War….War never changes….except in this game which takes place 4 years after the events of Fallout 3. It is not a direct sequel, but it is definitely more action packed this time around.
Plot: The game is set in a post apocalyptic open world around the areas of Nevada, California and Arizona. You play as a character known as The Courier, who is hired by a delivery company to take a package containing “the Platinum Chip” across the great Mojave desert to the New Vegas strip. You are unfortunately shot in the noggin by Benny, a dodgy man in horrible black and white chequered pants who leaves you for dead in a shallow grave, while he runs off with your goods, laughing all the way back to the Tops Casino. Luckily for you, a robot by the name of Victor saw everything go down, he digs you out of your predicament, and delivers you to the local quack, Doc Mitchell in wonderful Goodsprings. Once you are patched up and the doc gives you the ok, you begin your quest to hunt down the shady Benny and retrieve your package.
As soon as you step out the door of the doc’s house, you are blinded by the harsh sunshine, that is the welcome to your start in Goodsprings. As you stumble around and explore the area, you come across an old, rustic bar inhabited by the colourful locals. Talking to everyone in the area will give you a lead on where to find Benny, as well as some additional side quests. You also find out that there is currently a power struggle for the Hoover Dam and the entire New Vegas strip between 3 major factions. NCR – New California Republic, Caesar’s Legion and Mr House. Once you have all your information and warnings, you go on your merry way to draw some blood from the man with the horrible pants.
Characters: There are a lot of individual characters in this game, almost as many as the NPC’s that are roaming around. Most of them belong to certain factions, some will help you if you get on their good side, and some will just turn on you immediately. The minor factions in the area are:
The Boomers – heavily armed xenophobic tribals occupying an air force base.
The Brotherhood of Steel – A quasi-religious organization that is obsessed with technology.
The Followers of the Apocalypse – A small tribe in Freeside that deal mainly in medicine.
The Great Khans – A tribe of brutally vicious and semi-organized raiders. They are known to make jet, psycho and many other addictive chems.
The Enclave Remnants – They are what remains of the now defunct West Coast Enclave.
The Omertas – A highly organized and deadly group of mobsters, the Omertas control the Gomorrah casino.
The White Glove Society – A faction of secret cannibals on the strip.
Crimson Caravan – They are the largest supplier to the NCR of military-grade weaponry, and an assortment of provisions and other equipment types.
The Van Graffs – They are a major family-based organized crime syndicate operating in the Core Region and the Mojave Wasteland.
The Gun Runners – They are a weapons merchant and manufacturer faction.
The Fiends – They have little organization. Violet, Cook-cook, Driver Nephi, and Motor-Runner are the central leaders.
The Jackals – They are a band of raider-tribals with a savage and cannibalistic nature.
The Vipers – They are a band of quasi-religious raider-tribals.
The Scorpions – They are a small group of raiders primarily found outside the borders of Westside.
The Kings – They are a greaser style gang operating in Freeside.
The Powder Gangers – They are escaped convicts operating in the Mojave Wasteland.
The major factions which you can join either side or be independent and join Yes Man:
NCR – New California Republic, is a democratic federation based in California, with holdings in Nevada, Oregon, Mexico and along the Colorado River. The NCR embody many old world values, such as democracy, liberty, and the rule of law. It also aims to restore order and progress in the wasteland.
Caesar’s Legion – They are an autocratic, ultra-reactionary, utilitarian slaver society who resemble ancient roman law and style.
Mr House – He is the self-styled President, CEO, and sole proprietor of the New Vegas Strip in the Mojave Wasteland.
Throughout the game, you will also come across certain characters that can become your companions and help you in battle. You can have one mechanical companion and one human-ish companion at a time. They are:
Boone: Deadly sniper with a troubled past and very nifty beret.
ED – E: Flying robot that you have to fix yourself to make him yours.
Rex: Robotic dog with a damaged brain.
Arcade Gannon: Doc from Freeside who loves energy weapons.
Cass: Rose of Sharon Cassidy – A pretty bitter drunk but surprisingly deadly.
Lily: A sneaky Nightkin with advanced psychosis.
Raul Tejada: A ghoul mechanic that can repair your gear.
Veronica: Mysterious chick with an obsession with the Brotherhood of Steel.
