Fallout: New Vegas is an interesting kind of game, and not quite all in the good way. For some, it's the only game they have on their neglected Xbox 360. For others, they wanted more Fallout 3. And New Vegas is sort of that, but not really. There is much less emphasis on the karma system, in that it hardly affects anything, and more emphasis is placed on your relations with another person's faction. If a town doesn't like you, the people won't be friendly, and if they hate you enough, they will start shooting. Last summer, I decided that I would replay it.
Aside from it still being the irradiated future from the 1950s, the world feels totally different from Fallout 3. Even though it's set in the west where they talk about cowboys and prospectors, it feels civilized compared to the capital wastelands. It's like everyone got over crying about spilled nukes and started rebuilding a long time ago. I've heard it described as post-post-apocalyptic. I remember people being totally psyched out about this game, saying "It's like Las Vegas, but in a wasteland!" I've got news for you: have you ever been to Vegas? It's already a wasteland! No nuclear apocalypse needed!
I got up to the part just before you enter New Vegas proper, but then I decided to play though the DLC stuff. Honest Hearts is a semi religious journey up north. There's one guy who knows what he's talking about, but the tribe that surrounds him totally doesn't know what's going on and can be dicks. Old World Blues is about scientists locked up in their ivory towers. I eventually ended up killing them because they were total dicks. Your room in that one is filled with smart appliances, and they all have their own personalities, which makes the whole thing rather funny, even to the closing credits. Dead Money is about an old casino that was supposed to open, but the celebration didn't happen because nukes fell. Now the place is flooded with toxic gas, and you uncover the place's secrets. Lonesome Road is about the player character's past; apparently some guy is really upset that you delivered a nuke to the place, and then blew it up. For reasons that were not quite clear to me (depression maybe), he was going to blow up everyone.
I have played through this once before, but when I started roaming around the rest of the world, it suddenly hit me that there is so much to this game that I haven't played. In fact, I got so distracted by side missions and DLC, that by the time I entered the city proper, I was level 48 or so (level cap of 50). Unlike in Fallout 3, power armor is rather scarce in the desert. Enemies just don't wear it. Then there's the NCR Ranger Black armor portrayed on the box art, which I finally acquired in the second playthrough. I didn't get it the first time (only available in specific places), even though I specifically fought for the NCR and their double headed bear flag.
I was kind of sad when the game ended, but I knew it would, and there wasn't anything much else to do. Unlike other Bethesda games, New Vegas has an end, after which, no more free roaming for you! I remember playing through Fallout 3 to the end for the first time. Since I read the news, I knew it would end, so I prepared likewise by doing everything you possibly could do beforehand. Other people did not read the news, and got kind of pissed off about it. The blowback so bad that a DLC changed that.
This game is not your standard Bethesda fare. If you want another Oblivion, Skyrim, or even Fallout 3, this isn't the carbon copy you are looking for. Another point: unlike those games, the enemy feels very real and thought out and not vague, since you might have played them before. The main quest is very non-linear, and your path to the end is very much up to you. Just watch out for the bugs along the way.
I have seen two really good fan films come out of this game. The first was Nuka Break, which has apparently spawned its own series. The other is Lanius, which reenacts the back story of one of the prominent characters.
The whole Fallout game series also demonstrates the importance of public domain material, as Fallout uses it liberally. The world is full of old music coming from radios. There is heavy use of the old Indian-head TV test card. Even the Las Vegas sign design is public domain. The whole series stands to be much richer from decreased copyright lengths, as it becomes much easier and cheaper for its creators to source material. I have found a book, Nuclear War Survival Skills, that would fit very well in the Fallout world; however, it was published way after Fallout's history diverged from real history. Due to the fact that it is public domain, that could be edited around quite easily.