income once again (as life continues to giggle and make an employment yo-yo out of me), I did find myself coming back to the game once again. And why? It's basically Fallout 3 as far as mechanics go.  Sure, there were some changes in the skills and how they're implemented (not all for the better as I covered in that review), but apart from that...that's it.

Oh...a Hardcore feature, you say? More immersive, you say? How interesting, let me...

Oh, wait, no...no, not really.  Don't get me wrong, I praise Bethesda and Obsidian for putting in a feature that is - more often than not - forgotten entirely in RPGs, but...well, if doesn't help with the immersion of the game to any degree, at least not for me.  I think honestly it would have been helped without the little prompt with the Vault Boy informing me that I'm dehydrated or that I haven't had enough sleep, perhaps just the in-game effects? Though I suppose I could understand some complaining about suddenly having to go to the Pip-Boy to find out what in particular is wrong with the character. Also, trying to wave an achievement in front of me for completing it holds no appeal, sorry.

However, where New Vegas really shines for me is the story.  Much more complex than Fallout 3, incorporating shades of gray in as opposed to the very cut and dried black and white of its predecessor.  Your character is a Courier for the Mojave Express, commissioned by an enigmatic employer to deliver a Platinum Chip to them in the city of New Vegas.  However, an up and comer decides he'd be better off having it and puts a bullet in your head for your trouble, only for you to be saved by a cowboy robot and a skillful wasteland doctor.

From there, it's off to New Vegas via the long route (seriously, please try going in a straight line. It will amuse me) to find the man who shot you in the head, discover the purpose of the Platinum Chip, and maybe...just maybe rule over all of Vegas.  Yes, Virginia, you can become Lord (or Lady) of the Vegas Strip and all the lands around.  How so? By not picking one of the other three potential endings. Vegas is, currently, the battleground between two of the biggest names of the Wasteland - the New California Republic, or NCR, and Caesar's Legion.

In the First Battle of Hoover Dam, the NCR repelled Caesar's Legion back over the Colorado River...but Caesar isn't willing to give up without a fight, and is massing his well named army on the other side of the river in preparation for another, much larger assault on the NCR and New Vegas. Within the city itself, however, the illustrious Mr. House has gathered three families of Tribals to him and has secured Vegas with an army of...well, Securitrons, large robots with TV faces depicting soldiers.  Cold, efficient, and utterly dead...and also, all yours for the price of one dead body!

The game eventually comes down to a Second Battle of Hoover Dam, where the NCR and the Legion clash for the Mojave.  The player can choose to side with either one of those two powers, with Mr. House, or be a greedy bastard and just take it all yourself to make Vegas truly independent.  What I like about this is - of course - the options and the fact that there's really no right answer.  Much like I praised Far Cry 3 for its ending choices, I praise New Vegas on the same merit because there really is no right answer.  There are shades of gray with every choice, and there's no way to have a wholly good or a wholly bad ending.

If the player joins up with Mr. House, Vegas becomes independent and protected against both the NCR and the Legion.  The streets, however, seem to lose much of the life they once held, cold and orderly under the watchful gaze of the Securitrons and House himself.  Joining the NCR will see New Vegas annexed by the republic, which gains them a great deal of protection but also puts them under the heavy burden of the taxes of a government they may never get full representation in.  Joining the Legion will see the Mojave brought order at last...whether it likes it or not and regardless of how many bodies it takes to get there.  And, of course, there's the option of killing House and taking it all for yourself, making Vegas truly independent from outside influence...

But freedom itself is a heavy burden, and chaos happens quite a bit in the downfall of those in power.

And that's not even touching the complete and utter buffet of side quests that can add so many different variables into how the endings play out.  But, needless to say, even for the most dedicated and consummate of players, there's really no way to have your cake and eat it too.  Also, there's no post-game content, which is rather depressing.

It had been hoped that Bethesda and company might cave and give some, but they've stood by their belief that there shouldn't be any, and I respect that. New Vegas didn't have the same sudden ending that Fallout 3 did, so it feels a great deal less cheap.  And, with great fortune, the game does actually have your game before accepting the chance to fight at Hoover Dam, so the player can go back and take care of any pre-battle business that needs taking care of.  So while it does kind of bum me that post-battle content isn't there, I can live with it.

And that's really all there is to say.  It's Fallout 3 with the same engines, same graphics, but with some different mechanics and an altogether better story than its predecessor.  And the fact was that I couldn't complain about Fallout 3, and I definitely can't complain about New Vegas.  It's a worthy entry into the series and a pretty awesome game to boot.  What's not to love?

...oh, and for those of you wondering why I'm not reviewing Dragon Age: Inquisition...alas, Christmas.  That is all.

Fallout:  New Vegas is now available from Bethesda Softworks and Obsidian for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC.

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