When I first heard about Fallout: New Vegas, I was a little skeptical.  I had never played an open-world RPG before, but I saw the E3 trailer, and I decided to give it a shot.  I am so glad I did!

     Fallout: New Vegas is one of the best experiences I have ever enjoyed in gaming.  The surreal post-apocalyptic wasteland, the varied personalities of the numerous NPC's roaming the land, the coming battle between the New California Republic and Caesar's Legion, all of it combined to create an awesome adventure through the Mojave Wasteland.  The story starts out with an in-depth slide show of how the Mojave became the place it is (including the on-going struggles between the NCR and the Legion).  Then the game introduces you to your primary antagonist, a man in a checkered suit named Benny.  It is later revealed that he is the chairman for one of New Vegas' several casinos, The Tops.  It seems that he ambushed you and stole a valuable artifact that you were hired to deliver (you are a courier), and he decides to shoot you in the head and have his "buddies" bury you alive.  The character creation process begins when you wake up in Doc Mitchell's clinic in a town called Goodsprings, and after you flesh out your specific character traits, you set off to find the man that left you for dead. 

The story goes on to become one of Bethesda's best efforts to date, as you can choose several factions (or none) to fight for.  There are several major factions to join up with, as well as numerous smaller ones, like the Great Khans and Brotherhood of Steel.  Each faction has its own storyline with its own quests to engage in.  A system is in place to monitor how you are getting along with each of your factions (for instance, you might be Hated by the Great Khans, Idolized by the Boomers, identified as a Good-natured Rascal by the NCR, and Vilified by the Legion.  These monikers are boiled down to how you treat the members of the faction.  Wipe out an NCR settlement, and you can see how that might affect your standing with them.  It also adds a dimension to stealing, outside of the karma system.  You might be more hesitant to steal that Sniper Rifle with several NCR troopers around (as long as you are trying to keep your reputation golden with them). 

The combat is one of New Vegas' highest points, as there are are many weapons and weapon types to play around with.  It isn't on the level of Borderlands, but you can cater to your own play style with the tools that the game gives you.  Load up on incendiary bullets for your .50 cal Sniper Rifle, or bait enemies with frag mines and C4 plastic explosives.  Speaking of explosives, one of the most sadistically satisfying moments of the game is when you discover that you can pickpocket an NPC, place an explosive in their inventory, watch them walk into a crowd, and pull out your detonator...you can see where it goes from here.

The Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System, or VATS, is an awesome tool that Bethesda gives to its players.  With VATS, you can pause the game, and load up an in-depth view of an opponent (or non-hostile passerby) with percentages on the chance to hit them with the weapon you currently possess.  These percentages are affected by your skill with that weapon, how close you are to the enemy, and the weapon itself.  You can target any part of the body with VATS: left arm, head, right leg, etc.  VATS also results in some awesome killcams, such as the head being blown off of a Deathclaw, or an explosion engulfing a group of NPC's. 

Fallout: New Vegas may sound perfect, and it nearly is, but there are some issues worth mentioning.  Pretty much every Bethesda game this generation has had some kind of bug or glitch, and New Vegas is no different.  Of course, the good offsets many of the issues that these bugs present, but freezing is a problem that I ran into a lot during my time with the game.  Freezing usually occurs when your character is high-leveled and that profile has a large amount of KB or MB of data.  The best remedy: save often.

All in all, Fallout: New Vegas is an amazing game with tons of content.  Bethesda has set a high bar for itself with its massive open world releases, and New Vegas "vaults" it without any problem.