Fallout: New Vegas Xbox 360 Review

February 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Publisher – Bethesda Softworks – Developer – Obsidian Entertainment – Genre – Action RPG – Players – 1 – Age Rating – 18+ – Other console/handheld formats – PS3

With Fallout: New Vegas you could say that in some ways the series has returned home – a lot of Obsidian’s team were previously Black Isle Studio employees, the development team behind the first game and its sequel.

Fallout 3 was riddled with bugs, as was Fallout: New Vegas up on its release, but after hearing of an incoming patch I decided that it would be fairer to wait to play and review the game post patch in the hope that all the major bugs would have been squashed and, in my experience, they have. So here we are, and with that out of the way now let’s move on.

Whilst in terms of mechanics and such Fallout: New Vegas is still more closely related to Bethesda’s Fallout 3, you can still see that the involvement of Obsidian has had a bearing on the direction of the game. There’s complexity that many fans felt was missing in Bethesda’s game, whilst there’s more of an emphasis on humour and some of the plot facets that Interplay were going to use in their cancelled third iteration in the series and that were abandoned in Fallout 3 have been revived.

If you intend to do everything that the game has to offer, you'll sadly reach the level cap of 30 way before the credits roll and, as a result, the combat loses some of its compulsion.

As the name suggests, Fallout: New Vegas takes place within Las Vegas, or more accurately New Vegas: a version of Las Vegas that, as a result of a nuclear war, is a shadow of its former self. Much of the flash of the city is gone, though the mysterious Mr House has attempted to keep the spirit of the famous city alive by building New Vegas: a much smaller scale version of the city, decorated with the neon lights and featuring the casinos that have become synonymous with it.

The surrounding wasteland is inhabited not only by mutated creatures, but also by various factions vying for control of New Vegas, the main of which are the formulaic military types, the NCR and the Legion, that pattern themselves after Roman soldiers and have a leader known as Caeser whom is often mistakenly called Ceaser.

Your actions throughout the game will be noted by each of the factions, allowing you to choose who to side with. For example, if you work in favour of one too much, you’ll be marked as an enemy by the other and attacked on sight and, in turn, the missions that they have to offer will become closed off to you. It’s much more interesting than a simple morality system, though that’s still a part of the game, it is however your reputation with the factions that is of the most importance to how people regard you throughout the game.

The story is compulsive and, in terms of writing and overall quality, is a step up in comparison to Fallout 3. It’s essentially an effective build up to a large scale battle between the NCR and the Legion, and along the way you’re able to influence the involvement of the lesser factions in the coming battle. Much of the side quests are connected to the mainline story, resulting in a world that feels cohesive.

There’s once again a sizable wasteland, which will delight those that like a good explore through a well realised world. There’s plenty of looting and enemy slaying to be done along the way, as well as sidequests to discover. The only thing that lets it down is that the aging Gamebyro engine, with its stiff animations, chugging framerate and such is starting to show its age these days, particularly in comparison to the visually astounding Red Dead Redemption, though that’s not to say that the engine doesn’t still have the ability to impress from time to time, with some impressive views being of particular note.

There's almost too many distractions along the way.

The combat hasn’t changed all that much from Fallout 3, so it’s still an action driven system with buckets of gore. Like the previous game, in a combat situation you can activate V.A.T.S (much less of a mouthful than its full title of Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System), which pauses the action and allows you to select body parts of your enemies to shoot, and then each shot is displayed in gratifying and often comically bloody slow motion.

There’s a new hardcore mode, which refreshingly doesn’t just increase the difficulty of your enemies, but brings into play some additional factors to take into consideration. You must eat, drink and sleep so as to prevent starvation, exhaustion and dehydration, amongst other additional challenges.

Further complexity for those that want it comes with a crafting system, which, with the the required level of ability and the right concoction of materials, allows you to make items, you’re also able to upgrade weapons by fitting them with modifications.

Fallout: New Vegas isn’t dramatically different to Fallout 3, but it’s not just a mere re-skin of Bethesda’s offering either. Many will appreciate the additional layer of complexity and the more authentic Fallout feel. It’s all enough to make Fallout: New Vegas easily a better, if less impactful game than its predecessor.