Fallout: New Vegas Full Review

el jorge loco

Staff member
Fallout: New Vegas is the most recent entrant into the post-apocalyptic themed series. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, the original Fallout was released as a top-down platformer by Interplay. They released several subsequent games, and sold their licensing rights to the title to Bethesda (publisher of the Elder Scrolls Series). Bethesda initially produced Fallout 3 and it was greeted with much acclaim, since it changed the experience of the divergent world of Fallout that had been previously established. Instead of the standard 3rd person almost top-down-angled view that was the custom while the series was in Interplay's hands, we were greeted with a 1st person view of a world where nuclear devastation had reset human society (for the most part). Before you read this review in its entirety or partially, please know that I absolutely loved this game, bugs and all. I know there were a great deal of people who just didn't like this game, I am not one of them. Bethesda always stands behinds it games, and this game is no different.

Fallout: New Vegas begins in a divergent style from that of the Fallout 1-3. In New Vegas, you are a wastelander and work as a Courier delivering packages for the Mojave Express and hired to deliver an innocuous looking platinum chip, a product of the pre-war old world. However, things take a turn for the worst while you are doing your job.

The Story
The Fallout Universe can best be described as a "What If" for the world. Everything in the history of Fallout begins to diverge from history as we understand it in the 1950s, the period following World War II. In fact, most of the Fallout Universe is very much stuck in a '50s-style design (at least from what we see in the United States). The future vision is that of the 50s vision of the future, not what we see. The technology, instead of being based on microprocessors, is still very much vacuum tubes and large diodes. Instead of single server towers being able to service us all, it's a universe where an entire room may be devoted to one computer. Due to this limitation, computers are designed around the old-school mono-chromatic look of the old Apple IIs.

And the future technology is something out of 1950s science fiction. The laser guns resemble the martian movies of the era.

The abandoned cars all resemble the Ford Nucleon, a concept vehicle where a miniaturized fission/fusion nuclear reactor would be the power source of the vehicle instead of the typical gas-combustion engine.

Needless to say, it's the 1950s gone nuts. But when one side (it's actually unclear who fired first), everything went to hell. The mutually assured destruction response occurred, and nuclear ICBMs were launched by both sides in an exchange that lasted for two hours. Up to this point, companies were capitalizing on fears of nuclear devastation by building massive projects called Vaults. Each vault, as advertised, was meant to preserve American society, but many were instead used as social experiments. If you want more history on the Fallout Universe, see the Timeline here: Fallout Universe Timeline.

However, the story begins quite literally from the grave. You are a courier and are hired to deliver a package to New Vegas, but on the way, you are ambushed by a raider group known as the Khans. The package, the Platinum Chip, is taken from your possession, you are shot twice in the head and tossed into a shallow grave in the dusty town of Goodsprings which is on the outskirts of the Mojave Wasteland. When you awake, you are in the local doctor's home after some very excellent Wasteland surgery is performed. You begin your journey trying to figure out where the guys who shot you went. On the way, you become embroiled in the local politics of the region, whether you like it or not. The story centers around the Courier changing the future of the Mojave Wasteland, for better or worse....

Fallout: New Vegas runs off of the Gamebryo Engine, like its predecessor Fallout 3 and TES: Morrowind and Oblivion. As a result you have the option of playing in either the basic 1st person view or the 3rd person view. However, many players will tell you that 3rd person camera is more for taking screenshots and not PARTICULARLY effective in combat. In many senses, Fallout: New Vegas is compared to as TES: Oblivion with guns. It's predecessor, Fallout 3, has been compared to Morrowind. If you've played Fallout 3, you can understand the similarities both in visuals and gameplay gripes. However, gameplay consists of jobs as you trek across the Mojave.

Character Creation
Like Fallout 3, character creation falls upon the same concept as Morrowind or Oblivion, where you begin by picking your race, gender and age. You can then play around with how you physically look. After you fix your face (literally as you'll find when you start playing this game), you go to the Vit-o-Matic Vigor Tester that helps you set your base stats.

