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Here's another Fallout: New Vegas preview roundup.
Of course, it's not all sprawling deserts and blowing tumbleweeds, as the title also does a fantastic job of capturing the look and feel of its setting with plenty of eye-catching touches. Small towns are dripping with Old West-meets-nuclear winter touches, government installations have an affective Area 51 flavor, and Route 66-like landmarks, such as a giant dinosaur statue, keep things interesting. Additionally, a look-and-touch approach is being taken with these presentation-pushing structures littering the dilapidated landscape. That giant dino, for example, doubles as a sniper's nest, allowing squatters to sit in its mouth, take cover behind its choppers, and pick off wasteland wanderers with ease. There's also a town that hosts a rickety old wooden roller coaster as its centerpiece. And again, this is an item that can be traversed or used to complement your strategic combat options. Also, I didn't get to see these areas during my demo, but the developers are promising plenty of surprises on the Vegas strip and at Hoover Dam.”
Show of hands: who used companions in Fallout 3? I didn't. Did you? Obsidian wants you to use them in New Vegas, though. They're encouraging you to make friends by giving you the companion wheel, an easier and more immediate way to give your buddies orders about how to behave, outfit them with weapons and gear, and tell them to heal themselves. I'll be honest, I really like to lone-wolf my way through Bethesda-style open RPGs, but if you do want to enlist aid in New Vegas, it looks like the wheel will make it a lot more pleasant to do so.
The designers are going to greater lengths to give the companions personalities and back stories. The one I got to see was Raul, a feisty ghoul being held captive by a cross-dressing super mutant named Tabitha, who was herself protected by the nightkin, a stealthy breed of super mutant that can turn itself nearly invisible. Whether or not you enlist Raul's help--and he did seem quite capable with a firearm--in typical Fallout fashion, it was possible to more creatively solve the nightkin problem by using a radio broadcast to pit the super mutants against each other rather than blasting your way blindly through every last one of them.”
New Vegas's developers aren't ready to talk about what they'll be doing with the city's iconic, thrill-packed Strip, but they're not above dropping a few clues. You'll certainly be able to visit it, although you'll need to earn your way in. Specific, real-world Vegas businesses aren't likely to be included -- this is supposed to be an alternate future, after all -- but judging from Fallout 3's often eerie portrayal of D.C.'s ruined landmarks, there's bound to be something you'll recognize. And we're betting some traditional Vegas pastimes will be on offer, too.
Wandering the waste.
But one real-life area they were ready to show off is Helios One, a sun-powered electricity generating facility closely modeled on the Solar One power station that's located about an hour south of Vegas. You're tasked with repairing it, but having done so, you're presented with a choice: do you give the power to the outwardly benevolent New California Republic? Or to their foes, Vegas-based slavers Caesar's Legion? Or both? Or do you keep it for yourself, turning the power station into your own personal superweapon?”
The Vegas setting offers a slightly brighter outlook than Washington, as Nevada wasn't targeted as heavily as America's capital during the nuclear armageddon. There are scattered remnants of plant life in all directions of this new wasteland, which as it happens is being torn apart by two competing factions - The New Californian Republic and Caesar's Legion. Obsidian have promised that each settlement will feature a unique visual stamp in order to diversify the scenery, for instance the small town of Novac, named after a decrepit 'No Vancancy' sign, featured a giant green dinosaur flanked by a motel.”
Once you get underway, there'll be twice as many weapons as in Fallout 3, including a new 9-iron golf club. This melee weapon can whack somebody's head off and send it sailing clear across the screen. Another big change will be the weapon mods, which will let you change barrel sizes for more damage, add sights for better accuracy and use specialized ammo for unique strategies. Among the new weapons we got to see, the plasma caster and grenade machinegun will probably become favorites.
