Joined: 14 Oct 2002 Posts: 4121 Location: Sheffield, UK
Posted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:57 pm Post subject: Fallout: new vegas
I loved Fallout3, open world, go anywhere, Elite style games can easily win me over. I finished it fairly quickly though, it was a little buggy but not too bad, I got lost a little as there are many underground areas that are quite mazey and the mapping system isn't too good (you can't see where you've already been, a way point might be below or above you, you don't get a route just a compass heading). Interesting story, lots of side quests I pretty much ignored and a main quest thread I finished in about 8 hours (I think). My brother admonished me for not completing all the side quests and I was tempted to redo the game, but so may games so little time, eh?
With New Vegas I got the impression it was basically an add-on for Fallout3 so it probably isn't going to have too much content in there so it makes sense to slow down a bit, explore any side quests and generally take my time.
Wow - I'm 30 hours in and fairly confident there is still a lot to see. These so called 'side quests' are huge, many seem like enough material to make a decent game add-on in there own right. I wonder if Fallout3 was as richly stuffed as this one? There are quite a few decent sized settlements to visit and each one can open up 10-20 missions and really flesh out each area with its own back story and characters. Where Red Dead Redemption is jam packed with different game mechanics, New Vegas is jam packed with hand crafted story / character / missions. For example, I was drawn into a side quest that looked like a 2 minute 'go fetch' mission, but it opened up into a whole side story about struggling farmers and problems with sourcing clean water, which then opened up into a mission into the waste land to a hidden Vault, which required special provisions to cope with its unique conditions, which required hours of exploration, which uncovered related plot and missions leading to very interesting decision. Phew!
It borders on overwhelming, I keep unlocking more and more items in my quest log. As a completionist I want to get as much as possible cleared away before moving on, but half the missions turn into muti-step epics!
There is an option to turn on 'funky' 'jokey' content in line with the original games, Bethesda are a bit more serious so they think it needs to be held at bay behind an option, turn it on I say! Nothing wrong with being a bit light hearted.
The 'hardcore' mode is also an option, Bethesda being scared they'll upset the mainstream. Nonsense, turn it on! It makes you take injury more seriously, major injury requires expensive items to cure or a visit to a doctor. Items in your inventory actually have weight! So you cannot carry every weapon known to man and more importantly you cannot carry an infinite supply of ammo or health packs. You have to eat, drink and sleep. These might seam like throw backs to the old days of super hard unforgiving games, but it doesn't feel like that. It seems to add to the immersiveness and never get frustrating. It makes sense that I'm not super human. Neo from the matrix became a little aloof and hard to take seriously when leapt into the air and started flying around at the end of the first film. Having to plan a trip into the wasteland, having to scout out a vault to see what resources you'll need or even if its too hard currently - it's all a much more immersive experience.
If breaking a leg meant the game became unplayable and I had to crawl for 15mins to a doctor, then yes that would be crazy. Here it means its harder to aim a little, you move a little slower, you take a little more damage. It's just enough of a nudge to aid believability, add tension due to your fragility, but still keep fun foremost and not get in the way too much.
It still has the problems of maze like elements combined with simple mapping meaning its too easy to get lost. It still has problems with not telegraphing ahead clues as to what is coming and relative difficulty i.e. you can get ~30mins into something and realise you just aren't equipped properly or perhaps not high level enough. All the other technical bugs people talked about seem gone now though, on first play it patched itself and I haven't really noticed any technical problems.
It still takes some work to get your head around this being a FPS/RPG hybrid. By that I mean when you first encounter a bad buy you can pause and select a target location and spend action points taking shots at it. Then your stats, plus the location, are you crouched, is the weapon in good repair, has it been modded, what is the ammo, what armour is the enemy wearing, is he in cover, etc, etc. All come into play to say whether you hit it and how much damage you did - which is all fine. However, the action points run out in seconds and then the monster will try to climb down your throat. At this point the game lets you just hold down the trigger and open up. After a while the action points regenerate and you can pause the game again.
This process is quite hard to accept. If I have an assault rifle on full auto, the muzzle is resting on a fiends nose and I unload a 30 bullet clip into its face then the COD playing Diehard watching gun nut in me finds it hard to accept the fiend is still alive and in fact only took 20% damage. I keep trying to rely purely on the action points system as that makes perfect sense - it hides the realities of machine guns and makes you focus on dice rolls. For that to work the enemies would all need to move slower or be more inclined to get into cover so I could fall back and let my action points recover. I think an AI similar to GearsOfWar would probably work perfectly, they hardly ever rushed the player.