Then you start picking your key skills and starting perks. Unlike Fallout 3, you don't have to develop a whole storyline before you begin picking your key skills. All of this is done in a few minutes through a psychology exam with the good doctor, Doc Mitchell. Before you leave the first town, you can see how your choices work by staying within the borders of the town as you play through your first mission. If you absolutely dislike how you are set up, once you start heading out to the edges of town, you will be prompted if you want to change your looks, stats, etc. similar to Fallout 3.

S.P.E.C.I.A.L. - This is the in-game version of character stats (Strength, Intelligence, Perception, Luck, Charisma, Endurance and Agility). SPECIAL stats max out at 10 pooints.
Traits/Perks - These grant your character special abilities beyond the standard skills. Traits can either be gained as a result of events in the game, or by your choice at the beginning of the game during character Creation. Perks can be gained through the process of playing, and for every two levels gained (always an even number).
Skills - Exactly what it is. These are individual skills for different parts of the game. My favorites are sneaking, energy weapons, and speech. But there is a wide variety for you to choose. When you level up, you can put points into whatever skill of your choice.

As defined above, skills offer you to create a character the way you want to play it. During the course of the game, particular expertise in a skill will allow you easier advancement in obvious instances. For example, having a high explosives skill will let you disarm certain bombs or help you with convincing NPCs to give you some dynamite. *hint hint*

There is a rather long list of skills, but you get a certain number of points you can spread out across multiple skills (or dump into one single skill). Certain traits also provide you with additional skill points that can be added at successive level ups.

Pip Boy - Don't leave home without it. It wouldn't be a Fallout game if the protagonist didn't have a pip-boy. A pip-boy is essentially a biometrically-sealed computer that attaches to one of your wrists that gives you several advantages. In the story, pip-boys have the controversy of making people forgetful, since it always tells you where you need to go. And it is also so in game. It will give you a waypoint and map for any particular mission you choose. But enough about that piece of RobCo trash attached to your arm!

Fallout: New Vegas contains many types of weapons, armors, clothing, accessories and weapon mods for your playing pleasure.


Your Fists - Yes, your fists are counted as weapons. But the general unarmed category also contains a series of brass knuckles, and power fists that let you punch your way to victory. Also, one of very few ways to just knock out your opponent without killing them. Though I rarely find any use for this.

Handguns - From the simple 9mm pistol to the intricately designed Ranger Sequoia Revolver, the Mojave Wasteland is dotted with the most handguns one can find. Ammo is not sparse for these guns as well, and so they make the most versatile of all the weapons available. In many instances, specializing traits and skills for use of handguns can make these weapons as deadly as their big brother rifles.

Rifles - Of course this is next on the list of weapons. Rifles are just as diverse as handguns. You start with the shittiest rifle in the world, which is called a Varmint Rifle. It's barely effective enough at shooting at critters and rats. Don't worry, rifles get progressively better in this game. With bolt-actions, semi-automatics and full-automatics this game has enough guns from the pre-war world to start World War IV.

Big Guns - This class includes mini-guns. With just the vanilla game, you only get one big gun, the mini-gun and its unique variant. Highly inaccurate and heavy, the mini-gun would be fairly ineffective in just anyone's hands. But in the Courier's hands (given that you set up the right stats) and using the pip-boy, you can mow down an entire army fairly effectively.

Energy Weapons - Energy weapons encompasses every laser or plasma rifle, pistol, gatling version you will ever use in the Fallout Universe from the uncle Laser Pistol to the complicated Plasma Caster. These are the sci-fi weapons I was talking about earlier. They look like something out of a bad 1950s sci-fi movie, and in one instance out of Star Trek. Set Phasers for Fun!

