When released in 2008, "Fallout 3" was considered one of the greatest open-world role playing games of the year. Fast-forward two years, and we have a new installment in the award-winning franchise. Obsidian Entertainment has taken over production of the series from Bethesda Game Studios, but the overall design of the game has not changed as a result.
"Fallout: New Vegas" takes players to the West coast to the Mojave wastelands of post-apocalyptic Nevada. Despite the great nuclear war that ravaged and destroyed much of the U.S., Vegas managed to remain mostly unharmed. New Vegas survived with the help of the New California Republic (NCR), the government within the Mojave wastes, a second group called "Caesar’s Legion," and Mr. House, the de-facto ruler of New Vegas. Tensions between the three factions heat up and eventually boil over into an all-out war between the NCR and Caesar’s Legion. Players assume the role of a lone courier, thrown into the battle after an attempted assassination on his/her life goes awry while trying to deliver a package (the faulty ambusher is voiced by "Friends" star Matthew Perry).
Walking around the Mojave Desert feels similar to the wastes of "Fallout 3;" various mutated wildlife and bizarre characters populate the scenery with the introduction of growing vegetation instead of a dry, battle-torn wasteland. The game leads the player through multiple quests to find the man who tried to kill them, leading to Vegas.
The three main factions approach the player expressing interest in a professional relationship. Each faction has their own agenda and it is up to the player to decide which faction they will side with and to help choose the fate of Vegas.
Besides the main quests, there is also a plethora of enjoyable side quests that are the real heart and soul of the "Fallout" games. These quests take the player to new places and help with the exploration of the Mojave Desert. The side quests range from acquiring an object for a character to quests that increase the player’s standing with a faction. The amount of places the player can go and explore can be overwhelming when being swarmed by families of mutated animals, but well worth the time spent walking around. Assuming the player is a devoted fan with a lot of time on their hands, they should expect to put in at least 100 hours to fully explore and experience the entirety of the Mojave Wasteland.
The staples from the Fallout series are present in "Fallout: New Vegas," with a futuristic touch on the 1950s remaining a dominant theme. The music is from classic big bands, played by radio D.J. Mr. New Vegas (voiced by Mr. Vegas himself, Wayne Newton).
A new addition to the game, besides the ability to choose whether to be good or evil, is the reputation system. Doing quests in various towns or with different factions gives you reputation with that faction, or, conversely, takes away reputation with rival factions. This system helps while exploring through faction-controlled territory, removing the risk of being shot on sight (unless that faction has been given orders to do so). Another change is the improved companion system. The wasteland can be a lonely place, so it helps to have a companion or two. In "Fallout 3," there was a limited companion system, allowing the player to tell their follower to wait or come with them, and not much else. With the improved system, players can now tell their followers when, and how, they should attack through a simple interface. Besides its new system, companions also give the player new perks, based on the companion’s skills.
Another welcome addition is the new and upgraded weapons of "Fallout: New Vegas." The player now has the ability to take stock weapons and tweak them to increase the ammunition capacity of their gun, add a silencer and scope, or even create their own ammunition.
"Fallout: New Vegas" is a welcome addition to the award-winning "Fallout" series, keeping the feel and formula of "Fallout 3" unchanged with various improvements, and the story has become loved since the first Fallout. Besides the obvious bugs, "Fallout: New Vegas" is more than likely in line for multiple awards, maybe even a Game of the Year award or two. Every "Fallout" game has been an overwhelming success because of the goofy characters and engaging story that draws the character in, and that formula for success hasn’t changed. Why? Because, as the narrator, Ron Perlman, puts it in every game, "war…war never changes."