Written by  :  dorian grey (251)
Written on  :  Jan 07, 2011
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  1.29 Stars1.29 Stars1.29 Stars1.29 Stars1.29 Stars

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Oblivion with revolvers

The Good

There's quite a bit of writing in New Vegas, much of which is decent--a huge improvement on Fallout 3. The places one visits and the characters one talks to are more realistic. There are more choices to make, and the choices are more ambiguous. At least some attention was paid to making characters with real motivations for their actions

Gameplay was improved on Fallout 3 - the game is harder, the level scaling less apparent and the combat more satisfying. There are many skill checks in dialogues, making pure combat characters less attractive.

Thanks to the old engine, the game runs very well in Linux through Wine.

The Bad

The characters and their animation still look terrible. And I mean terrible. There are PS2 games that look ten times better. Shadows are non-existent and objects tend to pop-in out of nowhere as you're running through the desert. Performance degrades significantly if you look at the direction of several NPCs. The UI continues to be cute, but barely usable.

Some of the dialogues are poorly written and accompanied by inappropriate voice acting. Many of the skill check lines in dialogues are unconvincing. The game is poorly balanced against energy weapons and there are really only two sorts of enemies in New Vegas: the sort you can outrun, which are trivial and the ones that are faster than you, which are more difficult.

There are many elements of the game that break immersion. The clever quest names, for instance. the *ding* sound accompanied with You've Gained Karma! when you kill raiders, the ominous sound effect together with a list of quests you've just failed when you kill some significant NPC, the animated experience bar that appears whenever you do something which the game deems significant, the red colored text informing you that what you're about to do illegal, the all-knowing quest compass, the slow motion decapitations that sometimes play, etc. All of this just gets in the way. Clearly Obsidian has never heard of 'less is more'.

In attempting to make the game morally grey, Obsidian may have gone a bit too far. None of the three main factions you can choose to support are any good. House is an Objectivist abomination who clearly needs to go outside more, the NCR is a corrupt, ineffective republic with naive grunts and cynical leaders (closely mirroring the contemporary US government), and the Legion are evil slavers. A steam poll showed that most players chose the fourth--comedy--faction. It's not hard to see why. Maybe they should've made the Followers one of the factions.

Most of the companions are particularly annoying personalities and are much too powerful offensively to the point where they can handle all the enemies themselves. They also have infinite ammo. And they automatically heal. And the all the experience points for their kills go to you. So why should you bother? Together with the quest compass, it's like the game plays itself, really.

The hardcore mode's eating and sleeping requirements add nothing to the game. You randomly find food and water every few minutes in boxes, it's just a matter of a few annoying extra clicks. The lack of depth is disappointing. Even if you're about to die from starvation you can't ask anyone to spare some food, for instance. I guess voice acting all those lines wouldn't been too expensive. Such are the disadvantages of voice acting.

The Bottom Line

It's a lot like Fallout 3, which was a lot like Oblivion. There was a bit of hope that the staggering decline in quality after Morrowind was temporary, but it looks like Bethesda is set to continue to push bad games forever. In view of this, I give New Vegas an F.