Blog 530: Fallout: New Vegas

It’s Oblivion-With-Guns 2!

A long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, I was shopping and I made an observation: “… I’m not particularly interested in Fallout: New Vegas (could be a candidate for a cheap GOTYE once they stop releasing DLC, though… call me in two years)”.

Hey, you! Just over two years have passed and there was a £14.99 Definitive Edition right there in Game begging to have crimbo money spent on it!

70000 Razcal’s Glider

Since games don’t have manuals anymore, I built hot-off-the-molds Lego model Razcal’s Glider while New Vegas installed itself (seriously; it was released on the 26th of December and I bought it on the 28th). I had had my eye on this set for a few months, when it caught my attention as I was searching for evidence of 2013 medieval sets (alas, I found only the most fleeting hints that such things may exist).

The minifig is a bad-ass armoured avenging fallen angel bird man. From the early screenshots I was worried that his wings might be attached to his head in a terrifying display of prefabrication, but no! The wings are clipped on to the back of his breastplace using standard grabs, making them articulate consistently with the traditional minifig body. The hulking bird vehicle is no slouch either, with posable wings, grabby talons and a fun but superfluous dangly chain. Piece-to-price ratio is strong at 109 pieces for £8, and Hamley’s didn’t even add their standard quid mark-up on the RRP so it’s even more worth getting!

I wanted this one as a fantastical addition to my medieval stuff, with avenging bird man taking up his role as the dark prophet leader of the Dragon Knights and having to face down Double-Katana-Sword-And-Shield-Tin-Head-Knight-In-Shining-Armour. Though this tips the odds rather in favour of the Dragons — the Lions might have the castle but the Dragons already have raptor cavalry.

ANYWAY: excellent little model, highly recommended.

No need to get in a flap -- just beakareful.
No need to get in a flap — just beakareful.

Fallout: New Vegas

The first thing I noticed was mouse acceleration on the menu screens. Mouse acceleration… On menu screens. Sure, it’s a fairly straightforward INI file tweak to get rid of, but seriously — whoever invented mouse acceleration needs to get repeatedly troutslapped back to the Ming Dynasty. The whole power of the mouse is that it causes the cursor to precisely mirror the actions of the arm/wrist — with acceleration on, that mirror is lost and the cursor starts to just do whatever the hell it wants. I want games to be challenging because they are, not because the input systems are forcibly gimped.

As this is the Ultimate Edition, I began the game with an inventory full of crap I didn’t ask for, and a big slew of high-level quests shouted at me as soon as I left the starting house. Talk about information overload — DLCs are all fine and dandy when you activate them one-by-one half-way through a play, but starting off with them is a disaster. How about integrating quest activation into the world properly? It took two minutes for all the “<blah> DLC has activated, your level cap has been raised by 5” messages to get over themselves, and then I had to sort through a huge stack of weapons and armour. I guess they can’t risk you not finding a quest you paid good money for, but this is an all-inclusive compilation.

Dinky is the best landmark in the history of gaming.
Dinky is the best landmark in the history of gaming.

Having said that, I was soon very glad of the Broad Machete I found in my inventory. The first few enemies I encountered were little critters, preying-mantis type things, so it was a lot easier to paste them into pieces than try to aim at their spindly little legs (don’t talk to me about VATS, I’m playing it as a shooter). Then I found a merchant selling a Katana and I offloaded most of my inventory so that I could afford it — another DLC item, I believe. I’m not a weeaboo, its stats are just so blindingly better than the machete!

Escuse me fer a secon', sah, jus' gorra take a poo...
Escuse me fer a secon’, sah, jus’ gorra take a poo…

I am always struck by how… repeatable everything is in games like this. I went up to a guard and chatted to her about her work, then a conversation option appeared that required more Speech than I had. I chose the other option and found nothing out, but I resolved to return later when I did have more speech. The conversation part I unlocked was nothing of note (I was hoping for a quest, which does happen elsewhere), but it tends to wobble suspension of disbelief when I can be so blasé about gaming the system. Surely the option should have dissipated as the conversation passed, never to be experienced again until the world was regenerated afresh? The game boasts choice and consequence, but why are there no consequences for just not being fit for a job at the time?

I prefer the harder methods of Deus Ex, where a conversation tree is only repeatable if there is an explicit in-context reason for it to be so. Then again, FO:NV is so giant you do frequently need… reminders.

There is a good variety of critters to brutally murder. Just because they're mutants doesn't make them bad people...
There is a good variety of critters to brutally murder. Just because they’re mutants doesn’t make them bad people…

I was also about to launch some rockets to send some ghouls to their “promised land” when I noticed a panel next to the launch control that required 55 Science to activate. Unsure if I would send them to their doom by not fixing it first, I left them hanging there — sitting tight in their rockets — until, two levels later (probably a week or more of in-game time), I came back to fix the panel. It turned out not to be broken, but I didn’t know that at the time. Either way, the moment hung in the air, the ghouls steadfastly refusing to starve in their space-suits. The game boasts choice and consequence, but why are there no consequences for doing nothing?

To be fair, though, it has been very good with its conversational skill checks. Gone are the days of sinking everything into Speech and making off with all the game’s options — most of your skills, from Repair to Medicine to Sneak, and even some attributes like Perception and Intelligence, will be sampled at relevant points throughout the game. If you don’t meet the score, the dialogue option will be something amusingly wrong; if you do, it’ll be an insightful comment.

Godspeed, Spacebat. ;_;

Mechanically, there isn’t much to say about New Vegas — it’s Fallout 3 with a pile of bells and whistles, and FO3 was Oblivion-With-Guns (although I’ve used that katana an awful lot so it’s almost Oblivion-With-Guns-Without-Guns). There are systematic additions and loads of new bits of equipment, but as soon as you see the first in-game frames rendering you know precisely what you’re in for.

It is a strong formula and this is a well-delivered rendition of it, but there are no revolutions here. I’m not averse to this; it’s just worth noting if you fancy taking a dive. If you wanted more Fallout 3, then chances are you’ll also take to New Vegas.

Am I sure I should be helping these people? Ah, fuck it -- I'd do the same.
Am I sure I should be helping these people? Ah, fuck it — I’d do the same.

The Verdict So Far

Well, this has turned into a very rambly entry. I’ve spent more time with Fallout: New Vegas than I have with a lot of other modern purchases so it must be doing something right, though I have been reluctant to advance the main quest too much as I’m scared it’ll be awfully short (then again, with plenty of choice and optional components, if I was a less thorough man it probably could be).

Even so, with the main world unfolding its irradiated brown petals before me, there are still four DLC expansion packs to consider…

The strip isn't that detailed, but is still split into sub-areas by ham-fisted barricade walls.
The strip isn’t that detailed, but is still split into sub-areas by ham-fisted barricade walls.

And you tell me...

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