A flawed but worthwhile experience.
Fallout New Vegas is an expansion pack in disguise. It reuses countless assets from Fallout 3, and offers only a handful of geniunely new things. Somehow, this manages to be okay with me. Maybe it's because it uses those recycled assets skillfully enough to create an experience that feels worthwhile and somewhat new.
The story of Fallout New Vegas starts off simply enough. As a courier for the Mojave Express, you are tasked with bringing a package to the town of Primm. Before you are even given control of the courier, you are captured by a gang, tied up, and shot in the head. Miraculously, you survive and are brought to a doctor by a friendly robot named Victor. At this point, you create your character, play through the tutorial, and are set loose in the world.
The world of Fallout New Vegas is very familiar to the wastelands of Fallout 3. It will take about 4 or 5 hours before you even see the lights of the Vegas Strip in the distance. Until then, you'll be performing a lot of fetch quests and "Kill em all" missions in either desert areas or abandoned buildings., which is pretty much what you spent the entirety of Fallout 3 doing. After those 4 to 5 hours, you'll be in the Strip for maybe half an hour before you move on back to the wasteland to do more of the same. For a game that has New Vegas in it's title, very little of your quests will actually take place in the far more interesting part of the world. To it's credit, the areas within the strip itself are very well done, and each has a very unique feel to it, but the fact is, you'll spend very little time there.
Gameplay is near identical to Fallout 3. You'll spend points in your characters different stats that let you play the game in different ways, and your choices in the game will change the quests you can receive, how people will react to you, and the details of the games ending. In combat, you can use the VATS mode to stop time, target individual body parts of your enemy, and then unpause time to perform your attack. In addition, you can now aim down the sights of your firearms for more accurate fire outside of VATS, but it's pretty obvious that where your bullets are landing is mostly determined by stats rather than aim.
The game sounds pretty nice, with a lot of great gunfire and meaty melee impacts, but the voice acting ranges from acceptable to absolute ass. Characters change voice actors mid conversation at times, and they clearly had very few voice actors to begin with, because you start hearing the same voice coming from different people much sooner than you would in Oblivion or Fallout 3. The radio is very dissapointing, and I honestly think that the primary radio station has only 7 songs on it. Wayne Newton does a good job as Mr.New Vegas, but his dialogue isn't nearly as amusing as Threedog's, and he has much less of it.
The game took me roughly 40 hours to complete on my first playthrough, about 20 hours less than Fallout 3. During that time, I enjoyed myself quite a bit, but I also ran into quite a few bugs, such as the game flat-out crashing when I walked out of a casino, and those issues in addition to the overall average quality of the game make this a very dissapointing title for me. What was advertised as a new chapter in the Fallout series is simply a standalone expansion pack for the last title that they sold at full price and called a new game. It's a very fun title, but unless you need more Fallout 3, I would pass on paying full price for this.