on April 18, 2012
EDITED: Added section on a DLC I finished yesterday (Old World Blues); Added section on enemy AI.
EDITED: Added comment on memory leak induced crashes (see CONS for details/fix)
NOTE: This review is for Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition (PC), not any other version of this game.
IV. Enemy AI
V. Final thoughts
I recently reviewed Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) on Amazon and gave it a 1-star rating (the many reasons are detailed in my review). Prior to purchasing SWTOR there was a lot of hype and many promises by BioWare, so I quit World of Warcraft and eagerly waited for SWTOR. It was such a huge disappointment that I quit the game after five weeks. Then, there was Mass Effect 3 (ME3). Mindful of all the promises BioWare broke with SWTOR, I decided to read ME3 reviews first and found out that BioWare broke every promise they made about ME3 just as they did with SWTOR. So, I decided to stay away from BioWare games from now on and as the result suddenly found myself without anything new to play.
Some 2+ years ago, when Fallout: New Vegas (FONV) first launched there were many reports that it was very buggy, crashed a lot and was downright unplayable, so I stayed away from it back then. Now I decided to give it a shot and I am supremely happy that I did. To find out why, read on.
The negatives of this game are few and far between, so let's get them out of the way from the start.
Firstly, nearly all bugs which existed in the original version of FONV are gone. I encountered only a few and I can tell you with certainty that they can be ignored but I will list them just to be thorough:
- In two insignificant areas creatures may completely or partially fall through the environment (say a Radscorpion gets stuck in the ground or inside a rock). My character once fell inside a rock when trying to climb on top of it and I had to reload the game;
- So far I have played the game for close to 200 hours and experienced five crashes:
EDIT: Crashes seem to be caused by two things -- 1) slow/unstable Internet connection since Steam runs in parallel with the game; and 2) memory leaks (check Wikipedia to find out what a memory leak is). I have not experienced a lot of crashes but this may be due to my 20 megebit Internet connection and 12 GB of RAM on my gaming machine. Generally, the more RAM you have, the less you will suffer from memory leaks (not only in FONV but in any software). Your experience may be different from mine if you are on dial-up or have 4 GB or less RAM, but if you have little RAM I would recommend that you upgrade, regardless.
1. FONV does not like to be minimized (Alt-Tab). When I tried to minimize it, it first locked up and then stopped responding. Solution: do not play at work, then there is no need to minimize in a hurry :)
2. One crash happened when I transitioned to a new area (which triggered Autosave), leveled and encountered an NPC who initiated dialogue with me. I guess there is a bug in the code which fails to prioritize events when several of them are triggered simultaneously (Autosave, Level-up, NPC conversation). However, chances of reproducing this particular crash are basically zero;
3. Once it crashed after over 10 hours of non-stop gaming. I suppose there is a memory leak somewhere and every 8 hours or so it may be a good idea to save/exit and reboot your PC;
4. There was one random crash which I cannot put my finger on.
5. There is a bugged NPC vendor at Crimson Caravan camp. He has some duplicate items (playing cards and Recon armors in particular). If you try to buy too many things from him at once, including duplicate Jokers and several suits of Recon armor the game will crash. At first I thought it was a random crash, so I ignored it but when I tried to buy the same items after reload the game crashed again. Solution? Buy duplicate items one at a time, save then buy another. This is a serious bug because this NPC happens to also sell a couple of items you need to complete certain quests.
So, if you play 3 hours a day the game may crash on you about once every 13 days.
- On few and rare occasions your Companions may experience brief path-finding difficulties. But considering how huge, open and interactive the world of FONV is I am surprised that they are very smart 95% of the time. I would expect them to get lost/stuck quite a bit more.
- Finally, this game does not like it when you have Shadows enabled (in Options available at Launch screen). Shadows are not a problem, generally, but the frame rate will stutter annoyingly inside caves and other underground locations, so you should reduce all shadows settings to minimum or turn them off when venturing under the ground (thankfully, unlike in FO3, there are few underground environments.)
That's about all the negatives I can think of that are worth mentioning. Now for the good stuff.
III. Pros (also see IV on enemy AI)
This is the best Fallout game ever made. Other developers should take Bethesda classes to learn how to make good role playing games and especially how to make sequels. FONV learns the lessons of all Fallout games that came before it, it also learns the lessons from other, non-Fallout games and incorporates them all in FONV brilliantly.
