The Good: Amazing new setting, characters, and world, new iron sights mode makes action faster, tons of quests, great dialog
The Bad: Dated engine, characters look ugly, missing epic set pieces from Fallout 3, tons of bugs, main story isn't as engrossing as Fallout 3's
Fallout 3 was a phenomenon like no other. With such care and time spent into a license that completely re-imagines it is daunting but Bethesda pulled it off. With the haunting and eerie atmosphere, huge selection of lore friendly weapons, excellent story, dialog, and character design, Fallout 3 became an instant classic of the last decade. New Vegas continues this tradition, but Obsidian (the original developers of Fallout 1 and 2) are one board, and have changed the game slightly that will either piss fans off or please them.
New Vegas starts out with you being buried alive after being shot. You are a courier, but a robot named Victor digs you out and Doc Mitchell patches you together. As you come to he talks to you as you select your character design, and SPECIAL just like in Fallout 3. While it's not as memorable as Fallout 3's baby scene during this setup it works just fine. As you step out into the Mojave Wasteland your eyes adjust to the light and you're set loose in GoodSprings which is New Vegas's equivalent of Megaton. You meet Sunny Smiles, and she shows you the ropes of the shooting part of the game, and from there you're on your own.
The first thing you will notice is that the engine has had a slight upgrade, but not by much. The game still uses the Oblivion engine from Fallout 3, so it's obvious Obsidian is playing it kind of safe. The game is also full of a desert wasteland and Obsidian did the impossible by making a desert feel fun to play in, and not feel deserted, empty, and boring to look at. Of course like in Fallout 3 you headed toward the DC Metro area. In New Vegas you're heading to the Vegas Strip to meet Mr. House who can help you figure out what exactly happened to you.
In the mean time there are rival factions battling it out mainly being the New California Republic and the Caesar's Legion. The NCR want order in the Mojave and want to take over The Strip, but Caesar's Legion wants to enslave everyone. There are other smaller factions that you must decide what to do with and each one has tons of missions, and will ultimately decide how easy the end of the game is. Speaking of missions that's one thing you will notice. There are tons and tons of them, but the game is missing the epic set pieces that Fallout 3 had. Instead it's just quest after quest, but they are all designed brilliantly and not one is ever the same.
New Vegas still has the VATS (Vault-Tec Automated Targeting System) system, but nothing about it has been change, but there is a new first person iron sights view so with this you will rarely use VATS now. This helps make the action faster and speeds things along. Everything else from Fallout 3 is here, but a major addition is modding your weapons. You can find or buy things like clip extender's, silencers, and scopes to add to your weapons. Additionally you can also break down ammo and create new ones, as well as make aid items from items found throughout the wasteland and cooking them. These new additions are minimal and some people may not even use them, but that's ok. There are a ton of new weapons, enemies, and everything you excepted from Fallout 3 is in here.
New Vegas also has amazing dialog, characters, and quests and there is a ton of it. There are quite a few companions to have tag along, and there seems to be an infinite amount of spoken dialog. Player choices still play a huge role in the game so don't think those are gone. The biggest feat for New Vegas is that it, yet once again, portrays a believable, enrapturing world and feels every part as amazing as the Capital Wasteland. There are a lot of easter eggs and tid bits for fans of the classic 90's Fallout games too. New Vegas is just an amazing and engrossing game that you can't get yourself sucked out of. The addition of gambling is a good example which can be done at any casino and can be a lot of fun.
The game does have a few flaws such as the copious amount of bugs, the characters look ugly still, and it feels kind of dated. While the engine is solid and works for this game it just needs a huge overhaul for Fallout 4, but die hard fans will appreciate the familiarity. On a side note (that doesn't effect the score) the game has a huge mod community. Within the first week of being out there were over 1,000 mods. While most of them are junk there are some amazing mods that you must have that will make you not want to play the game without them. Character mods to make them look better, sexier, clothing add-ons, quests, weapons you name it. I can't play the game without these amazing mods, but for people who don't care New Vegas is a great game.
On an end note New Vegas really sticks true to the RPG genre with tons of perks, a level 30 cap, and somehow makes item sorting fun. From pulling up your Pip-Boy to check your map, fast traveling to discovered locations, or finding little hidden gems and secrets in the nooks and crannies of the world is satisfying. Before you know it 8+ hours will pass and you'll go to bed with a smile on your face knowing that the Mojave Wasteland is safe with you around...or is it?
Collector's Edition: If you want to pony up another $30 you can get a beautiful and well put together special edition. The biggest attraction are the real poker chips from each faction of the game plus the 200 Platinum chip. The playing cards are beautifully drawn and each card features a character on the back with a bio and the quality is amazing. You also get the comic book and making-of DVD. Is it worth it? Hell yes.