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Review – Fallout New Vegas: Dead Money | Level Up News

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Review – Fallout New Vegas: Dead Money

 

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Platform(s): Xbox 360 (PC and Playstation 3 TBD)
Genre: Role Playing Games, First Person Shooter
Rating: Mature (Fallout: New Vegas)
ESRB Content Descriptors: Blood & Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs (Fallout: New Vegas)

The Scoop: Obsidian brings us the first of many DLC packs for Fallout: New Vegas. In addition to a rather lengthy standalone adventure which has you scavenging through a long abandoned luxury villa and casino it also adds to the core New Vegas game by raising the level cap to 35 and adding a collection of new weapons, armor, items, recipes and perks.

The Setup: Anyone who played the hell out of New Vegas like myself probably ran across a lone hatch which leads to an abandoned Brotherhood of Steel bunker; despite the strategy guide’s claims of some useful items enclosed within the area was locked with absolutely no way of entry, that is all about to change. At the start of Dead Money your Pip Boy’s radio begins to pick up a mysterious radio broadcast featuring a woman advertising the luxurious Sierra Madre Casino. You track the broadcast to the Abandoned BoS bunker only to spring a gas trap which knocks you unconscious. You wake up in a small city surrounding the great casino, stripped of all items save for a holo-rifle, affixed with an explosive collar and facing a video representation of former Brotherhood member Father Elijah. Elijah has sent you here to help him obtain access to the Sierra Madre Casino’s vault to get the treasure inside; if you do he will let you free, if not he will detonate the collar.

Before you can gain access however you must brave the horrors of the city and assemble a team of other captives like yourself; a schizophrenic super mutant, a mute tech expert, and a ghoulish pre-war Sierra Madre lounge singer. You must tread carefully however, the city may be dead but it is far from empty as the previous citizens and treasure hunters have become mindless, psychotic and rather indestructible killing machines. And the “Ghost People” aren’t the only danger awaiting you, a poison cloud covers most of the city, there are traps every few feet, and some of the security systems never went offline. If you can brave these dangers however, keep your allies from becoming greedy, and outsmart your captor you can walk away with a share of the Sierra Madre, which is more money than you will ever know what to do with.

What’s Hot: Horror is the main theme in Dead Money and Obsidian has crafted a mood about the Sierra Madre that can be very unsettling. The dark atmosphere, the ever present danger, and the constant drone of the Ghost People can be very unnerving to say the least. The atmosphere dies a little one you enter the casino itself (I was honestly expecting them to turn it up upon entry, maybe throw in some 1408 style scares), but it still remains one of the creepier points of the game. Even your NPCs help build a more horror based vibe that contrasts to the more humorous cast of the main game. Dog’s sadistic alternate personality seems always an ever present threat, and even though she is very good hearted the mutilated appearance of Christine tends to bring some chills (but I also have an aversion to any depiction of throat cutting in any media, it creeps me out).

They may not seem too bright, but they don't need to be, these guys are tough.

The Dead Money storyline is pretty lengthy compared to Fallout 3 DLC. While there isn’t a ton of content to it, the careful nature you need to have and the detailed history of the Sierra Madre which gets unraveled throughout the adventure will keep you occupied for a good 7-8 hours.

The adventure is pretty challenging by previous standards. You aren’t allowed to bring in any of your belongings and until you get to the latter part of the villa quests (longer if you don’t find the Snow Globe which nets you 2,000 chips) stimpacks and ammo are in short supply. If you are like me and didn’t skill up in stealth, melee or energy weapons your first few encounters with the Ghost People will be frighteningly difficult experiences. Ghost people cannot be easily killed, they must be dismembered after you take them out or they will rise again. This may not seem like a difficult thing when there is one or two of them, but when there are a small group it can be a royal pain. Headshots seem to do the trick most of the time but the scarcity of ammo makes that a rare option early on. The poisonous cloud provides a constant obstacle you need to work around, and the faulty radio signal in the collar can be set off by radios and speakers which are still active all around the Sierra Madre. Traps are everywhere, you can bet that any room you enter or any side street you walk will be trapped. If you see some nice items sitting in a corner they are most likely also trapped, and on many occasions you will be moving fast so you are bound to run into a few traps. Make sure you are over level 20 as the game suggests, and stick to moving around with God as he grants you the light step perk. Melee skills and stealth skills, as I said before, are also a good idea.

It’s an Obsidian game built on a Bethesda engine and there are surprisingly few bugs; My Xbox didn’t crash once and I saw only one minor glitch.

What’s Not: The expansion can be a little repetitive and some of the backtracking is a little annoying. You spend about 5 hours or more on the same 3 areas with only a couple of small “dungeons” to occupy. There are only two types of enemies and one of them you cannot fight (holograms), so you can expect to get a little tired of fighting Ghost People even if they are cool enemies. There is also a very limited selection of weapons; ranged fighters will have to settle with police pistols and automatic rifles while melee users will mostly have cosmic knives and knife spears, there are a few other weapons later on, but nothing spectacular.

You could say that Dog has a God complex... you'll get the joke once you meet him.

Very little of the adventure takes place inside the Sierra Madre Casino itself; about 4-5 hours takes place in the villa outside of the casino, and forty five minutes or so takes place in the vault itself, which leaves only an hour or so worth of content that actually takes place in the casino. That was a little disappointing to me since it was built up to be this amazing place, only to be a short trip in a pretty average looking casino. I was also disappointed in the finale inside the vault, which was rather underwhelming.

Final Verdict: It won’t end up on my list of best DLC add-ons for 2010, but for fans of Fallout looking to expand on the New Vegas experience you can’t go wrong. If you play your cards right you will end up with an enjoyable 7 or 8 hours of new content, and once you are all done you may even end up richer to the tune of 100,000 caps (a high strength and a lot of Buffout and it is possible).

Review - Fallout New Vegas: Dead Money, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
 

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