Technical glitches aside, Fallout: New Vegas is one of the year's best. | Game On | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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Technical glitches aside, Fallout: New Vegas is one of the year's best.

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Because I'm such an upbeat fellow, I've never understood the gloom-and-doom view of a nuclear apocalypse to which most people seem to subscribe. Personally, I've always preferred the outlook of the Fallout series, which tends to portray the aftermath of World War III as a unique opportunity to become a new breed of knight errant, trekking around the irradiated countryside slaying monsters, wooing damsels and helping out those in need. It's always nice to see a video-game series with a positive attitude. The fact that they're some of the best games of all time doesn't hurt, either.

Fallout: New Vegas, Obsidian Software's latest entry in the series, continues this proud tradition of relentless optimism and excellent quality, delivering an epic amalgam of shooter and RPG that somehow manages to improve upon the legacy of its venerable predecessors.

Everything about this game is a finely detailed work of art, from the sprawling setting that beautifully contrasts the dry bleakness of the Mojave Desert with the '50s-style glitz of the titular city, to the diverse and well-written cast of characters (including a couple of old friends from Fallouts past) to the carefully balanced game design that makes playing a smooth-talking computer whiz just as viable a choice as playing a bullet-spewing psychopath.

The result is a game that's enjoyable through multiple playthroughs, especially because the main story offers you a wide range of endings, from delivering the Hoover Dam into the hands of slavers modeling themselves after a Roman legion, to murdering the enigmatic autocrat Mr. House and ruling over New Vegas yourself. 

All that said, the fun and freedom of New Vegas is somewhat mitigated by a multitude of glaring technical problems. Bugs have always been the Achilles' heel of the Fallout series, but New Vegas takes it to a whole new level. The game is an ugly cocktail of slowdowns, freeze-ups and egregious scripting errors that render quests unfinishable and leave characters walking mindlessly into walls for all eternity. Hopefully, patches are on the way to fix some of the major issues. But until then, the game's technical flaws represent the only major obstacle to fully enjoying the rich experience of New Vegas.

Even with these problems, Fallout: New Vegas remains one of the best games of 2010. Whether your idea of a good time is blasting a giant scorpion to bits with a rocket launcher, sneaking into a smugglers' den to steal weapon schematics, or charming your way into the arms of beautiful women (or men) Fallout: New Vegas, like a bad gambling habit, will hook you in and keep you coming back for more.

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