I’m going to be honest. It’s entirely possible that I like this game more than ‘Fallout 3’. I’m not sure if it’s the western setting or the fact that it’s Vegas but I really love Fallout: New Vegas and I’ve played it more than ‘Fallout 3’.
Granted, the game is made on the same engine and it’s much shorter than ‘Fallout 3’ so I suppose you could say that’s just more of ‘Fallout 3’ but I find that it’s shorter length means that it’s a lot tighter and I’ve played through it more times than ‘Fallout 3’. Just like with ‘Fallout 3’, you can choose to go through the main quests or you can blow off the main quests and go exploring with will reward the player with more quests or random encounters with interesting and quirky characters or the game might just throw a Deathclaw in your face and run off laughing.
Let’s start with some plot.
The opening narration (once again voiced by Ron Perlman) states that after the Great War in 2077, people were sealed in Vaults, which we already know. Unlike Vault 101 from the last game, the Vaults in the Mojave were opened and the inhabitants set out to form new societies. Just is human nature, these factions eventually realised that they hated each other and found various reasons to start fighting. The New California Republic (NCR) tried do reinstall the values of the world before the war such as democracy and the rule of law. The NCR sent people out to uncover new land in hopes of expanding and discovered a city (Vegas) that had escaped nuclear annihilation and a ‘great wall spanning the Colorado River’ which is actually the Hoover Dam. The NCR sent troops to capture the Hoover Dam but were met with resistance in the form of the Caesar’s Legion. The NCR and the Legion battled for occupancy of the Dam but the Legion lost but did not retreat. Instead, they set up camp across the river and slowly started to build their ranks by conquering tribes and capturing slaves. Through the 4 years that the NCR held the Dam, Vegas remained operational under the rule of the mysterious Mr House and his Securitrons keep Vegas safe.
We are then introduced to the player character who is a courier for the Mojave Express but have been captured by a mysterious man in a chequered suit, Benny. Benny has retrieved the package off the Courier and shoots them in the head and buries them in a shallow grave. The courier then wakes up in Doc Mitchell’s house in Goodsprings where their adventure begins.
Now, I have to say, the motivation in this game is not as strong as it was in ‘Fallout 3’. In that game, the Lone Wanderer was searching for their father and that is strong motivation but in ‘New Vegas’, the Courier was almost killed by Benny and wants to go in pursuit. Bear in mind, the Courier didn’t know what was in the package or why someone wanted to kill them for it or why they needed to kill them in the first place. Wouldn’t it be better to snatch and grab or just beat them up instead of killing them. Regardless, the Courier now has their heart set on finding Benny and retrieving the package.
A fun fact to start off with but hardcore fans will know this already. The actor who voices Benny is ‘Friends’ star, Matthew Perry. He was such a big fan of ‘Fallout 3’ that he went on to the ‘Ellen Degeneres’ show and gave away a signed copy of ‘Fallout 3’ as well as a signed XBOX 360. The ‘Fallout’ team developing ‘New Vegas’ knew that he was a fan and so asked him to voice ‘Benny’.
Immediately, the Courier is embroiled in a plot involving the settlers of Goodsprings. A man named Ringo has come into town, needing protection from the Powder Gangers, which is the gang that inhabits the NCR Correctional Facility and this group of about half a dozen is led by Joe Cobb. The Courier has to set up a last stand in Goodsprings. As an optional extra, the Courier can go around to certain members of the town and convince them to pitch in. You get additional XP for successfully convincing them, but the player does need a limited number of skill points in a few categories and you only get skill points by levelling up and there aren’t a lot of opportunities to level up that early in the game. I remembered that I needed 25 in explosives to convince Easy Pete to give up his dynamite and I put a lot of points into speech at the beginning anyway so talking to Sunny Smiles and Trudy wasn’t a problem. Where I messed up was putting a few extra points into lockpicking so I could unlock the safe in the school when I should have put them into ‘barter’ so I could convince the guy in the general store to arm up the locals with some decent ammunition. Doesn’t matter anyway because I know my way around New Vegas and we took care of the gang, no problem.
