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Published on November 2nd, 2010 | by admin


Love the Universe! #1: First look: Fallout New Vegas

Turns out, you can’t have too much of a good thing when it comes to the Fallout series. When I first heard about the latest installment, New Vegas, I really wasn’t sure if I had 100 plus hours to spend completing another game as immersive as this. After all, I’d spent countless (well, not countless seeing as the game keeps track, but too many hours to admit anyway) playing both Oblivion and Fallout 3. This being said, my initial reservations were quickly cast aside as more information became available about what Fallout: New Vegas had to offer – and having now played it let me assure you that it is fantastic.

Right from the beginning, New Vegas sucks you in with an intriguing plot line and *spoiler alert!* your character – known at this point only as ‘Courier’ – being shot in the head, buried, and exhumed by a robot. You are then taken to a Doctor – at which point you are able to create your character. In New Vegas, the leveling system is slightly different from Fallout 3 as you select your traits right at the beginning and earn perks every two levels. All in all, the tutorial is a lot quicker and gets you into the game a lot faster than the Vault 101 ordeal in Fallout 3 – or the even more painstaking dungeon escape in Oblivion. Another major difference in New Vegas is the role of karma, which though still present is not nearly as important as reputation. If you earn a high reputation in a town, you will get perks such as receiving gifts from townsfolk. If you earn a bad reputation in a town…I’m sure you can guess what happens.

One of the other sweet improvements in New Vegas is the ability to mod your weapons. Each weapon you own (other than unique weapons) can have up to 3 mods – such as increased damage, extended mags, and scopes. The melee and unarmed attacks have also been improved by way of unique moves that are unlocked as you level up – and for a gore lover they are pure win. Combat with a companion is also much easier in New Vegas as they have added a ‘companion wheel’ which though lame sounding is useful as it allows you to easily tell your companion to attack or retreat as well as heal or swap items very easily. Different companions will also have different strengths and weaknesses – such as certain weapons they are proficient with…and other weapons they are not so proficient with.

Here in Ontario, some retail stores were giving away copies of Mad Max on DVD with the pre-order of Fallout: New Vegas. At the time of purchase, I noticed this and scoffed – wondering if it was some misguided ploy to restore Mel Gibson’s tarnished reputation by reminding us young folks of the good old days (well, 1979) when Mel was on top of the world – albeit a lawless, post-apocalyptic one. After playing New Vegas and meeting some of the various factions such as the good guys: The New California Republic (NCR) and the bad guys: Caesar’s Legion…the Mad Max connection became much more clear – though to some degree I am sure it was just a good way for these stores to blow out DVD copies of Mad Max which I’m sure are in abundance right now. Either way, I didn’t get a free DVD.

Gambling is another new feature of the game, no surprise – and though caravan is no liar’s dice (Red Dead Redemption) it is pretty fun, and you can also play old standards such as roulette and blackjack. Oh, and did I mention it looks completely awesome? Though it is run on the same engine and is in the same style as Fallout 3, New Vegas is just easier on the eyes and has a lot of great landmarks – my favorite being a store in the shape of a giant T-Rex. The improved landscape and the presence of plant life brings back the survivalist element to the Fallout series…it’s no longer just scavenging (though theres plenty of scavenging to be had). Everything is useful. You can even make stimpaks by combining the necessary ingredients (One broc flower, one xander root, and an empty syringe) at a workbench (there’s one in the basement of the Repcon Test Facility in the Mojave Wasteland).

You’re going to need a few of those stimpaks if you decide to play New Vegas on hardcore mode. In this mode, you will face dehydration, starvation and sleep deprivation (and their consequences) if you do not attend to your characters’ basic needs. You can still quick travel, but not if you will die in the time it would take you to reach your destination. Stimpaks and radaway work over time as opposed to instantly. Otherwise weightless ammo has mass, and otherwise immortal companions can die. Oh, yeah…you also can’t heal crippled limbs yourself – you need a doctor.

Though it sounds like a bitch, this is a really great way to up the difficulty of a game. After all most games just add more, tougher enemies to accomplish this. More complex games may even have a timed element. Ever get the Mile High Club achievement (or trophy, whatever) for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare? If you haven’t attempted it, it is for beating the final level on the highest difficulty, Veteran in about 24 seconds – a nearly impossible task that takes even the best gamers quite a few tries to complete. Hardcore mode in New Vegas is a totally different approach that requires thinking, planning and strategizing on a level far beyond any other game out there.

Many of the developers other than those at Bethesda had had prior experience with the Fallout series at some point or another. New Vegas was developed by Obsidian Entertainment, founded by Chris Avellone and Feargus Urquhart – who both worked on Fallout 2. The development of New Vegas was led by J.E. Sawyer who was also the lead designer of Van Buren, a cancelled version of Fallout 3, set in the American Southwest. It was made by Black Isle Studios, and cancelled in 2003.

If you haven’t gotten your hands on a copy of New Vegas yet (sorry, Europe…and Japan) you should definitely check out the developer diaries for New Vegas, available on Bethesda’s YouTube ChannelThe Vault is also a great resource for all things Fallout. I also highly suggest reading the Fallout timeline.

– Mary Hoffman

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