New Vegas Conquers Consoles

Fallout: New Vegas
Reviewed On
Xbox 360
Available For

Xbox 360 version proves more stable, less buggy than PS3

The colossal Fallout saga continues as the highly anticipated sequel to one of the most epic post-apocalyptic role-playing games hits consoles and PCs alike. "Fallout: New Vegas" is finally here and all of the hype and excitement along with it. We’re gonna take a deeper look into the Xbox 360 version of this monster hit and see how things shape up overall for that console, having previously reviewed this for the PC and the PS3.

Overall, things seem a bit less buggy on the 360, with no reported crashes like we found on the PS3. Plus, the 360 seems to be the preferred console for Bethesda as the first DLC for the game is coming out, at least at first, as an exclusive download for 360 players. So lets see how the wasteland looks from the 360 side of things.

This year’s story settles down deep in the southwestern United States in the infamous Las Vegas area, hence the name of the game. At the time players are introduced to the plot Las Vegas now known as "New Vegas" is in the process of restructuring and is one of a few fortunate places slowly but surely beginning to thrive again in spite of the catastrophic repercussions of the post nuclear war between the U.S and China. But of course, the age old cliché’ holds true: "No good thing lasts forever. Trouble is beginning to brew in the surrounding areas and the shape of the new world is about to once again become inevitably changed.

Humanity is in the full swing of survival, and the government is in a very fragile state. At the center of the struggle are two major opposing factions, "The New California Republic" and "Caesar’s Legion." The New California Republic or NCR is an organized group of militia and local settlers whose presence as well as territory has grown extensively over time. In fact, the NCR’s government has grown so big that it’s beginning to have problems policing all of its own territories, leaving it somewhat vulnerable to smaller opposing factions. On the flipside of the coin is a terrifying war band of slave drivers known as Caesar’s Legion who are conquering everything in their path. Their numbers have grown exponentially and it’s rumored that they may even be as big as the NCR. Though their methods and ideologies are a little less civil than what most might be used to, there are still those out there who have come to respect their ways.

As fate would have it the quest for territorial dominance has brought these two factions to war with one another. After much dispute, the two parties seem to have stale-mated on the Colorado River right at the Hoover Dam. Coincidentally the dam supplies substantial power and clean water to New Vegas as well as many of the surrounding communities, making it a very sought after territorial advantage to any of the two opposing factions. So the stage is all set and the series continues its ongoing theme: "War: War never Changes."

So the next big question might be where you the player come into the equation. In Fallout 3 players were introduced into the world as a new born baby and you progressed throughout your young adulthood until you finally left the "Vault." In New Vegas, you’re sort of thrown into the thick of the things. Portrayed as a local courier delivering a special package, unbeknownst to you, to the New Vegas area, you are intercepted by hostile parties whom we’ll just say don’t have your best interests in mind. The end result is a very dark day for you, but as fate would have it irony has a way of coming back around and biting the heads off of evildoers…or so the story goes.

Not shortly after players will find themselves amidst the Mojave wastelands knee deep in the cares and toils of the new world. Many questions that need answering and perhaps some good old fashion vengeance might be the order of the day, but you’ll soon find out that in the land of New Vegas nothing ever goes as planned.

The game is visually stunning just speaking in terms of the shear mass of the world itself. The horizons seem endless and you can truly go just about as far as the eye can see, giving players the sense that they have this enormous world almost all to themselves. It also does much to help make that post-apocalyptic experience that much more believable and realistic.

As far as the overall building structures and layout of the game goes, the dev team wanted to deliver the type of future setting that people of the 1950’s might have envisioned. Depicted about 100 years after the "Big One" the impact of nuclear war has caused civilization to advance at sort of a slow pace and only is just now is it beginning to bud again. Consequently, rather than seeing a more technologically advanced future setting like players might envision today, the game is depicted not as a time in which several scientific breakthroughs may have taken place but rather a time when the surviving inhabitants of the world have come up with practical and ingenious methods to advance themselves during the present day.

What all of that translates to is a world that has suffered such a major tragedy that it’s almost as if time stood still for a short but substantial period and players have the unique opportunity to experience a world on the fence between both the old and modern day eras, and that experience is nothing short of amazing.