LORE AND STUFF:
FONV builds perfectly on the lore of all previous Fallout games and includes all of their very best features, including music and items. FONV takes place years after the events of Fallout 2 and 3 but you will encounter many situations which allow you to relive the most glorious moments and the most touching friendships of the past. I will give you a few spoilers, but trust me, what I will tell you to illustrate the above point is just a drop in the bucket.
Remember Marcus (the eloquent supermutant sheriff of Broken Hills from Fallout 2 who became your faithful companion)? Supermutants live long lives, they are super, after all :) You will meet Marcus again in FONV and he is just as intelligent, eloquent, well-spoken and proper as ever before.
Remember Klamath from FO2? Well, you will meet someone who used to live there.
Remember Cassidy (the hilarious drunk who was ah-so-very good with that Pancor Jackhammer)? He is dead, of course, but you get to meet his beautiful, no-nonsense, hilarious and very skilled daughter (and if you play your cards right she will join you in your travels).
You must, of course, remember the Bozar. It was my favorite weapon in FO2. You get to wield it again in FONV.
Miss your old car (The Highwayman)? You'll find it if you look...
There are references/events related to FO3; and, of course this game includes nearly all perks (character customization options) from all previous games and then adds a few more.
This game vastly improves on the graphics of Fallout 3 while it still remains faithful to the overall feel and look of Fallout series. The environments range from desert to snowy mountains and lush jungle-like locations which look great. This is not Crysis, but it cannot be Crysis without destroying the classic feel of Fallout universe.
There are literally tons of quests. Main quests, Side quests, Companion quests, non-marked quests, challenges. All quests are extremely elaborate and interesting. There isn't a single repetitive or redundant quest - they are all completely different and some quests take as many hours to complete as some stand-alone games. Each quest has at least two outcomes which have far-reaching consequences which affect your character, their reputation and the game world in a number of ways.
NOTE: A word of caution - when a quest takes you to the town of Nipton early on, do not attack Legion mercenaries and in general avoid confrontation with Legion until you are at least level 15. Otherwise they will send an army of assassins after you and you will be in a world of hurt. I died so many times at their hands that I had to reload the game from a save before Nipton.
There are somewhere around 130-150 locations in the game world (just a guesstimate) and in every location you will find at least 2-3 (and up to 6-8) fully interactive NPCs (not including your companions) with whom you can have full-blown conversations and who may (or may not) send you on quests. Some quests are mutually exclusive (kill NPC A and later NPC B will not send you to speak with the dead NPC A, for example). So in short, the world is populated with several hundred fully interactive NPCs (in addition to many hundreds of partially interactive or non-interactive NPCs) and the interactive ones have a lot to say/ask.
Dialogue voice acting is generally very, very good. Though your own character speaks only by clicking on various dialogue options, the NPCs are imbued with full voice-overs and are a joy to deal with. What you say in conversations really matters because certain answers/questions/statements may take the whole dialogue in such a direction that other potential conversation choices become unavailable.
The weapons in the game are superb. They are realistic, useful and fully moddable (just be careful buying mods - the GRA suppressor will fit only a specific GRA-made weapon and cannot be attached to the same weapon which was not made by GRA, for example). NOTE: Unique weapons, such as Bozar, are NOT moddable since they are already powerful... and unique :)
FONV incorporates a very elaborate crafting system which allows you to make Aid items (foods, armors, repair kits, drinks, poisons, antidotes, healing supplies, etc.) most of which are VERY useful (especially if you play in Hardcore mode where you must sleep, eat, drink, etc. I do recommend Hardcore mode which allows for far greater realism than any other mode). You can also create weapons and ammunition which is rewarding in itself.
Remember how in previous FO games you always struggled with the weight of the items in the inventory? Well, FONV incorporates a Mojave Express postal service which allows you to ship unlimited items to major locations so you need not haul everything on you.
Combat is very well implemented. You actually have to use various tactics to succeed without getting badly hurt or suffering debilitating damage to your equipment as you never feel overpowered in this harsh and unforgiving world.
The game includes a great variety of armors, clothes and head gear, so you will always find a way to look good.
Aside from fighting and questing, there is a great deal of entertainment in the world, including shows/concerts you can attend and many mini games (which may be very lucrative if you learn to play them). These include classics such as Blackjack, Roulette, Slot Machines and, of course a new card game called Caravan which could become a real card game in the real world - it is that elaborate and complex, not to mention that it is a lot of fun.
