Category: "Fallout"

Fallout: New Vegas - Letdown

  05:41:38 pm, by   , 863 words  
Viewed 19771 times since 26/10/10
Categories: Games, Fallout

If you'd told me a week ago that I'd be writing a blog post with this title, I'd have told you that I found it unlikely in the extreme. Fallout 3 was one of the most addictive and brilliant games I've ever played, to the extent that I had to take two days off work to get it out of my system. When I heard a followup was due I was overjoyed, and got more excited as the Bethesda publicity machine ground into action and released little tid-bits of information on what the game would include.

I eagerly did the pre-install thing on Steam (for those who don't know, this downloads the game ahead of time but leaves it encrypted on your computer so you can't play it until the official release date), and even left my PC on overnight on the day before release so it would be ready to play when I awoke. Immediately after the morning cup of tea I dived into the game - the advantages of contract work are many and varied.

Ninety minutes later I quit it again.

And didn't go back for a couple of days. It's been five days now and Steam reveals I've played it for a total of two hours. This is not what I was expecting. So what's the problem?

I always watch intro movies on first play-through and this one was decent enough without setting the screen alight. The character-generation sequence, though, was rubbish compared to Fallout 3. The earlier game started at the moment of your birth and took you through important early stages of your life, to the point you finally left the vault. It left you feeling involved with your character and genuinely caring about it. In this one you basically fill in some forms.

Stepping outside you get the usual lovely graphics, but a slight sense of disappointment too. When I first played Oblivion, my reaction to leaving the sewer at the start and seeing the gorgeous landscape in front of me was simply "wow!" In Fallout 3, I had the same reaction largely because the vista was so different: instead of blue skies, lush foliage and shimmering water, you had a fractured, blistered landscape that evoked the post-armageddon feeling perfectly. In F:NV, my reaction was "Oh." because it didn't do anything new. Sure it's pretty, but I was expecting another step up, not more of the same.

It's probably my imagination but the NPC interactions were a little better than before, and the voice acting has taken another leap forward too. Oblivion's biggest failing was the painful process of talking to NPCs, and the two Fallout games have made it much more bearable. Hopefully in TESV the NPC might move around a bit instead of standing like a statue when you talk to them. Even Morrowind-style head-turning and neck-scratching would be a start!

F:NV has added a few new things to the original's limited "making stuff" option. In addition to oddball new weapons, you can now craft ammunition and medicine. Weapons can get upgrades too, to make them more powerful in various ways. Some people are going to like this. I don't. FO3 was a tad unrealistic in the way it had ammunition practically oozing from very ground, and so having to break down some ammo in order to make more is better, but then you're already in a post-apocalyptic world with one foot in the 1950's and the other in the 2280's, so realism has already jumped out the window anyway. I can't help but feel that these new features are so much tinsel on an old Christmas tree - it adds a superficial prettiness to something that really needed a structural overhaul to work properly.

Most reviews you'll see will tell you that the graphics look dated. They do, largely because they're exactly the same as the original game. Sure some new models have been added, but I hardly noticed them. Combat's the same. Gameplay's the same. In other words, it's the same game as Fallout 3... but while I couldn't put the first one down, I can hardly motivate myself to pick this one up. What has changed?

The only thing I can think of is that while I cared about by FO3 character, I honestly couldn't care less about the F:NV one. "Yahtzee" Croshaw always goes on about "immersion" and this is the first game where I've found a lack of it really makes a difference. I suppose I should want to find the people who shot me in the head, but I don't. I suppose I should want to find out what the message I was delivering was about, but I don't. The intro to the first game gave me a huge desire to find my dad and restore the world to rights: in this one I just thought "I suppose I'd better go outside now" when the doctor was done with me.

Another common line in reviews is "If you liked Fallout 3, you'll like Fallout: New Vegas". You might. If I give it a few more hours, I might like it too... but it's not the done deal you might expect.

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