Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fallout New Vegas (PS3)

For those of you shy on the post apocalyptic RPG gaming, Fallout is a mission based FPS RPG. Set in an atomic fallout world, you play a former package delivery person. The game starts out with you surrounded by some Legionnaires and a guy in a checkerboard suit. You were supposed to deliver a specific package, but it ends up the mission was to cap you in the skull. You wake up in Goodsprings, Nevada with a new mission on your mind: find the guy who did this to you and get some revenge. From this point on you get full control over your character.

When I say full control: I mean full control! Whatever tickles your fancy. It’s an RPG so you might need to level up before you take your six shooter and start decimating a town. Fallout is what you make of it. You can cut to the chase and follow the storyline or you can:
- Follow one of the many gangs and become a leader
- Get registered as a ranger or a sheriff
- Lose all your karma from stealing and killing
- Hone your computer hacking and medicine skills
- Get a town decimated
- Smooth talk your way into some deals
- Follow your own mission path

With that said, Fallout is a slow paced game. You don’t go in with six shooter blazing to see how much damage you can do. You will need to level up in one of the games numerous stats. If you need to win a gun fight you need to level up guns and make sure you bought the right kind of bullets. If you need to convince the town to start an army, you will need your speech skills. All this takes time and planning. THIS IS WHY THE GAME IS EXCITING TO PLAY BUT SO BORING TO WATCH! Even if you just want to go through the story, you will find that the dungeons contain enemies that are quite tricky. Levels are gained easily by going around to different towns folk and accepting missions. If you are like my brother you can play this game multiple ways, raising in different stats for each player you create. He is the only guy I know who can spend countless hours selling useless trinkets so he can afford a fusion rifle, which will help him level up his science skills.

Leveling up is the meat of the game. You get attribute points, which ultimately help you complete future missions and win gun battles. Then you get perk systems, which gives you an added boost or bonus in different gameplay elements. My favorite is Cannibal, which lets you eat dead bodies for health, but in return you lose serious loyalty from good folk. Aside from the leveling up, you need to collect apparel to show what faction you are in, weapons for battle, trinkets to tweak guns and sell stuff, and different food for healing. All this adds up to one of the most expansive games on the market.

Death is also common in battle. Like I said earlier, unless you have the time to hone your skills and buy the right weapons, you will get chewed up and spit out very fast. The enemies don’t hold back in a fight. You can engage an enemy in what is called a VATS system. The VATS allows you to freeze a battle, pick out a particular appendage and attack it. This is a life saver when you are sneaking up on a villain. It’s a waste of bullets to try to gun someone down the traditional way; so you might find the VATS the only to ensure victory in a fight. Each limb and body part can be crippled, but I noticed that crippling someone’s head doesn’t make them act any different than crippling someone’s arm. I can literally paralyze someone from the neck down and they could still beat me to death.

The game also has Hardcore Mode which makes you responsible for drinking water, eating food and taking care of your limbs. No thank you, I’m good with what I have.

This game requires a very intelligent gameplay engine. And while this game is nothing short of a great achievement, I found the engine being dumb at times. Some of the enemies will run into walls or get stuck in the environment. NPCs have a very limited vocabulary and you will hear the same three settlers tell you the same piece of advice. Sometimes you can kill an innocent in cold blood and the person next to you will not react accordingly. There are some flaws in the engine and it reminds you that the world Fallout: New Vegas is trying to create might be too big.

Load times are not bad and the game will let you wander for quite some time before you will see a hitch in the frame rate telling you that its loading. The game has an excellent autosave function that comes in really handy.

The year is 2075, but the style of the game is 1950’s West Coast. You can hear Benny King on the radio, singing jazzy music, or you collect old sheriff magazines. The whole world is freeze framed in the atomic era of McCarthy. But New Vegas also puts the spin that its a midwest podunk world that has sheriffs and rangers. This gives free reign for the characters to be rich with southern drawls and speak to you like you are coming in from a spaghetti western.

Since this is the apocalypse, the world of New Vegas seems almost empty. Each village has about three interesting people that will talk to you. You can walk for miles and not see anything more than wildlife. Expect a slow and quiet game when you are not in a dungeon.

I give Vegas credit for quantity over quality. This is a huge world, filled with lots of different buildings, caves and nuclear plants. The rich artistic world of the post apocalyptic 50’s is eye candy. I would consider this one of those games you buy because you are tired of all the same old WWII and Middle East shooters and you need something with style. Other notable mentions is the different old timey radio stations you can play, while shooting enemies. It’s all part of an artistic package.

One of the more freeing (disturbing) parts of the game is the ethics system. You can be the good guy through helping out innocent people or you can toy around with shady characters and end up getting a whole town nuked. One of the things I liked about this game is that you can’t help everyone. If you want to be the moral man, than you will have to complete 5 sub missions just to get to completing the original mission. OR you can just shoot the guy who is making you do something and take what you want. It’s all based on a karma system.

This is probably the closest to real life you can get in a game. We face moral questions like: “do I buy the MP3 or do I download it off of Limewire?” “I can tell my dad I was drinking too much at the party or I can feed him an excuse?” In life, there are some very easy ways out of tight predicaments. But sometimes the easy way does not have the best long term rewards. If life was like an RPG you would get -3 TRUST and -2 DEPENDABILITY from people if you lived a less than honest life. Every choice we make effects the stats of our growth and our relationships. I believe Jesus sums it up quite well, “What good is it to gain the whole world (the easy part) but lose your soul (the long term reward)?” He is referring to those people who give up on the richness and eternity of their souls to chase lesser things. These are the shortcuts in our existence, which we use to get through the day. Most of the Gospels are spent urging people away from these shortcuts to embrace what life truly has to offer: God’s free gift of life through Jesus.

+ Very meticulous level up system
+ VATS combat
+ Ethical choices
-Can be seen as too slow
- Minor glitches with controls and AI
- Not as epic as the first one


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