New Vegas hits the jackpot

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The Spectrum

Grade: B+

Hot off the heels of Fallout 3, the 2008 game of the year, Fallout: New Vegas, boasts a new and exciting setting, new reputations, and down-the-scope sights for all the first-person shooter fans out there.

From the very beginning, New Vegas tosses fans neck-deep into a post-apocalyptic world of chaos ravaged by nuclear warfare, where they must struggle to stay afloat.

Gamers assume the role of a courier for the Mojave Express. During the opening cinematic, the player is shot in the head and dumped in a shallow grave. Shortly after, the character is rescued by a robot and nursed back to health by the town's local doctor.

From there, the player embarks on a journey to discover the circumstances behind his mysterious attempted murder.

In true role-playing game fashion, New Vegas gives players complete control over their character's appearance and skills. Players can improve their talents in categories such as weapons, explosives, lock picking and sneakiness to drastically alter the gameplay.

New Vegas' in-depth customizability doesn't end there. Just like Fallout 3, this rendition of the game gives players access to an abundance of dialogue options, allowing gamers to be as caring or as intimidating as they desire.

As in real life, however, your choices have consequences. With every town and gang encountered throughout the game, the player has the potential to either win its favor or ire. True to the proverb, though, you can't please everyone in this game.

One decision may lead to your character being idolized by an entire town, gaining you discounts, free rooms, and other perks. The same decision may also result in the contempt of an opposing faction, however. Should you earn the scorn of bandits, be sure to keep an eye out, as they will attack you on sight.

Thankfully, throughout the course of the game, players are given access to an arsenal of deadly weapons to defend themselves with. With threats ranging from mutated scorpions to crazed and bloodthirsty bandits, players will need to use all of the arms at their disposal to survive.

In the virtual Mojave wasteland, the game often fails to keep your heart pumping. For seasoned FPS fans, things are a bit easier than they were in the ruins of Washington D.C. This time around, the developers have provided the choice to aim down the sights of the weapons, putting all control in the player's nimble thumbs.

This isn't to say that the beloved Vault-Tek Assisted Targeting System (V.A.T.S.) is absent from the game. For fans of the freeze frame aiming that allows players to target individual body parts of their opponents for added cinematic effect, there's no need to fret. The trademark feature is back and just as fun as ever.

Don't be misled; New Vegas isn't all about running and gunning. The game evokes a deep sense of exploration. Its landscape is massive, and it would take hours to discover every location dispersed across its map.

Because of the seemingly endless number of side quests and a high level of replayability due to its vast customization, New Vegas is one game capable of entertaining its players for a long time to come.

As fun as the game is, it's not without its faults. Most problematic is the large amount of bugs throughout.

At times, New Vegas feels as though its production was rushed. Enemies find themselves trapped below the level with a mere limb or two exposed, and the frame rate will drop, causing the gameplay to become a choppy and frustrating experience.

In addition to the numerous glitches that plague the game, the developers failed to update their engine. In comparison to Fallout 3, the graphics of New Vegas received little to no polish. Characters come off as interchangeable between the two titles and fail to leave a lasting impression upon the player.

The only time that the visuals truly come off as stunning is within the city limits of New Vegas itself. The neon lights and interior of the casinos showcase a level of radiance unseen in Fallout 3.

Even with the abundance of glitches and lack of impressive imagery, the game is solid. New Vegas is a worthy addition to the series and will provide anyone who picks it up with a payoff deserving of the Vegas name.

E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com