Sunday, April 3, 2011

7 Things Fallout: New Vegas Gets Right

Fallout: New VegasFallout: New Vegas was last year’s red-headed stepchild. Overshadowed by juggernauts like Red Dead Redemption and God of War 3, it stumbled out of the gate infested with glitches.

Then came the attacks. The snarky, snarky attacks.

For example, Cracked presented “6 Ways Fallout: New Vegas Made Me a Worse Person,” a tongue-in-cheek look at how the game encourages bad behavior.

Wil Shipley at Call Me Fishmeal wrote the more blunt “Why I hate Fallout: New Vegas,” which mixes some valid points with some unrealistic expectations.

(Also, curse you Wil for thinking of the blog name I wanted six years before I thought of it!)

I have pledged my love to this game, so I’m going to step up and defend its honor. Here are seven things it gets right!

1. Societies based on more than scooping up pre-war technology.

The New California Republic feels like a real government, warts and all. It is concerned with the welfare of its citizens, but sometimes treats noncitizens like vermin. And is its expansion imperialistic or altruistic? Depends of your point of view. That tracks well with the modern world.

Complicated motivations
The casino factions of New Vegas are materialistic, but they go about their business with different levels of ethics. In the end, each of them wants the city to prosper.

Even the bad guys have complex motivations. Gone are the generic “raiders” of Fallout 3. Even if they amount to little more than walking targets, The Great Kahns, Powder Gangers, and even the Fiends have complex, sometimes sympathetic, backstories.

2. Evidence of rebuilding.

I’ve seen too many episodes of Life After People to believe that any structure would still be standing after 200 years of exposure to the elements, not to mention a nuclear war! New Vegas features a handful of structures that looked like they have been recently built — the Crimson Caravan Trading Company compound and the NCR farms, for example.

Some of the pre-existing buildings are being used for their intended purposes, such as the Gun Runners’ munitions factory, instead of serving as enemy dens.

And how about those farms? After 200 years, people have created agriculture that looks like it can sustain a village rather than a single person.

Finally, while Fallout 3 had small merchant caravans, New Vegas has a monopolistic, murderous corporation controlling the caravans. That doesn’t sound too great, but there has to be some level of stable civilization for that effort to be worthwhile.

3. Equal-opportunity sexy time!  

4. I’m afraid of Deathclaws again.

Mission: Take you down a peg
Jesus Christ, those things are nasty, even for a 30th level badass like myself.

5. Equipment upgrades and recipes.

I don’t know what half of those things in my ammo inventory are, but they sure come in handy when I run low on rare ammo. The weapon upgrades are a clever way of extending the useful life of an otherwise weak weapon, and for getting more caps when you sell it.

I especially like the weapon repair kit (and the gag that its main component is duct tape). A person with a Repair skill of 100 should be able to improvise repairs from the seemingly useless junk littering the wasteland.

And while I rarely take advantage of them, I appreciate the many ways you can combine food and drugs into more powerful concoctions. I only seem to be able to brew up something called Party-Time Mentats, which I keep creating because the name makes me chuckle.

6. Better use of skills. 

New Vegas does much more with skills, perks, and abilities than its predecessor did. Skill checks come up frequently, in surprising situations. If you don’t have the Speech skill to bullshit someone into doing something for you, you might be able to use Barter to trade with them, or Black Widow to charm them, or even flex your 9-Strength biceps to intimidate them.

You could argue that this makes the game too easy, but it also makes it more realistic in the sense that a given problem has multiple potential solutions. Too often in games, the choice is between a pleasant conversation and a gunfight. Not to say that the latter isn’t fun…

7. It taught me how to spell “sarsaparilla.” 

I could have sworn it was “sasparilla.”

* * *
One thing it didn’t get right: DLC. Dead Money, at least, left something to be desired.

No comments:

Post a Comment