Joined: 14 Oct 2002 Posts: 4121 Location: Sheffield, UK
Posted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:03 pm Post subject:
One thing I find intriguing is the possibility of multiple paths to conclusion. I'm sure its clever wording and smoke and mirrors, it's always too much work to really develop multiple paths. However, there are major hints that the conflict of the game can be solved by assisting any of at least 3 or 4 of the big npc factions or even going it alone. It's tempting to make lots of saves and redo the whole thing lots of times taking different decisions. I think its a bit impractical to do that though as there are so many decisions being made and its often unclear which are the really major ones until later. Perhaps once its finished I can scour google and see if others have gotten to the bottom of all the real choices (if there truly are any?).
Joined: 28 Oct 2006 Posts: 95 Location: Oxford, UK
Posted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:46 pm Post subject:
The only game springing to mind as offering real choices is "Temple of Elemental Evil", where the player does actually get to choose between being good (and smashing the temple to bits and killing the demon-in-charge) and being evil (joining the temple, killing off the local chief heroes, and settling down to ravage the area). Of course, the game is hugely flawed in other ways, and the choices only really cut in in the last third, but it's a much more real difference than the usual different cutscene for good/evil finale....
Overlord 2 has a domination/destruction mechanic (dominators take control of towns without slaughtering the populace and get better long term returns, while destroyers... ok, you worked that out... get bigger immediate rewards (from killing people and sacking the place) but no taxes). OTOH, I've not actually seen anyone play it far enough as a destroyer to know how much of a difference it really makes. Certainly none to the actual missions.
Joined: 14 Oct 2002 Posts: 4121 Location: Sheffield, UK
Posted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 12:01 pm Post subject:
I just finished Fallout New Vegas - now I don't count a short ~2hour 69p XBLIG game any lower than a longer full price game - but it took about ~80 hours to finish it and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so £25 well spent!
It's weird because it's a completely static world, nothing happens unless you push the buttons and pull the levers, very basic really. All the missions are go here, kill 5 of those, bring me 10 of these, etc. You have to eat, sleep, drink, strict weight limit, ammo weighs something, weapons and armour wear out. Everything is pre-scripted, sometimes your actions will shut down or open up some other missions, nothing dynamic really though. Leave someone standing and they'll be right there when you get back 3 days later, quite old fashioned I suppose.
However, there are always two or three ways to do something. It's still simple, either use a stat, if yours is too low then there will be some item, otherwise just go in guns blazing. There always seemed to be at least two endings to every quest too, not just good and bad, but two outcomes where you don't really know if one is better than the other. Even though it's all simple stuff, this quantity and the level of inter-dependency must have been a nightmare to create and debug.
I think I screwed up Fallout3, I just followed the main quest path and had a 'lets get on with it' attitude. I enjoyed it, but in a 'that was fun, now what next?' shallow way. I decided not to rush NewVegas, I took my time, read all the text, picked up all the side missions, wandered around a lot. It took agesssss, but I got so much more out of it.
I think something strange happens with a game this content heavy, something I've seen in books. Have you ever started reading a new book and it feels like hard work, you have to concentrate to take it in and its easier to just let it slide past your eyes, but then after a few chapters you suddenly find you're right in there, part of it, feeling it and its flipped from a yawn into something special. New Vegas is like that, the writing and environment are just good enough and the 'game' keeps out of the way enough that you start to feel for the people and the place and care about what happens.
I had an early companion called Boon, a surly 'mirrored-shade' wearing unemotional soldier type with 'issues'. I had to work hard to keep him alive. Then there's the freaky half dog, half machine canine friend of mine Rex. Jeez, I thought Boon was bad, but that dog has a psychotic death wish. I couldn't move without keeping an eye on him and holding him back from death. Everywhere I went I'd have to think 'can I deal with the threat here before Rex charges in and gets killed?'. It shouldn't have worked, but it did?
If you look at Fable the dog is a triumph of AI. It never gets in your way. It's really expressive with lots of different cute behaviours. You can interact with it. It helps in fights, it can find treasure, point out danger. You can buy items for it, it cannot be killed so there is no chance you'll lose it, it never wanders off.
In New Vegas the dog sometimes wanders off for minutes at a time, it's always getting in your way, you cannot really interact with it or modify it. Sometimes it gets stuck and misses a fight completely. More often it just barges in and gets killed. You have to take it to safe areas and force it to stay there and remember to hike all the way back later and pick it up.
Which one creates a stronger emotional bond? It's New Vegas' Rex.
Maybe it's because I'm used to Sunny (the Moonpod mascot), she's always getting into trouble and causing me heartache. Rex feels a lot more real, because of the trouble he causes me.
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