Written by Chris Boots-Faubert for SuperCheats.com
Introduction and Synopsis
Fallout: New Vegas, the 6th game in the Fallout Series, was developed by Obsidian Entertainment and is published by Bethesda Softworks. New Vegas has an original storyline, and is not the direct sequel to Fallout 3, though the events in the game take place in the same alternate universe. The game that established the series, Fallout (1997), set the stage for the games that followed by establishing the canon for that alternate universe a time-line that includes rapid and unrestricted development and deployment of nuclear technology, an apocalyptic war that left much of the world scorched by radiation, and an America that survived largely by going underground, and living in specially constructed survival vaults that exist as independent social-political enclaves.
In the Fallout Series the history of the world changed as the 1950's Cold War Era was just being established, when a hot war broke out just after the discovery of transistor technology, essentially locking American culture into the era of the mid-1950's both scientifically and culturally. The national government reorganized the country into thirteen semi-independant commonwealths in order to promote economic stability, due largely to the resource-related threats that it faced in the run-up to the 22nd Century.
The period from 2000 to 2076 was dominated by resource shortages and a economic depression that eventually culminated in a global nuclear exchange, thrusting the world into the post-apocalyptic nightmare that is the reality of life in the Fallout Series. There is no UN, Alaska has been invaded and taken by China, and Canada is annexed into the continental United States.
In 2054 elements of the US Government saw the writing on the wall, and began preparing for the post-nuclear war survival of the USA, treating the matter as a question of when, and not if. The foundation of this survival program called Project Safehouse was the establishment of a cover corporation (Vault-Tec) that would construct underground self-contained city-like shelters called Vaults and then use scientific methods to determine who would be permitted to live in them.
While the vast majority of the Vaults were created to safeguard skills and the technical knowledge base represented by the brightest minds in the country, some of the Vaults were designed for other reasons, most notably for testing advanced weapons and psychological warfare techniques, and breeding the army of working-class Americans that would be required for rebuilding the nation. The philosophy of Eugenics was popular at the time, and much of the selection for utility survivors was based upon it, and it was elevated to the position of being a science.
For several hundred years pre-war American culture was preserved inside the Vaults, but as the technology that allowed them to function wore out, it became necessary to venture out into what was left of the world to seek resources and kit to replace what was broken. That is the premise of the first game in the series, Fallout, in which the player as protagonist ventures into the world from Vault 13 tasked with locating a functional piece of chip technology that is required to repair the water processing system in the Vault.
The first sequel, Fallout 2, features the descendants of the protagonist from the first game, who have become part of an above-ground settlement the Village of Arroyo and centers around a storyline that deals with several years of drought conditions. The original unnamed third game in the series, usually referred to by the working title of Van Buren, was canceled shortly after production began for unstated reasons. In 2001 the next offering in the series, Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel, was released.
Created as a tactical RPG, Tactics did not follow the established story line and, although it complies with the series canon, it is not part of the canon, and is widely viewed as part of an original sub-series within the series. In 2004 Interplay released the sequel to Tactics, an action RPG titled Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, and fans of the first two games in the series resigned themselves to the new path that had been chosen, though a vocal majority lobbied for the return to the original story line and play-style. Their demands were finally met in 2008, with the release of Fallout 3.
Developed and published in-house by Bethesda and leveraging assets and crew from the original games, Fallout 3 put the series back on track and quickly burst into the Top-10 Games of the Year list. Only the second game in the extended series that was developed for console as well as PC play, Fallout 3 rapidly expanded the fan-base for the series, and clearly charted the direction that future games would follow. Shortly after the release of Fallout 3 a series-based MMORPG was announced, tentatively titled Fallout Online, and scheduled for a mid-year 2012 release date.
While New Vegas is not a direct sequel to Fallout 3, it faithfully retains the look and feel of the game, and carefully follows the canon of the series. Set in and around the city of Las Vegas, which survived the two-hour nuclear exchange of the Great War largely undamaged, the world in the game serves as a striking contrast to the devastation in Washington, D.C., and suburban Maryland. Unfortunately the faction-based strife that is part of day-to-day life elsewhere in the country is also evident in New Vegas, where life can be very cheap and casinos have replaced religion as the source of personal comfort in the world.
