Jul 24, 2011

Review: Fallout New Vegas: Old World Blues DLC

Could it be that I'm posting a review on a current release for a change? Indeed I am, for SCIENCE!

Introducing Old World Blues, the courier picks up a signal from a crashed satellite at the Mojave Drive-In. Investigating it doesn't reveal much, until the clock strikes midnight and this suddenly happens:

Midnight Science Show

Further interacting with the satellite gives you some premonitions about the content ahead. Starting the DLC is recommended for characters lvl 15 and up, once started you are not able to leave until it is completed, but afterwards you can enter and leave Big MT as you please. Companions can not follow you to Big MT, but you can bring as much equipment as you desire as you come and go.  Accepting that and examining the satellite further, the Courier is then knocked out and wisped off unconscious to Big Mountain, while the DLC intro plays.

You then wake at the top of some strange dome, feeling strangely heavy and wearing patient scrubs. Quick examination reveals cranial and torso scars, and so Courier sets off to find out first of all where the hell he is, how to get away from here, and perhaps most importantly, why your brain has been surgically removed and how to get it back!

Welcome to Big MT

And I think that is as far I will go in regards to the story of the DLC lest I spoil it too much. As can be presumed also from the trailer that was released your courier finds himself in a mad scientist show. And what a show this is!

This DLC presents itself in a completely different way than F:NV and any previous addons. From start to finish you feel like you're in .. indeed, a 50's midnight science show with all the wonders and madness it brings.  Another big difference is the "feel" itself.  While the previous parts of the game has its comedy moments it is mostly focused on the dark state the world is in post-nuclear war, the ongoing conflicts in the Mojave and such.  This time, the story is glazed in a thick layer of wit, innuendos and all sorts of crazy comedy, and I have to say I love it! The character gallery is also interesting. Frankly I found them all to be villains although perhaps not intentionally, and there is not a very big cast of characters, but they are just plain fun to deal with, especially the many "personalities" that can be activated in The Sink, your home in Big MT.

Want my seed, do you?

This next part I want to talk about is weird, because it is almost like the developers read my last reviews especially the one of Honest Hearts and adressed some of my issues there. Which is silly, I posted it only a few days ago before I started playing Old World Blues.  Anyway, in those I critiqued lack of open ended gameplay (Dead Money) and short plot lines (Honest Hearts). Old World Blues combines the best of both worlds and while Big MT is not a particularly huge area to explore, it still is because it is literally littered with various kinds of underground installations and research centers to poke around in. It's by far the biggest amount of addon content released so far.  Not only that, but there are a wealth of quests and while several are optional they will still help you in some way towards to conclusion.  I was very pleased with the amount of content in Old World Blues, and while I took my sweet time getting through it trying to explore as much as possible, I'm positive there are a good few places and things to discover still for my next play, through. And I am definitely going back to Big MT!

Apocalypse Toaster!

Old World Blues also seduces players who like to scavenge and tinker with stuff. Big MT is LOADED with loot! There are new kinds of all types of items, weapons and armor, some of which can be upgraded through optional quests or craftable mods. Two of the weapons in particular stood out from the rest for me, and a certain piece of armor as especially interesting to use. There are also a slew of perks and implants that can be installed on our poor brainless Courier. In short, the amount of "stuff" to collect, interact with and upgrade/craft from is more than satisfactory, at least for me.

The combat gameplay is also fairly varied. There is roughly the same amount of different types of enemies that were found in Honest Hearts, but the battles are overall slightly more challenging, and certain enemies are plain nasty to deal with. It feels reasonably well balanced. I personally would have liked it to be even more challenging, but then my Courier was fairly high level when I played through this, having been through both Dead Money and Honest Hearts on the same playthrough he was I think around level 28 by the time I went to Big MT.

As a sidenote, does anyone else feel the levels just come way too quickly in this game ? Having played through the three DLC's my courier is now level 37, and he hasn't even set foot in Freeside or The Strip yet!  For my next play through I will definitely go armed with mods that rebalance things a bit, like Project Nevada and some other favourites that were not updated at the time of playing Old World Blues.

Another of my soft spots in New Vegas and all its expansions are the lore stuff to piece together. Even though I didn't feel I explored 100% of Old World Blues, I still found a number of very interesting lore tidbits of major and minor influence. There are links back to the Mojave and certain events in Fallout 3, but also to the Dead Money DLC. I'm sure some of you who played Dead Money will remember mentions of "The Big Empty" by some of the characters there, which refers directly to Big MT and is perhaps a more relevant name seeing as Big MT is a huge crater, instead of a.. mountain.  As much as I'd like to spill my discoveries however this is not the place for it, but fellow lore buffs should enjoy them.

Fallout 3 flashback anyone?

I think this about sums up my impressions from Old World Blues. If you've read this far you will no doubt have picked up that I am this time around very pleased with my experiences from the DLC.  For €9.99 I definitely felt I got my money's worth. I was in particular pleased with the completely different presentation of Old World Blues that takes itself far less serious than previous installments.  I was very entertained from start to finish, and can't wait to go back to Big MT!

Overall score: 9 / 10

+Great setting
+Fun and bizarre story
+Scavenger's paradise
+Polished release, not a single game crash (once I'd disabled mods not up to date)
+ Good amount of quests and places to explore
- Once finished your character is potentially completely overpowered compared to Mojave quests and enemies. My courier can kill a Legendary Cazadore with one shot on Very Hard after finishing the DLC's

Official trailer:


Anonymous said...

Hey Vads!

Blackie here, if you're reading this let me know please, I'd like to get in touch with you again!

Vads said...

Oh hey mate.

I'm sorry but your post went unnoticed in between all the spam filtering mail notices I get. :/ Good to hear from you man, hope all is good!