Gameplay: Exploration is the key here, since it is an open world environment, there is tons to do, you can explore in third or first person mode, depending on your taste. Fast travel returns after you have explored 3 or more places, this can be unlocked just in Goodsprings where you start off. Carrying a shovel is very handy as there are lots of buried ammo or equipment for you to discover. Your Pip boy is your best friend here, you can select your weapons, medicine, quests, select way points, see which factions are friendly to you, your armour, map etc. Speaking of armour, you can wear the outfits of other factions and depending on how bad you have pissed them off, they will be very accepting of you. So if you are on the side of the NCR and waltz into NCR territory wearing Caesars Legion armour, they won’t take to kindly to you. So watch what you are wearing when travelling to certain areas, your reputation travels far in the wasteland. Water is no longer radioactive, you can splash away merrily without fear of dying, that is until the sea creatures find you. There are new creatures to do battle with, depending on how ranked up you are, and how well you weaponry is, your best move may be to run away. Especially if you come across the Deathclaws.
The repair system is back, if you have several types of the same weapon, you can combine them to make them stronger, there are several traders around that you can barter with, or blow their heads off, either way. Your karma is once again in play, stealing or killing civilians will result in you getting bad karma and some companions will have nothing to do with you, you also risk getting your arse shot off. The V.A.T.S system is here, thank god for that, it’s just as accurate as before. Something new here is crafting your own food or medicine, finding a campfire and having the right ingredients and stats can result in you making your own stuff. When you have companions with you, you can upgrade them too by doing unique quests that revolve around them, or you can just use them as cannon fodder and make them carry everything heavy, having one or two of them also gives you special perks. There are also 6 DLC’s for this game, Dead Money, Honest Hearts, Old World Blues, Lonesome Road, Couriers Stash and Gun Runners Arsenal. The last two are just weapons you can start out with and increases ammo supply in the wasteland.
Another nifty feature is gambling. There is gambling everywhere! Being Vegas I wouldn’t expect anything less. From what I’ve seen, there is Blackjack, Slot Machines, Roulette, Poker and the dreaded Caravan game. I say dreaded because after multiple play throughs, I still don’t know what the rules are. I have read them, I have played the damn game, and I still don’t understand it! Maybe I never will, but that’s me. That is my one complaint with the gambling in the game. You can also use any faction coins you have collected through the game, rob all the people that you have blasted, collect their coins, take them into the casino and exchange them for chips and you are ready to gamble your arse off!
Hardcore Mode, that is also a new feature here, and frankly, pretty difficult too. For those that want some added realism to their game, this is it. It includes new statistics and encourages you to make careful choices of resource management and combat tactics. Stinkpaks and other healing items, including food and water don’t heal you right away, what they do is work over a long period of time. They don’t heal crippled limbs anymore either, use of a doctors bag, sleeping, using the chem Hydra or going to the doctors is required. Radaway is the same, it also decreases radiation poisoning slowly. Ammo will weigh you down, so no more carrying mini nukes just in case you need it, unless you like crawling at a snails pace. So only take what you know you will be using. So, you don’t think it’s hard enough yet? How about this, you need to eat, drink and sleep to keep alive. Guess what else? food and water weighs you down too, so stocking up is not going to work here. Fast travel is limited greatly, you will starve to death if you fast travel too far. Your companions suffer as well, usually when their health reached zero, they would lose consciousness, in hardcore mode, they die instead. Fun, huh?!
Best Bits: There are many highlights for me, my absolute hands down favourite quest is The Arizona Kid. You get to assassinate the president for Caesars Legion any way you want. There are no right ways or wrong ways to do this, you can set a bomb on his helicopter, rig the auto guns to shoot him down, or you can just use stealth chems and snipe his head off. There is a very unique gun in the game, it’s basically a kids toy gun called Euclid’s C-Finder, but if you do the quest The Lucky Old Sun, it is a very dangerous weapon. You basically use the sun to power it, when you pull the trigger it uses the Archimedes II to perform an orbital laser strike. It will also kill you if you are too close. There are a 7 snow globes to collect (4 more with the DLC) and you can sell them to Mr House.
Final Thoughts: I would like to give this a high score, but there were so many glitches for me it wasn’t funny, between the game freezing completely, or lagging, or being unable to talk to major characters, these are just the greatest hits of the glitches I experienced! I had the same problem with Fallout 3 and Skyrim, maybe it’s a Bethesda thing. Who knows. I give it a 6 / 10.
Play if you like: Fallout 3, Vegas, Glitches, Making decisions, Shooting limbs off people.