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Fallout: New Vegas Dead Money DLC Review

by William Schwartz

As the victim of a raw deal you must work alongside three other captured wastelanders to recover the legendary treasure of the Sierra Madre Casino. In Dead Money, your life hangs in the balance as you face new terrain, foes, and choices. It is up to you how you play your cards in the quest to survive. [Obsidian]

The first batch of DLC for Fallout: New Vegas has recently been released and it’s squarely targeted at the Fallout player who has seen much of what’s to be seen in the Wasteland of the Mojave.  Exclusive to Xbox Live at this point ‘Dead Money’ is an expansion and a side quest to the main game.  This content bears little if any effect on the main storyline of Fallout: New Vegas.  Available now on Xbox Live and developed by Obsidian this even darker tale from the wasteland is available for 800 MSP.

Fallout: New Vegas’s first batch of downloadable content, Dead Money, is a fun and unique twist on the main game.  Dead Money seems to hit the sweet spot in blending the old and the new.  That is, it takes the things from New Vegas and makes them familiar to the player in the DLC, but adds a great deal of new, never before seen weaponry, objectives, and locales.  For instance, I used my second created character who was a level 9 entering the Sierra Madre way under the level cap.  But because they give you a fairly powerful new weapon to start off with, the level curve is a bit of a moot point.  Although, Obsidian does advise that you are at least a level 20 before taking the one way journey into the DLC, I didn’t have many problems arise that I couldn’t get out of one way or another.

As for the content itself, you will be tasked at finding an underground bunker at the onset of downloading the content.  This might be the biggest challenge you face depending on your character’s level.  Once inside, a game reminiscent of SAW unfolds.  You are tasked with freeing other captives, then raiding the famed Sierra Madre casino.  This all while wearing an explosive device around your neck.  Which actually makes for some much needed tension in Fallout New Vegas.  The collar will start beeping and that point you know it’s high time to find a radio close by before your head goes ‘splode.

Each team member you assemble has a specific skill set which will help you in your final objective and getting to said objective.  It’s a pretty sweet roller coaster ride to the crescendo and completion of the content.  It has some interesting plot twists, and even more twisted dialogue sequences that may leave you either scratching your head or grinning widely.

Make no mistakes about it, you are still in New Vegas, and the constant reminder that you are searching for a casino is ever looming.  But, there’s a bunch of gameplay differences in Dead Money that separate this as a near stand alone experience.  The collar that you are wearing will be keeping you on task.  Get out of line, disobey orders, or just don’t find a radio in time, and you will face a quick demise.  It’s a gameplay element that feels somewhat original and as mentioned does well to add tension to the experience.  Which is something that you really don’t get a lot of in Fallout.  The last two Fallout Games have been about open ended possibilities and there’s a little less room to deviate in Dead Money.  Another constraining element in the gameplay is the red noxious gases that fill the underground streets.  Stray from your objective  and again you meet a quick demise as the clouds of gas will deplete your health very swiftly.

There’s not a huge offering of enemies to be dealt with in Dead Money.  Holograms and Ghosts are two that you have never seen before though.  These gas mask wearing baddies are a constant thorn in your side, but the companions that you pick up along the way are more than capable of holding their own, even if you aren’t up for the task.  There are plenty of opportunities to fight in Dead Money, but choosing to run for it is also a viable option at many points in the DLC.

I put down New Vegas on the Xbox 360 earlier last year due to some seriously flawed design problems.  System crashing freezes be my main concern, and I found the game a much better play on the PC.  This Xbox 360 exclusive DLC made me open up the game, cross my fingers, and hope for the best.  I was greeted with a title update that I hoped and prayed alleviated these issues.  What I noticed is there are still many times where the game wants to freeze and there are still plenty of frame rate hiccups.  And almost an hour in there were no freezes to be found.  Then it happened.  I can say the DLC, once initiated, never froze once.  It happened on my journey to the DLC location, and I hadn’t experienced it since.  So, while there still may be some problems abound up on the surface.  Dead Money seems to be totally unaffected by many of the problems that are affecting the wasteland.

Dead Money does exactly what DLC is intended to do.  It extends the life of Fallout: New Vegas and gives you yet another reason to come back to the wasteland.  It can be completed in around six hours and that’s quite a bit of content for reasonably priced DLC.  Much if not all of Dead Money is new to the Fallout junkie.  New weapons, quests, characters, and gameplay elements  make the experience fresh. And if you have tolerated the imperfections in the main game, Dead Money is a no brainer.  If you were a little turned off by some of the problems, like myself, you might want to take a second look at Dead Money because it’s an excellent addition to Fallout: New Vegas.

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Fallout New Vegas: Dead Money DLC

  • Available On: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
  • Published By: Bethesda
  • Developed By: Obsidian
  • Genre: RPG
  • US Release Date: February 22, 2011
  • Reviewed On: Xbox 360
  • Quote: "Dead Money does exactly what DLC is intended to do. It extends the life of Fallout: New Vegas and gives you yet another reason to come back to the wasteland. It can be completed in around six hours and that’s quite a bit of content for reasonably priced DLC."
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