Explosive Weapons - Explosives actually counts several types of weapons, the most basic being single-use thrown explosives (i.e., grenades and dynamite). Additionally, they also include grenade rifles and missile launchers. Watch out for these weapons, they may be deadly and have a wide area of damage, you and your friends may also get hit in the blast radius. Also, there is a fun weapon that launches mini-nukes.

Melee - This class of weapons should be obvious. They're not quite your fists, and they don't fire anything. This category, at least for Fallout: New Vegas, includes several instances of giant sledge hammers, knives and other variants. If you've played any of the Elder Scrolls games using the Gamebryo engine, this game plays similarly to those weapons, though some with fun consequences and visuals.

Armor typically comes in three formats: light, medium, and heavy. Light armor provides very little protection, but doesn't obstruct your movement as well as occasionally providing a plethora of stats to make up for the shitty protection. Clothing falls into this category. Heavy armor is exactly what it sounds like. It offers maximum protection, but minimal movement. Wearing heavy armor will slow you down in game whether you notice it or not. In fact, this game very much favors wearing light-medium clothing and in only a few instances will heavy armor come into use. Medium armor is the go-between for Light and Heavy armor. Balancing protection with weight, Medium Armor provides the iconic faction gear that can be seen on all the pictures (including the one above of the NCR Ranger).

Of note, is that of Power Armor. As its name implies, this is heavy armor that employs a miniaturized fusion reactor that allows you maximum protection without hindering too much of your movement, with one exception. With power armor, you require additional training, and you can get it by jumping through a few hurdles in the game. I'll let you figure it on your own. But it's all worth it. Power armor also comes in multiple forms and designs.

You will get both regular and temporary companions who join you on your journey throughout the wasteland. The permanent companions offer you special bonuses as you use them. Unlike the previous Fallout 3, on normal mode, companions don't die; instead, they go unconscious. However, playing on hardcore mode will let them die. Additionally, the new companion wheel lets you deal with companions without having to go into long-winded conversations with them. I actually characterize companions like this: They're walking backpacks with guns (one exception to the walking part). They each have their own unique weapons, and companion bonuses.

Food and Drink
Food and drink are readily available in Fallout: New Vegas. However, keep in mind, due to the effects of nuclear fallout, some food may be irradiated. However, as you will learn, most of the Mojave Wasteland is relatively untouched by the effects of the bombs that fell on October 23, 2077. If it is food out of box from pre-war times, it'll definitely be irradiated. Also, you will find a lot of dirty water around that will begin to affect you. If playing in hardcore mode, you will actually need to sleep, eat, and drink in order to survive. However, normal mode requires none of the afforementioned activities and food is present only to heal over time.

As the name of the game implies, there will be fallout, and that means that you may cross paths with radioactive particles present in the area, or food and drink you consume. As a result, your body begins to absorb these particles. Unlike certain NPCs that become ghouls after absorbing too much radiation, YOU WILL DIE, but not before getting really sick. But fear not, you can find Rad-Away packs all across the Mojave Wasteland that will kill the absorbed radiation. There are many items that will help you reduce the effects of radiation, but nothing that will protect you at all from it. All a part of surviving in the post-nuclear age.

Certain animals will poison you, and in order to counteract that, you will need to start carrying antivenom and what not.

Yes, alcohol counts. Fallout: New Vegas is a bit more real, since you can get addicted to drugs. Drugs can either come innocuously as prescription meds (i.e., Mentats) or even alcohol. While these drugs may provide a boost to your stats, if taken too much over a short period of time, dependency can develop. Never fear, however, there are other drugs that can temporarily alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal! However, it is recommended you find your nearest physician and get that habit kicked right away.

It is Vegas after all. So you will run into many many dens of sin. Casino games include: slots, blackjack and roulette. Winning is based on your luck component. Higher luck = more wins. This is actually the easiest way to win a ton of money (caps) for your adventures. God the desert is expensive. However, if you start winning too much at a casino (and they count), you will get the boot from the tables. Can't gamble anymore.

