Fallout: New Vegas: Dead Money – Review

Posted in Games on 29 December, 2010 (20:27)

Fallout: New Vegas: Dead Money - Review

So I braved the Sierra Madre Casino and made it out alive. Was it a journey to remember?

Well in a word, yes. But not for the right reasons. Dead Money is a really interesting idea, but the execution falls pretty short making it more of a chore than an enjoyable experience.

The first DLC for the brilliant but buggy Fallout: New Vegas finds you answering a radio message advertising the Sierra Madre Casino – a huge resort which was due to open around the same time the bombs fell. It is now fabled as a huge treasure trove of old-world technology and riches.  Upon finding the source of the signal you’re knocked out, stripped of your gear and transported to the main gates of the casino.

Fallout: New Vegas: Dead Money - Review

You awake with a bomb collar strapped to your neck and a crazed Brotherhood of Steel elder informing you of your part to play in opening the doors of the Sierra Madre. A quick introduction to the environmental and technical dangers you’re to face and sent on your way.

There are two main zones in this new area, The Villa and the Sierra Madre Casino itself. You spend the majority of time in The Villa, a large ruined village complex populated by Ghost People – whats left of The Villas occupants.
The Villa is sadly very dull in both aesthetics and layout with it’s samey areas making it tough to navigate. It’s also riddled with bear traps and other makeshift devices which can sometimes be hard to see due to the muddy colour scheme. Another environment hazard is the pockets of posion cloud present in some areas, this damages you constantly while you’re in it and extended exposure will lead you to a speedy death. For the most part you can avoid it but sometimes it’s necessary to wade though.

Ghost People don’t make life easy for you either, these guys will get up again and again until you blow a limb off or decaptitate them, which is never easy as ammo is scant – I play on normal and hate to think how tough this would be on hardcore mode! The technology of the area also interferes with your bomb collar sometimes, if you hear beeping, start worrying. You only have a short time to find the source and destroy it(as long as it isn’t a shielded speaker) before your head goes boom. It’s an interesting game mechanic to begin with, but quickly gets very annoying.

Once you make it into the Casino itself things mix up a little, you get access to the Casinos games allowing you to mine chips if you so wish, allowing you to load up on stimpacks and other consumables from the vending machines. It also adds holograms… invulnerable guards of the Casino and Hotel who pack quite a punch. I much prefered the game once I got to the Casino as there’s much more variation to the enivroment but it is literally the last quarter of the game and the invulnerable enemies make life a pain.

Fallout: New Vegas: Dead Money - Review

By far the best bit of this addon are the characters. Your 3 companions are interesting and well fleshed out characters each with their own deep backstory and you really find yourself connecting with them during your time alongside them. Each has to be placed in a specific place in The Villa to assist with the opening of the Casino doors, here you can choose to either help them as much as possible or force them into assitance for karma eitherway. While it’s nice to have the option a bit of middle ground would’ve been nice considering the massive number of options with alot of the quests in the main game. Elijah makes for an pretty decent scene chewing maniac, it’s disappointing they recycled Elder Lyons character model from Fallout 3 for him though.

The connections you build with the characters make the ending of the game all the more disappointing when they simply disappear never to be seen again.. it’s pretty jarring and it would’ve been nice to have a proper goodbye with these new friends before departing back to the wasteland.

My main complaint with this DLC is it doesn’t try anything that new, and is difficult for the sake of being difficult without adding originality. Taking away all your gear is a cheap trick they’ve done before and adding new super tough and invulerable enemies is a bit rough. The new gear you get is hardly worth holding on to with the exception of the Holorifle, I’m pretty sure the devs knew or intended this as the end of the game pretty much suggests you dump everything to load up on as much treasure as you can. It also seems strange they introduced this whole new currency system which becomes totally redundant as you can’t return to the Madre once you leave – you can spend you remaining in a bunker in the Mojave though so you aren’t stuck with worthless money.

Looking back at the Fallout 3 DLC, Operation Anchorage was first and arguably the weakest of those addons, but even that had some really varied locales. Fingers crossed the subsequent New Vegas DLC’s are better as I’m a big fan of this game and everything Obsidian has brought to the table.

5/10

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