Saturday, November 20, 2010

"The only thing to fear is minor radiation poisoning." My review of Fallout New Vegas

My first exposure to the Fallout franchise was Fallout 3. My brother kept bothering me to play it because he knew I'd really enjoy it. However, doubtful of his belief that he actually knows what I like or not, I played it. Sadly, as it turns out, my brother evidently knows more about me than I do.

So when I heard that a new Fallout game was coming just months after I finished playing the game (I was introduced to it late last summer) I was stoked. So when I finally got my grubby little hands on Fallout New Vegas I was like a molerat hopped up on jet. I instantly dove right into the game and found it pretty tough to put down. It looked exactly like Fallout 3, but that didn't really distract me from having fun in the bombed out Nevada desert. I love how addicting this game is. It is so open and vast that I honestly doubt I will be able to discover every little thing by the time Fallout: Miami comes out (seriously think about it for a second, wouldn't it be a cool game to play???).

However, just like a new girlfriend, you find out that she can have a lot of serious problems. Problems that make you want to dump her on her ass while she watches you speed off with someone less glitchy. Yet you keep crawling back to her, thirsting for more radioactive rampages through the desert.

It's now that I realize I do have a love/hate relationship with the Fallout games I've played. That with every awesome thing I uncover there are about two things I find that make me want to snap my own fingers off one by one. Fallout 3 was guilty of this, but to a lesser degree. When I think of Fallout 3 glitches I think of a giant radscorpion flying through the sky for no apparent reason. When I think Fallout: New Vegas glitches I think of being totally blind after wandering through a cave.

That's the problem with Fallout New Vegas. It's understandable with the game being so big that it's a given that the developers would miss a few bugs. But the bugs in New Vegas can be so horrible that they are literal game breakers.

I mentioned that I was blinded in this game. The story was this: I went into a cave searching for a missing NCR platoon and found the cave to be filled with Lakelurks. Upon wiping the fishy bastards out I proceeded through the submerged exit on the other side of the caves and came out legally blind. I could barely see the sun in the sky at midday. The world was a blur, so blurry it hurt. Even at my TV's brightest setting I could barely see where I was going in a brightly lit field. I poured over numerous sites searching for a fix but found none. Eventually, after a couple days of not playing the game, I wonder to myself: "What would happen if I went through the cave again?" "Would it fix the problem?" So I decided to test this in the hopes of a miracle. And the gaming gods doth smiled upon me that day as I stepped into the cave and instantly I was cured!!!

This is only one of the myriad of glitches I have stumbled upon in my adventures across the Mojave wasteland. Most I have forgotten due to their being really minor such as radscorpions being clipped into the ground, the game freezing up during a loading screen, the game freezing up once I tried to enter a shack with a mission goal inside, or my robot dog mysteriously disappearing for about an hour.

However, as I neared my completion of this review, I discovered another game breaker. This one started after I completed my first playthrough and I decided to make a new game and character. After playing through a couple hours I realized I hadn't levelled up to level two. So I checked my stats and found that while I had indeed reached the point limit for the first level, somehow I wasn't levelling up. There are about 200 points of experience needed to reach Level 2 and I had about 563 points... Dunno how that happened! Needless to say That was two hours wasted...

Another problem I felt they could've fixed (being as it was a problem I faced in Fallout 3) is the fast travel system. Most people who play these games know that about 3/4ths of the game is nothing but walking through the wastes. If we could somehow burn the amount of calories equal to the distances players have simply walked in this game America wouldn't have an obesity problem. In fact the game would probably be illegal due to the fact that players have died from all the walking they've done in this game.
However the game is nice enough to provide a fast travel option to bypass the hours of walking involved in getting to the opposite side of the map. The problem is that in Fallout 3 it was very tetchy. You could only fast travel if the moment was perfect. There had to be no enemies, no radiation traces, you couldn't be carrying too much weight, you had to have already discovered the location, the weather had to be sunny, and it had to be the second Thursday of the month before it let you fast travel.
Now in Fallout New Vegas, they have improved on the fast travel system. There is a perk that you can get so you can fast travel if you're over encumbered. But since there was also a perk that allowed me to kill enemies faster or have a higher chance at sweet talking a pretty young woman into giving me a discount or something even more valuable I didn't get it. The rest is pretty much the same. In fact, sometimes I feel like I'd have an easier time walking than fast travelling with all the damn loading screens. Not only that but I found a glitch (this should be a drinking game) that actually teleported me inside one of my companions! In fact, I think there are more reasons for you not being able to fast travel in this game than in Fallout 3!
Now, if I had been the one to come up with the improvements to the system. I would've made it so that as long as you weren't actually being physically chased by an enemy you could fast travel. It wouldn't matter if you had a perk or not, you could fast travel while over encumbered (it would just take a larger chunk out of your travel time). And if you hadn't discovered a location on your map but had it marked, you could fast travel to the general area that it was in but not the exact location until you discovered it. I mean it sounds pretty fair right?

However, to balance out the large list of problems I found with this game, I did enjoy the quests from the story missions to the minor sub plots involving super mutant/robot relationships. All of the companions are completely likable and I love how this game has made it so that they don't die in battle, they are just knocked out until the battle is over. The voice actors (some of which I was surprised to find in this game, like Zachary Levi from Chuck and Danny Trejo) all give their characters that much needed sense of humanity that helps you get immersed in the world. It's been a while since I felt like I actually fell in love (as much as you possibly can anyways) with a character in a video game (the last one being Alyx from Half-Life 2, ever wonder where that game franchise went???) but Cass is quickly becoming one of my favorite video game vixens.

And of course the overall openness of the game always promises me something new and interesting somewhere down the line. I can honestly say that I will continue to play this game regardless of the horrible glitches I come across for many months to come.

So with that I will finish this review by giving Fallout New Vegas 4 mini-nukes out of 5 for it's fantastic world, characters, and story. However it loses a point for having so many horrible glitches (however not every single one has to be horrible. I saw a video of one on youtube where a dog is walking backwards, talk about going barking mad!).

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