Viva New Vegas


Leave it to Vegas - even in the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout, the town still manages to put on a show. The Las Vegas, or rather New Vegas, in the upcoming Fallout: New Vegas is a brightly lit, shining beacon in the brown desert world of Fallout and another place for a wanderer to try and scrape out a living.

New Vegas isn’t the D.C. Wasteland, but it’s still a desert, so it’s still a wide-open space with not much in the way of scenery. Still, all things considered, things have held up quite nicely in the wake of all-out nuclear war. Although the story takes place three years after Fallout 3, don’t expect to pick up your character’s story. New Vegas is more of a side-story in the same universe. New area, new character and a set of new enemies await. This time around, the main conflict revolves around control of the Hoover Dam, the one facility still able to produce power. The group that controls the power, well… has the power.

The two main factions vying for control of the dam are Caesar’s Legion, a group of slavers, and the New California Republic, which is basically the game’s “government group.” It was really hard to get a feel for either group based on the demo, but it seems like deciding who is in the right will be a tricky task. Another major player is Mr. House, a shadowy figure who runs the independent outpost of New Vegas.

New Vegas remains true to the Fallout 3 formula. Reps wouldn’t speculate on the size of the area players would explore during the game, but suggested it would be around the same size as the D.C. Wasteland. During my hands-on time with the game, I was able to visit two areas, the Strip and a small Caesar’s Legion slaver camp in the Mohave Desert.

Even after a war, Vegas is still Vegas. The bright lights and colorful scenery are a nice change of pace from Fallout 3’s drab surroundings. The strip plays home to a set of operational casinos: Lucky 38, Vault 21, The Tops, The Ultra-Luxe and Gomorrah. Each casino hosts its own set of casino games, including a few that were created just for the game. One really interesting tidbit involves money. Bottlecaps are still a major form of currency, though each group in the game accepts a different type of currency, such as the casino chips, NCR money and Caesar’s Legion coins. There’s an active exchange rate in the game, and it will fluctuate based on who you’re in good standing with.

A few minutes after my arrival on the Strip, a shady character known as Mr. Holdout approached me with an offer. According to Mr. Holdout, weapons are not allowed in the casinos, but if I was willing to part with a few dollars, he’d hook me up with a pistol I could sneak into the casino. I saw no immediate reason as to why I’d need a gun in the casino, but in the spirit of experimentation, I took him up on the offer.

Once I arrived at the casino, the doorman immediate asked for my weapons, opening up a familiar dialogue tree. I was given the option to hand over everything, but since my Stealth skill was high enough, I gave Mr. Holdout’s plan a go. It worked and I was soon the only guy in the casino with a gun (or so it seemed). Apparently, if I decided to pull the gun and start shooting up the place, I would have found myself in a no win situation with security. I opted to check out a few casino games instead.

Blackjack offered another reason to see New Vegas’s stat system at play. There’s still a certain amount of skill required to play games, but characters with a higher luck skill will find more success. My character enjoyed a maxed out Luck attribute, giving me an uncanny amount of luck. I couldn’t lose.

The second part found my character with a group from the NCR at the outset of a raid on a Ceasar’s Legion encampment. I was offered the choice on which way to approach the camp, and soon found myself working my way down the side of the hill, blasting a bunch of guys in skirts and goofy Legionnaire headgear.

VATS is back and works just as well as ever. As I worked my way through the camp, I periodically switched between VATS and “real-time” shots. Both feel great, though I had the added help of a nearly god-like character, so my skill was a slight bit higher than it would be in the retail game. Still, I had a blast abusing the heck out of the system. The raid also provided a chance to check out some of the game’s guns, which include a nice selection of rifles, sub-machine guns and a few devastatingly awesome energy weapons.

In the end, Fallout: New Vegas feels like more Fallout 3. Considering the latter was one of my favorite games last year, I can’t wait for a trip to Vegas.

Fallout: New Vegas
Bethesda Softworks