Fallout: New Vegas Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC

Fallout: New Vegas Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC
Taking a page from Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto side-quels, New Vegas is most certainly not Fallout 4. A numeral implies more advancement than offered here. But much like how Vice City and San Andreas used the existing GTA game engine and essential structure to increasingly epic and enthralling ends, so does New Vegas spin a fresh tale that builds upon its predecessor's success without feeling like a carbon-copy.

Fallout 3 veterans will be able to play right off the bat, but you'll also notice the differences right away ― for one, the bombs never fell on the Strip, so while rad poisoning remains a concern, it's much less of a threat. In fact, the Mojave Desert setting makes the game sometimes feel like a retro-futuristic Red Dead Redemption.

But less of the franchise's titular fallout doesn't make the game much less post-apocalyptic, as the corrupt New California Republic government forces face off against the Roman-styled Ceaser's Legion slavers in a war over Hoover Dam, with the New Vegas population caught in the middle.

The vibrant, engrossing game is also slightly more light-hearted than Fallout 3, perhaps due to New Vegas being an ideal locale for such a post-nuclear RPG, or maybe it's because many of the team members behind the Black Isle Studios' first two PC Fallout games (also taking place out west, rather than in F3's dour Washington, DC setting) are part of the Obsidian team Bethesda hired for the project. Their black humour and yen for creativity also papers over some initial technical bugs, which were largely remedied by subsequent patches.

Bethesda's best games, including their landmark Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, have truly represented the future of interactive storytelling. And so there are a million things to do in New Vegas that will no doubt distract gamers from the main story at hand, which is fine because the master plot ― kicked off by your character's near-murder upon the game's onset ― is more of a suggestion, the side-quests are more than a diversion and the impact of your moral choices are real and consequential on how it all rolls out. Like the latest Fallout's subtitle suggests, every game experience for every gamer is new. (Bethesda/Obsidian)