Companions in this game are infinitely better than those found in Mass Effect games (no, there are no ME-style animated cut-scenes but it does not make FONV companions any less interesting). You will have entertaining conversations with them and help them with their very interesting and non-linear quests. The companions are also very useful and helpful in combat. I don't know how many companions there are. So far I have recruited eight, I think, or nine. But it's not all of them since I have not received the "Recruit all companions" achievement notification. There are two types of companions - companions and followers. You can have one companion and one follower with you at all times but not two companions or two followers. Companions have perks of their own, and their perks aid you as well while you have the companions in your party. One of my favorites is Raul's Regular Maintenance perk which drastically reduces wear and tear on your equipment. Boone, being a sniper, gives you a Spotter perk which makes determining effective weapon range when trying to snipe foes from afar really easy and fun, etc.
OVERALL VALUE/REPLAY VALUE
This game is a tremendous value. To illustrate, I will compare it to the Mass Effect series.
There have been three Mass Effect games and about eight ME downloadable packages. Cumulatively, on a single play-through with the same character the entire ME saga takes about 120 hours. If you bought all three ME games and all their DLCs you would spend $120.00 - $200.00 (or even more if you bought Collectors' Edition), depending on when you bought them and whether it was on sale. But the cheapest you could get them is 120 bucks and you get a maximum of 120 hours of gameplay.
Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition (PC) presently sells for $28.00 on Amazon (I bought my copy on Steam for $38.00 and it includes 5 huge DLC packages each of which is big enough to be a standalone game; To compare, Bioshock can be completed in under 10 hours whereas FONV DLCs are each about 10 hours).
So far I have completed only one DLC (Old World Blues) included in this game and I have covered about half of the content of the main game and it's already been 216 hours of game play. This should be a no-brainer: Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition (PC) is the best value in gaming I have seen to date and I've been gaming for 22 years.
DLC package: Old World Blues
Based on the experience with Fallout 3, I assumed that the FONV DLCs would take about 10 hours to complete. But having finished Old World Blues I can tell you this: This single DLC package for FONV is bigger than a good number of stand-alone games. It took me 24 hours to complete. It plays like a completely stand-alone Fallout game. If you rush through the main quest alone, it will take you 10+ hours. However, the side quests are very interesting and yield you a number of benefits such as new weapons, new perks, various upgrades to the robotic assistants you have in your living quarters known as The Sink. Exploring the Big Mountain (where the DLC events unfold) is fun in itself and as with the rest of FONV there are plenty of surprises awaiting you just about every step of the way.
This game has OUTSTANDING replay value since nothing in it is linear. There are over a dozen factions with whom you can build your relationships in various ways, you can have whatever alignment you want - good, bad and every shade of grey in between and this will influence what options you have with individuals and factions. You have seven attributes (such as Strength, Endurance, etc.) which determine what perks/skills are available to you; and there are some 20 skills (such as Speech, Repair, Barter, Guns) and some 50+ perks. You can be a sniper or a ninja and everything in between which will dramatically change how the game plays.
So, to summarize the above to get the most out of this game one would have to replay it with different characters/skill sets/attributes/attitudes several times and right now it looks like I would need another 200 hours (400 hours total) to finish all game content even once.
IV. ENEMY AI:
Enemy AI is pretty good. There is a huge variety of enemies you will encounter: fiends, mole rats, deathclaws, Legion troops (if you confront them), NCR troops (if you betray them), other factions, if you choose to confront them rather than aid them (i.e Boomers, Great Khans, Powdergangers, etc.), Ghouls, various wild animals, mutated ants, mutated scorpions, genetically engineered beasts such as nightstalkers and cazadores, supermutants, mercenaries, robots, labotomites, tribals, and so on.
The interesting thing about these enemy AIs is that while their behaviors have similarities, there are substantial differences. For example, Fiends (drug-addicted bandits whose only purpose is to kill and plunder to get cash/barter items to get more drugs) will attack no matter what. They will never stop or run away. On the other hand, roboscorpions, when damaged will try to withdraw and rally reinforcements. Most AIs (other than super powerful deathclaws) will take cover, move about, flank and try to surround you. If you damage their ranged weapon they will drop it and switch to a melee weapon and try to charge you; if they tried to charge you first but your ranged fire proved too much they will switch to a ranged weapon and try to fight you that way. If you engage nightstalkers from an elevated position location which they cannot climb they will not just stand there and let you shoot at them - they will run away or hide behind cover and you will have to stalk them for quite some time before you can take them out from the safety of your inaccessible to nightstalkers spot.
As always, in Fallout games, there are several approaches to combat and dealing with enemy AI: you can shoot them, you can sneak up on them and slip an active grenade or mine down their pants or you can disable them (especially fun with robots).
In short, AI in FONV is very good.
V. Final thoughts
I am extremely happy I bought this game. It is one of those rare games that make me think about them even when I am not playing: Considering FONV complexity and the intricacy of relations between individuals and factions I constantly find myself wondering what might have been if instead of doing A I did B or C.. or D... but I will save this for future replays. On occasion, I cheated and looked up hints on the web. I would discourage anyone from doing this often. This game is worth experiencing on your own and questioning/second-guessing your words, decisions and actions.
on August 8, 2012
I really really like this game. According to Steam, I played it for 194 hours on one play through. I'm sure I could have played through again if I wanted.
I got it because I tried Fallout 3 and really enjoyed it. Sure there were some drawbacks and negatives, but overall it was a good experience. This game plays a lot like Fallout 3, as in pretty much exactly the same. All the old familiar stuff is there, the Pipboy, the interface, etc. There's a companion wheel this time around which makes things slightly more convenient.
My complaints about Fallout 3, that being a limited number of types of foes and the fact that most of your foes seem to have a limited number of faces so they kind of mostly look the same. What I really liked was a nice big map, lots of quests, lots to do. Sure you can run through and do the main quest, but I took my time getting to that and instead ran around outside New Vegas hitting a lot of the side quests.
Another cool thing is they have all these different factions. Powder Gangers, Boomers, Fiends, Great Khans, Kings, NCR, Brotherhood of Steel, Caesar's Legion just to name a few. They range on a scale of pretty darn evil to good with flaws. There's no real black and white with any of the groups though, its just good people who do bad things or bad people who do things for what they think are good reasons, etc. You can try and juggle all of them, you can alienate all of them, or you can form alliances, break alliances and do whatever you want. They have a reputation feature which is a new thing and it affects how a given group perceives and behaves toward you. Whether they love you, tolerate you or open fire the moment they see you. A nice way around that (sometimes) is that you can dress up as a member of the other faction and possibly fool them in case they aren't very happy with you.
One thing I had to get used to was the fact that on any single run through, you can NOT do all the quests because choosing one path may cancel out an entire tree of quests while exposing you to a different one. This is especially true for the end in which you have to make choices about how you want for things to go down. This is nice not only because it really adds weight to the choices you make as you play, but if you are so inclined to play through a different way next time, you may find yourself being exposed to a few quests that you didnt see the other time.
Its a nice big open world that you can explore however you want which I love. The graphics are not terrible, not exactly cutting edge either, they worked for me. I would highly recommend this game though. I think I paid less than $20 and for the amount of gameplay it gave me just on the 1 run through, it was more than worth it.
There's a few little bugs here and there that I encountered, but nothing major. Overall the game is a big winner and I highly recommend it, especially if you like open world games or are a fan of previous Fallout games.
on August 8, 2013
This game takes what made Fallout 3 great and makes it even better. While the main story doesn't have as much going for it as F3, it still brings you along. I really enjoyed playing through this game many different times and I think I have clocked more hours on this game than I have on Fallout 3. Majority of this review will be talking about this games improvements over New Vegas.
Gameplay wise this game Improves on a TON, including Iron sights, Better Perks, Better starting area, More and better sides Quests, Tons of locations and more. The map itself is smaller, but its packed in with tons of fast travel areas that have a bunch of things to explore and most have a building or two to go through and isn't just like a park or something.
Hardcore mode really vamps up the game by making you have to focus on eating, drinking, sleeping and taking care of broke limbs. My initial playthrough of the game I didn't bother using Hardcore mode since I felt like it didn't really add anything to the game, but it really does. Now that I'm replaying the game it makes it feel much more involved and makes you feel like your living off the land, without it becoming too much micro managing that it gets annoying. Definitely my go to mode in Fallout 4 at the start if they decided to feature it.
Sound track still has the main theme from 3 with some minor stuff added. What really changes the music is the newly added radio stations and there's more than two this time. Also at New Vegas you have singers doing a gig and some of the songs are really cool, with my favorite being Home on the Wastes (Really recommend looking up the song on youtube or looking up the ultimate edition trailer). The DLC add some radio stations, but its just a message telling you to go to X area.
Ultimate edition includes the following DLC (All add 5 levels, with a max level of 50):
Dead Money - which is about you going to the Serra Madre casino and someone taking you captive and taking all your stuff away from you (You get it back at the end). You have to find people and survive in an area that has harder enemies and Hardcore Mode takes away health from you the entire time your there. You also can't sleep.
Honest Hearts - This DLC has you heading to Zion National Park and it feels like its one of the very few untouched locations in the wastes and actually looks amazing. Tons of materials, weapons and enemies to fight here as well. The perks that get added that you can pick while you level up actually help on the main game itself while also affecting the enemies in Zion. The backstory on the Mystery character is really awesome to find out and helps pace the way through the next DLCS.
Old World Blues - Kindof of a mix of crazy 50's style inventions with the humor of Mystery science theater thrown into a world with crazy powerful enemies gives an idea what this DLC is. The story part of it is your get your brain stolen and you have to get it back while getting the story on what happened here learning more about the characters. Hardcore just makes the enemies even more harder since they can easily break your limbs even more so than the Mojave desert enemies.
Lonesome Road - A DLC I was waiting for the longest time to play when they first started releasing DLC's. This concludes a Big side story that ties into the main game (With adverse effects as well, depending on your choices) and has you going after a certain character that you learn about throughout the game. Enmies here hit the hardest out of all the DLC's and can make hardcore a pain if your not the right level or not prepared. Has one of the greatest endings for a DLC I have played in a long time.
Gun Runner Arsenal - Just adds a bunch of new weapons, mods, challenges (One of them called " Would you Kindly?", to give you an idea) , ammo and a perk that you get while leveling up. The vendors have a chance to start selling these new items right at the start of the game and the Chainsaw helps new hardcore melee character builds. The new stuff has (GNR) added to the Name of the items.
With all of these and the main game itself this game is so worth the asking price. I have lost hundreds of hours to this game and even find myself playing through it again from time to time since so much can change playthough to playthough. It was recently on sale for like 5 dollars on steam during the summer sale, so if your iffy on getting it you could wait. Either way its worth it for every person who likes an in-depth RPG or just a light shooter with RPG elements that will give you hundreds of hours throughout the experience.
~ Vaultnishi. 08-13
on October 2, 2014
The Fallout series of games has been a winner for a long time. While Fallout 3 was the least interesting of the entries, Fallout: New Vegas returns to the roots of the game. Though the game is published by Bethesda and uses all the technology and structure from Fallout 3, New Vegas was developed primarily by Obsidian Entertainment, many of whom are former staff members of Black Isle Studios, Fallout 1 & 2's original producers. And when playing Fallout: New Vegas, this becomes readily apparent. It is head and shoulders above Fallout 3 in regards to storytelling and world building.
The primary story revolves around a mysterious stranger called the Courier who has lost his/her memory and wound up in a grave near New Vegas in a 50's influenced, mostly dystopian post-apocalyptic world, where humans, mutants and monsters all intermingle. The final chapters revolve around the eponymous New Vegas, but not until you've likely done a bit of questing.
Game play revolves around exploration/shooting in most instances, but there are plenty of opportunities to accept quests and influence the world in small ways. The view is first-person, but the camera can be switched to 3rd person if you prefer. Thankfully, not every interaction is hostile and in-game characters will react appropriately to your perceived (mis)deeds.
New Vegas also adds a new optional eating/drinking system (in addition to sleeping) which seems like a small addition, but adds a layer of reality through interactivity that most games lack. Far from being a burden, these systems are well balanced with game play so that they don't become too cumbersome (though there is a small niggle in so far as you need to check your food/sleep/hydration levels via a separate interface -- however, if this is unacceptable, there are super easy to install mods for the PC version which add these elements to the HUD and thus eliminate this small gripe). Also new, there is card mini-game which allows you to gamble with various characters in the game for money. This is a nice diversion once you get the hang of it and build a good deck. It works well as a way to get extra cash, but don't get too good -- or else people won't want to play with you (just like real life).
The game is very open-ended in terms of how long you take to finish the main quest and there are technically multiple endings. Regarding non-critical quests, while there maybe more quests unrelated to the main quest in New Vegas, the total number of quests has dropped. However, this is off-set by the fact that the game is eminently re-playable and most tell an interesting story, rather than the large amount of "fetch & kill" quests in Fallout 3.
The biggest addition to this version (the "Ultimate Edition"), is the inclusion of several new areas and quests, as well as starting bundles that make the beginning of the game somewhat simpler in terms of ability to defeat enemies. These were all "DLC" that Bethesda initially sold and this version includes all of it. Even if you have played the game before, this is a good reason to revisit it. You will have new items (included on-disc) and a handful of new quests/adventures to run. Thankfully, the added DLC quests fit much more naturally into this game than Fallout 3, since much of New Vegas is disconnected in terms of what you accept and how it fits in to the game world.
Overall, this is an extremely good buy and well worth the money if you enjoy RPGs with depth.