Fallout New Vegas will be familiar to anybody who has played Fallout 3. If you liked Fallout 3 you will love New Vegas, as they had added some very nice touches.
There is now a hardcore mode (separate from difficulty). If you play in hardcore mode, then you have to eat and sleep regularly. This makes the game much more immersive. Indeed, I played Fallout 3 again recently, and couldn't believe how much shallower it seemed without having to worry about food and sleep.
Ammunition has weight. Unlike Fallout 3, where you could carry a limitless amount of ammo, you now have to worry about its weight. You can however recycle ammo now, and even convert electronic ammo from one type to another. So you can convert all your Microfusion Cells to Electron Charge Packs, should you feel the need. This makes the game a lot more flexible.
Perks are less easy to come by. You don't get them after every level like you did in Fallout 3. This makes maxing out your skills harder, and prolongs the game. In Fallout 3 I maxed my player out before I had reached my father. It is still possible to do the same in New Vegas, due to the open nature of the game, but its much harder. You also get traits, which you can use or ignore.
To the game itself, its essentially a huge power struggle between the NCR and the Legion. Whose side you choose, no matter how superficially, dictates the nature of a certain proportion of your quests. There are many, many quests. On my third playthrough I was still finding new ones. Like Fallout 3, this game is very open.
There are also numerous companions available. It is worth your while befriending them, if you can, as they each have a decent quest associated with them. Depending on your character, you may well not be able to befriend them all in one playthrough, but the good news is that, as I stated before, repeated playthroughs will flush out previously undiscovered quests.
The only thing that hasn't been made better is the music. Fallout 3 excelled here with its choice of 50s nostalgia accompanied by the oft-times annoying Three Dogs. New Vegas sounds a bit flat by comparison. I guess if you are heavily into Country you might feel different, but I was quite happy running around the desert with the sound switced off.
There is still the occasional crash though. Its better than in Fallout 3, and apparantly, if you avoide ED-E, the crashes are much less frequent. This will make sense once you play the game.
These are my tips for minimising the effect of crashes:
First, save often and with multiple save files, don't just rely on QUICK and AUTO.
Second, when you fast travel to a new location, if you are experiencing freezes, try standing still for 30 seconds. I read that online and bizarrely it seemed to work quite well.
On to the addons.
This is quite a dark tale. In one way, it can appear quite linear, but there is actually a fair amount of exploring to do if you have the patience. There are some decent new weapons as well. There is also a big decision you have to make which effectively gives the add-on two playthroughs, if you are that way inclined. So create a permanent save before making that big decision. You will know it when you get there.
The casino you explore is a ghost town full of memories. And poisonous gas. Its not the most pleasant of environments to explore, but if you missed the big cityscapes of Fallout 3 in New Vegas, then this will serve as a bit of a reminder.
The plot itself is full of pathos, and this is definately the strongest point of the addon. Its worth playing just for the story. I especially liked the portents of future events that appear.
This is by far the weakest of the addons. You are just going from place to place following directions, and the environment is far too restrictive. Its one saving grace was that there is a hidden understory if you can be bothered to explore. Again, there are multiple ways of playing it, but if you bother to do so more than once, you are a bit more of a completist than I.
Old World Blues:
This is the best add-on. You get great weapons and also big dollops of humour. I loved the banter with my furniture!
Its also a lot more of a sandbox than the other addons, so if you have the explorer bug you will not be disappointed.
This was very good fun, and I enjoyed fighting my way through the zone, but to be honest by the time I met up with Ulysis I thought the story got a bit too convoluted. Perhaps it was because of previous ingame choices I had made, but the end story didn't make as much sense as it could have made. Gameplay was great though, and there are lots of extra tasks to keep you occupied too.
By the time I finished Lonesome Road, I was sorry to see it end, but to be honest, my character was so powerful now that there really was no sane way to go further.
The other addons are fairly minor. The Gun Runner Challenges will become useful if there is a delay in releasing Fallout 4 and I need a fix, but I don't feel the need to plough through them any time soon.
I can't wait for Fallout 4. I just hope they keep the moral choices, which I felt was the only thing missing from Skyrim. In Fallout, if you make your bed, you should lie in it.