Review: Fallout: New Vegas

Review: Fallout: New Vegas
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Fallout: New Vegas will ask each and every one of you a very simple question: If a game breaks every 10 minutes, can you still enjoy it?

And it’s a tough one. Because when Fallout: New Vegas – a sequel of sorts to 2008’s Fallout 3, only this time you play as a courier shot in the head, left for dead, and caught between warring factions in a western post-nuclear wasteland – is humming along, and you’re charming gangsters, clubbing mutants and exploring abandoned rocket factories, it’s a blast. Your answer is “yes”. But then the game will crash. Or your companions will disappear. Or an entire room full of people will draw their guns and run around shouting “Howdy!”, and you have to ask yourself the question all over again.

Ideal Player

Somebody who has the time to sit down and spend 60-80 hours on a video game, and the sheer force of will to spend much of that trudging over a bleak, desolate landscape performing sometimes ridiculous errands.

Why You Should Care

Mostly because it’s a new Fallout game. Also because there are so many games on the market now that are over and done with in 4-6 hours. Fallout: New Vegas, on the other hand, is a role-playing game that you can really sink your teeth into. If you’ve got the time – and more importantly the patience to overlook the game’s technical “characteristics” – New Vegas has the missions to keep you busy for months.

Wait, this wasn’t made by the guys who did Fallout 3? Nope. Fallout 3 was developed by Bethesda, the team behind the Elder Scrolls series. Fallout: New Vegas, on the other hand, has been developed by Obsidian. It’s a team that specialises in making sequels to other people’s games, but is also home to former Black Isle Studios vets, the original developers of Fallout. This is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing in that they’re so good at getting under Fallout’s skin that you won’t even realise the switch in developers, but it’s a curse in that many of Fallout 3’s (and Oblivion’s) flaws are along for the ride too.

Right: It’s like Desert Bus, only with guns.

And what flaws are those? This engine, despite being capable of some amazing vistas, is also busted at a fundamental level. Plastic-faced people, archaic character animation, dodgy AI path-finding, unreliable mission structures, misplaced map markings, these things – which let you down in Oblivion and in Fallout 3 – will let you down in this game as well. You’ll even run into game-breaking glitches like becoming stuck in the terrain. When you have to hard-save a game every five minutes for fear of it crashing or trapping you, there is a serious problem.

Ungh. Anything else? Sadly, yes. Obsidian was stuck with the engine, but many of New Vegas’ other problems can’t be blamed on an outdated piece of technology. The game’s voice-acting is woeful, undoing some great writing from the team, but my biggest problem with New Vegas is its size. The fact it’s a lot bigger than Fallout 3’s map may seem like a positive, but Bethesda knew that a dreary, post-apocalyptic world isn’t exactly a joy to traverse. So they kept Fallout 3’s world compact, and kept it interesting. New Vegas’ expansive desert is just… boring. And when you’re forced to trudge over rocks and dirt for up to 10-15 minutes at a time on a quest, it becomes really boring.

OK, stuff’s busted, but what if I don’t care about any of that? Is it more Fallout 3? Yes. This is basically an enormous expansion pack to Fallout 3. The interface, the menus, even many of the textures that the buildings and “dungeons” are made of come straight from Fallout 3. The missions feel the same. The characters feel the same. Many of the items and weapons you’ll find are the same. You like Fallout 3? This is more of that. You’ll love it.

And the nuts and bolts? Mechanically, this is an improved game over Fallout 3. Tweaks made to the VATS targeting system and the game’s “iron sights” shooting perspective make combat more enjoyable. You can now craft your own modified weapons and food/chems, which is a fun little distraction. The main quest also felt like it took a lot longer to complete (over 20 hours), though this is padded by some ridiculous fetch-questing late on. There’s also a “hardcore” mode that promises to truly recreate a wasteland experience by forcing the player to eat, drink and heal properly, but it’s too leniently implemented to be as satisfying as the name suggests.

Fallout: New Vegas In Action

The Bottom Line

Like Obsidian’s other big-name sequel – KOTOR 2 – Fallout: New Vegas is a divisive game. So much remains of what made Fallout 3 special, from the ridiculous cast to the joy of exploration, that there will be many willing to overlook all the bugs and glitches in favour of the weight of content that lies beneath. Those who were hoping for more than a mission pack to a 2008 game built on a busted 2006 engine, however, may find new Vegas to be quite literally a wasteland.

Fallout: New Vegas was developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Bethesda for the PC (version played), Xbox 360 and PS3. Retails for $89.95 (PC)/ $109.95 (Xbox 360, PS3). A copy of the game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Completed main quest as a man with a beard who liked to shoot first and ask questions of the dead later.


