Oct 28, 2010

Fallout: New Vegas first impressions

Hey again! I've been immersed in Fallout: New Vegas the last few days, I've not been through the whole thing yet but here are my first impressions from it so far.

At first sight..

From the moment you get started on this game, it feels and plays like more Fallout 3. Which in itself is grand for a fan of that title like myself. Everything is instantly familiar as you step into the shoes a mohave wastes delivery man who gets ambushed by shady fellows and left for dead. As he/she wakes up from the grave, literally you set out to figure out what the heck happened, who put a bullet in my head and how can I get back at 'em. From this starting point the whole game as I've seen so far plays just like Fallout 3, just on a new huge wasteland to explore.

The good..

If you loved Fallout 3, you're gonna love this. A whole new wasteland to explore, and lots of more or less clever humour spread out to snicker at as you discover it. Along the way you will find new monsters to blast, a more involving faction reputation system that forces you to make some choices as well as lots of new salvage and weaponry to have fun with. You can also craft a lot more stuff than in Fallout 3, and you also fairly early on in the game have the option to recruit henchmen and droids to follow you around and help you blast radscorpions.

The bad..

If you didn't love Fallout 3, there is nothing here that will keep you playing. It's more of the same, in fact even as one who loved Fallout 3 I find myself wondering if this whole game shouldn't just be sold as a big DLC or expansion set instead. The game runs on the exact same and unchanged engine as Fallout 3 leaving it with a bit desired as far as visuals and mechanics go. This is especially visible if you also happened to play Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, as the game engine builds on that and hasn't changed that much.

I find the crafting system to be a lot more cumbersome than it has to be. I can't bring up a list of what I can make and what I'll need for it unless I'm standing at one of the crafting places (reloading bench, workshop, camp fire). Its very tedious to visit an accessible crafting location, see what I can do, travel to my stash of salvage and pick out the stuff needed, and head back again to make something. Why isn't there a menu anywhere to view what I can make ? This also makes me feel I should write down a list of stuff I'm looking for to make stuff, since I can't check it ever while I'm out salvaging. How the hell am I supposed to remember to pick up glass jugs in order to craft mass purified water? 

The awful..

Ok before I mention anything else, this is one of the WORST PS3 ports I have ever played. And I have played Bayonetta, Red Dead Redemption and Mafia 2. Fallout 3 which I also played on the PS3 was a very sluggish experience with a lot of slowdowns and graphical glitches. I still loved it though. Fallout: New Vegas is the same, only worse. I can't walk around in the vast open areas for more than 5 minutes MAX before my PS3 freezes up forcing a restart of the game, and whatever I had been doing those last 5 minutes is all gone as well unless I remember to manually save the game every 50 steps or so. I haven't played this yet on PC or XBOX, but if you are going for the PS3 version of this game, please heed my warning that you will need to butter yourself with a fair bit of patience for this game. The more I think about it, the more annoyed I get. Bethesda spent a couple years working on this title since Fallout 3, only to release a game that looks and plays exactly the same, even runs on an unmodified game engine from the original Fallout 3, but somehow performs a lot worse. How is that even possible ? Fallout 3 didn't crash my PS3!

Edit! I've tinkered around a bit on Fallout 3 as well after playing New Vegas and surprise surprise, for some reason Fallout 3 suffers the same kind of freezes now as well, after enabling the DLC's for it. Yay.

Also, the henchman AI behaviour is AWFUL. They get stuck virtually anywhere when you're out exploring, and if you don't turn around to check now and then there's a good chance theyre bumping against a small rock on the ground a couple miles behind you.

First impressions so far..

Despite the critisism so far, its still Fallout which is in my book a pretty darn cool thing. I've focused on changes from Fallout 3, and not mentioned any of the things that made that game so awesome in the first place. I'd recommend checking out a review or two of Fallout 3 before deciding if this is a game for you.

6 / 10

Fallout: New Vegas is a great addition to the Fallout universe, but keeping some flaws from the original Fallout 3 and adding a lot more fairly critical flaws go a long way to lower my enjoyment of the title.

Edit! Further into the game...

Thats right, despite the fairly low score I gave this game intially I'm still playing it. I'm trying to follow my own ideas of what would be an objective verdict of the games I give feedback on. Personally despite the fairly gross flaws I can't put Fallout: New Vegas away. I'll say it again, if you enjoyed Fallout 3 you're going to love this and keep playing it until you have explored all the locations on the Mohave Wastes. I enjoy my time in New Vegas, I really do. Enough so that I am putting up with the PS3 crashes that occur increasingly often, much to my frustration.

I've narrowed the causes for the crash down a bit and it seems to only happen in large open areas surrounded by mountains. This goes for 50% of any area you try to explore in this game. I've found I my PS3 console will always crash within 30 seconds if the following conditions are met: I'm in an outdoors area, I have just zoned out from say exploring a vault or similar, there is a lot of terrain being loaded and finally, open areas with a lot of creatures and buildings. I have not experienced game lockups while exploring indoor areas.  The crashes do come more frequently as I'm further into the game though, not sure why that is, maybe the increased size of the save files. I've done what little troubleshooting i can for my ps3. All other games run fine. I formatted the ps3 hard drive and did a fresh game files install. Set all system options to default, nothing's helping. Dunno what else to do, I wish I had a good enough PC to play it there instead, I'm really disappointed with this PS3 port especially considering it runs on the very same unmodified engine and Fallout 3 released 2 years ago.

Oct 12, 2010

More Civ V

I've been focusing a lot on this game in my last few posts. It is a game I want to love but currently am not sure what I think about. The hours I've put into it over the last few weeks tell another story though, I'm badly hooked on it, despite what I would call pretty glaring flaws with the game. I know the AI has some fairly serious problems, I'm not entirely sold on how diplomacy is handled in the game and that the game is also bugged, producing very strange graphic anomalies or unexplainable slowdowns on my system.

That didn't stop me from getting up in the morning last weekend and starting a new game on it. What's worse I was not able, at all, to put the game away to do other more sensible things until I had finished the game some 12 hours later in the same day. Considering how hooked I've been on Civ IV, at least I was able to save the game and close it when I knew I had more important things to be doing.

I have however decided to let the game lie for a bit, in wait for patches to develop it better. Or for mods to come out that do the same job. Whichever comes first. Knowing myself I will then be all over it again.

I've read a lot of reviews for this game, and I noticed a lot of game journalists fell into the same trap as I did when I wrote my initial report. Civ V is sexy, it looks good, its easy to get into yet hard to master, everything is very slick.  So my review, just like so many others out there was mostly full of praise on how awesome everything is in this game. I can't help but think this is exactly the kind of response Firaxis was looking for when releasing this game. The game reviews mostly rate this game close to perfection. But in the 10-20-30 hours max a reviewer gets before he has to write his verdict, a lot of flaws that are not so apparent at first sight do not reveal themselves before the deadline.

I wont rehash for the 'th time the pros and cons about Civilization V, instead I will link to what I find the fairest game review I've read so far for it. So without more ado, here's Tom Chick's review on 1UP.com.