Fallout: New Vegas Review

In terms of quality, Fallout: New Vegas is unbearably contradictory. On one hand, interactive media requires working inputs and correlating outputs to function on a basic level. If a game fails to meet this standard, nothing could be more condemning, right? But what if, on the other hand, the game works well enough to provide a nearly unmatchable open-world experience despite coming up short of the "fully functional" bar? Is this game a broken mess or a flawed masterpiece?

In the most recognizable ways, New Vegas inherits the legacy of its predecessor, Fallout 3. Graphically, stylistically, and characteristically they’re the same, which is honestly one of New Vegas’ biggest strengths. Fallout 3 transported players to a brand new, massive, 1950s-inspired, post-apocalyptic wasteland, and asked them to make some tough moral choices that deeply impacted the gameplay and story throughout. New Vegas follows suit, but in the Mojave Desert and the titular city itself, offering sweeping, sand-covered vistas, a cast of memorable, lively characters, and the recreated center of sin itself known as "The Strip." It’s got the guns, the mechanics, and the VATS-based FPS style that the Fallout series stakes its newfound fame in, and can easily take up to 100+ hours to be fully explored.

fallout new vegas

In the interest of full disclosure, however, my experience with the game lasted only around 30 hours, and is thus incomplete. But the sheer size of the Mojave and the amount of locations yet unexplored tell a much longer and likely deeper tale. What time I did spend scouring the nuclear wastes for Sunset Sarsaparilla, Bottle Caps, and ultimate conquest did reveal some crucial details illuminating the best and worst of the game’s gambles.

First, the highlights: Aside from being incredibly similar to the great title that came before it, New Vegas carves a new path (in fact, tons of new paths) for open-world storytelling. With the addition of factions, ranging from gangs to townships to casinos to robots, and the character’s alignment in relation to them, players can experience any multitude of preferred journeys towards a couple of different endings. Say, for example, that you’re an upholder of justice — the straight-shooter type who prefers to fight with words rather than bullets. If that’s the case, just up your Speech and Barter skills from the beginning, side with the military protectors, the NCR, and take out whole swathes of warring gangs simply by infiltrating, talking, and persuading them to "do the right thing." While I maintain that being evil can lead to much more interesting results, the point is you have plenty of options, and all of them matter in a basic, quest-to-quest fashion.

From the calculating Mr. House to the nervous remnants of the Brotherhood of Steel, characterization peaks in and around the remains of New Vegas. While the larger factions occupy the space of morally specific caricature’s (the NCR protectors, the ruthless Caesar’s Legion, the drugged-up Powder Gangers, etc.), there are nuances therein that make every aspect of the missions interesting and often surprising. Take Yes Man, the robot programmed to be completely honest, who willingly and happily reveals to the player the plot of his creator to take over the Strip and consolidate the power of his gang. In addition, the robot offers to help the player in a solo mission to take power for himself. It’s unique, surprising, loaded with charming character, and just like the rest of the game.

fallout new vegas

But then there are the bugs…. Wide groups of players have vowed not to play New Vegas until a suitable patch comes along because the bugs are really that bad. It’s not just slow rendering or long load times, though both are present, but, at times, an entire breakdown in playability. For instance, during a battle thick with Caeser’s Legionnaires and Radscorpions, my trigger simply stopped functioning for a good five minutes. And then there are NPCs — some quest-critical — spawning in walls and floors, and necessary conversation choices simply not being available when they should be. Add on some occasional delay with VATS (which can really screw you in a fight) and it makes for one mess of a gameplay experience.

The glitches are severely crippling, to be sure, but the game is still playable. That’s what’s so conflicting about New Vegas: the content delivers the awesome, at times jaw-dropping and hard-hitting experience that Fallout 3 taught gamers to expect, but the glitches are unbelievably frustrating. A game this good is absolutely worth playing, but it should probably be done a few months after release, once Obsidian has had time to patch their leaky ship. New Vegas is everything its predecessor was and arguably more, but only if you can put up with a slew of nasty errors.

4 out of 5


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: Dan Crabtree View all posts by
Dan is Managing Editor for GamerNode and a freelance gaming writer. His dog is pretty great. Check him out on Twitter @DanRCrabtree.

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.