Fallout: New Vegas: Dead Money DLC Review (PC, Steam)
Posted by Jim Cook, Mar 08, 2011 01:26
Spoiler Notice and Other Information: The author wishes to note up front that Dead Money cannot meaningfully be reviewed without spoiling some of its content. While major story surprises won’t be discussed, some general aspects and even a few specific things must be. Also, the DLC pack outright recommends players go in with a level 20 character; the reviwer went in with a level 13 character and found it was still generally playable with only a few of the Skill/Attribute challenges being any trouble (a level 20 character would not have had these issues). With these things noted, the review begins.
The success of Fallout 3’s DLC makes it no surprise that New Vegas will be host to several add-ons as well, the first of which is Dead Money. It starts by beckoning players to an abandoned bunker via radio signals hinting at all sorts of riches within the nearby Sierra Madre casino, yet anyone falling for this temptation is quickly knocked unconscious. When your character awakens, they are bereft of their companions and most of their gear... and find that a radio-controlled bomb collar forces them to obey a man who plans to loot the mostly intact casino but needs a team of others to do much of the work for him. What follows is a series of quests driven by an excellent story, while ’run and gun’ mechanics are discouraged by several traps and limited supplies. Dead Money ends up being a good addition to New Vegas, albeit one mired down in some very bad design choices.
Dead Money goes out of its way to be a very different experience from most of New Vegas. Where the player normally has enough ammo to get by and can let companions pick up the slack, the villa around Sierra Madre makes things much harder. Recruiting allies takes a little more work than one might expect, ideal weapons are in short supply, and there are traps all over the place. Limited ammunition and healing supplies are made even more relevant as some enemies will rise from ’death’ unless you take the time to cripple their body afterward (a few extra head-shots will usually suffice) while toxic clouds lie through your most convenient routes to most objectives; you can either take the damage while sprinting through or find a way around that might have traps and enemies of its own anyway. Players must act quickly and know what they want to accomplish, or else risk running out of supplies.
On their own, these elements would make for a great DLC pack. However, they’re joined by an over-use of two annoying ideas: signal interference (for your radio-controlled bomb collar) and repeated stealth segments against enemies that are nearly invincible. Interference is caused by being too close to powerful electronics, unshielded speakers, or AM-FM radios that have been left on (I’m not sure how that makes sense?), and if you can’t get away from or disable the source in time your collar explodes. Sometimes this isn’t a problem, as you’ll be able to clearly see the interference source and either run away from it or shoot it... but there are far too many cases where it’s not obvious where the signal is coming from, and a lot of save-load abuse will be required to find it. It would be an interesting mechanic if done for just part of Dead Money, but it comes up almost constantly and becomes very annoying.
Stealth segments likewise see too much use, as many areas in the second half of Dead Money are filled with enemies that are almost impossible to kill, pack extreme firepower, and patrol for you. This would be a great idea if used in moderation, but it dominates much of the latter half of the adventure and is occasionally combined with signal interference in the same area to become very frustrating. The attempt to make players be more conservative than they might be used to was nice, but the developers went too far in the other direction at points and this is unfortunate.
Despite these complaints, Dead Money has a lot to recommend itself and the second half of the review will explain why this manages to be a good add-on for for New Vegas.
Rating: 0.0, votes: 0