The star of Fallout: New Vegas is an unfortunate courier. He (or she) was tasked with delivering a platinum chip. Except some jerk in a hideous checkerboard tuxedo shot the courier in the head, stole the chip and left the body in a shallow grave. Fortunately, a cowboy robot named Victor found the courier and brought him/her to the town of Goodsprings. Now the courier sets off on a New Vegas altering quest to recover the chip and get revenge.
Fallout: New Vegas is a mission-based, action RPG with some sandbox elements. Right from the beginning of the game you can go anywhere and pretty much do anything you want. Depending on choices you make, some missions may become available or others may not. You can be good, evil or neutral.
Like Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas retains the V.A.T.S. system that allows people who aren’t fantastic at shooters or fans of active combat to slow things down and make it more like a standard, turn-based RPG. You pull it up with R2, and the game will automatically lock on the nearest target. Cycling through is done with the right analog stick and choosing targets (head/limbs/torso/weapons) on an enemy is done with the left analog stick. You get a certain number of action points that determine how many times you can attack. There are even certain perks that make your V.A.T.S. aim better, give you more AP to use in it, reward you with AP for kills or makes Miss Fortune or the Mysterious Stranger show up to help in battle.
Speaking of perks, they can open up dialogue choices, make survival easier, and give you opportunities to collect more. Each perk has requirements, you may need a certain level or stats to unlock them. But once you do, it definitely enhances your experience. My favorites were the Black Widow, Mysterious Stranger, Action Girl, Silent Running and Explorer perks.
In a way, the Explorer perk is almost a necessity. Fallout: New Vegas covers a massive area. There are plenty of areas of interest, towns and other buildings begging to be explored, and (maybe) raided. If you choose this perk, it shows where every location is on the map so you don’t have to guess. Since all traveling is done by foot here unless you use fast travel to visit a location you’ve already been to, it helps to see places you could go. You can’t go into all buildings, but most can be explored and are filled with trinkets and treasures. Or gigantic ants.
There’s also a massive focus on relations between factions in Fallout: New Vegas. From the moment you come back from the dead, people are forming opinions of you. So you have to be very conscious of your actions and how you treat people. One slip and you may accidentally make Caesar’s Legion very, very mad. (Like I did.) The game makes you think about how you should or shouldn’t treat people.
It also means you can sometimes exploit faction tensions. For example, there was a side quest (I can’t recall the title) found in Nipton where you can set free two Powder Gangers captured by Caesar’s Legion. I wasn’t on bad terms with the Legion when I found it, so I didn’t want to set the captives free and risk being attacked. Instead, I did the Cold, Cold Heart mission, then returned to the Legion camp. Suddenly NCR troopers popped up to attack the Legion. So while they fought it out, I saved the Powder Gangers and completed the quest.
You also have to be careful about which companions you have with you too, since they might inadvertently ruin your reputation. Boone is an former member of the NCR, and will go after any of Caesar’s Legion. He also won’t like you if you are friendly with the Legion or disliked by the NCR. There are plenty of available companions though, and you can have two with you at a time (one humanoid, one not), so as long as you plan ahead, you’ll be fine.
Don’t expect to get too close to your Fallout: New Vegas companions though. After you complete their side mission (if they have one) and talk to them once, you’ll pretty much know everything you can know about them. I guess I’ve been spoiled by other RPGs (especially some of Bioware’s recent releases), but I expected more of a reaction from characters after taking part in story events. For example, after completing "Ring-a-Ding-Ding," one of the main story missions, I decided to talk to Boone. He only offered one brief sentence commenting on what happened, even though he’d been a constant companion since I recruited him in Novac. It would have been nice if the companions had more dialog options and things to say about themselves and what was going on around them as you traveled together.
One thing that has been coming up in a lot of Fallout: New Vegas forums and news stories are glitch reports. I’ve spent over 40 hours exploring the Mojave and only encountered a few minor quirks in the PlayStation 3 version. Here’s a list of the game-related troubles I’ve seen, from most annoying to least annoying.
- Crashed at the Helios Solar Power Station. Worked fine upon reloading.
- During a Heck Gunderson’s side-quest, I couldn’t seem to get his son back to him alive. Even if I went there, with the kid alive behind and no enemies chasing, Heck wouldn’t recognize or open a dialogue option to accept him.
- Froze once while exiting the Tops casino.
- No matter how hard I tried, or how many times I walked in/past/around it, the East Pump Station just outside the New Vegas strip wouldn’t register on my map.
- Character would occasionally get trapped behind a door or stuck in rocks/fence. Jumping usually alieviated the problem.
- Sometimes my character’s body would be invisible while the head and arms would still be visible. Like part of her was using a Stealth Boy and the other wasn’t. This would usually happen after using Pip Boy to fast travel somewhere, and only lasted about a minute.
Which means you’ll probably want to save often. Even if you forget, the game does auto-save. So, if some kind of crashing or freezing glitch does happen, you should be covered. Auto-saving takes place when moving from one area to another or after resting, which can be a factor in making load times longer. I guess that’s the price you pay for security. Fallout: New Vegas has a lot of potential as a game. Yes, there are glitches, that will pop up when you least expecte it, but the constantly growing save files and mandatory 5gb install bothered me more than having to restart twice. (I mean, Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 crashed on me twice and I still think that game’s adorable.)
Fallout: New Vegas may not be perfect, but it still manages to be a lot of fun. There’s a lot to do and see, and if you have the time to explore it all then it’s worth it. And if you don’t have the time, then the assorted exploits unintentionally littered throughout the game can make it easier for people with day jobs or very little spare time to still make it through and enjoy the experience. It might crash on you, it might freeze, your courier’s body may be temporarily invisible after fast traveling, but I’d say it’s still worth the trouble.
Food for Thought
- There are multiple difficulty levels, and the Vikki and Vance Casino and Helios "That Lucky Sun" exploits are a great way for beginning players to optimize their character so the rest of the game isn’t a struggle.
- I loved the V.A.T.S. system and only tried going into combat once without it. It helps you focus on strategic attacks.
- Fallout: New Vegas was much easier and more manageable once I started finding companions. Prior to recruiting Boone, and then EDE, groups of three or more could get quite overwhelming. Having two almost makes it too easy.
- You should probably keep a cheat sheet nearby to remind you of where your companions will be when they’re not traveling with you.
- The save file (at least in the PS3 version) gets larger EACH time you save. It started out as about a 2mb file, and now mine’s almost 5mb. Also, the 5gb mandatory install for the PS3 version is annoying.
- There are lots of trophies/achievements and missions that can only be completed in multiple playthroughs, so you’ll definitely be able to find a reason to replay it.