There is also a non-casino game called Caravan, which is a strange version of solitaire. You can find random and various players who you can win money off of.

Interactions in the Mojave
More often than not, you will run into raiders as you trek across the Mojave. If you're lucky, the next person you run into won't be trying to make you taste your blood. However, the Mojave also includes many traveling merchants who come with their own armed caravan guards. Generally, stick to your roads and you should be okay. For Gods sake, stay on the road! (Wait didn't I hear this in Oblivion from the Imperial Guards?) No, but don't expect too much safety until you reach big towns. The Mojave isn't safe even with the occasional patrols and caravan guards.

In the big towns, most folks are friendly until you start shooting. When you start getting more into the game and begin fostering stronger ties with one particular faction, opposing factions may begin sending assassins your way. The two big factions are, of course, the New California Republic and Caesar's Legion. Both represent different ideals. However, NCR has a bigger presence in the Mojave Wasteland, though you will run into the occasional Legion encampment in the Wasteland. Also, watch out for ghouls, they look like people, except that their flesh is peeling off their face, they are definitely not the friendly types, unless they are the friendly types.

You will actually run into a lot of native wildlife and some domesticated animals throughout this game, considering that it is a desert. The most common being the variety of geckos. For the most part, these smaller animals are not much of a threat with a few bullets, but you will get a lot of warnings about bigger monsters roaming the desert. Of note, beware of Death Claws and Cazadores. You'll know what a Death Claw when you see one. If you do, sneak away if you haven't been detected unless you plan on killing it, and fast. Cazadores are giant wasps with orange wings. They fly, but occasionally will be seen on the ground crawling as fast as they fly.

The animal friend perk will help you avoid a lot of wasted bullets with many animals, not the two I mentioned above though mind you. The variety is decent, and in the desert they are a welcome sight from the typical emptiness of what the Mojave can be.

Combat is fairly standard compared to Oblivion and Morrowind. For those of you who didn't play those games or Fallout 3, there are three stages to combat. Safety, Caution, Danger. If it is a safe situation, that means combat is not likely to occur. Caution means that there are enemies nearby, and danger means the enemy knows where you are and is coming for you. While there are no indicators while you are standing or moving about regularly, going into crouched/sneak mode provides you with an indicator that some shit is about to go down. In fact, the music will change accordingly as well.

Vats is a unique system available only through Fallout as a result of the Pip-Boy technology. Essentially, vats lets you pause for a moment while you target specific parts of the target (head, arms, chest, legs, weapon being used, generally). Most humanoids will have the same design, while animals may have specialty parts. VATS is most effective with guns since you can target enemies specifically to disable, slow down, or disarm. Using a melee weapon with VATS is retarded.
And if you didn't understand any of that, here is an instructional video on how VATS works, courtesy of Vault-Tec.

In-Game Music
Most games come with your typical background music, and so does New Vegas. However, since this is the future and there is a computer on your wrist, you also get your slew of radio stations all coming from your wrist. Oddly enough, no one notices you have a radio playing, even if you are sneaking about in an abandoned building, though you do hear the larger stand-alone radios echoing on occasion. After a certain point, there may be only one radio station remaining that works. But just know there is a radio, albeit all 50s music.

In Fallout 3, the outcome of your character and the game depended heavily on your karma. In New Vegas it is quite different. It is very easy to be a character with high karma, even accidentally. However, if you stay true, you can still be an evil son of a bitch at your own leisure. Just don't kill ghouls or raiders unless you absolutely have to.

Biggest Miffs
Like anything you love, this game WILL piss you off on occasion. And I don't want to start creating a list, but my biggest problem with this game is the following, at least when it comes to gameplay is:
Children don't die!!! It's like they're fucking immortal or something. I guess the Gamebryo engine just works like that. You can't kill kids!!!! They can kill you, but they only go unconscious even if you launch a nuke at them, DIRECTLY!!!!!

