After a good week of thinking it through between Mass Effect 2 and New Vegas, I settled on the latter as my Game of the Year. They’re both very good games (which is why they were both possible options) but, on reflection, I realised that Mass Effect 2 had a bit too many issues in its execution that I disliked.
I was a big fan of Fallout 3, loved the atmosphere of the game, the humour, how real the world felt. These were people out in Washington DC just getting by, surviving. When New Vegas was announced I gave it a slight glance, but having Fallout 3 and mods, as well as this being Obsidian not Bethesda, I didn’t give it much attention. As far as I was concerned, this was going to be the same game, just in Mojave. However, its release soon came around, and without any other new games to satiate my appetite, I picked it up. I was pleasantly surprised how wrong my doubts were.
New Vegas took Fallout 3’s formula and improved on it in some great ways. My favourite addition was the Factions. Now, in doing quests and just walking through the wastes, you could befriend or anger the area’s various factions. The two big guys are the New California Republic and Caesar’s Legion (which all but one NPC annoyingly pronounce Kaiser’s Legion. By fault or design, I don’t know), both vying for control of the Mojave Desert and the Hoover Dam. Because of the NCR presence in Mojave the world feels much more populated than the DC Wasteland did. Having factions to gain reputation with isn’t a new thing to games, but it is nice to see it in New Vegas. The characters also present some good balanced reasoning for why these two factions are as good and as bad as each other. However, losing Karma for doing Caesar-based missions does mean the game pushes you more to favour the NCR as the overall ‘good guys’ of New Vegas.
The game also spices up weapons, putting a pretty wide range of guns and killing tools at your disposal, maybe a bit too many. Most guns also come with multiple types of ammunition, anti-armour, fast but low damage missiles, and the usual frag, pulse and plasma varieties of grenades. The lack of ammo variety being one of my dislikes in ME2. The regular ammo can deal with most things well enough, though swapping between the 2-3 available, and being rewarded with quick deaths of your enemies is nice.
Companions had been something I never bothered with in Fallout 3. Even after picking up DogMeat I sent him packing off home. However, with New Vegas I’ve being quite happy to take on companions and help out with their side quests. It’s been fun. I don’t know why I never bothered with the companions in Fallout 3 (not much of a fan of AI, I guess) but I’d be glad to hop back into FO3 and give them a shot.
The game has drawn criticism for bugs. I played New Vegas on PC, which I feel is about the only way you really can play Fallout. It was fairly bug-free, just a Ghoul randomly turning hostile and a couple of NPCs typing on invisible typewriters; nothing game-breaking (and the European release date came after the saving bug was patched). Once I have done my initial playthrough, I will be hopping over to Fallout Nexus and augmenting my consecutive playthrough with the multitude of high quality community mods. It’s one of my drives for completing the game, alongside figuring out the mystery of the Mojave.
I am an explorer, and I love exploring open world games, finding things, raiding an uncovered cave, discovering its secrets and treasures. And for me, Fallout New Vegas provides this in spades. Oblivion being about the only game to top that, personally. I can just boot the game up, pick a fast travel spot on the map, then go around exploring, find a cave complete some unwritten mission, and get trapped in the game for hours. In the process of making this article I ended up going to get various screenshots and quickly got dragged away by the game. It’s something about New Vegas that has pulled me in like no other game this year (though Minecraft comes a close second).
Fallout: New Vegas isn’t the most unique and innovative game I’ve played all year, nor the best-looking, or best-written and polished, but it’s the game that has given me the most entertainment. Which is what I mostly look for in a game. And so for that, it is my Game of the Year.