Fallout New Vegas: Ultimate Edition – PC
Ahh, the favorite childhood game: Cowboys and Centurions. Wait…
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks and Namco-Bandai Games
Release Date: 19 October 2010
Nerd Rating: 9 out of 10
So, yeah… This game is as awesome as Fallout 3, but with the absolute BEST DLC EVER. Go buy Fallout New Vegas, preferably the Ultimate Edition. Done.
And I guess that won’t cut it for a review, either, huh? All right, then. In my Fallout 3 review, I went over the history of the Fallout Series (I did forget to mention that the project was first titled Vault 13: A Gurps Post-Nuclear Adventure, which is a fun little fact for my fellow tabletop RPGers). There’s no need to cover all that again. It has been a fan favorite for a good long time. Well-known for its sense of humor, a well-developed setting, and a variety of other touches, Fallout has a history. So… does Fallout New Vegas live up to the name?
New Vegas begins with your character getting shot in the head. So, game over, yeah? Not so much. A short time later, you’re pulled from a shallow grave by a cowboy robot and patched up by a classic western-movie “Doc”- our protagonist is a courier in the classic old-west tradition, you know, like the Pony Express. The radio stations play both kinds of music: Country AND Western.
Using a lever-action rifle, you soon learn how to defend yourself against coyotes and geckos (violent, four-foot tall geckos that want to eat you rather than sell you car insurance). Defend the town against an attack by dynamite throwing outlaws (or side with the outlaws, whichever), and then you’re on your way to the New Vegas Strip on a straightforward vengeance quest. Or, you would be if this game wasn’t a Fallout game. Since it is, there’s so much to do that it’s easy to get distracted from revenge.
Journeying through the Mojave Wasteland will feel familiar to Fallout 3 players for a good reason: it’s the same experience in a western setting. You create a character, level up skills, and go on quests. In fact, if it wasn’t brilliantly written and massive (I’ve put in 70+ hours in a recent playthrough without ever completing the main storyline), you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for a Fallout 3 expansion pack. Nothing wrong with that – Fallout 3 was amazing, and this one’s even better.
It’s not like the gameplay is perfect. There are places where, for reasons that make no sense to me, my poor
computer chugs down to 10 frames per second. Other times, it hums along at my imposed cap of 30 frames per second with no issues. These problems seem to be inherent in the engine the game runs on. They exist in the PS3 version as well, although perhaps not to the same extreme, and also appear in Oblivion, the first game made by Bethesda using this engine. Lots of flying debris and particle effects can also cause major slowdown, and without using special tweaks or mods, it tends to overrun the memory buffer and crash.
Despite these problems, the action mostly runs smoothly. Visually the game is a bit dated, but still immersive and engaging. There are loads of fantastic and well-developed characters covering the gamut between megalomaniac rules to dedicated soldiers to normal folks just trying to eek out a living in the Mojave. There’s so much space to explore it boggles the mind, and everywhere you turn, more details pop out to bring you deeper into the mythology of the Fallout universe.
And then there’s the awesome DLC, especially Old World Blues (OWB). Okay, game developers everywhere: this is what DLC should be. This, right here. With a shift from the western feel of the Mojave Wasteland, OWB takes us to Big Mountain: a hollowed out mountain filled with what looks like every trope of ’50s science fiction B movies. This puts it directly up my alley as everything from Forbidden Planet to The Brain that Would Not Die are personal childhood favorites of mine. While many games seem to draw inspiration from these classic sources, none of them give the care and respect that OWB does, and I love it. It is wonderful, unexpected, vast, challenging, and hilarious. OWB gets a 9.5 out of 10 from me, and I kinda wish the whole New Vegas game had been OWB, with a Wild West expansion – but we can’t have everything, can we?
The DLC, by the way, is the main reason to grab the Ultimate Edition, whether you’re buying it for the PC or a Console. In addition to the Old World Blues content that I pretty much worship, there are three other massive pieces of DLC, and the Ultimate Edition comes with pre-order packs that you can’t get anywhere else (at least, not anymore). I haven’t managed to complete all of the DLC (despite some 200 hours logged into the game), but I’ve played through at least some of each, and they’re all pretty fantastic. None of them are Old World Blues good, but then, very little is.
Returning in this Fallout is the ability to disguise oneself as a member of a Faction by wearing their armor/clothing, which adds a layer of strategy and immersion to the game. Fans of the older Fallout games will also enjoy the return of classic Factions like the goody-goody Followers of the Apocalypse (from the original Fallout), the New California Republic (mentioned in the first Fallout and appearing in Fallout 2), and Caesar’s Legion (who made their first appearance in Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2).
If you feel a little beaten over the head with the Wild-Westness of the main game, then you’re getting the message. New Vegas is a classic Western set in Post-Apocalyptia, with lots of two headed cows, scorpions, and people in big hats (there’s a strange absence of horses, though). If that’s your thing, you will love Fallout New Vegas: Ultimate Edition. It’s also a lot more stable than Fallout 3, and there’s more to do (which is really saying something). In short, it’s everything Fallout 3 was, with better DLC and bigger hats.
And a little bit more awesome-sauce on top.
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