Grab The Games: Fallout: New Vegas
As I am old enough to do so, let me start this one with a bit of history. Fallout 1&2 were turn-based, isometric RPGs. The games had an interesting and atmospheric setting, detailed character development system, deep quests, tactical combat and gave huge amount of freedom to the player. But then Interplay and Black Isle Studios died. Fallout disappeared for a long time until it was picked up by Bethesda of Elder Scrolls fame. Thus came Fallout 3, which is closer to any other game by Bethesda than to original Fallout (which can have better successors in Shadowrun and Wastelands 2). The gameplay became first person and real time. The rpg elements got streamlined which in normal terms mean simplified to the point of shallowness. And here we come to New Vegas a game built on Fallout 3 engine by Obsidian, a team famous for creating sequels to other people's franchises.
The atmosphere of a destroyed world is there, as it should.
Obsidian chose not to make a continuation of Fallout 3, but a new, not connected game in the Fallout universe. While Obsidian kept the gameplay vastly identical, they tried to make a more of an RPG out of it. It is visible in little things, like the hardcore mode, which makes things like dehydration, radiation, wounds etc a real challenge. The game starts with a rather detailed tutorial sequence, which introduces you to some elements of the gameplay through simple quests and includes a character creation, which can be done in a simplified way or with the player controlling the choice of every stat and perk. In a nice touch at the end of the tutorial you can change the decisions you had made, this makes no sense from roleplaying perspective but on the other hand gives the player a chance to try out things and see if they work for him/her. A pity that a new player will not know of this beforehand. The game, as with all Obsidian creations is very competently written, NPC dialogue is interesting enough, quests provide you with enough choice etc. But nothing here is groundbreaking, nothing really original. The game has four paths you can choose from in the main quest, siding with different factions and this, together with a big amount of sidequests gives you a feeling of choice, in another nice touch, at the end you are given a slideshow with the results of your choices, so it all feels meaningful. While the game is very, very combat heavy, it is not the only way of dealing with problems and at times you can avoid it altogether.
And it wasn't even a magic sword!
While the engine is not the newest, the game looks good and the graphic style depicts well the post-apocaliptic world, although due to a certain shift in importance, at time you may forget about the atomic war. The world simply looks more neglected than anything else. I started playing the game with a gamepad, the interface is well designed for sitting on a couch away from the monitor, unfortunately had to move to mouse and keyboard pretty soon. Everything works fine with a gamepad until you start shooting, targeting is jerky and you are not effective enough. Switching to a mouse solves the problem. And trying to melee all the fights is not a good idea, whatever your character build (although you can get surprisingly far doing it). What I really disliked about the game is how much it feels like a reskin of Elder Scrolls. Sure, you've got a pipboy, so the Skyrim-like inventory makes at least some sense, but generally the design feels too familiar. In consequence e.g. while you can instatravel to known locations sometimes you are going to leg through empty spaces filled with nothing, only being able to listen to the radio saving these moments in the game.
One of the famous marks of the freedom in Fallout series was being able to kill anybody meet. You can still do that... sort of. Sometimes there are characters you clearly shouldn't, which you can see because they are unrealistically hard to kill. Also no killing children this time. Also the enviroment is sadly mostly non-destructive, which is disappointing when you are e.g. throwing a grenade at a computer.
The results of the first can I kill and NPC test