For their latest "contrarian corner" feature, IGN offers yet another set of impressions for Obsidian's Fallout: New Vegas. This time, however, it's clear that the author doesn't fire up role-playing games all too often:
The gameplay system is a disjunctive network of overlapping lists, stats, statuses, items, quest information, character notes, curiosities, and upgrades. It's nearly inscrutable in the beginning but after 10-20 hours the most obscure corners of the system will be at least functional, if not entirely clear. It took me over 50 hours to reach my ending and I managed to not upgrade a single weapon. It took me five hours to realize that active quests could be toggled on and off in the voluminous quest log, automatically changing the markers on the game's map. I'm still not sure what sorts of ammo my Plasma Rifle was using, but I know that I could create more by finding an ammo station and transforming one strange thing into another. In the early hours I got a leftover journal from a character and searched in vain through my Items menu hoping to read it. It was nowhere to be found in the sub-categories of Apparel, Weapons, Aid, or Miscellaneous. Only 20 hours later did I realize that these non-essential character flourishes were stored in the Data section under the Notes sub-category. This is why modern games lack depth. There are people - video game journalists, even - who actually think FNV has too many statistics and upgrades, and that the outcome of a typical combat scenario is determined by too many factors.
Combat is no more slippery, though its consequences are more immediate. Enemies all have a health bar the same size, though the rate it will be depleted by your various weapons depends on myriad factors, most of which are folded into sub-menus. Combat is a two step-process that involves first discovering a threatening creature, then deciding whether or not to fight it. All fights play out nearly identically, though the numbers being crunched in the processor are different every time. When an enemy is aware that you're near it bull-rushes, with different enemy types have different speeds of bull-rush. The only real response is to run frantically backwards while shooting, hoping there aren't any fences or big rocks waiting behind you.