Intriguing ‘New Vegas’ one tough shooting game

If you’ve never lived in Nevada, you probably don’t know about all the self-described libertarians and frontiersmen who love to shoot guns and gripe about any government involvement in their lives whatsoever.

I think of them as “Yosemite Sams.” They can be grumpy rascals — entertaining to hang around, unless they’re packing heat or furrowing their brows.

And now there’s a perfect game to please the Yosemite Sams — “Fallout: New Vegas.”

The setting: It’s the year 2281, and nuclear war has devastated much of the world, although glorious Vegas and nearby towns are still alive. They’re a mess of gangs, killings and street fires, but at least they remain in the casino business.

These are crazed places you’ll be lucky to escape with your hide. That’s why “Fallout: New Vegas” is a perfect game to please Yosemite Sams. There is no real government of which to speak. The Second Amendment constantly gets exercised, bloodily.

In other words, it’s an Old West adventure set in a post-apocalyptic future.

If you’ve ever played a “Fallout” game before, this one will feel familiar.

You portray a courier walking across the Mojave desert — yes, walking — for hours and hours and hours. You occasionally come across towns or encampments of Old West bad guys and wild animals.

Many people will shoot at you on sight. Others will be friendly and aid your quests. Some will pretend to be friendly, then shoot you unexpectedly.

This is a role-playing shooting game, so you spend quite a bit of time talking with other characters. You pick which phrases to speak. You can talk your way out of situations, or talk others into fighting by your side briefly.

“New Vegas” is for serious gamers. It is the hardest game of the year. How tough?

Early in the game, you’re in the town of Primm. You enter an office building. It is nearly pitch black inside. A handful of guys are shooting at you, and rushing at you with knives. You can’t see them in the dark to shoot at them. If you shoot each of them in the head twice, that won’t necessarily kill them. You will die a lot in that building.

Normally, I rag on games that begin easily and get super difficult. But “New Vegas” warns you from the start to buckle down for a difficult life. That’s truth in advertising. I’ve kept picking up my hand controller and trying again, because this is a big, deep, beautiful and engaging adventure.

(“Fallout: New Vegas” by Bethesda retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3 — Plays intriguing and fairly addicting. Looks great. Very challenging. It’s rated “M” for blood, gore, intense violence, sexual content, strong language, use of drugs. Four stars out of four.)

Contact Doug Elfman at He blogs at

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