May 29, 2011

Short Review: Fallout: New Vegas Dead Money DLC

Dead Money - Fallout:New Vegas DLC. Letting go is the hardest part...

Dead Money has been out a while, but since I'm doing a review for Honest Hearts I feel I should start here with the first official DLC for Fallout: New Vegas.

Released Dec 21 2010 for Xbox 360 and Feb 22 for PS3 and PC, Dead Money is the first DLC released for Fallout: New Vegas. As usual I will try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible.

After installing Dead Money,  the Courier picks up a radio signal inviting him to the grand opening of the Sierra Madre Casino. The level cap is also raised by 5, and there are some new crafts available right from the get go, even if the player decides against starting the DLC content. Many of the crafts require parts only accessible in the area Dead Money plays out in, of course.

It is recommended to be around level 20 when heading to investigate the radio signal that starts the DLC. Upon starting, it should come as no surprise that the Sierra Madre was actually a pre-war casino. Its grand opening never happened because of the atomic war that laid waste to the world, still the radio signal is broadcasted, luring scavengers to it, like our Courier.

The Dead Money DLC features a long quest chain in an closed off area around the Sierra Madre with some exploration options in the urban areas it plays out in. There are three possible unique companions that will work with or against you while there, none of them available in the regular game afterwards, but after completion one of the recruitable companions will have some new dialogue and depending on your choices, a significant bonus to performance. It also features a few new weapons and armors making the trip there quite worthwhile.

Now for my thoughts on the new quests and the gameplay of the DLC itself. First off, let me say that Dead Money fits so perfectly into the Fallout: New Vegas experience, I'm almost suspecting it was done pre-launch and deliberately released later as DLC. I loved learning about the Sierra Madre, its inhabitants and the history around it, and apart from the Courier being stuck inside there until its completed, the DLC fits into the main game perfectly.

Game play wise, and trying not to spoil it too much, I have to say that there are certain elements in Dead Money that annoy me a great deal, to such an extent it took me months to get back inside the Madre on a new character in Fallout: New Vegas after I had been through it the first time. Some of the elements really don't fit in, and feels like they were just thrown in after the story was done to add some gameplay difficulty to get through it. I've now played through it twice, taking some different routes and I can safely say I will not go back into Sierra Madre, ever.

In favour of the DLC is the great setting it puts you in, lore buffs will love finding out the history of Madre and some of the characters you meet, and the characters themselves are really well done. It is a real shame the Courier can't bring any of the new companions back after you are done at the Madre. Also, once you've installed the DLC the level cap is automatically increased by 5, so there is no need to go through it with each character created, which is nice. Not that this is a selling point, it is very easy to install mods for the game that lets you xp up to level 50 or above should you want to. There is also a new type of enemies that may require some different tactics to dispose of. The downside is, with two exceptions, this new enemy type makes out the majority of the combat in the DLC, and makes no appearances outside it.

So, in conclusion:
+ Great additions to the Fallout lore and meshes with the regular game lore quite well
+ Entertaining NPCs and companions
- The forced gameplay changes in the DLC areas that I really don't like (Spoiler alert: Radios!)
- Combat gets boring, just one type of enemy the whole way through (yes, there is varieties of it, but its still the same enemy type and tactic required)

DLC Trailer (possible spoilers)

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