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Return to the wastelands in “New Vegas”

October 29, 2010

Gamers everywhere are re-entering the wasteland through Bethesda’s new game, “Fallout: New Vegas.” The first thing anyone will notice is the similarities to “Fallout 3.”

“Fallout: New Vegas,” like the rest of the series, takes place after a nuclear war where civilization is basically destroyed and humanity has become selfish and cruel. During this time, a group of people formed together in an attempt to recreate a government and called themselves the New California Republic, or NCR. However, the NCR is often opposed by another group of people called the Legion, who are led by a man known as Caesar.

I won’t go into detail about the main quest because, similar to “Fallout 3,” it is not the biggest appeal to the game. While it is interesting, it is also creative and short. Plus, players are not able to continue to explore the wastelands after finishing the campaign without reloading a saved game. This did not make any sense, especially considering that was a big complaint of “Fallout 3.”

Similar to “Fallout 3,” the world map is enormous. There are countless small towns,  underground tunnels and caves to explore. Everywhere you go there seems to be some area or treasure to find or someone wants your help. In addition, everything you do affects how the surrounding people see and act toward you.

One difference, however, is there are factions or different groups of people that can view you differently. Meaning, one group may view you as a protector, while another group will hate you. It all depends on how you behave and how you complete various quests. One of the first examples if when a group of criminals called the powder gang threatens a small town and you have the option of protecting the town or helping the gang take it over. If you side with the town, your reputation in the gang will go down and they will be more aggressive toward you in the future.

As for game play, hardly anything was changed from “Fallout 3.” V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) returns, allow players to pause the game and select specific body parts to shoot. This allows players to cripple an enemy’s leg so he can’t run away or aim for the head for more damage.

The only downside of this system is that it keeps the game from being a real shooter. Most people will simple walk up and use V.A.T.S. so the game will aim for them. In order to prevent gamers from completely abusing the system, each shot fired takes up a certain amount of action points that have to refill over time (or with items).

The designers also kept the same character building system that was used in “Fallout 3.” S.P.E.C.I.A.L., which stands for strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, ability and luck, once again determines your basic character stats.

Perks return in “Fallout: New Vegas,” which are special bonuses that players can pick that affect your character. Some, for example, allow you to carry more stuff, while others allow you to eat corpses to regain health. There are plenty of new perks, along with quite a few returning ones, that allow players to create different types of characters.

The diversity of game play is what truly makes “Fallout: New Vegas” shine. You can create a character that sneaks up on enemies and silently kills them, or you can create a brawler that charges using explosives and machine guns. You can create a character that is capable of picking any lock, or a character that can convince shoppers to sell their goods for less caps.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of technical issues that take away from the experience, many of which were noticeable in “Fallout 3.” The biggest one is the non-playble characters. NPCs are just plain stupid. I watched a soldier spend five minutes trying to walk around a truck to shoot an enemy. This is really annoying when you have NPCs in your party and they are constantly getting stuck on corners.

Another complaint is the character animations themselves. There is no weight,  they just seem to float across the ground. One example is when a dog ran ahead of my character and turned around by simply spinning in a circle without actually moving it’s feet. It just looks bad.

The game also glitches and freezes quite a bit. I wouldn’t normally complain about this, but it happens every few minutes. Plus, the loading times are ridiculous, sometimes lasting nearly two minutes. There are also a lot of tear and shadow issues, which take away from the beauty of the wasteland.

All in all, it just seems the developers were lazy and wanted to release the game as soon as possible. Also, there are not enough new elements that help differentiate the game from “Fallout 3,” which causes the game to feel more like an expansion than as its own game.

BY DEREK KEIST
Features Editor

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