  • I love the game and I haven’t had any major technical flaws yet, I play it on Xbox, and the worse that has happened is that sometimes enemies get stuck in the ground or something, I really haven’t found anything worse than that, nothing that ruins the game, nothing that “breaks every 10 minutes”, and I’m already about 20 hours in. The game is truly great and it’s already got it’s first patch on console, so really, don’t worry about the bugs too much, the game is a truly immersive experience, especially on the new Hardcore mode, which really isn’t as hard as it sounds. I didn’t find the wasteland boring, just like Fallout 3’s wasteland, there is ALWAYS something nearby to discover, and keep you entertained for hours. Everything but the graphics and engine has pretty much been improved for the better, and the more you play, the more you don’t want to stop. Do yourselves a favor and pick it up. Play it on Hardcore. Enjoy it. I do hope its the last game from Bethesda or Obsidian to use the engine though, It really is time to move on to bigger and better things, and Fallout New Vegas will keep you entertained till then, and probably even after.

  • You know I have had not a glitch yet. I have been playing the game now for 12 hours and it has been stable for me. I am actually enjoying it more than Fallout 3 to my surprise. Got to go back and try and kill those damn deathclaws.

  • I counted 5 lockups in 25 hours of play on the PS3 version before a patch became available last night.. then I had a system reset during a conversation, and another lockup. You’re certainly right about religiously saving..

  • Its a great game and I know many people, including myself, that have only had 1 or 2 crashes. And for me personally I havent had any of these otherwise weird bugs happening. Maybe some get lucky and some dont. Though it still feels like more of an expansion to F3 than a whole new game. Still nothing to complain about I guess.

  • Are these glitches mainly on PC? I have heard that the worst platform for these bugs was the 360, but from this review, it seems the PC version could be a bit buggy too. I guess if your PC had issues with Fallout 3, you will have issues with New Vegas, being the same engine and all…

    • Yeah, I was going to comment on that too. “Woeful”? Is that code for “a billion times better than almost every other game released”? Seriously, go play a Dynasty Warriors or some other awfully-dubbed game, then come back and tell me NV is “woeful”.

      The fact it has Michael Dorn reprising his role as Marcus makes it the BEST GAME EVER, almost. The constant connections and references to the first two makes make this the true Fallout 3.

  • This review is way out of balance with all other reviews I’ve read, other experiences I’ve read and my own experience with the 360 version.

    The game has bugs, annoying ones even, but not constant, the game is hardly broken.

  • i knew it was going to be more like a massive expansion pack for 3, but the thing is, i’m fine with it! fallout 3 was so good i would gladly play another 20 hours of it!

  • I’ve got it on PC, and haven’t run into any issues. A patch was rolled out for PC that apparently fixed many of the bugs, and when I first installed the game Steam updated it for me straight away.

  • That’s a picture of Fallout 3’s concept art, you can’t fool me. Nice ‘shop though.

    Back on topic, It seems to me that while most people are quite happy to point out how ‘busted’ Bethesda’s engine is they seems to forget just how important it is to the company and the games they produce.

    They bought the Gamebryo engine almost 10 years ago and have been working on it since; not buying new versions from the company that made it but modifying it to their own needs. And they use it for a good reason; it suits the games. I could go into the technical details of the benefits it provides but it’s enough to say it allows them to produce games as big as Fallout and Oblivion as quickly as they do. And yes, it comes with some very recognisable bugs characteristic of the engine. Just remember it’s two sides of the same coin – you can’t change the engine without changing the game.

  • I still fail to realise how people consider fallout 3 good. If this is more of the same, I’ll definitely be passing.

  • Thing is, I feel that New Vegas makes Fallout 3 look pedestrian and broken in Comparison, and I love Fallout 3 and sunk at least 250 hours into it.

    But this is a vastly different game. Armour has a point, you get poisoned when stung by creatures like Radscorpions. The crafting adds a new dimension and being able to create your own ammo. Plus medical supplies are much more scarce, so you can build up a collection of 200 Stimpaks and 60 Rad-Aways and just blast your way through….

    Its more like Fallout 2 than anything else, and takes alot of its cues from it. The Traits, the Reputation, Ammo Varieties etc.

    I’ve played for nearly 20 hours and not come across any game breaking bugs or glitches. For me, this is what Fallout was all about and why I loved the first two….

    Its a vastly different game to Fallout 3…and in no way an “Expansion”.

