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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fallout: New Vegas Game Review

David Brown

Many will ask, why choose to do a game review of Fallout, and still have it fit onto a site centered on zombies. Well, if you look at this game in regards to the subject of nuclear war and the struggle for survival you see many similarities to this game and a typical zombie apocalypse scenario. We get to see the survival scenario first hand as we take control of the wanderer, a package courier, turned key player in the struggles between warring tribes. Before I get into the actual game, I want to further explain what I stated earlier.

As I said, Fallout: New Vegas takes place in a world ravaged by nuclear war and the aftermath. If you look at this in comparison to a zombie movie, or much of the zombie literature we see common themes. First and foremost we see the true mob mentality that comes about as a result of a great disaster. People band together in what used to be a united land to form tribes with their own agendas and leaders. The true nature of people truly is shown through the interactions with others in this game. We also see the importance of survival skills, especially when playing on hardcore mode.

To survive you must maintain proper access to food, safe sleep accommodations, and clean water. Radiation is rampant in the Nevada, so if we place this in the scenario of a zombie apocalypse, we see the similar themes. You must constant strive for safety and cleanliness, while maintaining proper sleep, and tending to any wounds that may slow you down. As you can see, zombie fans, or those who strive to see how a world would survive a major disaster and slowly try to rebuild normalcy.

This brings us to the actual game. As I stated earlier, the game follows a wandering courier who is left for dead at the beginning of the game. Shot in the head in a shallow grave, he is taken in and restored to health. He then begins a quest to track down his killer through the wilds of post nuclear war Nevada. Along the way he will come across many tribes (many of whom will be familiar to series veterans), and many interesting locales, including the Hoover Dam, and New Vegas (the remnants of Vegas rebuilt and ruled by four families). For people who have never played the prior game, Fallout 3, be forewarned this is a game that requests a lot of your time. I ended up putting in about 45 hours by the time I was done, and even then I am going back to replay a lot of scenarios to make different decisions. I guess if there is one big addition to the story and gameplay here, it is the inclusion of the reputation system among many different groups.

The decision you make truly feel like they are affecting the world around you. You will gain access to certain missions while having others being totally locked off dependent upon the way you choose to proceed. You are able to defend yourself with a variety of guns and melee weapons, or may even choose to defend yourself with your fists only. You also have the ability to recruit a number of different allies to help you in your journeys, all the while making the game a lot more interactive, as they add their own quests to your queue. There are many side-quests that add to the game time as they really help you expand the story and the universe beyond the main story.

Speaking of the story, we see a number of different characters, not all of whom are human. We have the ghouls, and the feral ghouls. Ghouls are not all, by definition crazed killers hungering for your flesh and questing for your death. Many of the ghouls are people who received extreme exposure to radiation, thus mutating their body, and in some extreme cases minds, thus causing some to become feral. We also get super mutants who are the bulkier, extreme mutations; many of them retain their attitudes and human like ways, but harbor a lot of hatred to most humans. This is not to group any of these characters as there are truly many good and evil characters that you would not expect.

The controls here are very similar to Fallout 3, and help you utilize your first person shooting skills, while also allowing you to enter VATS mode, and target specific body parts to maximize damage, and help to strategize. The game is great at telling an expansive story, and the multiple replays to figure out expanding story branches, and this helps to justify the $60 price. There are a few downfalls that may keep a few away, and I feel that I must point out.

If you want the most out of this game, be prepared for a lot of playing required, and some level grinding to get through some tougher areas, and past some tougher enemies. I myself am at level 25, and still have many enemies or creatures that kill me in one or two hits. There are a lot of unforgiving instances where the computer will just cluster around you and kill you, not even allowing you to get to your inventory and heal, provided you have the supplies. While playing I also noticed load times where I would walk through a door, wait 10-20 seconds to load the area, then if I turned around and walked back out, I would have to wait another 10-20 seconds. This problem really pulls you out of the game at times. There are also some major glitches that I encountered at various points. I would have companions that wouldn’t follow me during fast travel, and there was even one time where I lost the ability to attach anybody and couldn’t move after changing weapons.

Complaints aside, this is a very good game still. If you are a fan of role playing/adventure games then look no further than Fallout: New Vegas. If you are a casual gamer, then this might not be the best game for you, there is a lot of shooting in this game, but there is also a lot of strategy and character customization. You can truly play this game the way you choose, and it will adapt accordingly. Load issues and random glitches do detract from the story at times, but at the end of the day you will be glad that you stepped into the shoes of the courier and explored the areas of Nevada surrounding New Vegas. It may not be for everyone, but for those that choose to take the adventure, there is much fun to be had.

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