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Fallout: New Vegas
Platform: Xbox 360/PS3/PC
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Genre: Action RPG
Release: US 10/19/10

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John McCarroll
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John McCarroll

I grew up in the glitz and glamour of the great city of Las Vegas. It's a city of extremes, and a city that I love dearly and will probably always think of as home, no matter where I move to. In Fallout: New Vegas, the city is the last bastion of civilization, and home to a lot of people. The previous Fallout games were located in wastelands without power, without clean water, and without hope. These places were once beautiful and green, but war turned them into barren wastelands – nuclear deserts with nary a soul in sight. The Mojave Desert, the place where I spent the first twenty-five years of my life, has always been a wasteland. If you drive 10 miles out of town on I-15, you are greeted with lots and lots of brown, and not much else. In the world of Fallout, however, Las Vegas was spared the devastation suffered by the rest of the USA. The Hoover Dam still takes the mighty Colorado River and provides power to the Great Basin. That wasteland that I grew up in, that barren stretch of desert, is what qualifies as true paradise in this world.

It's not all fun and games in the city of sin, though. There are many factions at war, from the new mafia families that own the casinos to the New California Republic (the only thing that might actually qualify as "government" in the west), to Caesar's Legion, who, well, wouldn't look out of place in Caesar's Palace. These factions form the core of one of the biggest gameplay updates featured in New Vegas, which is the reputation system. People hear about the things you've done, the atrocities you've committed, and the sheer number of people who you've shot in the head with VATS. (VATS still lacks the ability to shoot your opponents in the groin.) Oh, sure, you can do good deeds and people will sing your praises across the Vegas Valley, but that's no fun. Your reputation will obviously have an effect on how people will interact with you, and you never know – the enemy of your enemy just might be your friend. Or he could still be your enemy.

Now, there's no denying that Fallout: New Vegas feels a whole lot like Fallout 3. It uses the same base engine, and although it was not developed in-house at Bethesda, the developers at Obsidian have had their hands guided by their Maryland-based cohorts. The dialogue that we saw seems just as good as talking to folks in the DC valley, although to be fair, during my time with the game, I decided not to play the "dialogue" scenarios as such. I may have destroyed anyone and everyone inside the casino I found myself in. The graphics and sound also mimic New Vegas' older-brother game. While it's absolutely true that Fallout: New Vegas is not an expansion pack, it feels just like the shift between Persona 3 and Persona 4. It's a brand new game with brand new graphics, sound, quests, and likewise, but it's not a brand new engine or style.

The combat feels very similar to Fallout 3, although there are quite a few new items and weapon types to be found in New Vegas. Obsidian has said that they have added a slew of new weapons, more than doubling the weapon types in the games. There are new items, new quests, new environments, street-corner call girls, and probably a guy named Vito. Players will have partner characters in this game as well, but unlike Fallout 3, where it seemed like Fawkes followed you around and did whatever he wanted to do, we were able to talk to our demo partner using a radial menu that let us issue him special orders. It made the game feel a little bit more strategic than just "shoot everything over there, then shoot everything over here."

My initial impression of Fallout: New Vegas is that I'm ready to take on Obsidian's title when it's released later this year. Folks looking for a brand new game will probably be a little disappointed, as New Vegas is not nearly as new as its title might indicate. However, I don't see that as a negative in any way, as Fallout 3 was one of my favorite titles of 2008. Based on what I've seen so far, New Vegas should be one of my favorite titles of 2010 when it's released in October of this year.


© 2010 Bethesda Softworks. All Rights Reserved

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