So this was the first DLC that Obsidian released… So what?
Dead Money was the first DLC for Fallout: New Vegas, and while I would’ve loved to love it, I can’t help but dread being confronted with it. It’s such a chore to play through that I started writing this review for it over a month ago and still haven’t finished it. In fact, I accidentally posted it because I scheduled it for posting, and promptly forgot about it.
Did I mention that Falcon Game Reviews is rather unprofessional? That goes without saying? That hurts, [insert name here]!
Set in a fictitious casino resort in the middle of nowhere, the Sierra Madre, you’re tasked (against your will) to break into the resort’s casino to aid in your captor’s efforts to loot the contents of the casino’s vault. It’s an interesting premise, though it’s a little botched in execution.
Welcome To The Sierra Madre
Once you venture towards the bunker you’re led to, you’re allowed to poke around for a bit. There are some things lying around, though you’ll find that there’s little for you to mess with. After you get bored, you’ll find a room in the back, and that’s where your misadventure begins.
Father Elijah’s talking head greets you via hologram to spout exposition about why you’re been “selected” to help him fulfill his dream of breaking into the Sierra Madre casino. You’re stripped of all your gear by the hologram security and left with the hodgepodge of crap that Father Elijah gives you as a replacement.
And he ever-so-kindly also straps a bomb around your neck.
Unfortunately for the player, if you put too much emphasis on the use of firearms in your skills, you’re going to start this DLC at a massive disadvantage. The weapon you’re given as a replacement for all your gear being taken from you is a Holorifle, which is an Energy Weapon that behaves like a shotgun. You’ll eventually find other weapons, like a Police Pistol (a .38 Special pistol, basically), Automatic Rifle (a BAR), along with various explosives and melee weapons.
I love the inclusion of the Automatic Rifle, personally, because the BAR is a legendary weapon from WWI and WWII, but like with the Police Pistol, you’re going to be scrounging for ammo constantly. The only vendors come in the form of vending machines and holographic attendants. The former require you to find or exchange certain items you find for Sierra Madre chips, and the latter doesn’t use currency. Instead, since bottlecaps aren’t used you’re left to exchange out items you “sell” to them for Pre-War money. It’s a neat touch, and it fits with the setting, but it’s frustrating that you’re not offered many useful items from these vendors.
You’ll also gain access to multiple followers, though you’ll likely want to stick with Christine. She not only has the best follower perk, but she also isn’t annoying as hell, unlike Dog or Dean Domino. Dog will incessantly repeat the same stupid line, over and over and over and over… Dean Domino is just a insufferably pretentious jackwagon. Regardless, you’re required to not only track each one of them down, but they’re also spread out across the resort for some reason. Once you finally collect them all, you’re then set to actually access the casino itself.
Dead Money takes a cue from Dead Space‘s necromorphs for the enemies as well. Instead of simply being able to kill an enemy using traditional means, you’ll need to relieve them of at least one of their limbs to permanently disable them. That would be fine, if resources weren’t so scarce. I mean, it’s clear that Obsidian was going for a survival-horror-esqe approach to this DLC, but when every enemy just soaks up damage like its nothing, it can be a chore to kill anything.
Speaking of killing, there are several areas of the game that feature hologram security. In an interesting twist, they cannot be killed, only deactivated. The distinction here is that you’ll need to be able to either sneak around them, disable their emitter, or find the console that controls them to be able to access certain areas. It’s a cool touch, and it’ll require some outside-the-box thinking at times, but it’s nice to see something in Fallout: New Vegas that can’t be solved by pumping bullets into something.
Then there’s The Cloud, which is a weird, orangish-red mist that permeates the entire resort. On Hardcore Mode, the cloud constantly depletes your health, which puts a timer on every trip you make outside. You won’t be able to wait or sleep while standing outside in the presence of The Cloud either, meaning you’ll need to step into a building to be able to rest. Even though The Cloud doesn’t damage your health on Normal Mode, there are still concentrated areas that can sap your health extremely quickly.
Everything Is Messed Up
As for the history of the Sierra Madre itself, that’s the delicious icing. Obsidian crafted a great backstory for the resort and casino. You may be wondering why holograms are used, and that’s because the founder of the casino had a big stake in automation. I won’t get into the details, but there’s a reason why the founder wanted everything to function without much oversight, and the consequence of his actions led to the way things are during the DLC.
Of course, the nukes fell before the casino could open, so the casino remained locked; the only way to unlock the casino for access would be to kick off the grand opening Gala Event, which the founder intended to be the trigger for the opening. That means the resort itself is pristine inside, and due to the complete automation of the entire complex, is fully accessible to you… Aside from possible run-ins with security.
At least you can gamble a little.
All in all, Dead Money is probably the weakest DLC in the catalog of add-ons that Obsidian Entertainment created for Fallout: New Vegas. It’s not terrible, but it’s a chore to get through at times. Honestly, I meant to take screenshots for this review, but I forgot in my attempt to charge through it. It’s the one DLC for the game that I didn’t like, but I can’t bring myself to not play it, because the Automatic Rifle is awesome and the story is interesting.
So while the characters (for the most part) are annoying and the environment is boring, it might be worth taking a look at for the story and lore. You get some sweet loot out of the deal too, and you are able to make some pretty cool choices at the end of the add-on, which I won’t spoil here.
Let’s just say that you’re in for a treat, and you’re going to need to make a tough decision.
With that in mind, I leave you with a cautious recommendation. It’s a slog, but it’s hard to turn down more Fallout: New Vegas.
In case you missed my review of the base game, take a moment to check it out here: Fallout: New Vegas Review
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