Saturday, June 04, 2011

The Role-Playing Grind: Honest Hearts for Fallout New Vegas

Might as well shed some light on the various DLC on offer in the RPG genre, though I normally review a game as a whole. Not that easy with big western RPG’s that thrives on carefully doled out DLC to maximize profits.

I really, really want to like Fallout New Vegas as a whole, despite all the things it had going against it and still have to some degree.

The Good
There’s not a whole lot to commend here, other than possibly that the game is patching up a little bit better for each installment. Going from my original 120+ hour main game that is broken in several places, into the DLC area and completing it, I only had the box freeze completely on me a couple times. That’s good right?

The whole DLC is a separate area as usual, and even an aging engine manages to portray the environments as enticing and beautiful. The addition of weather is a nice visual bonus for atmosphere that works on more than one level. The skies will grow dark when it begins to rain and your visibility is hampered more often than not. Some might say it’s way to dark to play as you can’t see squat, but I did feel it added something of value and consequently found myself looking for shelter and rest to advance the time to sunny days.

The Bad
Oh, where to start? Well, at the very start then. As per usual your pip-boy will light up and give you GPS directions to where you begin the DLC. After a brief but unnecessary intro you’re on your way to the land of cowboys and Indians (feathery, not curry). The native kind. Or in this case, raiders, hoodlums and scum that after the great war have mysteriously reverted back to mimicking the real native Americans. Don’t try to wrap your head around this, just go with it.

You’ve probably picked up a few things about the Burning Man during your main game endeavours, and have possibly even thought “hey, that sounds like a setup for a good DLC story”. True, but sadly what is delivered is a monumental squandering of a good setup. The Burning Man himself, the story and background, as well the characters portrayed in this DLC is just flat as a roadkill.

So what’s left in this type of game is to gather up all the ‘uniques’ - the new weapons, armor, and items so you can haul them back to your stash. Just admit it, you’re a hoarder. Maybe do a few interesting side-quests. Here is where Honest Hearts does something out of the ordinary. As to remove the need for any sort of playability left and to say “We know, we screwed up. Sorry, but here’s some free stuff!”, the game simply drops a chest with ALL the new items in front of your feet once the story missions are over. I half expected the chest to contain 800 MSP and a letter of apology.

The Ugly
As soon as the opening story feed is done with and control is back in your hands, you’re thrown head-first into the first rookie mistake; the classical “death trap”. This is where you are dumped in a scenario that is already decided for you, but still given the impression that you can change the outcome. A big no-no in all genres. I’m guessing the intern that made this was fast asleep during that bit of class.

So just give the opening a rest. You can’t win. People will die around you by invisible bullets fired by enemies you have already killed. Do keep your eyes open though, as you’re seconds away from the next ugly bit of game that passed QA. In the scripted event above, developers decided to throw in some key personnel; also native looking, impossible to tell apart and very easy to kill during the slight chaos.If you did like me, within the first five minutes you’ll come out of a scenario feeling cheated and be greeted with an on-screen pop-up saying you broke the game. Swell.

The Achievements
All main-story based and effortlessly unmissable, expect one. Save before the final mission (you’ll be told) and choose one of two sides to ally with. An achievement is waiting for you at the end for each side, so load up that very save again and be sure to grab both.


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