New Vegas: The new moral metric

Goddamn game critique corner.

I think New Vegas may just be one of the finest crafted RPGs in recent memory. I am 32 hours in and the game just keeps giving and giving, there’s no end in sight. The content here has butchered Fallout 3 in every single way. The story is more down to Earth, more relevant to the player’s thinking and completely revolutionizes specific aspects of player identity in such a massive world. This game is the new RPG, and I cannot think of a greater experience to carry the whole ‘moral’ thing on its back. We are in such a vibrant time in video-games, and we’ve stumbled upon this whole ‘interactive storytelling’ thing. Coming from some-one who dubs himself as a storyteller and general writer, this thing could revolutionize all of humanity and changes lives across the world. I know for a fact my life has changed thanks to video-games, and now I owe a piece of that enrichment to New Vegas.

For starters, the game does a ridiculously good job at introducing you to the overall pacing of the game. You’re shot in the head by Matthew Perry, and the only dictated element of your existence is that you’re this Courier trying to deliver a package. The plot then ripples out to a massive war between factions and extends itself into new territory of questions, thoughts and feelings. In Fallout 3 you met your Dad for five minutes and then he served the place as being your main motivation for the rest of the story. That’s bad pre-determined characteristics, and it’s made worse when it’s your ‘main motivation’… go find Liam Neeson! He’s yo Daddy! You care about yo Daddy! All of this I generally ignored and just went about the well crafted world serving a cycle of immersion, combat and intrigue. New Vegas has similar elements of that cycle but its main focus, of morality, is seriously one of the most well crafted elements of design probably ever.

The annoying karma returns, with it’s good/evil business; shallow as ever. But alongside this is the ‘reputation’ system. You have to choose who you ally with for the final battle in the game, and who fits your frame of mind. There’s four choices at work and they’re amazingly grey in their own way. One appears to be the ‘bad’ side, but really they’re all just brainwashed. One appears to be the good tide of government, but they’re having problems with discipline in the ranks. One represents dictatorship, which may be needed in the whole ‘nuclear wasteland’ thing. The one that I’m siding with and the one which I think has been an amazing thought to implement is yourself. You can take Vegas and rely upon only yourself to get the job done if you don’t believe nether of the above parties will do the above job. Finally, we have a game in which I can actually find reasons for my actions other than “I wanted da big gun/good karma.”

What it strides to do is utterly perfect and I hope to god it sells like hotcakes, this has got to be the new liquor of role-playing experiences. The character you play as has no pre-determined relationships, but he has some history related to New Reno; which feels like pre-determined history done right. It’s fan-service contained in your own dialogue choices. I’m more than fine when a player character is speaking on my behalf, but when he’s completely and utterly related to me even in mind and history; that’s when it gets so damn good.

It’s not a perfect game, as you’ve already heard, it’s got masses upon masses of bugs and I couldn’t recruit a certain group of people into my campaign because of a giant game bug. There’s a few other little niggles like combat not always feeling ‘fun’ and perhaps the balancing of enemies needs to be fine tuned. For the most part, the freedom of choice and voice in the world completely outweighs all other obstacles the game faces, for instance, you can literally kill the faction leader of all the sides at any time in the game. There is only one invincible NPC in the game and even he loses his immortality half-way through. It would be the front-runner for my game of the year, but I still think there could be a tiny little improvement to be made.

I’ve been playing Fable 3 over at my friend’s house and… well… I don’t even want to bother with critiquing the game. The certain idea it has about promising factions something in the new revolution is something that would be perfect in New Vegas. The ideas it already has about choice and voice are pixel-perfect but putting them in further into practically would completely revolutionize gaming for years to come. I mean that. Imagine having to weigh up factions and your own value of life. The good of the few versus the good of the many – a choice we don’t see too often in video-games.

The idea of ‘the lesser of two evils’ is prevalent throughout the game, as is the idea that you need to explore how far you trust your self-ability and (to an extent) self-confidence. But to dig deeper into these pockets and pull out true questions of morality; life, death and the hell of it all – that is what will enrich player’s lives. Mine has already been enriched, I think I can now fully trust myself with only my own decisions. It’s also odd given that on Steam achievements, many more players have chosen the same path I have (Wild Card). Interesting to say the least – we don’t want none of your embedded factions Mr.Videogames!

So that’s it, really. I can’t think of nothing much to critique New Vegas with other than the ideas it has about choice, voice and new morality are extraordinarily what I’ve been wanting from video-games for the past few years. If these were all put further into practicality, it may just well be an already contender for game of the decade, and on par with Shadow of the Colossus in my mind. I think if you enjoyed Fallout 3, you will love the socks out of New Vegas and maybe even more.

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