After a brief twenty-minutes of play at the Bethesda/Obsidian booth, I can say without reservation that the familiar game engine and interface from the previous game is alive and well, and ready to assist you in your desert adventure! The developer could have simply utilized the established resources for the series and created a new story line and that would have still elevated this game to potential GotY status, but they took almost everything a step further, ramping up the tension and the challenge levels, and refining the mission and quest system in ways that simply add to the fun. Stack on a whole new selection of weapons, tech, and vehicles, and what you end up with is a tour-de-force that is going to bang a huge dent in productivity all over world in the first week of its release, as gamers contract Fallout Fever and call in sick for work.
The events of New Vegas take place nearly three-years after the culmination of Fallout 3 and all of its DLC, and the player is instantly thrust in to a world that while it may have remained more cohesive, and survived the nuclear devastation better, is nonetheless a very dangerous place to live. Your adventure in Vegas and the surrounding desert begins with a bang literally and violence of a personal nature, but that is only fitting as it serves in large part as your motivation as you begin a personal quest to right that which has been made wrong.
The development of this title somehow hits everything right on the nail head, with the combination of manufactured nostalgia, an instantly recognizable world, and a path to immersion that is quickly given a shortcut that permits you to begin both identifying with and caring about your character almost from the moment you hit the power button. This type of synergy is rare in the world of video games, and is an experience one should savor as it simply deserves to be appreciated!
The adventure begins with your rescue by a very strange robot who thinks he is a cowboy, but regardless of the source of his identity delusion or programming he gets you to a man who can help you, one Doc Mitchell, and with his help you put your life back together and become the person that you are from that point onward. This interaction is intended to serve as a shortcut to get previous players into the action right away, but newcomers to the series should view this part of the game as an opportunity to sink their teeth into this world, and milk it for everything that it is worth!
This is the point in the game where you have to make a tough call: what difficulty level do you want to play under? Be warned, selecting Hardcore means playing in a world where everything has its consequences! Physics is real and things have heft and weight to them call it the Reality Switch if you like because when you play under that mode reality bites. You can only carry so much, and you need to do all of the things that you do in real life to survive, like eat, sleep, stay hydrated, and not get hit too many times by bullets or shrapnel from explosions.
When you do get injured and you will get injured there is always the Doc, and considering that Stimpacks are not the instant cure that they were in previous games, minding your health and preventing the perforation of your skin is not just a good idea! Of course maintaining your physical and mental health are not the only challenges in the game; maintaining your status with the various factions is also a serious matter that requires constant tending.
You will quickly find yourself caught between the different factions think Rock and a Hard Place as they vie to control things as simple as the strip itself, and as complicated as the Hoover Dam! To assist you in this balancing act, the weapons in the game have been given some serious tweaking, with new and unique types, as well as an upgrade and enhancement system that revolves around finding and equipping weapon modifiers, and special ammunition. Weapon modification in the game is more than just a tweak to its stats each time you upgrade, alter, and change a weapon, its appearance changes as well.
All this talk about weapons has a purpose, however, so if you are thinking that this is a game that celebrates firepower in all its variations and glory for no real reason, well, no... Fans of the series know to expect BUNM, but newcomers will need to quickly develop their BUNM awareness in order to properly appreciate the selection of weapons, upgrades, and ammo they have available to them. What is BUNM? Why, it is Fallout shorthand for Big Ugly Nasty Monster of course! And there are no shortages of those in all their death-dealing variety. Before you start getting all Greenpeace and all, you need to embrace and accept the simple fact that sometimes, well, violence IS the answer!
One of the pleasures of the previous game was gathering NPC companions with whom you could adventure and, in a pinch, rely upon to cover your back when things get hairy. New Vegas is no different, but what is different is the system of managing and utilizing companions! The introduction of the Companion Wheel will save you time and put your buddies where you need them a button click away!
