The first Fallout: New Vegas preview in the United States comes, surprisingly, not from a gaming magazine, but from daily newspaper USA Today. Here's an excerpt:

The move to Las Vegas provides "a brand new, fresh experience that has a familiar feel of Fallout, but otherwise it's an entirely new game and a new look, with Joshua trees and tumbleweeds and blue skies," Hines says. "Vegas is up and running. It is not a ghost town. It still exists and thrives. There are casinos, and you can go down onto the Strip. It will have a very different feel from that standpoint."

Events in the game happen a few years after Fallout 3. No characters from that game appear, Hines says, "but you will eventually hear a little bit about the events" of that game. New Vegas is "a self-contained story. You don't have to have played the previous games to have any clue what's going on here."

At the game's outset, you get to customize your character by choosing gender, age, race, other attributes and skills. "You were a courier, and you were obviously carrying something that somebody wanted," Hines says. "Part of the story is finding out what you had and what they took."

As you explore, you must be savvy enough to play off the various factions seeking to control turf while you evade hazards such as gun-wielding super-mutants and giant bloodthirsty lizards. New Vegas' territory is similar in size to the area of the nation's capital in Fallout 3.

Says Hines, "It is a massive game world that will take you hundreds of hours to explore every nook and cranny."
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