SpectorKnight's Fallout New Vegas Review.
For anyone who is interested, I finished my first playthrough a few days ago and am well on my way through a second now, so I decided to take some time to put down my thoughts on this game.
I liked the Mojave Desert. It was a fresh location to adventure in, and definitely set itself apart from the Capital Wasteland. That said, it was a desert, and not a massive urban center and its outlying highways and communities, so it feels a lot more spacious, but also emptier in some ways. There are large parts of the map that are inaccessible, which felt a little cheap somehow. There are empty mines are scattered around, and while they usually have good loot inside, I just didn't feel much compulsion to explore. This was reminiscent of the Metro-system from Fallout 3, which I hated travelling in, but here I could just bypass them. Lot's of details from Fallout 2 have been incorporated into the game, which if you've played it as I have, gives the Mojave an added appeal, as tidbits of history and mentions of the previous games are found aplenty.
The story grabs you from the introductory cut-scene, and loses you as soon as you step outside of Doc Mitchell's house. I didn't want to track down Benny. I didn't want to get revenge for my being shot in the head and left for dead. I just wanted to explore. In Fallout 3, when I escaped Vault 101, I wanted to explore too, but I also wanted to find my father and discover out why he had left the vault. As the courier, I figured revenge could take a back seat to adventuring, but that's just the kind of guy I am, I guess. References to Hoover Dam and Mr House didn't especially pique my interest, but things did start to pick up right around Nipton with the introduction of the Legion. I love these guys. Crusading anti-heroes, or complete monsters? The only hope for stability or a brutal regime? Any one of the above? The Legion were unlike anything I'd seen in Fallout before and right away I knew I wanted to find out more about them. Then when I reached Boulder City and helped settle a hostage crisis between the Great Khans and the NCR, I started to feel like the Factions were truly worth exploring. As the conflict between the Legion, the NCR, Mr. House and you escalates, I really began to look forward to the climax of the game which takes place at Hoover dam. The battle there felt much more gratifying to me then the Project Purity fight from Fallout 3, especially as I was able to influence who was fighting there and for whom. The ending feels a bit cut off, and I later learned that you were originally supposed to play beyond it, but I think they'll probably introduce that element in DLC, like they did with Broken Steel. Overall I felt that the story was good, though not as compelling as Fallout 3, but with an ending that certainly helps it keep up.
The new companion wheel really helps to streamline your interactions with companions, and this is a good thing. I never really spent much time with the companions in Fallout 3 (except for Dogmeat!) but here I had at least one with me for just about the whole game. The Companions themselves I have a variety of feelings about. Rex? Loved him to bits. He wasn't Dogmeat, but he wasn't trying to be, and his brain-fixing quest provided me with an excuse to visit Jacobstown. Lilly? Awesome. I loved the hilarious contrasts between her sweet old grandmother personae and her radiation-mutated blue ogre appearance. And the fact she can tank Cazadores with her Vertibird-sword is also a plus. Boone? Also awesome. Great voice, great character, headshots everything. Gave me a sweet red beret. I didn't get around to doing his companion quest in this play through, and his tendency to attack all Legion types on sight was a bit nerve-wracking for my mostly neutral Courier, but overall I would probably place him as my second favourite of the group. ED-E? He didn't have as much charm as Rex, but his quest was interesting and it lead me to my first meeting with the Brotherhood of Steel. His sensors were also a big help, and honestly he's your own personal eye-bot, so you can't help but love him. Arcade Gannon? I honestly found him annoying. Maybe it's because I prefer to be the one making deadpan sarcastic comments, but I dropped him after a few quests. I also had high science and medicine skills, so he was kind of superfluous that way. Raul? I didn't get him until later in the game when I felt safe storming a mountain full of super-mutants, so I ended up missing out on his quest, but he seemed like he could be a lot of fun and I intend to take him on my next trip around. Veronica? Let me put it this way. She kept getting in the way of my shotgun blasts to punch giant radscorpians, and kept bitching about how, like, totally unfair life with the Brotherhood was. Her perk was to be a workbench, which I didn't use and if I had wanted to could have found one anywhere, and after I spent eight hours trying to find her a dress, she proceeded to inform me she was a lesbian, and therefore unromanceable. Fail. Luckily after booting her berobed butt back to the 188 Trading post, I recruited Cass. I can't remember the last time I wanted my player character to shack up with an NPC so much. Cass is funny, tough, rough-around the edges but sweet, and gives you a perk that lest you drink all the whiskey you want with no side effects. This is way more useful then it sounds. She was my favourite companion by far, and always handy in a fight. Her revenge driven quest showcases some interesting character development, and the fact that her back-story is tied in to Fallout 2 helps make her feel really at home. And she is terribly hot. Needless to say, Cass never left my side (or I hers).
I think that Fallout 3 had more memorable NPC's then New Vegas. Off the top of my head I can easily recall Moira Brown, Sarah Lyons, Mr. Burke, Sherriff Simms, President Eden, Tenpenny, Sierra Petrovita, Three-Dog, the travelling merchants and at least a dozen others. Looking back at New Vegas, I think I can name about half of them if I think hard. But the ones that I do remember I'll list, starting with the obvious choice. Benny: I loved Benny. And seeing as how he shoots you in the head and leaves you in a shallow grave at the beginning of the game, that's kind of weird, but it didn't change the fact that I thought he was awesome.
