I have been playing Fallout: New Vegas for a few days now. My character is a level 15 on a game that has a level cap of 30. So we will say I am half way through the game. Whether that is true or not…
My first thought: Man, this is the best game add-on for Fallout 3 of the 3 add-ons I have bought. Problem is, this is supposed to be a new game created by a new group with big plans and bigger ideas.
The beginning of the game starts you out being helped back to life by a doctor that treated you after a robot dug your body out of a shallow grave in the desert outside of Vegas after having been shot in the head by some douche bag in a checkered suit. Honestly the character build setup at the beginning seems much less creative than what they did with Fallout 3. But it does give you an explanation for why you are where you are. It fails miserably at giving you a reason that your 30 something year old character is starting from nothing as far as attributes go though.
I won’t go into much detail on any of the missions as that would be way too easy to throw out some spoilers. But I can tell you, after maybe 2 hours of playing I started thinking maybe this wasn’t the best Fallout 3 add-on I have. For some reason the story seemed to kind of hit a dead spot. Sure, I still needed to find the guy that shot me, but he was far enough away that I needed to find things to do close to the start point to gain level to go to where he is. But quests seemed pretty short, basic, and not very numerous. After maybe another hour or 2 of the humdrums, the game really seemed to pick up and got very fun again.
I am playing on the XBox 360. Most of the reviews I read prior to playing the game mentioned bugs left over from Fallout 3 since they used the same engine for New Vegas. I have yet to encounter any bugs. I did have a couple slight AI issues. But I would call that stupid AI, not really bugs. Things like a bad guy attacking me with a knife and he got stuck behind a mailbox. One thing none of the reviews mentioned that is having an affect on my overall gaming experience is load times. Any time you fast travel or go through a door, you are greeted by a load screen with a spinning roulette wheel. A few of the load screen last for a “short” 10 seconds or so, but most are over 20 seconds long. It is annoying enough that I often find myself looking for an alternate route just to avoid a door. Once you get to New Vegas, there are way too many gates/doors. More than once, I shit you not, I close to 4 minutes of load screens for 5 minutes of game time. That gets old in a hurry. Go through the gate, load. Go in the first door to the left, load. Go into the elevator, load. Sleep in the bed, load. Go back to the elevator, load. Go out the casino door, load. Go back through the gate to the strip, load… ENOUGH!!!
Full disclosure: I do not have the game loaded on the HD as I have one of the older XBox 360’s with the tiny little 10GB HD’s. Also, a friend of mine tells me his load times are almost non-existent with the PC version. I have no idea about the PS3 version.
All of the reviews I read prior to playing also mentioned how much more comical Fallout: New Vegas is than Fallout 3. These guys must have been given the game for free in exchange for mentioning this. Because they all mention it as if they were told to, and really, I don’t see it. Yes there are funny things. About the same amount as Fallout 3 had, and in the same style as what you would see in Fallout 3. No more funny, no more quantity.
Another thing I find annoying in the game is the invisible walls. I was going from one town to another. I managed to get on top of a mountain that is in my direct path (not on the edge of the map) yet even though where I was is flat ground with a clear view of where I wanted to go, I ran into an invisible wall and was forced to climb down the mountain and walk my ass and extra hour out of the way just because the game designers were lazy. If you don’t want me going that way, put a super strong critter up there that I have little chance of defeating don’t just throw up an invisible wall. That interrupts the game and makes me feel less immersed in the world of New Vegas.
So in summary, there is not enough of a change in gameplay to make this not feel like a Fallout 3 DLC. However, it is worth every penny. And it’s worth every penny because Fallout 3 was that damn good. I have not tried Hardcore mode yet, but it is very tempting for my next play through. And there will be a next play through. I have a hard time playing this game for just an hour and leaving. I always feel there is so much to be done that I have to keep going until I can’t keep my eyes open any more. That alone tells you it’s a great game.
P.S. I haven’t mentioned the improvements made in gameplay that were made because about the only one I have noticed is the way you communicate with a companion in the game. And it is not any quicker or more convenient than the version in Fallout 3.