No Mutants Allowed, the oldest Fallout fansite in existence, has posted a comprehensive review of Fallout: New Vegas written by Iron Tower Studios' Vince D. Weller (AKA Vault Dweller), written after thoroughly playing through the game.
You wake up in Goodsprings, a small Wild West-looking and -talking settlement. A local doc patches you up and sets you on your way. Fortunately (once again), you are not concerned with missing relatives past their prime. You want to know why you got shot and who did it. That’s a pretty good and very promising beginning. Such things are subjective, of course, but I prefer stories that revolve around you and your problems, not the world’s. The main quest will lead you to the aforementioned Strip and into the impending scrap between the three main factions.
As mentioned before, it’s a huge game that dwarfs Fallout 3. Naturally, when it comes to 160+ quests, your mileage will vary and IF you insist on doing all of them, you’ll spend a lot of time delivering all kinda shit, from radio codes to love letters. However, the majority of quests are very well designed (probably reflecting the amount of time Avellone and Sawyer spent on Black Isle’s VATS-free Fallout 3 which, sadly, didn’t get to see the light of day) and will offer you a truckload of different options at every step. It’s a superb implementation of the “do whatever the hell you want” approach. In Bethesda games it means you can travel east or you can travel west. In New Vegas it means that you’re always given a choice and can shape both your own story and the future of the Mojave any way you want.
Let me illustrate it with the first few quests:
Goodsprings, the “starting” town, had offered refuge to Ringo, a Crimson Caravans’ trader who survived an attack by Powder Gangers, a gang of convicts who broke out of the NCR prison. The convicts have tracked him down and want the town to hand him over.
You can side with the gang and kill Ringo for them. You can even talk them into raiding the town (they aren’t interested at first, because the town is poor and there isn’t much to take). I got this quest when I had already done a few jobs for the Gangers and I was planning to continue, so siding with them was fairly tempting. Alternatively, you can protect Ringo and convince the townsfolk to stand up to the convicts. It would be better if failing the skill checks and fighting the convicts without the town’s support was actually an almost impossible fight, but the low difficulty rears its ugly console-shaped head once again.
Siding with the convicts destroys the town and gives you an appropriate ending – “Travelers continued to stop by Goodsprings Source for water on the Long 15, but rarely would anyone venture into the ruins of Goodsprings itself.” Siding with Ringo and the townsfolk isn’t enough to save the town. Various actions throughout the game will determine which of the four other endings you get for Goodsprings.
The endings deserve a special mention. There are a LOT of them. Most locations and factions get 4-9 different endings that are determined by a mix of the outcomes from several key quests involving them. This is a huge step up from Fallout 3 where the individual locations were ignored and you were treated with a handy summary of your heroic adventures:
“But it was not until the end of this long road that the Lone Wanderer learned the true meaning of that greatest of virtues – sacrifice. Stepping into the irradiated control chamber of Project Purity, the child followed the example of the [middle-aged] father sacrificing life itself for the greater good of mankind.””