The Latest

Radiation on the Other Side of the Nation- Fallout New Vegas Review

Like many others, my first glimpse of the stark post-apocalyptic  wasteland came courtesy of George Miller. Both 1982’s The Road Warrior (and its predecessor, 1979’s Mad Max) depicted a barbaric, junkyard-cobbled landscape were violence and looting were the norm. For a young viewer, the films reflected a contextualized recreation of the savage schoolyard, where bloodied noses and blackened eyes were the currency of the bullies in power. However- unlike reality, Miller’s films offered unlikely escapism where seemingly insurmountable foes and environments could be conquered without a trip to the vice-principal’s office.

With the advancement of technology, game developers have been able to create increasingly immersive simulations of Max’s nihilistic environment. From early attempts at creating a persistent world in 1988’s Wasteland to depicting crumbling three-dimensional topographies in 2008’s Fallout 3, each new post-nuclear title has inched toward the ambition of generating a seamless, fastidiously-detailed world for players to explore. Recent release Fallout New Vegas ups the ante on its predecessor by eliminating much of the moral artificiality, sharpening the game’s dialog, and adding a few Death Valley-deep nuances to engage players. It wouldn’t be exaggeration to say that Vegas is one of the most absorbing and exhaustively detailed role-playing games of the current hardware generation- the title’s scope even trumps it’s robust precursor. Yet, this carefully crafted sense of immersion can sporadically unravel when the game’s glitches sporadically emerge, not unlike the sputtering second act of Miller’s series finale- Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

Whereas Fallout 3‘s Enclave and Brotherhood of Steel factions presented an straightforward dichotomy, Vegas’  misguided peacekeepers- the New Californian Republic(NCR), and barbaric dissenters- Caesar’s Legion, are both sullied in their own ways. Not only does this modification increase the complexity of decision making, but it partially conceals the game’s future decisions and the trajectory of the story. Fortunately, your alliance with any of these, returning and new coalitions is displayed in-game. Oddly, the game’s stats belie this carefully crafted moral ambiguity- I took a karma hit whenever I killed an agent of the NCR.

Obsidian Entertainment’s time with Alpha Protocol appears to have paid dividends, as both side missions and dialog braches emerged (or disappeared) during separate playthroughs. Sadly, this flexibility does not carry over to the game’s perk and skill sets; at times, a mission’s completion begged for a specific level of scientific or lock-picking expertise. To circumnavigate these hurdles, Vegas’ brings back the magazines which act as temporary stat boosts. Although this mechanic elevates inventory management, it makes little sense outside the context of a game.

My previous expedition through the Capital Wasteland was disoriented by Fallout 3’s intricate side missions. As the nested subroutines of quests became perceptible to players, the game’s appeal became tarnished. Worse, the inertia driving me to complete the title’s meta-mission became exhausted by all the minutiae; I have to admit the game was shelved before completion. While New Vegas carries a similar amount of objectives, the ability to pursue the main objectives rarely becomes obscured despite the game’s alluring slot and blackjacks diversions. Players can even speculate on Caravan- the title’s own card-collecting mini-game. Although the Fallout franchise has been a typically morose affair, a healthy heaping of dark wit complements the game’s once swingin’ setting.

Despite Vegas‘ lofty aspirations, a number of blemishes are bound of dampen player’s excursion though the Mojave wasteland. Even with an installation to the 360’s harddrive, extended load times slowed  the flow of the game. Specifically, intense gun battles which went from inside structures to exteriors were interrupted by a inconvenient interruption. Of less significance were the occasional graphical glitches: floating NPCs, flickering triangles, and a sputtering framerate near one of the towns. While none of these bugs breaks the game, when taken collectively they convey the sense of abbreviated QA testing.

Nevertheless, some players will be able to overlook Vegas‘ imperfections on account of its mesmerizing supplements. Hardcore mode’s masochistic simulation of bodily requirements is sure to spark a few cases of achievement envy. The game’s crafting system- which allows players to formulate their own sundries or ammo at campfires and workbenches opens up an additional layer of depth. Gamers with an inclination for pacifism will appreciate the title’s clothing system, which can allow cunning participants to slip past a faction undetected. 

Players able to peer past Fallout New Vegas‘ visual hitches will find one of the most rewarding and intricate console experiences of the current generation. Like its predecessor, Vegas is more than a game- it’s a intricately detailed, mesmerizing world which manages to fit on a single DVD. With a patch or so, the title’s ambitions may be able to shine as bright as the iridescent glow emitted from the old strip itself.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

52 comments

  1. I just picked this up today.

  2. I’ll wait for the GOTY edition on this.

  3. One day Obsidian will nail it the first time. Not today though.

  4. I’d like to know where the PS3 version stands in all this.

  5. good review Deagle. Just enough info with being boring.

