T.E. Lawrence: “It’s clean.”–Lawrence of Arabia, 1962.
The brilliance of New Vegas is really in the area surrounding the city of New Vegas. The story is obviously very good, and the writing is quite well-done, but where the game truly shines is in small moments as you explore the wasteland, especially once they are contrasted with the goings-on in the city.
New Vegas is yet another installment in Obsidian’s growing line of games that simply are literature. The land itself seems to become a character, its haunted desolation providing the tone of the whole story. The irony, however, is in the open, melancholy beauty of the Mojave contrasted with the crime-filled and ugly city. It serves well the game’s dark take on human nature: the sinister implication that humanity grows more corrupted and ugly as it rebuilds from the war.
This sense of escape, the feeling of exploring a vast expanse of land, also plays on the interactivity factor. It feels more like a world to be shaped and explored, than a pile of rubble to struggle over.
Fallout: New Vegas has its flaws, its bugs, its weak scenes and its missed opportunities. But I think of none of these when I think of playing it. I think instead about the feeling of adventure of standing out in a ruined abode in the desert, watching the sun go down behind the Mojave outpost as Marty Robbins‘ “Big Iron” plays in the background, wondering where I want to go next.