New Vegas aims to generate a post-apocalyptic Western vibe, which means you'll be journeying to lots of different locations. Reputation is another new element that will change the way folks interact with you. Depending on how you craft a Reputation, by killing members of one faction and/or helping another group, certain allies and quests won't be available to you.”
Avellone proceeds to show us a pistol he's augmented with a scope, barrel and larger magazine, and it looks far meaner than its vanilla counterpart. This is preparation for the first main mission, which is to protect a weird guy called Ringo who lurks in the saloon toilets. A fellow called Joe Cobb is causing trouble in the town with a gang of so-called 'powder gangers', so the bar's owner, Trudy, calls upon you to round up a gang to go tackle Cobb and his cronies. After a quick talk with Ringo, Sunny, Chet from the general store and Easy Pete (who also gives us a few sticks of dynamite thanks to a dialogue option unlocked due to our 25 point explosive skill), we're good and ready to tackle the gang. Along the way, our hero gets hold of the game's new 9-iron and enters the trusty VATs mode showing that a press of Y now initiates a specialised weapon specific move, designed to add “spice” to melee combat. This one is called 'Fore!' and is – as you'd expect – a swift, (dis)graceful golf swing to the plums of your targeted victim. Tiger Woods, eat your heart out.
Incidentally, Cobb's head went flying off in classic VATs style outside of VATs, demonstrating the dynamic kill cam which can now be triggered at any moment. Upon completing this mission for the people of Goodsprings and taking out Joe Cobb, we earn the acceptance and trust of the townsfolk. This is part of the new reputation system that has overarching consequences across all of New Vegas, so incurring the wrath of one faction will delight another and vice-versa. So when we betray the loyalty of the New California Republic by activating the Helios One plant's generator to reroute power to the Archimedes II orbital laser, only to rain florescent laser death upon the NCR troops below, they'll remember it and will potentially never trust you ever again. But then again, it is easy to slip past the facility's idiotic custodian, Fantastic (who has a “theoretical degree in physics”), and once you get to the generator, you're presented with a variety of options that have a range of consequences. Remember, just because there's a big space laser at your fingertips, you don't have to use it to kill everyone in the vicinity.”
Obsidian's task is daunting, sure. The relative distance both geographically and temporally between the last proper Black Isle Fallout, the tactical RPG Brotherhood of Steel and Fallout 3 meant Bethesda was able to essentially create their own continuation, sticking more to the tone and timeline of the original game while transplanting everything to the Washington DC area. In heading cross-country -- though not quite all the way -- Fallout: New Vegas has, in many ways, a much bigger hill to climb. This is hallowed ground for the Fallout faithful, a locale pregnant with nostalgic memories and more than a few bruised psyches after the series' shift to a more action-driven, Oblivion-esque style.
From the hour or so demo we got the first day we arrived in the very real Vegas for Bethesda's BFG 2010 event, it was rather evident that New Vegas was doing a valiant job of melding the two semi-disparate worlds. This was land rife with characters like The Master and the original Vault Dweller, and in a slightly timeline-bending change, New Vegas will carry on some bits and pieces of Fallout 2 despite being set only three years after the events of Fallout 3.”
The original two "Fallout" games -- especially the second -- were surprisingly grim and gritty. Prostitution, drugs, a general disdain for the human spirit… those were all fairly prevalent issues that developer, Black Isle, delivered rather well. And while "Fallout 3" certainly had its dark moments, I can't remember feeling quite the same wash of grime across the entire game.
New Vegas is looking to bring some of that dirt back into the picture. "There is a very heavy influence on drugs, and sex, and gambling and the impact that it has on people," Sawyer reveals.
"You, as a character, can participate in a lot of this stuff. You can also help bust it up if you want. The focus for that sort of stuff is in the city of New Vegas itself, rather than the larger conflict between Caesar's Legion and the New California Republic…
In New Vegas you will see a lot of things that you remember from New Reno [from 'Fallout 2'], in terms of the under-handedness and how people are used and thrown away a lot."”