Another radical change in the game is the armor system including the fact that enemies will also be wearing improved armor and, no surprise here, improved tactics as well. There are enemies you cannot successfully target via VATS (gasp), and BUNM's that actually require you to do a little thinking and use basic strategy like selecting the best ammo or weapon type in order to defeat.
With all of the changes and enhancements, and the new story and characters, twenty-minutes of face time with this game was clearly just a sip; I would have liked to have twenty-hours! The developer did a great job of both interpreting the world, and perhaps of more importance, finding ways to improve it both in its essence and in the player experience. There is no question that having the game engine and canon in place at the start really helped with the development process, because it gave Obsidian time to create, polish, and finesse with most of their concentration on the play experience, and it shows.
Fallout: New Vegas has a North American street date of 19 October 2010, but for Europe and the rest of the world, that date is 22 October. The Retail Edition is priced at $59.99 US / £49.99 UK / for the Console Version, $49.99 US / £34.99 UK / for the Windows PC version, and includes the game disc and manual.
A Collector's Edition will also be available for $79.99 US / £69.99 UK, featuring the game disc, manual, a commemorative poker chip from each of the seven casinos in the game, a Lucky 38 Platinum Chip, a Making-of DVD, hardcover graphic novel, and a special themed deck of playing cards.
A variety of pre-order special promotions are available for the Collector's Edition:
AMAZON.co.uk: A Tribal Pack including a special in-game limited set of Tribal Raiding Armor (assembled from odd bits, provides superior protection with increased mobility), a Broad Machete, 10 Throwing Spears, and 5 doses of Bleak Venom (used to poison melee weapons).
AMAZON.com: A Tribal Pack including a special in-game limited set of Tribal Raiding Armor (assembled from odd bits, provides superior protection with increased mobility), a Broad Machete, 10 Throwing Spears, and 5 doses of Bleak Venom (used to poison melee weapons).
BESTBUY.com: A Mercenary Pack including a special in-game limited set of Lightweight Metal Armor (reduces some protection level in exchange for mobility and less weight), a Mercenary's Grenade Rifle, 3 Super Stimpacks (improved healing over a standard Stimpack), and 3 Doctor's Bags (can repair serious injuries such as broken limbs).
GAME.co.uk: Special in-game limited Vault 13 Suit, Vault 13 Canteen (with healing properties), a Weathered 10mm Pistol, and 5 Stimpacks.
GAMESTATION.co.uk: A Mercenary Pack including a special in-game limited set of Lightweight Metal Armor (reduces some protection level in exchange for mobility and less weight), a Mercenary's Grenade Rifle, 3 Super Stimpacks (improved healing over a standard Stimpack), and 3 Doctor's Bags (can repair serious injuries such as broken limbs).
GAMESTOP.com: The Classic Pack including a special in-game limited Vault 13 Suit, Vault 13 Canteen (with healing properties), a Weathered 10mm Pistol, and 5 Stimpacks.
PLAY.com: A Caravan Pack including a special in-game limited set of Lightweight Leather Armor (offering the same protection as a standard set with reduced weight), a Sturdy caravan Shotgun, a pair of Binoculars, and 4 Repair Kits (can be used on all kit, and weapons).
STEAMPOWERED.com: A Caravan Pack including a special in-game limited set of Lightweight Leather Armor (offering the same protection as a standard set with reduced weight), a Sturdy caravan Shotgun, a pair of Binoculars, and 4 Repair Kits (can be used on all kit, and weapons).
WALMART.com: A Caravan Pack including a special in-game limited set of Lightweight Leather Armor (offering the same protection as a standard set with reduced weight), a Sturdy caravan Shotgun, a pair of Binoculars, and 4 Repair Kits (can be used on all kit, and weapons).
Street Date: 19 October 2010
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Focus: Single-Player RPG
Platforms: Xbox 360 / MS Windows / PS3
Genre: Action / Shooter / RPG
Official Content Ratings: ESRB Rated M for Mature (Contains content that might be considered unsuitable for people under 17 years of age.); BBFC Rated 18 (No-one younger than 18 can rent or buy an 18 rated game.).
Posted: 2nd Nov 2010
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