Overdue Review: Fallout: New Vegas

Developer: Obsidian Entertainment

Publisher: Bethesda Game Studios

Fallout games never held a huge place in my heart. I know plenty of gamers who have a deep affection for the games. I played both Fallout 3 and 4 and enjoyed both. However, I did miss out on what has been considered the pinnacle of the Fallout series, Fallout: New Vegas. I don’t know why it took so long especially with Obsidian Entertainment being the developers behind the game, whom I love as developer. Their games have always had great mechanics and excellent stories. I’m an absolute fan of the other work Obsidian has done. After playing the game you can totally add me to the group of people who see this as the best Fallout game.

new vegas ghoul

You take the role of a mysterious person left for dead in the Nevada wasteland. The only name you’re left with is the “courier”. This is a refreshing change in Fallout: New Vegas, from almost every other Fallout game in which you take the role of a vault dweller. It leaves your character open to your own creation and design without being hindered to restrictions. It’s also one of the first times where you are not someone directly connected to the vaults.
The gameplay in Fallout: New Vegas is very akin to its predecessor Fallout 3. You get a pipboy to manage your items, quests and map access. The world is open and explorable. Your character is a blank slate and customizable. Crafting and exploring are essential to your experiences and surviving in the desert wastes. Standard faire Fallout mechanics we’ve all come to expect from the series.
You’ll have quests from a main storyline and more than enough NPCs to gather 100s of side quests from. There is plenty of content to explore here. But the most interesting aspect Fallout: New Vegas fleshes out and focuses on is its factions. Right at the opening the games several NPCs establish the importance of factions. Depending on the ways you interact with these factions you will gain favor with them. Gaining favor means deals at shops, gaining help from factions and just simply having your actions noticed and appreciated.

new vegas citizen

However, you can also gain infamy with factions as well. Much like gaining fame you can gain infamy by simple interactions in the world such as questing and hindering or attacking a faction. Most often you’ll find yourself gaining infamy in a faction by simply by helping another one. Factions will often be opposing one another so depending on whose side you choose you’ll be gaining favor with one and infamy with the other.
In typical Bethesda fashion, even with all the bug fixes and updates, Fallout: New Vegas is still clunky and wonky. Character animations still have that robotic feeling as nearly all Fallout games do.
Even for coming from the era of the Xbox 360, Fallout: New Vegas’s visuals and graphics are still incredibly stunning. I was more impressed by how fleshed out and alive Obsidian was able to make the Nevada desert wastes. Far livelier than the nuked out wastelands of Fallout 3. I always thought Fallout 3’s world was incredibly dull colored and drab. Yes, I understand it’s a nuclear apocalyptic wasteland, but there still could have been some slight variety in the environment to make it more eye appealing at times.
Fallout: New Vegas manages to make its world seem lived in where there’s civilization, wild when you’re exploring the wastes, and a pleasure to look at its wide, beautiful and expansive landscape. Cacti and other arid plants dot the land scape. Even the smallest towns have some personality even as they try to exist in the post-apocalyptic desert. A saloon will still feature neon signs that say “Open” and even the rundown gas station will maintain some of the buildings past hues. But destruction is also well rendered with burnt out houses, ruined towns and decaying civilization everywhere.

new vegas golfing

Like many of that Fallout games Fallout: New Vegas’s world is well complemented by great music. Especially, in this game. It features classic 50’s songs like most of the recent Fallouts, but with taking place in Nevada, there is a lot more country/western style music. The ambient sound as you explore features chill and lonely guitars, which can very rapidly become intense action pieces as combat ramps up. I love the balance of music to fit the mood.
The games FX sounds are mostly well executed. None of it is bad, but it’s what you would expect from a Fallout game. Guns fire with a bang, blunt weapons create a crunch and slashing your enemies comes with a nice slicing noise. Creatures of the Mojave wasteland have their own unique sounds and noises. Hearing the croak of a gecko puts you on guard the moment you hear it.
The voice acting is a little hit or miss. Some offer convincing dialogue, while others can be a little stunted. The doctor you meet at the beginning of the game feels like an old soul who has seen a lot and dealt his own hardships. While the town barkeep try’s to sound like she is tough as nails, but her voice acting just felt so forced and unenthused.

mutant punching

Fallout: New Vegas accomplishes everything that the other Bethesda Fallout games do, but Obsidian was able to flesh out several of the older games mechanics and manages to inject some personality into Fallout: New Vegas. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the games world and incredibly immersive mechanics. If you personally haven’t had the chance to play Fallout: New Vegas either, then I highly recommend that you do. The fans are right, and it does contain some of the best of what the series has to offer.


