Developer – Obsidian
Release Date – October 19, 2010 (North America), October 22, 2010 (Europe)
Platform – PlayStation 3/PC/X360
Genre – Action/RPG
When Bethesda decided to hand the reins of their popular Fallout franchise to developer Obsidian for the next instalment in the series, New Vegas, many fans groaned. Obsidian is a developer with a respectable track record, but one that consists almost entirely of creating inferior products on the coattails of greatness.
First was Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2, a competent but unfulfilling sequel to BioWare’s original masterpiece. They then created a solid if uninspired sequel to NeverWinter Nights, before striking out on their own with the original IP Alpha Protocol. Their trend of working on popular franchises will continue after New Vegas, as they’re developing Dungeon Siege 3 for Square-Enix.
Calling All Bug-Testers...
One of the most common complaints of Obsidian’s games has been the inclusion of numerous bugs, and this unfortunate trend in their game design continues with New Vegas. From game crashes, to lengthy loading, to physics glitches, to other random phenomena, New Vegas is rife with numerous annoying bugs. I can give Obsidian a slight pardon on some of these issues due to the size and complexity of the game world, but even then, I can’t overlook them entirely. One of the most common things bugs do is ruin the immersion of the game, and for a game like New Vegas where immersion is one of the key aspects of the game design, that loss of immersion is quite crippling.
Bugs and glitches being what they are though, gamers will likely have different mileage when it comes to how severe they experience them in their particular playthrough, and this is reflected in the thoughts of other players, some of whom experienced next to no issues while playing, while others have had the experience all but ruined for them, and probably wouldn’t mind using one or more of the developers as a piñata.
Like the bugs, the gameplay itself can and will offer vastly different experiences for different players. For anyone unfamiliar with Fallout 3 or other similar sandbox games, New Vegas allows you to create a character from scratch and give him the skills and traits you want. You then have total freedom within the game world to use those skills to get you through tight spots. No matter whether you specialize in stealth, coercion, or combat, most missions will allow you to tackle them or alter the outcome using your chosen specialty.
"I Wonder What Will Happen if I Hit This Dude With a Paladin Toaster..."
As with most sandbox games, you’ll probably find yourself more interested in the side quests and the exploring of random new areas of the desert, than you are with pursuing the main goals of the game. This speaks both to the fun that can be had in exploring and discovering new things, but also the relatively uninspired main quests that sandbox games usually present. It’s simply more interesting to tool around doing random things than it is following the main story line.
Aside from being a sandbox game, the actual gameplay is similar to Fallout 3, and can be played in real time as an action game, or by pausing before battles and playing the game more as a tactical, turn-based affair. I played the game solely as an action game, but others may prefer a more balanced approach, or even a swing in the opposite direction.
If It Walks Like Fallout 3 and Talks Like Fallout 3...
The graphics are not much improved from Fallout 3, though there’s probably more graphical variety which is nice. As such, the graphics don’t stack up to modern releases on the PS3, which makes the game feel more like a Fallout 3 expansion than a stand-alone release. The sound excels though, with great voice acting, fitting music, and explosive sound effects.
The story is filled with wacky scenarios and characters, which makes for a memorable wasteland experience. Obsidian is known for crafting well-told stories, and New Vegas continues that trend. You’ll be hard pressed not to want to gab with each and every NPC to hear what they have to say and get to know them and their back story or personality.
Despite some nagging bugs, and perhaps being a bit too similar to its predecessor, there’s a lot to like about New Vegas. I’m partial to this style of game, so chances are I would’ve slogged my way through it regardless, but I feel even those new to the genre or not otherwise taken by it as of yet can find something to like in New Vegas. Just remember to save often.
Graphics – 7.5
Sound – 8.5
Story – 8
Gameplay - 8
Control – 8.5
Overall - 8