I’ve never been abroad. For all I know, England is the only inhabited place on the whole of earth. I’m sure this is the case for a lot of people, all over the world, and the only way we are fairly sure of the existence of other countries is through the media. We learn of world events through the news, and we learn about other countries’ histories via the documentation of others. It should come as no surprise then, that my view of the wide world may be a little different from reality. But is this such a bad thing? Surely the only repercussions would be that I felt slight disappointment that Rome was actually not built for assassins to climb all over, or we aren’t really under attack from the Covenant with only a Spartan super-soldier to protect us. In fact, it’s really quite admirable that such a simple concept as a computer game, like Assassin’s Creed or Halo, can have such a significant impact on the mind. Fallout: New Vegas in particular paints a rather beautiful scenario of what you might (and i have to remind myself that it’s not real) find is a post-apocalyptic America, while still maintaining the key points of the country’s history. Obviously i may come across as a madman when i say i have to remember that it’s all fictional, but you would be surprised at how involved you become with the game and how connected you feel with New Vegas‘ inhabitants.
If you’ve had the pleasure of playing Fallout 3 (or even Oblivion for that matter), you’ll already be aware that Bethesda are partial to a helping of silliness. New Vegas’ injection of fun is presentented early on, almost instantly in fact, in the opening cutscene. What appears to be an idealistic Vegas is actually just a picture on the wall of a derelict casino. In Fallout’s traditional “pan backwards” camera style, a very different Vegas is presented; one that is seemingly under constant raider attack. Even further back we are shown a group of men digging a grave. The narrator then gives a short backstory in case you haven’t played Fallout 3. After the explanation of a typical multi-tribal war that is often present in today’s games, you are told that you are a courier, and you are dead.
Not the best start to a character’s fate, right? Fortunately, thanks to the miracle of future medicine (despite most of the world being torn apart by atomic war, there is still a seemingly advanced approach to medical care) you find yourself back on your feet in no time. For players of Fallout 3, you’ll be pleased to know that the “tutorial” is much shorter in New Vegas; you don’t have to watch your character grow up from birth! It’s just straight into the game. From there on out it’s pure adventure.
Perhaps the best aspect of New Vegas is that it’s so open-ended. Never before have you been given so much freedom in a game, right from the very start. Sure, you have to go through the five minute “tutorial” but that is such a small price to pay for what you can do after. The game gives you a little nudge to follow the main storyline, which is fine, but what if you want to live by your own rules, and do what you want? Well, that’s fine too, and easily done. You want to help the town fight off a gang called “The Powder Gangers”? Okay then. You want to help the Power Gangers ransack the town? go for it. You couldn’t care either way about the town or anyone? Off you go exploring.
A word of warning, however; if you don’t have hours and hours to spare, do not play this game. It has an addiction level akin to that of World of Warcraft, so a lot of time is consumed to get the most out of the gameplay. My verdict? Definitely worth it. Who needs a job, anyway?