  6. This is getting patched. They announced it today.

  7. Late nite review!

  8. I’m going to have to wait until the patch hits. I dont know if I have the patience for glitches.

  9. The review should have mentioned that the graphics are actually worse than the last game despite many of the same assets being used.

    Faces still look awful.

  10. Somewhere I heard that the map was smaller for Vegas. You seemed to say it was larger.

  11. I just wished they refined things as much as Mass Effect 2 did on the first game. Still a lot of the different changes seem cool.

  12. “adding a few Death Valley-deep nuances”

    Slight correction: the game takes place in the Mojave desert, not Death Valley

  13. Well that are using the same engine, that’s the problem.

  14. Damn, it seems like there’s a lot of hate for this one. Just wait and see what the patches do.

  15. Good review, Deagle!

  16. I heard the endless cap glitch is back. There’s a reason to play before the patch.

  17. I’m pretty sure Death Valley is part of the Mojave Desert.

  18. 7 hours in and not a single bug/problem. Am I lucky or do they come later?

  19. Any guesses what areas are going to be offered for DLC?

    I’m thinking a post-nuke LA would be awesome, but they’ll probably save that for a full game.

  20. Sorry, but I’m not paying $60 for Fallout 3.5

  21. I’m loving the new weapons.

    But you are totally right- doors in the middle of a gunfight can ruin things.

  22. Good review. I’ll probably get this in the next few weeks.

  23. For a game with no MP, how could it come out so buggy? Why do the patch this after release?

    What about the people without braodband? Are they screwed?

  24. How many caps are they paying you for that A-?

  25. You guys the guns are better, the story is a hell of a lot better, but there’s a few quirks. Deal with it.

  26. Shame on you for not finishing Fallout 3 😉 Its got a GREAT Ending!

  27. What do you guys think of the Gamespot controversy?

  28. I’m about 15 hours in and I haven’t encounter HALF they problems their reviewer did. Maybe I’m just lucky, or maybe people are too nitpicky.

  29. Here’s the October stats (so far)

    DesertEagle- 14 reviews (jesus?!? how is this even possible, especially with FNV?)

    SeanNOLA- 1 review

    TideGear- 0 reviews

  30. Road Warrior is one of my favorite movies. Sure it’s one big long car chase, but it amazingly well done.

    Did you know Miller only directed the action sequences in Thunderdome? (Which were great.)

  31. 14 reviews in 21 days? The guy could write his own magazine. He and Shipwreck should start one up.

  32. Question: Was F3 buggy at launch?

    I don’t know because I waited a few months to buy it. I should have its one of my favorite 360 games.

  33. Two bottle of Nuke Cola and some mutant meat.

    Speaking of- the cannibal perk is awesome- you can eat people, as long as others dont see.

  34. Well you know what they say, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”

  35. Answer: Not as bad as people are saying this one is. Seems like there’s a good amount of trolling though.

  36. Does your main character have to be male?

  37. Addict of the Stick

    A game like this deserves a two man review. Aren’t NOLA or Boatcrash playing this?

  38. I bought this at Best Buy and it came with a code for bonus items. Where the hell are they?

  39. For those that wanted to know, I bought the PS3 version. I’m getting the same bugs other people are complaining about. The games so damn good I barely care.

  40. Fallout 3 was just as buggy, but I think people were a little more willing to overlook it back then. It had been years since the last Fallout game, there was a lot of franchise hyping, and people were still high on Oblivion. New Vegas uses the same Oblivion engine that Bethesda has been using for 4 years, and has the same bugs as F3 and Oblivion. I think the upsetting thing isn’t that there are bugs, but rather that there are 4 year old bugs.

    I think if people were harder on Fallout 3, then they would have spent a little more time getting New Vegas right.

  41. Im totally loving FNV so far. Probably my favorite game of the year.

  42. Good point. There were a ton of bugs in it.

  43. Most of the bugs in Elder Scrolls and Fallout 3 were cosmetic. No other console game gives people as many options or depth as Bethesdas games, so I think you’re being a bit harsh.

    Don’t forget about the bigger picture.

  44. Back when Mel was acting like he was crazy instead of just being crazy.

  45. Good review, guys!

  46. Between MOH and this, October is bug fest.

  47. Enslaved has a lot of bugs that people havent mentioned. I got stuck twice on the rhino boss.

  48. Is that the part with the barrels? If so I got screwed too.

  49. This over Wii Party any day of the week.

  50. I have to ask- Are they’re mutant hookers in Vegas?