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Fallout: New Vegas

9.0 out of 10

Feb. 17, 2011
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Now that Fallout: New Vegas (Xbox360, PS3) has a spiffy new downloadable add-on, it’s a perfect time to take a look at the full package.

Imagine a world much like ours on an alternate plane of existence. Imagine, instead of peace and love during the 60's, there was instead a massive war between the United States and Communist China, resulting in a worldwide nuclear holocaust. That's the world of Fallout, a game that puts players inside a massive wasteland where radiation-laced mutants prowl the ruins of towns, survivors search desperately for clean drinking water, and groups of jerks called "raiders" make things even more unpleasant than necessary.

Fallout: New Vegas is a lot like its predecessor, Fallout 3--you play a lone traveler inside a massive world filled with towns, bunkers, "vaults," and other landmarks and you're free to explore it any way you choose. Sure, there are a few missions along the way that take you to the end of the game, but the world is so vast, filled with so many side-quests, that it's easy to get distracted and end up smack-dab in the middle of a supermutant encampment with nothing but a loaded plasma rifle for protection.

In the case of New Vegas, the world is the area around Las Vegas, and the character you play as is a courier who starts the game with a bullet in his head. After being saved by a friendly robot with a southern drawl, the goal is to find out who shot you and why. But before you do that, you're going to have to take care of a little disagreement in the town you're staying in. You get to handle this in a few different ways, depending on how you like to solve problems:

1. Kill everyone.
2. Kill the bad guys.
3. Convince the bad guys to leave.
4. Convince the good guys to shut up.
5. Only help out for a reward.
6. A combination of any of these.

That's the best part about New Vegas. Just like Fallout 3, you get to control your character's destiny, and every decision you make has consequences. It's like playing through a novel, a really well-written one that uses humor and tension to immerse you inside this fictional world. Games this big need a good story, and even though it's not quite as good as Fallout 3's storyline, it's still darn good. Oh, and there's some crazy fun guns, too.

Play This Twice:
Make different decisions, meet different people, kill different things. There’s literally an entirely different story out there in New Vegas, depending on what decisions you make.

Kinda boring, even the made-up card game (called “Caravan”) that you can play with people. But if you stick with it and get good, you can win some extra money.

Learn from my mistake:
The Deathclaw den requires some pretty amazing firepower.

New Vegas Downloadable Content: Dead Money

7.0 out of 10

After you download this new quest, your PIP boy will pick up a new radio signal. Follow it down an old sewer pipe in the middle of nowhere and you’ll find yourself quickly whisked away to a magical land, your neck bejeweled with a classy slave collar that will blow up if you try to escape.

It turns out, that radio transmission was actually lying just a teensy bit. Instead of spending the weekend at a ritzy casino, you’ll be doing the nefarious bidding of a mysterious holographic fellow who will force you to team up with a few other unfortunate saps to retrieve a lost treasure. The problem is, if anyone dies, so do you. It’s less frustrating than it seems, but it’s a good metaphor for how frustrating the game can get from time to time.

The town you end up in is slightly redundant, but designed in a creepy sort of way. The monsters in the town are just as creepy, and they’re tough to kill, too. You can expect about 3-4 hours’ worth of playing time, so for $10 it’s a pretty decent deal. The story’s good, but the saturated colors take a little away from the overall looks of the place. But as long as you enjoy wandering around shooting scary things, you should have a good time.

Expect to die a lot:
Not only are the scary ghost people hard to kill, you’ll have limited weapons and, if you’re not crafty, limited ammunition.

Almost worth it for:
The modified level cap. After you download this, you can gain an extra 5 levels.

Slave collars:
Aren’t real. Don’t worry—you’ll never wake up with one around your neck. Not one that explodes, anyway.


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