Overall Gameplay Impressions
Overall, without getting into the technical side of the game, New Vegas is a fun experience that lets you explore a world that has been comparatively been untouched from the effects of global nuclear devastation. You will see signs of it, but the Mojave is a gem in the rough. If you are playing with a PC, there are an assortment of game mods that improve the stunning experience of play. This game is definitely all about traveling along the roads and going into various locations. The vestiges of the pre-war American society (although 1950s) can be seen throughout from hollowed and rusted campers, giant farms, gas stations, etc. The various documents and notes you find throughout the game help to illustrate 50s Las Vegas with all its sin, rough-and-tumble violence, and decadence. I always have a blast visiting the Mojave Wasteland as a courier. The game never skips a beat, and the jobs you do aren't just kill this or get that. Everything you do invariably affects the region and how people feel about you.

Technical Comments
I'm not too knowledgeable on any of this, but like any video game player, we can all comment on this through our own experiences.

Fallout: New Vegas is a visually stunning landscape. At max settings, it is comparable to Morrowind (not Oblivion). Trees don't blow in the mind, not much grass to look at. There are certain locations where there are weather anomalies, but not many. Also there is no rain, but it is a desert after all. Throughout the game, you can always see the vestiges of Las Vegas (aptly named New Vegas) off in the distance, especially at night with its bright lights. Oh yeah, lighting is very important. Many of the towns use the neon lights to highlight themselves. There is technology after all, not just flame torches. But really, the creatures and character models look just as wonderful as the rest of the map. I can't honestly explain how good the game looks (considering how old the Gamebryo engine is). This is definitely a wow factor. And if you feel that the Vanilla game is insufficient in providing you a pretty game, the PC version of the New Vegas lets you mod the game to your pleasure (or for the technically unsavvy like myself, you can download mods for the game).

Bethesda Softworks actually provides you with a tool to meddle with the game. Like The TES Construction set, Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas can be modded through the use of the G.E.C.K. (Garden of Eden Creation Kit) tool that lets you modify existing content or even add your own. There area few communities that have an extensive number of mods. However, downloader beware as often times, there may or may not be malware on these communities due to less than stringent upload reviews.

This is the standard WSAD controls for movement, and mouse movement. You can set the keys how you like, or even play on a controller. So there isn't too much to complain here. If you've played Morrowind or Oblivion, it runs on the same concepts.

As I said, there is background music and radio. However, all the music is designed to conform with the surrounding environment. So you'll hear a fiddle playing music that makes you find the emptiness of the Mojave and the desolate nature of the post-apocalypse world. There is, also radio music if you don't want to be bored out of your mind or freaked out of scary situations. After all, Sinatra just has the sound that can comfort your heart when you have a monster bearing it claws at you.

For the love of God, this game has the most RANDOM bugs of all time. I advise you save regularly, and save often! The game has been known to crash on your even if you aren't doing anything special. You can be walking out of a door, or you can just be moving across the desert. I've even seen some repetitive bugs (i.e., crashes when you walk out one particular door), but by eating corn the bug fixes itself. Corn! Sometimes this game makes me mad as hell when it crashes!

Downloadable Content (DLCs)
All the DLCs concern a side story that builds on the Courier's past and future. While you don't necessarily need them to play and understand the game, it provides a fun diversion from the main story. The 4 main DLCs added new content in regards to raising the level cap (originally capped at 30 with the Vanilla game), new perks and gear.

Two additional, non-story-adding DLCs are set to be released soon and will add a few more experience-based quests as opposed to actual missions and/or new gear. These are Gun Runners Arsenal and the Courier's Stash.

Dead Money (aka Dead Monkey)
This is the 1st DLC that was made available for Fallout: New Vegas. It follows a traditional horror theme, filled with creepy colors, dark places and annoying radios. It is literally shrouded in a mysterious fog that kills, and its inhabitants are less than friendly. The DLC opens up with you being gassed and kidnapped. When you awake you find a bomb collar around your neck and an old man is giving you orders. A lot of people were annoyed with the side story, but I found that it was very fun and creepy as you were permanently in sneak mode avoiding the death cloud.