  • I’ve been playing NEW VEGAS on PC, and I haven’t had many issues at all. I think I had one (or was that two) hard lock ups in the 20 hours or so that I have put into the game. The biggest issue (as some people have already pointed out) is that enemies can get stuck in the ground and the AI path can sometimes be a bit questionable (it’s not real often)…but other than that it has been a good experience.

    I have been enjoying it more than FALLOUT 3 – the world is more vibrant, and it feels like a world where things are happening. Also, I like the little tweaks that OBSIDIAN have implemented. I like the gun mechanics, and even though the ‘iron sights’ are still a little flawed, it makes for a much more enjoyable experience.

    I have only had the one NPC tag along with me in my travels – Boone. It almost seems like cheating, what with his sniping abilities and the spotter perk which highlights enemies for you when you ‘aim’ with your gun.

    I really can’t say all that much which is bad. There are other things I should be doing right now, but I find it so hard to tear myself away from this game. That is when you know it’s good…when you just can’t help but play it. In a perfect world it would have been nice if they did an overhaul on the game engine, but it still works reasonably well, especially on PC where it just seems to run smoother than FALLOUT 3 (after a very minor .dll tweak that stopped a randomly sluggish frame rate).

    Overall, I am very impressed with the game. I would easily recommend it.

  • Dear Luke.

    Your impossible high standards are deplorable.

    Also, if the game is constantly crashing, I suspect you need a better PC, as I am running it fine, as is everyone I know.

  • “game breaks every ten minutes” – I had a good laugh at that.

    Been playing for around 12 or so hours now (pc version), crashed once and the only glitch or bug I’ve seen is a scorpion stuck in the ground. Also, to say this is no more than a large ‘expansion’ pack is hilarious.

  • I got DJ Max Portable 3 around the same time. I decided that every time NV crashed, I would play a song in P3.
    I’ve since completed every song in every game mode and every difficulty.

    No, it’s not quite that bad. But there is still a large number of bugs, from crashes, to people getting stuck in walls, to you getting stuck in walls, to quests breaking, not starting or not ending, and so forth.

    It’s enjoyable, but like every Bethesda and Obsidian game, it needed far more bugtesting before release.

  • I’ve been playing for 38 hours since Tuesday night on the PC, the game has crashed twice so far. Not bad for an Obsidian game…

    If you can overlook the engine (like you had to do in every other Fallout game, quite frankly), you’ll find another epic instalment in the series. I’d still be playing it now but I’m forcing myself to go to bed… and you can be the first thing I do when I wake up is booting up the computer to keep playing.

  • I was prepared for glitches and bugs after reading online reviews, but have been pleasantly surprised to find that I’ve not had a single problem in 10-12 hours of gameplay. I installed it to my 360 harddrive and it’s fine.

  • I’ve played about 20 hours so far, avoiding the main quest entirely and doing heaps of side-quests. Freeside is frustrating for the simple fact I think I spent about 2 hours running around being a messenger boy. I think I managed to go up 2 levels withing getting to shoot a single thing.

    But on the errors side, here’s what I’ve had (PS3):
    – Game lock up x 2 – probably just reminding me to get some sleep
    – NPC went missing x 2 – Best way to get them back is with fast-travel, they will often appear next to you after that. If they still don’t follow you then it’s probably because they have something to tell you and are so busting about it they won’t walk. Talking to the NPC should get them moving again.
    – Broken quest – Guarding the energy weapons shop, after waiting around for 12 hours I knew something was up.
    – Bad guys coming through walls – got quite a surprise when I thought I had my back against the wall when a guy came through that wall only to shoot me in the back.
    – Bad guys just stopping x~8 – Makes them easy targets, but feels a little mean.

  • I’ve been enjoying this game thoroughly and it’s exceeded every one of my expectations. There was an issue with it crashing constantly but that was resolved by tweaking a few settings and it’s running near perfectly now.

    Without going too far into it, I find this game to be everything fallout 3 should have been. The dialogue, skills, setting and gameplay have all been improved.

  • Been loving NV so far, really loving the huge amount of side quests and random jobs/encounters which I’ve uncovered in about 15 hours of gameplay. At the moment, I’m also enjoying NV as a location more than I enjoyed the Capitol Wasteland.

    Although I have had some trouble with bugs, its not game-breaking for me. (PS3)
    – 4 Game freezes so far
    – Trapped inside a rock near Great Kahn base
    – Randomly failed a quest called ‘flags of our foul-ups’ which I hadn’t even discovered yet.
    – Boone disappeared for about 10 minutes then reappeared again.
    – Some semi-freezes where the game freezes for a 2-10 seconds then continues.

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