I absolutely loved Fallout 3. It's probably the game I've spent the most time with during the last couple of years. Big shoes to fill for Obsidian Entertainment, but then again with a team bursting with talent from the original Fallout developers at Black Isle. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, things go wrong as soon as you press start. The opening sequence sees you being robbed of a package and shot in the head. You're rescued by a mysterious do gooder and taken to Doc Mitchell's house in Goodsprings for treatment. This is where Fallout: New Vegas starts, and if you feel comfortable not going through the tutorials you can head straight onto the Mojave Wastelands in search of your killers and the platinum chip they stole.
Starting out playing Fallout: New Vegas is like slipping into a comfortable pair of shoes. It feels like I've walked a hundred miles in them, and I loved every step, and I'm happy to walk a hundred more. The basics are the same. The Mojave wastelands is laid out a bit like the Capital wasteland, missions work the same way, dialogue, experience and so on and the combat is the same. But Fallout: New Vegas does add its own little things, and some rather big things, that makes it an even more flexible experience and one that gets down on its knees and begs the player for a second playthrough.
Most of you reading this review are probably not to keen on reading any spoilers, but I think one or two minor things are unavoidable as I try to explain why this game is so great. Let me take you to a small town called Novac. It's a quiet town you'll run into while playing the main story of Fallout: New Vegas - a handful of hours into the game. It sports a giant T-rex statue with a gift shop inside and a make shift sniper position in the mouth. You can be done with Novac in a matter of minutes in you want and be on your way. The information you need can be secured without the need to do any side quests or missions, but there is a lot you can do if you want to. A man named Boone has had his wife kidnapped by slavers, and you can help him find the killer by asking around and maybe search a few places for clues. If you don't find the killer you can just randomly point the finger, it's your choice. There is also a rather long side mission you can do to get the information you need to progress the main story (which you can also acquire yourself). This mission will see you dealing with a cult of ghouls and a schizophrenic nightkin commander. Anyway, at the end of all of this (which will take you a couple of hours) you stand to gain a new companion, and a permanent room in the Novac motel. Peeling off the layers of the onion that is Fallout: New Vegas is a true pleasure.
There are many more memorable moments I could tell you about. Reaching the Strip, and stumbling onto places by accident as you explore the wastelands. New Vegas has a slightly different tone, even if it's only a difference of nuance to that of Fallout 3. Perhaps it's more of a roleplaying experience than Fallout 3 was, because of the factions you meet and the added layers of weapon mods, and crafting (bullets and items).
The major new addition to the formula is the way you can ally yourself with factions, and gain support from towns, in Fallout: New Vegas. This adds a big reason to replay the game and experience different relationships. The two major factions you come across early is the New California Republic and Ceasar's Legion. You can side with one, stay neutral or take them both on. It's really up to you, but certain companions may not want to join up with you depending on your choices. Companions are also introduced earlier in New Vegas than in Fallout 3, and the way you interact with them is greatly improved. Your companions are also a great way increase your carrying capacity if nothing else. There are many smaller factions and gangs who you can either work with or against throughout the Mojave desert.
Fallout 3 had its fair share of bugs and glitches, and Fallout: New Vegas has inherited many of the ones related to the engine. I played the Playstation 3 version and experienced frequent framerate stutters as I moved across the wastelands. The enemy pathfinding and artificial intelligence acted up every now and then. But there were also more severe bugs like the game freezing completely, the camera positioning itself inside of my character during a cinematic, a support character killing a NPC who just gave me a quest, to name a few. Fallout: New Vegas was never going to be a bug and glitch free experiences, and most people are probably well aware that they need to save the game often, and in multiple files just to be safe. But I still feel that the bugs come far too frequently. Don't let this stop you from experiencing New Vegas, but you should be aware of it. Save frequently, folks.
Fallout: New Vegas is at its core more of the same basic experience we got from Fallout 3. However, there is enough here that is different for it not to be a problem and why fix things that ain't broke? The plot, story, quests and design or on par with Fallout 3, and the writing is better in my opinion. The bugs can be a bit annoying, but you get so much out of the New Vegas experience that they don't really bother me. If you enjoyed Fallout 3 you will no doubt enjoy Fallout: New Vegas.