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The only thing that stops the dust is the rain. It’s a sweet reprieve, but there is no middle ground. The land is either as dry as the Betty Ford clinic, or as wet as the ocean floor. Everything can be seen from the ridge overlooking Armadillo as John Marston gently bounces along atop...

Fallout: New Vegas Review

Nick_Tan By:
M Contains Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs

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The Wasteland Survival Guide: Mojave Edition by The Courier

I am a man not of the past, nor of the future, nor of the cloth. I am a man of the wasteland, and the wasteland is the present. This is the undeniable truth that stands before me, for that is all I will ever be assured.

click to enlargeIn my daily travels, I have stumbled upon the Wasteland Survival Guide - what precious few copies that remain - written by one terribly enthusiastic shopkeeper in the Capitol Wasteland named Moira Brown. Though her ramblings hold practical knowledge that can still be applied out here in the Mojave Desert, it is the author of the introduction whom I wish to become: a legendary survivor of the apocalypse. Thus am I inspired to transcribe my journey to whomever finds this journal, perhaps far after I become a part of the dust that rolls beneath me.

Of course, in light of the journey to find one's father and purify the waters of the Capitol Wasteland, my motivations are hardly as noble. I am a simple courier, mugged, beaten, and thought to be buried alive by thugs led by a man in a checkered suit... who by my hand will soon find himself smeared across a bathroom floor. And if he's lucky, the tile will match his outfit.

But revenge aside, the daily trek through the American landscape is the same: West Coast, East Coast, it doesn't matter. All that remains is a sundried canvas, with each crack a mutation and each frayed edge a home razed to the ground. In the eyes of the crows, broken roads and train tracks form man-made cobwebs between rusted trailers, factories, and rest stops. Towns cobbled together by bungalows huddle around the evening radio and precious water springs, away from the infestations of Feral Ghouls and Super Mutants. People keep their eyes on strangers, and their guns even closer, with trigger fingers all too ready to confirm their distrust.

For if a battle ensues, a well-placed bullet, grenade, or uppercut to the jaw still solves most problems. Such is the worth of the Pip-Boy and my worry for those who venture without one. Its V.A.T.S. system allows methodical shots to anyone unfortunate enough to be a target - be it raider, radscorpion, or bug-eyed recruit. With a weapon in fine repair, best modded with scopes and larger magazines, and a bundle of stimpaks and chems, there is little to fear.

click to enlargeBut the Mojave Wasteland is stubbornly distinct. Common townsfolk will not be convinced by anyone without a silver tongue for bartering and speech. Though corn stalks stretch toward the dropless sky and the cacti wait desperately for the morning dew, they in time bear fruit, flowers, and recipe ingredients for the weary wanderer. The Hoover Dam provides clean water and electricity, enough to keep the neon lights of New Vegas shining its colored hues like a beacon of paradise upon the gray-washed earth.

So for those who have the nerve to become Hardcore survivors "with spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle", the daily maintenance of food, water, and sleep is well within reach. Purging enemies, however, presents a far greater challenge. Health recover over time and damaged limbs need Doctor Bags to heal; hording Stimpaks does not replace combat prowess and careful planning. The same goes for stockpiling ammo, which has weight, and relying on companions, who can perish permanently. Only skill, patience, and a dash of luck will rule the day for those up to the challenge.

Either way, a warning, especially to the easily entranced: As mesmerizing as the lights of New Vegas may be, The Strip is but a symbol of power. Never forget that. Ultra-Lux, The Tops, Gomorrah, Lucky 38 - just phallic wastes of energy in a wasteland that has little to spare. Were it not for the casinos, The Three Families would turn from being Mafioso wannabes back into just another warring tribe, raiding or enslaving their fellow man with desperately barbaric resolve. Much like Ceasar's Legion... apart from the their feverish need to play dress up (badly) as Roman militia.

But I am not one to dictate allegiances. The National California Republic spreads law and peace throughout the frontier, but their protection barely stretches beyond their staunch defense of The Hoover Dam from Caesar's Legion. Indeed, factions are as common as weeds - Followers of the Apocalpyse, Brotherhood of Steel, Gun Runners, Greaser Gang, Jackal Gang, Scorpion Gang, other gangs with random animals in their name. Most have extra work for a stranger, more for a friend, and value reputation over moral fiber. A hero can take on a couple unsavory assassinations for those who would normally be enemies should the need for caps - or trickery - arise.

click to enlargeFactions and towns in good standing often lend extra discounts and supplies, but they are still no replacements for companions - bodyguards, walking storage units, loneliness suppressants. Survival is practically assured as a tiresome threesome and with the quick interface of the Companion Wheel. Just remember that orders cannot be heard from afar, for whatever godforsaken reason.

As long as freedom prevails in this irradiated frontier, adventure awaits for the ready and yearns for the able. The fool can wander for weeks in any direction and return with a trove of rifles, skill books, and Nuka-Cola Victories. Here, the air hangs upon the tittering of fate, and the world can be shaped by the will of one and the luck of another. War never changes - so it is said - but the dice has been thrown, the risks have been cast, and New Vegas is calling our bets.
A- Revolution report card
  • More Fallout 3!
  • Plenty of side quests
  • Hardcore mode
  • Reputation and factions
  • Companion Wheel
  • Lasts for weeks, even months
  • Color, via The Strip
  • Story setup not as gripping
  • Can't issue companion commands from afar
  • Glitchy

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Also known as: Fallout New Vegas

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