Fallout: New Vegas – Dead Money Review

Fallout: New Vegas – Dead Money (Available on Xbox 360, PC and PS3)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1
Genre: RPG
Publisher: Bethesda
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Release Date: December 21st, 2010 (Only Xbox 360 version)
Download Price: 800 MS Points/$10

Parent Talk: Same New Vegas, different location, meaning it’s just as violent.  Don’t let the little ones near this DLC.  Then again, they shouldn’t have New Vegas to begin with!

Fallout: New Vegas is a wicked RPG in dire need of patching to fix countless crashing bugs.  I talk about this in my review (http://www.projectcoe.com/blog/2010/11/11/fallout-new-vegas-review/).  Bethesda has said an update is on the way, but we review games as they are upon release.  I tell people to approach New Vegas with caution, or to try before you buy as we like to say.  This comes from the guy that awarded Fallout 3 a 9.3 when COE used the number system, so it’s obvious I’m a big fan.  Since we’re still waiting for this mysterious patch, Bethesda has given Xbox 360 owners a nice holiday present with first dibs on Dead Money, the first DLC pack for NV.   PS3 owners will have access relatively soon.  Regardless of your preferred platform, one must ask if it’s worth downloading given the current state of the main game.

The Great:

The Sierra Madre casino and village, where the new expansion takes place.  Like Fallout 3’s DLC, the action begins as you receive a message on your Pip Boy to investigate the new-found area.  The new area is especially unique because it transforms the series into survival horror.  Upon arriving in Sierra Madre, you’re fitted with a special collar that happens to contain explosive charges.  Don’t listen to dear old Father Elijah and…well…you can guess what would happen to your nice face.  Not scary enough?  There are countless ghouls and other nasties around every corner.  These new baddies require dismembering in order to kill.  Fail and prepare for them to attack you from behind.  Couple these two fearful elements with a scant health items availability, virtually no ammo anywhere, and you have a drastic formula change compared to the Mojave Desert.  Even the currency changes from pop caps to special Sierra Madre casino chips.  The experience is worth the price of admission, but if you don’t have a level 20 character, stay far away.

The Good:

+ Increased level cap.  One of the best reasons to download Dead Money is the new level cap, now at 35.  You hardcore fans will surely eat up the chance for new perks.  As always a new level cap brings stronger enemies.  Sierra Madre is far from a cakewalk.

+ Interesting new characters.  While searching for the mysterious Sierra Madre casino treasures, you meet a series of other slavers that help.  At first it seemed you might form a group, but alas no.  Instead you attach to one companion character at a time.  The neat twist is that if your partner dies, so do you.  The teammate perks are also very useful, and I wish they could be used more often.  It’s a great idea I hope is expanded upon in future DLC.

The Bad:

– Balancing issues.  Half the time you must use stealth to avoid monstrous enemies.  The other half forces you into combat.  Remember my mentioning the lack of ammo and health?  Imagine having to fight through hoards of undead minions.  Yes, it’s called frustration.  I’m not sure how Obsidian made this decision.

– Tedium.  When you don’t save for fear of the game exploding, you tackle a lot of quests.  The ground covered in Sierra Madre is expansive and it’s regrettable that a quick-travel option wasn’t included.

The Ugly:

New Fallout, same old performance issues.  This is becoming ridiculous.  I don’t know where to begin.  In Fallout 3 I only experienced a few game-breaking glitches.  With New Vegas I encountered them so frequently that I recommended everyone save their game no longer than every five minutes.  I’m not exaggerating; it’s the cold, hard truth.  The same is true for Dead Money.  The fact that dialogue choices can break the game is alarming.

The Lowdown:

Since Dead Money is DLC, we normally bestow our three-tiered rating system, but that doesn’t seem appropriate here.  If not for the bugs, this would be one of Bethesda’s best expansions.  Sure there’s some imbalance, but the sheer vastness of Sierra Madre is impressive and deserves to be played.  My recommendation is to hold off until the patch is released and determine if the glitches are fixed.  Until then, this one’s only for the hardcore.

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