We have another bunch of reviews for the Honest Hearts DLC for Fallout: New Vegas for you, continuing the fairly mixed responses the DLC has been getting. No Mutants Allowed, no score but they praise writing while criticizing quest design.
But even if they are not all equally memorable, they do all fit well into the gameplay. Each of of the above will become the player's companion in Honest Hearts at one point or another and each one provides a unique bonus, fitting to the challenges offered. For example, the first companion, Follows-Chalk, provides a perk that boosts the player's perception and uncovers all nearby map markers when he reaches an overlook, such as a ranger station or a peak. This provides an incentive to explore the valley and works well enough. However, companions suffer from one, large flaw - each of them is assigned to the player temporarily for the duration of a quest stage, after which they can no longer be recruited. Hence it is impossible to, say, explore a bit with Follows-Chalk, then swap him for Waking-Cloud in order to fight some White Legs, to then go back to exploration. It's an all-or-nothing sort of deal. Games Radar, 6.
This also ties into the biggest flaw of Honest Hearts - it has little to offer after the adventure is finished. All named NPCs disappear, leaving behind only generic characters and the valley itself to explore. No more quests are made available and those that aren't finished when the player chooses to complete the main quest instantly fail. To a certain point this is mitigated by the fact that the game tells you when you are about to reach the point of no return and advises you to complete all quests beforehand, but it still leaves a bad taste. Furthermore, the end comes much too soon - the main quest consists of slightly more complicated fetch quests and a slightly larger set piece finale, all of which can be completed by a competent gamer in under three hours. For such a character and story driven adventure, reducing the length of the plot and cutting the player off from the main characters afterwards is detrimental to the quality of the experience.
However the biggest problem with Honest Hearts has little to do with the story or the content's design, but rather the game itself. Since the release of Fallout 3 over two years ago, nearly everything that game excelled at, from the dialogue system to the interactivity of the world, has been done significantly better in other games. New Vegas got away with this somewhat due to the extremely high quality narrative and script, and since Honest Hearts doesn't have that to fall on, the formula is starting to dramatically show its age. There are only so many times that going into VATS and electing to shoot whatever is running at you four times in the face can be entertaining, and that well is drying quickly. Finally, the environments, while artistically pleasing, aren't up to current standards, and the character models are uglier than ever with facial animations that are now downright laughable. BeefJack, 7.3.
This is further exemplified by the rather standard main quest line that doesn't veer too far off from the (go here, grab this, talk to this guy, kill some dudes) mission template. There's the now mandatory moral quandary that takes the final half hour or so of the pack in different directions depending on your decision, but that's about as varied as it gets. Honest Hearts is also significantly shorter than Dead Money, as about three hours is all you'll need to complete it unless you want to squeeze another hour or two out of the side quests. Also those quintessential Fallout crashes are in full effect here, as the game pooped the bed on us a few times during the review process.
The problem lies with the delivery. Few of the side quests are expressly dealt with, and after the main bulk of them are dealt with, the end rears up. With a little more time put into some more dialogue, this would have been a moot point, but as is, it just feels a bit rushed. Furthermore, the variety isn't as broad as it could be a few too many campsites, not enough caves and ruins, and the spectrum of wildlife, start to break the pioneer spirit that Honest Hearts was intended to invoke. It's hard to get excited over yet another upended caravan with a few skeletons scattered around it.
Most of the time, especially when the quest line has finished holding your hand and you have the opportunity to interact with your surroundings, the sheer quality of production shines through. A few minor graphical glitches aside, the design of the landscape and the people within it rise up as far as New Vegas' meagre technology allows. Each tribe's aesthetic looks and sounds just right (Dead Horses draw from the Maori warrior culture, Sorrows more from Native American society, White Legs from your worst bloody nightmares, like Zulu Dawn on a crack bender), represented clearly through their respective leaders and companions.