Falling Out Of Love With Fallout

Fallout: New Vegas gets the band back together for a reunion tour through the wasteland, but they can't quite recapture the magic.
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: January 6, 2011
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Yes, I know this review is really late. I had the best intentions of getting it done as quickly as possible, but I was also dedicated to doing the most complete review possible, and see everything the game had to offer, every nook and cranny of New Vegas, before I wrote the review. There were grand plans to write a "Wasteland Survival Guide" that would be the definitive overview of Obsidian's opus. After all, there are scores of reviews out there already for the game, why add more noise to the channel than there already is? Yes, there was to be a Homer-esque epic about the trials and tribulations of my nameless paragon of the wastes. But Fallout: New Vegas did something games never do to me. It broke me. It frustrated me to no end. Not because of the length, or any gameplay issues… what squeezed the last vestiges of tolerance out of me were the never-ending steady stream of bugs like I have yet to experience in a console game, some small and some crippling, but all annoying.

Fallout began life on the PC way back in 1997 as the first creation of Black Isle Studios, and was followed a year later by the seminal Fallout 2. Both games (known for being very buggy, for what it is worth) are classics, and an intrepid gamer who isn't a graphics snob can still get an amazing amount of enjoyment out of these 2 gems. Fallout 2 has such an interactive story it makes games that claim to have many ways to play like Deus Ex seem like a joke, and fan-made patches have added in cut content and greatly increased the stability of the game. Black Isle went on to make PlaneScape: Torment, widely considered to have some of the best writing in the admittedly barren video game landscape, and the Icewind Dale games, all using the Infinity Engine. The company then broke up while working on their own version of Fallout 3 (codename Van Buren), with much of the staff heading over to Obsidian, where they continued to operate closely with Bioware in creating Knights of the Old Republic 2 and their own original IP, the espionage RPG Alpha Protocol. Both those games were known for good storytelling, interesting ideas, and lots of cut content to meet deadlines.

In the meantime, the Fallout license was acquired by Bethesda, who went on to create their own version of Fallout 3 using their buggy Gamebryo engine. Fallout 3 proved to be a huge hit, as well as a benchmark on how to do DLC right. Enter Obsidian, who were brought in to create something between an expansion pack and a sequel (sort of like what Rockstar did with the GTA series in the last generation with Vice City and San Andreas). Hopes ran high that bringing back the original team would bring back some of that old Fallout experience that was lacking from (the admittedly still great) Fallout 3. When I got my first hands-on with New Vegas at PAX this year, I came away thinking "Oh, they just moved Fallout 3 to the desert." Was I right? Well, yes and no, of course. Fallout: New Vegas did a lot of stuff right, but they got some big things wrong. Let's take a look at both.

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