Support Jen, click to buy via us...
Fallout New Vegas offers everyone something different and doesn't lend itself to easy consideration. Dark humour mingles with freedom and consequences that play in the expanses of its world to create a real sense of significance. There is so much going on here, it took me a long time to make any sort of meaningful sense of the cacophony.
I found my way through though. New Vegas is a game you have to play rather than observe to understand. While I wanted to stick to the beaten path, like an illadvised horror movie female, I couldn't keep myself from wandering off into the wilds of the city - just to see what was there. And what I found was a world sparsely populated with humanity but rich in mystery and intrigue.
You see, New Vegas returns you to the US west coast of the first two games. And with this move comes the possibility for variety and variance in both the landscaping and architecture. Although I grew to love the Washington DC of Fallout 3, it was enthralling to have a new world to explore - by turns familiar and strange.
The nuclear fallout still looms in the background, but with more water under the bridge since disaster the planet has started to emerge again. Wildlife, civilisation and less oppressive gloom mark a departure from the bleakness of Fallout 3. But rather than keep us in this new habitat, New Vegas soon reveals its heart - the New Vegas strip. A darkly distorted version of real-life.
It was the similarities rather than differences of New Vegas that unsettled me most. I'm never sure if I like playing games that mimic real cities. It makes things a little too real and I find myself tensing up, uneasy at the thoughts behind these play-spaces. Facing such a dark future, even in a game, is something I find pretty frightful. If we ever go down that road it's going to be a painful journey.
Facing such a dark future, even in a game, is something I find pretty frightful.
Laying aside my personal qualms about uncertain futures, Fallout New Vegas offered plenty to engage me. Although there is a strong central story, there is more than previous game to distract. At times the story-trail goes cold - I presume intentionally - and I was thrust out into a much looser narrative.
New Vegas does a good job of signposting the way back, but is equally committed to ensuring you do your share of exploration and discovery. My problem was that once distracted by these side quests and encounters I wanted more - and took a long time to get back to progressing the story.
I liked this approach as I could face the events in the main story as I felt able. In fact I think I often avoided getting on with things in the game because I didn't want to hear any more about the broken world. Fallout New Vegas unsettled me, but then provided somewhere I could spend time while I worked out what those feelings meant.
And this is the main difference between Fallout New Vegas and Fallout 3. The new game is confident enough to leave things open and unresolved. Around this orbit are the same usual elements of a Fallout game. It's no bad thing for me, but I know that some were hoping for something more of a departure - it seems that will be saved for Fallout 4.
The new game is confident enough to leave things open and unresolved.
There are play mechanic improvements along the way though. You can now level up to 30 rather than 20, which again incentivises those forays into the wilder deeper parts of the game. There are plenty of new perks too that complement the enhanced enemies and weapons to ensure the game's balance is not upset.
Visuals and voice-acting all feel more genuine. The companion controls have also been tweaked so that weapon modding, card games, customisable ammo and herbal remedies are all easy to access. The left-trigger iron sights were a nice new touch as well - and contributing to New Vegas' tighter feel that makes combat more engaging than before - no you can't simply run backwards shooting anymore.
Although some will see this as just another Fallout experience, for me thought it expanded on the previous game in intelligent ways. It builds on what went before, but now has the time to offer an even wider experience - if you've played Fallout 3 it will be hard to believe that's possible I know.
Fallout New Vegas let's you play at your own pace and in your own style. For a role play game that is pretty much all you can ask for. I'm going back for much much more.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: