After tearing myself away from this game after about 6-7 hours I figured I should chronicle my experiences with the thing as part of a long form review. Fallout: New Vegas isn't exactly a direct sequel to Fallout 3, but rather an expansion or update, as GTA Vice City and San Andreas were to Grand Theft Auto 3. The new developers mentioned that they managed to fix a lot of glitches that were in the third game, which there were a hell of a lot of, and I was eager to see how.
First, let me back up a bit and describe the general style for those of you who never actually played Fallout 3. The game-play is first person gun play, and if you want you can switch to third person, which I don't recommend because all of the animations look stupid. After the long intro sequence, and some general RPG shenanigans like setting your characters stats and perks, the game lets you out in the world. To do anything. Yes, you heard me right, anything.
You can even shoot giant cowboy robots!
I started out walking into the town near where I was met by a local gun-toting girl: Sunny Smiles, who looks an awful lot like Felicia Day, and proceeded to tell me about the town and offered to give me a tour of the town and some basics in shooting. She escorted me out into the world and I took some time to practice , which apparently they've “improved on” since Fallout 3, but they really haven't. The Fallout series, way back when, was still a top down 2d shooter had a “turn based” style of combat which fit the series, and paced the combat for that era. However, the developers thought that this would be a good idea to incorporate into the series as it progressed into a 3d first person shooter genre. The “V.A.T.S.” (Vault-Tech Assisted Targeting System) system as it is now called, is more or less an instant win button. It gives you the ability to stop time, aim at certain parts of your opponents body and gives you your percentage to pull off the shot.
Aim for the crotch!
The problem with this system, as I mentioned before, is it makes normal, aiming down the sights, combat completely pointless. The developers apparently noticed this too, and decided to make it as clunky and useless as possible to not use V.A.T.S. The people who made Fallout: New Vegas went on and on about how they fixed the combat and you can go through the game and not use V.A.T.S., but I'm not sure if our definition of fixed is the same. I'll give you an example of how “fixed” their combat is. I was making my way through the wasteland when I encountered a military encampment outside of a destroyed town. After asking around for a bit, I found out that some convicts had escaped from a nearby prison raided the town at night and killed or took hostage all of the townsfolk including the sheriff. I entered the building where I was immediately set upon by three of the convicts. Thinking “ I got this” I whipped out my trusty Service Rifle, aimed down the sights, and... couldn’t see shit. I was then promptly gunned down. Obsidian (the developers) apparently thought all sights on guns should block the entire screen and leave you about a centimeter of view with which to see the enemy. I then reloaded my last save and instead, went into V.A.T.S. and pulled off three head-shots in a row without breaking a sweat.
Next up, the newest edition to this Fallout game is “Hardcore Mode”. So, being the smart person I am, I decided to start the game on hardcore mode, and more than 5-6 hours in, I had to turn it off. You see, “Hardcore Mode” means you actually need to: eat, sleep and drink water every so often to survive and all healing items heal over time instead of instantly, while crippled limbs can only be healed by a doctor and not stimpacks. Oh and ammunition has weight. This means that if you are crippled in the wild by a wayward landmine, or get hit by a grenade, you have to either fast travel (which I try not to do for sake of atmosphere) or limp all the way back to a damn doctor. The tired, food and drink meters don't really have any sort of effect on you as long as you carry a lot of water and food while making sure to sleep every so often. The real draw though, besides the limb healing, is the fact that items don't heal instantly. For instance, say you're in a battle with a raider squad, and you're down to about a quarter of your health bar. Now, normally you could just use two stimpacks and be back up to full health, but with H-core mode on you have to wait at least 30 seconds before they heal you for their maximum effect, all the while being punctured by lead. My advice: if you're going to start hardcore mode, be very, very patient and take your time, save a lot and don't rush into battle.
So far my most memorable moment was: I had both of my legs crippled by a landmine about 3 in- game miles from the nearest doctor, then elected to limp all the way back to town, and just when I got there, the game froze. Of course while I managed to not save for 20 minutes before that, the game came to the rescue by auto-saving when I had exited a building about 5 minutes before it froze. In short, my first day was frustrating, annoying, buggy and full of me dying stupid and unfair deaths, but you know what? For the life of me I cannot wait to play it again. In fact, what the hell am I doing writing this?
Part 2 coming tomorrow!