Thursday, 28 October 2010

Nuclear war has never been so much fun

Ok, so again it has been a whole since my last post but there are three main reasons for that: Halo: Reach multiplayer, Dragon Age: Origins and Fallout: New Vegas.

On the first, the multiplayer on Halo: Reach is awesome fun. On release, the Sniper and SWAT game modes were included in the Team Slayer playlist, but thankfully a recent patch has rectified that so now the retards can run around shouting 'Herp derp I killed that Halo with a haedshot' in their own games and leave the rest of us decent people in peace. Add to that the future removal of the rank cap and a new map pack coming at the end of November, and it looks like Halo: Reach will be around for a long time to come.

As for the second, I picked up Dragon Age: Origins on a whim and I don't regret it. I was thinking about doing a few retrospective reviews on games that people might have missed and DA: O would make an excellent study. A friend asked me what it was like and the answer was that it was like 'Oblivion meets Knights of the Old Republic meets Baldur's Gate meets World of Warcraft with a pseudo D&D ruleset and a small helping of bestiality'. So, all in all, it's very good, and also soaked in gore. Yummy.

The last, and most recent, reason is Fallout: New Vegas, which was an unexpected gift from my other half.

I must confess I never played the first two Fallout games. I was never a huge fan of the isometric perspective, and somehow the games passed me by.

I loved Fallout 3 however.

The sheer wealth of options and playstyles made it, quite simply, a very sound investment. In a time where it feels like single player campaigns almost feel like an afterthought to the multiplayer aspect (yes, that means you, COD), a game that you can get engrossed in for hours and marvel at the depth of character and story created by the developers seems more and more like a rarity. Therefore, £30 on Fallout 3 in return for hundreds of hours of gaming meant that picking up the sequel was a no-brainer.

And thanks to my lovely, lovely lady, I got it the day after release.

I'm not that far into it, only about ten hours but so far, it's like seeing your father in a dress.

By that, I mean you know it's your father, it's familiar, but a lot has changed. I am the motherfucking king of analogies.

The story so far (and I have only played about 12 hours of the game) is so so. You play a courier who has something stolen from him and been left for dead, and you set out on a mission to find the men who did it and recover your property.

Combat has been refined, you can now aim down the sights of whatever firearm you are carrying, which blurs the line between RPG and FPS even further. VATS is still around but it doesn't have the 'must use or die' quality that it had in Fallout 3.

As well as being able to build weapons, they have added a feature to allow you to create new ammo or convert existing ammo into another type. Of course this is all dependent on your chosen skills, but it saves you from the somewhat ironic position I found myself in with Fallout 3 where it was possible to build a weapon and then spend ages trying to scrape together enough ammo to actually put it to meaningful use.

In a move reminiscent of The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Bethesda have added various plants around the game world which can be collected and, when cominbined with the Survival skill, used to create rad-free foods, boosters and trading commodities. Personally, I find this addition a bit...meh. Unless you decide to max out Survival as a major character trait, you'll have little spare points to put into the skill, meaning a lot of the things that can be crafted will pass you by. And the items available from investing heavily in Survival just aren't enough to justify diverting points away from other skills.

Also added are various factions that you can win or lose confidence with. This has been implemented extremely well, as the relationships you can develop are quite complex. For example, near the start of the game I wiped out an entire camp of bandits and became villified by their faction, meaning they would attack me on sight. Much later on, I inadvertantly rescued two of their members and now I am known to them as a Kind Thug. They hate me and refuse to trade with me, but they won't kill me.

The game world is huge, and you will constantly be discovering new things. The game is also packed with humour, depravity and pop culture references, all the hallmarks of a Fallout game. So far I have picked up references to Blade Runner, Robocop and Anchorman, as well as seen children eating a rat and had a mad man tell me he was taught magic by a mole.

The game is far from perfect though.

If you have read any of the mainstream reviews of Fallout: New Vegas, you will have read about the bugs. I played on the PC version on the day after release, by which stage a patch had already been released that should be coming to the consoles soon. Apparently this fixed many of the issues, but I have had repeated crashes and texture pop-in. Minor but annoying.

A less minor, but kind of funny, bug I encountered was in the middle of talking to a character about a quest, he shouted 'What the hell?' and ran out of the room, through a wall and out of the game world. Which meant that I had to fast travel to another town, reboot the game, and return to the NPC to carry on with the game.

If you do pick this up, SAVE OFTEN.

One other gripe of mine is the map and compass. It remains unchanged from the previous game. Meaning that if there is an enemy nearby, a red blip will show up on your compass. If the enemy is above or below you, there is no indication of its elevation, meaning you can wander around an area looking for an enemy who is two floors above you. Also, the local map is woefully inadequate. It looks poor, doesn't reflect an accurate picture of your surroundings and frequently get's confused. It really isn't acceptable.

All in all, Fallout: New Vegas is an excellent game. It is clear Bethesda had some pretty ambitious ideas, and for the most part, the meet their aims. In pure terms of value for money, I've already got my next two playthroughs planned.

For the next playthrough, I intend to create an avatar that looks exactly like my other half, dress her in a summer dress, make her specialise in energy weapons and play it through as evil as I can possibly be.

After that, a melee-weapon-using bruiser with a heart of gold.

Mojave, mo' problems. Stay classy New Vegas.