Two more reviews have surfaced for New Vegas' first DLC, Dead Money, and neither of them are overly impressed by the title. IGN had some nasty experiences with bugs and gives it a 6.5/10.
Typical of Fallout games, there are performance issues and game-breaking bugs that seriously detract from the experience. There's also a random difficulty spike halfway through that can be really frustrating. The game switches from a stealth focus to combat-heavy, but with such limited ammo and supplies, fighting off waves and waves of overly aggro ghosts isn't much fun. Running away isn't much a great option either, as you'll frequently get snagged in traps or high-pitched frequencies that set off your collar. Eurogamer is not too fond of it either but for different reasons, feeling the DLC offers more quantity than quality, and a frustrating gaming experience, giving it a 7/10.
Unlike a majority of the DLC for Fallout 3, Dead Money doesn't really reward you with awesome armor or weapons. The tale is better than most of the previous add-on content, but the story does get overshadowed sometimes by tedious quests. If they had allowed fast-travel through the confusing streets of Sierra Madre, it would've made everything much less frustrating.
Is it surprising that Dead Money feels like it was released before it was actually ready? No, but it's still disappointing. With some more development and care this could've been a shining example of what downloadable content can be.
Instead, standard Fallout bugs like freezing and "features" like a stuttering frame rate and wonky textures plague the game. I also encountered one game-breaking bug. One of the characters suffers from a split-personality and I apparently chose to recruit the wrong one. Subsequently all quest lines broke, but I didn't realize it until I had already completed everything and wasn't given any new missions. I had to restart the whole game, which flat-out sucked.
I know Bethesda and Obsidian are infamous for making games with lots of bugs, but I was really shocked that this DLC is so easily broken. I didn't make some crazy decision wearing a strange costume in an unforeseen area, it was something the game offered to me and yet it halted my progression. That's unacceptable.
Your bomb collar also tweaks the gameplay in an interesting, though not always enjoyable, manner. Bodged together from pre-war components, it's vulnerable to signal interference. Anything from a domestic radio to the casino's own speaker system can set it off, causing an incessant beeping whenever you get in range and culminating in a rapid cranial eruption should you linger too long. Normal radios can be turned off or destroyed, unshielded speakers can be shot from afar, but there are also invulnerable speakers that can only be deactivated using a terminal, or cannot be switched off at all.
Also providing environmental menace is the toxic red cloud, which eats away at your health with ferocious speed should you venture into it. If you're playing in Hardcore Mode, even the seemingly clear atmosphere itself becomes hazardous, reducing your health slowly whenever you're outside.
The cloud also adds some fun new recipes to your crafting options. Find or collect some cloud residue and it'll brew up some seriously nasty poisons or a useful stat-buffing cocktail, depending on how you mix it.
And, finally, there are some interesting new enemies in the shape of the casino's holographic security system. These glowing drones are limited in reach by their emitter range, but are otherwise indestructible and come armed with deadly laser weapons. Navigating your way past them, either through cunning or by changing their programming, is one of the stiffest stealth challenges the game has to offer.
All these elements are used to herd you along, but they can become annoying particularly when their use combines with the maze-like streets of the villa exterior. Having less than ten seconds to locate and destroy a radio before your head explodes is exciting the first few times, but by the end it's become a chore and one that reduces one of Fallout's greatest pleasures exploration to a frustrating save-and-reload routine. That Dead Money's finale finds you racing through a veritable gauntlet of broken walkways while being constantly stymied by holograms, radios and the poisonous red mist makes what should have been a thrilling climax more irritating than it needed to be.