Back Button Retrospect: Fallout New Vegas
Still Lovin’ The Bomb
“War. War never changes.
“When atomic fire consumed the earth, those who survived did so in great, underground vaults. When they opened, their inhabitants set out across ruins of the old world to build new societies, establish new villages, form new tribes. As decades passed, what had been the American southwest united beneath the flag of the New California Republic, dedicated to old world values, democracy and the rule of law.
“As the Republic grew, so did its needs. Scouts spread east, seeking territory and wealth, in the dry and merciless expanse of the Mojave Desert. They returned with tales of a city untouched by the warheads that had scorched the rest of the world and a great wall spanning the Colorado River. The NCR mobilized its army and set it east to occupy the Hoover Dam and restore it to working condition. But across the Colorado, another society had arisen under a different flag. A vast army of slaves, forged in the conquest of 86 tribes: Caesar’s Legion.
“Four years have passed since the Republic held the Dam, just barely, against the Legion’s onslaught. The Legion did not retreat. Across the River, they gathered strength. Campfires burned, training drums beat. Through it all, the New Vegas Strip has stayed open for business under the control of its mysterious overseer, Mr. House and his army of rehabilitated Tribals and police robots.
“You are a courier, hired by the Mojave Express, to deliver a package to the New Vegas Strip. What seemed like a simple delivery job has taken a turn…for the worst.”
Bound by thick corded rope, the night sky clear, the soft hush of metal against earth. A shovel. One digging your grave. The man overseeing your final resting place is dressed in old world comforts, hair combed back in that old world style. But the situation you find yourself in is unmistakable. New world death. And here, in the desolation of an old world slowly being replaced by new world design, death is a common companion. Because it’s everywhere. In the water you drink, the food you eat, the air you breathe. Trying to deny it is about as futile as a man trying to whistle underwater.
He hides his evil behind that old world grin. The moon at his shoulder shines full and pale, as if the eye of God himself has opened to bear silent witness to this tragic event. The last line this man speaks before oblivion nearly takes you, is something that will haunt you in the days to come.
“Truth is, the game was rigged from the start.”
Old world hate.
New world death.
Welcome to the morally grey world of Fallout: New Vegas. What seems a premature death of your character is simply the first of many adventures that will ultimately decide the fate of the people in and around the area once known as Las Vegas. Do you side with the seemingly noble New California Republic, the enigmatic Mr. House and his army of Securitrons, the suppressive but strong Caesar’s Legion, or maybe even dabble in the design of true independence. And that choice, my friend, is ultimately yours to make.
Enjoy Your Stay.
The Bull and The Bear
I’ll admit it right now; I’m a Fallout fan. Ever since I first popped in the Fallout 2 game disc back in 1999 and literally lost myself in this strange and shattered, but ultimately fascinating, world. A world that, in its post-apocalyptic form will forever be frozen in a 1950-ish science-fiction retro. I was enraptured by the story. And that fascination simply grew when Bethesda stepped in and changed it into a fully realized 3D playground.
Now I could see up close the devastation of atomic war; the glass melted rock surfaces glittering gently in dying light, the broken and bleached-over highway tiers now inhabited by small settlements of humanities still struggling to survive, or even coming across black smoke-spewing campfires that shine in the dark around huts now home to raiders, cannibals, mutants, or if you’re lucky, the tough and likeable hunter, trader, or fellow outcast just trying to live to see the next day dawn.
I’ve seen the blasted and scorched earth of California, the rusted iron decay of Pittsburgh, the mutated marshes of Maryland, the calm but sand swept desolation of Nevada, the broken spires and desecrated pillars of Washington D.C. I have lost hours of my life in these places; experiencing its wonders, its horrors, its peoples both friend and foe. And no matter how many times I come back to these places, to these experiences, it never plays out the same as before. I always find or see or hear something unique each and every time; from the simplest surprise of hearing banter between two feuding wasteland wanderers fighting over the last can of fresh water, to the almost quiet survival horror feel of some decrepit home now filled with flesh-tearing, death dealing Ghouls almost unseen the dusty dark.
Unfortunately, despite the experiences being and feeling fresh, it fails to stand up from a visually appealing standpoint. When Bethesda first used the Gamebryo engine in Fallout 3, visually it was a dirty, rough, but still appealing to the setting it was re-imaging kind of experience. It made you feel alone, sad, cautiously frightened by this grimy and imperfect vision.
By the time it reached New Vegas, (with it already having been used in the Fallout 3 game itself and the five rather beefy DLC packs; Operation Anchorage, Broken Steel, The Pitt, Point Lookout, and Mothership Zeta) however, it was beginning to show the frayed edges of, well, visual boredom. And let’s not get into just how…..buggy…the engine can be. It’s not surprising to walk the wasteland and see floating rocks in the middle of nowhere, or seeing a Super Mutant somehow sunk waist-deep in solid ground. Or even how sometimes, the game itself simply freezes and crashes on you without even the first explanation as to why. It just does. By New Vegas, these “minute discrepancies” in gameplay, as Bethesda likes to call them, should have been remedied.
They weren’t. But we’ll get back to that in a minute.