Fallout: New Vegas Review
Fallout: New Vegas is in some ways like driving from LA to Vegas – it will be hours before you see The Strip and during that time all you'll see is a whole lot of desert. In fact, the post-apocalyptic Mojave looks a whole lot like the pre-apocalyptic one, except that the scorpions have become a lot larger. While this may be disappointing if you've been itching to hit the tables to try and win some caps playing blackjack, there's a whole lot more to see than the world's tallest thermometer in this version of the Mojave.
New Vegas opens with a scene straight out of a Vegas gangster flick. A man is shot by some goons and left for dead out in the desert. Unfortunately that poor sucker is you, but on the bright side you survive the attack and are nursed back to health by some friendly folk in a small village in the middle of nowhere. You don't know who tried to kill you, you don't know why they wanted you dead, and you don't know who gave the order for the hit. This is where your adventure begins, an adventure that will lead you closer and closer to Sin City, a city that didn't let a small thing like the apocalypse interrupt the party.
Fallout: New Vegas shares its universe with Fallout 3, but this adventure out West is completely separate from that of its predecessor. New Vegas is a completely standalone game and there's no particular need or advantage to playing Fallout 3 before New Vegas. You begin the game by customizing your character and his or her stats in much the same you would in most RPGs. The character and perk (skill) system in the game is the same as that in Fallout 3, which gives you a lot of leeway in designing a character that fits your style of play, be it an ugly, deadeye gunslinger or a charismatic pretty boy who can charm the gun out of a potential enemy's hands.
One aspect of your character that is new to New Vegas and has a big impact on your game experience is reputation. New Vegas and the desert surrounding it are a filled with competing factions trying to become the dominant force in the new world order. These factions run the gamut from major players in the post-apocalyptic landscape such as the New California Republic, a militaristic faction that draws its inspiration from the legions of Ancient Rome, and the traditional Fallout faction The Brotherhood of Steel, as well as numerous smaller ones trying to grab a piece of the action. Some of the factors affecting your standing are obvious – no one likes a person that shoots at them all of the time, while others are more subtle and can result from saying the wrong thing to the wrong person or helping another rival faction with a quest. Your reputation will have a direct effect on your game experience, not just in overt ways such as opening or closing quest trees or determining whether or not you're shot on sight, but also in subtler ways such as how people react to you and what they say as you walk by. It also makes deciding what to wear an important decision. Wear a legionnaire's armor and you can waltz right in to one of their camps, but wear it to a New California Republic outpost and they'll shoot first and ask questions later, even if they let you bunk with them the night before. The game is so shaped by your factional standing, that you could play through the game a second time and align yourself with different factions and have a different experience with the game.