The audio of the game is on par as well helping to drive home that "time-bubble" presence filled with an assortment of 50’s jingles and old school radio. Some of the travel music was even taken from the Morrowind soundtrack, as long-time players of Bethesda’s RPGs will quickly discover. We think this is a good thing, because Morrowind had one of the best musical scores ever. It fits into a medieval or futuristic world nicely.

In terms of voice acting, the game employed some well-known heavy-hitters in the entertainment business. Obsidian Entertainment and company have delivered some amazing voice-overs via the help of stars such as Wayne Newton, Chris Avellone, Kris Kristofferson, and Ron Perlman, the infamous voice of the "Narrator" from previous series just to do a little name dropping.

At the core of the Fallout series, however, is a totally unique open-ended game play element that has won the hearts of thousands of gamers world wide and is a huge reason why the Fallout games have received such wide-spread praise. This is one of the few games where you could actually evade much of the main story line and still have a fun and meaningful game play experience. Rather than being forced to inevitably follow a somewhat linear story line the game simply presents a situation to the player, gives you just enough help to literally find your bearings and then pretty much leaves it to you the player to experience the world in any way they so choose, all the while shaping itself to every major choice you make during your ventures.

If you’re a veteran to the series much of the combat system from Fallout 3 is still intact so you’ll have very little trouble getting reacquainted with the controls of the game again. The Xbox 360 controls are mapped well and make for a solid game play experience. New Vegas still utilizes the "V.A.T.S" or "Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System" which pretty much allows players to pause the action during combat encounters and target specific body parts and limbs of on-coming enemies. Besides the use of V.A.T.S it’s much easier this time around to target and take down enemies with regular sights. In fact Obsidian has introduced iron-sights into the game for specific weapons to increase accuracy and proficiency during hostile scenarios.

Such as in previous Fallout games, New Vegas utilizes "Perks" which players can acquire during game play to increase a number of attributes and skills. Every two levels in the game you gain access to new perks to help further customize your character to your style of play. Players can reward themselves with a number of bonuses ranging anywhere from damage and resistance bonuses to weapon proficiency, crafting, and even social skills. Perks play a big key in the success you’re going to have out in the Mojave so it’s important to take out time and pick out the right perks to give you the best advantages during your ventures.

One of the notable additions to New Vegas this year is the crafting system. You’re going to have a hard time out in the wilds if you don’t take time to learn a few crafting skills. Players will be able to create quite a bit of cool stuff ranging anywhere from weapon rounds and healing remedies to handy chems and food rations. The crafting systems compliments the idea of survival out in the wild very nicely giving the player a real sense of accomplishment when they scrounge up the right ingredients for the right situation. This seems to have been lifted from Oblivion, another Bethesda title.

All that said, while New Vegas is once again a fantastic open-ended experience, is it a completely flawless experience overall? Well, I think that it depends largely on whether you’re a newcomer or a veteran of the game. If you’re new to the series you’re about to be floored by one the most open-ended adventures to date that gives you near total freedom to live out the adventure just the way you like. The shear massiveness of the game world and its apocalyptic tone is intoxicating the first time you experience it.

On the other hand if you’re a veteran of the series, while you might appreciate the new perspective on the world of New Vegas, you may not be able to get by the fact that this game feels significantly like Fallout 3. Now while this certainly isn’t a bad thing because Fallout 3 was superb in its day, sometimes too much "dejavou" can steal a little thunder from the hype of a new sequel. Another notable disappointment is the fact that you cannot continue your character once you’ve played through the game, something that the player community has voiced concern about in the past.

Fallout: New Vegas is super-solid on the 360 and I haven’t experienced any crashes during game play as reported on other platforms. Not to mention that DLC is just around the corner for this title via Xbox Live, so I’m feeling really good about the 360 version at the moment. Bethesda seems to like us best, so if you have a 360, you’re in luck.

Superb presentation, award-winning game play, and solid audio puts New Vegas in the running for possibly one of the most definitive role playing games of 2010. But don’t take my word for it. Experience the awesomeness for yourself as the Fallout series once again nukes the gaming masses.

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