My playthrough of _New Vegas_ started in an isolated area of the game’s locale, an excessively large map of a devastated Vegas, and while it was great to be playing some more _Fallout_, it was immediately clear that this game will be more _Fallout 3.5_ than a fully fleshed out sequel. The game plays nearly identically to its predecessor, with no major changes being apparent in the short time that I had with the game. The art style is practically the same, there’s still a Pitboy on the character’s arm, another Vault styled jumpsuit made an appearance and there was a considerable amount of wandering around.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, _Fallout 3_ was a fantastic title due to the scale and detail that had been applied to the post-apocalyptic world the characters inhabited, but it wasn’t without issue. Most concerning is that _New Vega’s_ conservation system and animations seem to be unchanged; characters still stand directly in front of you while conversing, with absolutely no body animation, and when in third-person mode the game looks thoroughly unconvincing. This was a major problem in the original _Fallout 3_, stopping anyone from getting truly immersed in the experience. If points like this haven’t been addressed in the final build of _New Vegas_ (which is very likely as it comes out this week), it may not offer enough over the original _Fallout 3_ to warrant a purchase.
To be fair though, _New Vegas_ is the sort of game that requires a commitment; like anything worthwhile in life, you’ll no doubt have to put a lot of time in before getting the maximum enjoyment out. This makes a 15 minute show-floor demo very hard to accurately represent what the experience of the final game has to offer, especially so when the majority of that time was spent wandering through a wasteland. Saying that, there were some notable additions; a number of new weapons were available to play with, as well as components that could be used for customisation. The developers say that there are over double the amount of weapons found in _Fallout 3_ but this isn’t a numbers game, it’s all down to how many of these are enjoyable to use. Fortunately, out of the few I got my hands on, this definitely seems the case. Having a rapid-fire grenade launcher is always going to be entertaining and here, such a powerful weapon made the usually dull combat invigorating. However, the combat does still incorporate VATS, allowing the player to pause the gameplay and attack individual parts of their enemies. As before, this leads to the majority of the gameplay revolving around getting as close to your opponent as possible, engaging VATS and shooting them straight in the head.
It’s clear that _New Vegas_, as with _Fallout 3_, is still not a combat focused game and it’s success will depend solely on how well the game world has been crafted and realised, and definitely not the mediocre combat or terrible animation which seem to have, unfortunately, carried over from the previous instalment.