Honest Hearts
Welcome to Zion National Park, an almost-untouched paradise in Utah. The park is filled with monsters and tribals, but it is very much the same place that it was before the war. You will see signs of human involvement (bridges, cars, campgrounds, and radio towers), but the effects of the war are not as apparent except for its inhabitants. In Honest Hearts, you encounter tribes that have not been incorporated by any one ideology or banner. I would say this is the most beautiful in terms of landscape. The experience is definitely worth it too. As you trek across Zion, you will find the vestiges of the pre-war age from those seeking to escape the war.

Old World Blues
It's a scientific graveyard of old war technology and old world misery. In Old World Blues, you are go to a pre-war Science Research Facility that encompasses a man-made crater with multiple science facilities that are still running on its old pre-war designs even after 200 years since the bomb fells. Old World Blues centers around the Big MT Research Facility, nicknamed the Big Empty as a result of Occam's Razor being applies to the name. Old World Blues is definitely one where you find the most technology and get to see where many of the ills you encounter in the Mojave originate. Also, your brain gets taken away.

Lonesome Road
You finally meet Ulysses, the Courier who was originally asked to deliver the Platinum Chip, and set your experiences in the Mojave in motion. He invites you to walk the road through the Divide alone and meet him to have an ending to things. The Divide, as you will find out through conversation and holotapes, is a land torn by earthquakes and storms. It is a world where no one returns from. Lonesome Road is the final full-content DLC available for New Vegas and offers players a look into the Courier's past. As the final full entry, Lonesome Road concludes New Vegas officially.

Overall New Vegas Experience with Everything Included
If you have me added on steam, you can see how many hours I have dedicated to this game since it has come out last October. You can also see the many screenshots I have of the game. I honestly just enjoyed this experience and the general Fallout universe painted from the original game to now, whether made by Bethesda, Interplay, Black Isle, or Obsidian. The game is a fun RPG with elements of FPS. And it is true to its form by sticking to its 50s design. I HIGHLY recommend this game if you are looking for an RPG with Guns. While there is no open-ending like Fallout 3 (with the Broken Steel DLC), the game ends, and that's all you can ask for folks writing a story. I actually suggest waiting for them to release a GOTY edition so you can get everything in one fell swoop.

Anyways, I give this game a 9/10. The bugs make this game fall short of a perfect score.

Fallout: New Vegas can be purchased on Steam for $19.99.
The four main DLCs (Dead Money, Honest Hearts, Old World Blues, and Lonesome Road) cost $9.99 each.

The last non-full content DLC Gun Runners Arsenal is expected to be $9.99 as well and will be released Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 along with the Courier's Stash (not sure on the price of this one).
If you have any questions about this game, please please let me know. I can answer them for you or post on here of course!

el jorge loco

Staff member
Also, not done with this review. Accidentally hit post instead of preview ahaha. This is gonna take awhile. Please bear with me all. Also posting up a LOT of pictures for this one, because this game is truly that epic.

el jorge loco

Staff member
Also, as of 09-22-2011, the games (at least on steam) are priced at the following:
Base Game, Fallout: New Vegas - $19.99
DLC Add-ons for New Vegas - $9.99

TBA pricing on Gun Runners Arsenal and Courier's Stash.

el jorge loco

Staff member
oh lol no

19.99 for the base game (20)
9.99 for EACH DLC ahahaha

I've spent 60 bucks on this game so far for everything. But I've gotten more than 300 hours on this game (only about 200 recorded on steam).
great job, hannah! you and George have talent when it comes to putting together reviews. when i used to work in the video graphics field, i had to familiarize myself with gaming hardware and software reviews. both of your reviews are of the same caliber as the professionals!