I should mention that I started a new playthrough recently and even though I’ve played through the game many times, I haven’t seen everything and I have never been up to Level 30. That is something I want to change and I made a pledge to myself that I would make it to Level 30 this time. To do that, the mandatory quests are not enough. I’m at Level 15 right now so I need to explore.
Luckily, this game is mostly side missions and at time of writing, I’ve made it to the strip, taken care of Benny and been introduced to Mr House and the Yes-Man. I’ve also had the invitation to have an audience with Caesar’s Legion. I just need to decide which way to go. I haven’t decided yet. But I’m not going to decide yet, there is still loads to do.
At the minute, I’m going for the 50 Sunset Sarsaparilla Star Caps for a quest and with all the travelling, I’m really lucky that I haven’t come across a Deathclaw yet. I know the spots where they all reside but apparently once you get past a certain level, Deathlclaws tend to be more frequent. I don’t know if that’s true, but I’ve been lucky so far.
In terms of gameplay, it’s really not that different from ‘Fallout 3’. In terms of difference, the weapons are more in keeping with the western theme such as a ‘Winchester’ rifle and the revolvers and such. Energy weapons are still available, but they were never my thing. Whenever I play ‘New Vegas’, the first thing I try to get my hands on is a duster coat and then a wide brimmed hat, then I’m set for the experience. It’s a shame there isn’t any horses. I suppose then it would just be ‘Red Dead Redemption’ with ghouls.
Also, companions are more of a feature in ‘New Vegas’. One companion who I would recommend getting as soon as you arrive in Freeside is Rex. Once you meet the King and gain his trust by completing a few quests for him, you open up a quest called ‘Nothing But a Hound Dog’. Rex is a cyber-dog and his brain is beginning to deteriorate so the King lends Rex to the Courier so they can take Rex up to Jacobstown where there is a doctor who can fix Rex. Once you make it up there, the Courier has to find another brain for Rex. There are a number of places where you can get a brain but I ended up buying one from Old Lady Gibson who lives near Novac. The brain is that of a guard dog and so Rex’s attacks become much more ferocious and he becomes really useful in combat. As soon as someone attacks the Courier, Rex will attack without a care in the world and the attacker will go down in seconds. I swear, I only fired a few shots just make it look like I was helping. Once Rex is fixed, the King will insist that Rex stay with the Courier and there you have it, Rex is yours.
One other thing I did like about ‘New Vegas’ is that since it’s running with the whole ‘Vegas’ thing, some of the quests are named after songs that were performed by famous singers that frequented Vegas. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Elvis Presley are the main ones with quest names such as ‘Ain’t That a Kick in the Head’, ‘Come Fly With Me’ and the aforementioned ‘Nothing But a Hound Dog’.
Speaking of ‘Come Fly With Me’, that is not a quest for the faint hearted. Given in Novac by Manny Vargas, the Courier is entrusted with clearing out the NOVACC Test Site of its ‘ghoul’ problem. Inside, the Courier meets Jason Bright who is the leader of some kind of ghoul cult called the Bright Brotherhood. They want to go on a ‘great journey’ which involves space rockets but there’s a problem. The lower levels are infested with invisible super-mutants dubbed the Nightkin. These guys are a massive pain in the arse since the area is dark and although they’re not totally invisible, they don’t show themselves until they’ve swiped off half of your health bar. I had about 20 stimpaks when I walked into that place and by the end I only had about 4 left. The whole area completely drained my ammo as well. I was a little bit afraid I’d have to finish the section with a switchblade and a prayer.
Put simply, the big difference between ‘Fallout 3’ and ‘Fallout: New Vegas’ is a change of setting and a shorter length but all the amazing things about ‘Fallout 3’ are still present in ‘New Vegas’. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have at least 25 more star caps to find and if I run into a Deathclaw during my travels… I’ll cry.
By the way, have you seen my book yet? It’s really good and written by me.