Overdue Review: Hyper Light Drifter

Welcome to the Stick And The Button’s first Overdue Review where I play and review a game from my back log or something I missed that came out ages ago. First up is the intriguing and beautiful Hyper Light Drifter.

hyper light drifter title screen

There was a lot buzz around Hyper Light Drifter before it came out. The art style and story gathered a lot of attention from many players, but when it came out it was met with very mixed receptions. The game’s detractors took issue with the game being locked at 30 FPS creating a slow and sluggish experience which made the games combat feel unresponsive. Now, this left me kind of unsure about checking out the game despite it being the type of game I would enjoy. But, after snagging the game on sale I finally decided to give it a shot and come to my own conclusion.

You take the role of a mysterious, um, knight I guess would be what best describe the character. The intense cutscene at the beginning implies a terrible catastrophe has befallen the world and your character may be the cause of it all. He also appears to be ill with some sort of disease. Other than those tidbits of story telling the rest of the story is fairly vague. There is no dialogue to the point where when you “speak” to other characters their speech bubbles are filled with pictures to tell a story. None of it is explicit and it’s up to you to figure.


I love this sort of mysterious story telling in games where you must figure out the story with the visual context clues to figure out. It’s why I love the Soulsbourne series so much, but Hyper Light Drifter takes it to a different level with no dialogue or text whatsoever. I know there are plenty of people out there who also hate this type of story telling and if you’re in that camp you might find the vagueness incredibly grating.

Hyper Light Drifter takes a lot of its mechanics from several ARPGs. Combat is a mix of Legend of Zelda and Dark Souls. You combo together sword swings, dodge enemy attack, and even get a gun whose use is very reminiscent to Furi’s gun. In other words you must hold down the R2 button to aim and press a separate button to fire your gun. Dodging doesn’t provide i-frames like Dark Souls does

Along with similar ARPG combat mechanics the UI will also be familiar to many players. Your health bar is divided into five squares similar to The Legend of Zelda heart health meter. However, if you get hit in Hyper Light Drifter you’re going to be losing the whole square of health. No halves or quarters damage losses, you just lose the whole thing.

hyper light combat

Hands down the art and pixel graphic design in Hyper Light Drifter is what I love the most. The beginning opening cinematic is striking with the main character appearing as we also witness whatever catastrophe has befallen this world. The games use of a pastel palette of colors meld together to create some very eye-catching visuals. A lot of pinks, teals and purples are used to make some very dramatic visuals. There are still some grays, greens, and other standard color palettes to flesh out both the natural and civilized areas.

Hyper Light Drifter also knows how to establish a great sense of scale in the game. Right after you make your way through the tutorial area you come out to clearing and a cliff with a city off in the distance. Some who have played the game will already know the area, but for those who haven’t played the game, yet, hopefully you’ll be just as awe struck as I was. It filled me with a desire to explore this world. And it is very much worth it to explore.

The second moment this feeling struck was when I first received the world map. As soon as I opened it I was taken a back not only by the size of each of the areas, but also by the habitats each of the four areas represented. A massive desert, a tangled and beautiful forest, a tranquil, yet terrifying, temple surrounded by water, and a tall mountain peak can all be fully explored. There is a lot to explore and all of it is very rewarding.


Now this last part of the visuals isn’t entirely relevant to Hyper Light Drifter’s visuals. This is regarding the game’s 30 fps framerate when it first launched, which many players (not all) felt it was slow and sluggish, making the games combat unresponsive at times. Heart Machine has since updated the game to 60 fps while still offering a 30 fps option. Seeing as this is an Overdue Review I wanted to see how the game ran at 30. And, well…the game becomes incredibly unresponsive and slow. I typically never have too much of an issue with 30 fps in some games, but in Hyper Light Drifter it felt like moving and fighting through molasses. Thank god Heart Machine updated it and runs smooth now.

After hearing mixed things about Hyper Light Drifter (and that super dope pixel art) I finally decided to play it. Though I am playing the fully optimized version, being able to go back to playing at 30fps kind of shows the initial problems of the game. But, it now runs at 60fps and this game is beautiful, intriguing and has great and familiar gameplay especially as a Zelda fan. I haven’t been this enthralled and filled with wander-lust in game in a long time. With the additional polish they have added to this game, it is wonderful and everything I want in my ARPGs.