Doc Mitchell was a good choice for easing the Courier back into the world of the living. I wish there had been a quest involving him and his backstory, as well as his connection with Vault 21, but oh well. It's nice when a PC can be memorable and helpful.
Victor: I was honestly unnerved by the seemingly good-natured cowboy Securitron , and this feeling was only heightened as the game progressed and he kept 'bumping into me' at every single settlement, and details seemed to imply that he was the robot who had hired me for the job that got me shot in the first place. The worst part? I never found out anything else about him. He just assumed the role of doorman at the Lucky 38. "Howdy pardner!" No thanks. Memorable? Yes. Also creepy. Brr.
Mr. House: The Father of New Vegas. Mysterious Genius and master of the Securitrons. The man you were carrying the Chip for. Few characters are as essential to the plot as Mr. House, and his shtick of communicating only through giant screens meant his character was cloaked in mystery; a mystery I really wanted to uncover. Was he a robot? An immortal? A Cyborg? A brain in a jar? In any event his moustache and arrogance eventually made me decide to overthrow him. There's nothing I like better then being the wrench in the gears of elaborate master-plans. Still, his backstory was intriguing and his manipulative and brilliant intellect made him a great antagonist to my unpredictable courier. When I shut him down for good and assumed control of the city for myself, it felt very satisfying, and yet I couldn't help but feel a little badly for him. Well played Mr. House. Well played.
Vulpes Inculta: Murderiffic. No Legion character embodies the bloody violence and strange nobility as well as Vulpes does. You meet him in the middle of a town he's just run a lottery in. Most of the winners have been crucified. Turns out they were all genuine scum, but still, it's a shocking moment that really makes you ask just which side you want to be on. Plus, he has wolf-headed cowl and one of the coolest voices in a video game since Garrett from Thief.
Fantastic: Investigating the HELIOS 1 station, I couldn't help but be amazed at how outrageously stupid and yet self-assured this pseudo-scientist with a "theoretical degree in physics" was. Every single line of his dialogue was funny and the idea of leaving him in charge of the station was too good to pass up once I'd distributed it equally across the Mojave. The NCR put him in charge, so they deserve what they get.
Red Lucy: The Zen Mistress of the fighting ring called the Thorn, Red Lucy is memorable for being an attractive survivalist philosopher a mellow-sweet voice, giving you the Dinner Bell Shotgun at the completion of her quest, and also for being romanceable. Sort of.
Caesar: The head of the legion had a lot of build up, but when I met him he was...just a man. And in a way I think that's fitting. Everything you hear about him creates an image of an almost superhuman military leader, but when you meet him you see a short, balding middle-aged guy who speaks with an Italian-American accent. Who still conquered almost the entire south-eastern United States and created the most fearsome army in the post-apocalyptic world! So yeah, I thought he was kind of awesome. Cleverer then he looks, brutal and yet fair. Truly the kind of man who would forge the Legion.
Yes Man: The Happiest Securitron. Voiced by the hilarious Dave Foley, this ultra-positive Robot was as endearing as he was occasionally ominous. While working with him I could never fully shake off the feeling that he was going to stab me in the back. It made me keep on my toes while I was laughing my butt off. An interesting contrast indeed.
Legate Lanius: Scary voice. Awesome armour. I decided to try talking him down. It actually worked. For a supposedly murderous tyrant he actually seemed open-minded in person. Or maybe that was because I had 98 Speech and a charismatic hat. Either way, very memorable.
General Lee: I had him thrown off of the Hoover Dam. Nuff said.
Hands down, this game alone is better then Fallout 3 with the first four expansion packs. There were so many weapons, suits of armour, and just awesome new pieces of loot to be had that I'll need to play it over again at least twice just to make sure I didn't miss anything. My favourite weapons are the 9mm Submachine gun, the Cowboy Repeater, the Cane melee weapon, the Plasma-Caster and That Gun, which are both back from Fallout 2, the Hunting Shotgun, and This Machine, an M1 Garand rifle which is one of the most satisfying weapons to shoot if only to hear that popping sound when the spent cartridge is ejected. Skill magazines are a fantastic addition and really changed the way I played the game, as I was able to focus more on my core skills and use magazines to help supplement my lower ones. Also finding the Wasteland Survival Guide that the Lone Wanderer helps to create in Fallout 3 in publication was hilarious and satisfying at the same time. Less agreeable is the fact that the Bobbleheads weren't in this game, and the Snow-globes which replace them just weren't as much fun to hunt, as well as being relatively scarce. The Reinforced leather, metal and combat armour were all great, and helped tide me over until I could receive power-armour training. In Fallout 3 it never felt as if there was a middle ground type of combat gear to wear, and these additions not only look good, but help you find protection for any type of game play, be it stealthy, or all-guns-blazing assaults.
I enjoyed the game a lot. 120 hours a lot, according to Steam. I give it 8 out of 10 stars, with the promise of more if Downloadable content an improve on what's already a lot fun.
Listening to: Ted Neely - Gethsemene
Reading: Naruto, Volume 5
Watching: The hours slip away like shadows in the night
Playing: Fallout New Vegas again