Fallout: New Vegas - Dead Money Review

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Bethesda Softworks
Developer:Obsidian Entertainment
Release Date:2010-12-21
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • First-Person,Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
Dead Money is the first (out of possibly four) DLCs for Fallout: New Vegas.  It was released late last year on the Xbox 360, and then finally made its way to the PC and PS3 in February.  This review is for the PC version.

The Dead Money DLC allows you to continue the exploits of your courier character from Fallout: New Vegas, provided that you have a save available that you can go back to.  Soon after installing the DLC, you receive a radio broadcast about the Sierra Madre Casino -- "where wealth, excitement, and intrigue await behind every corner" -- and you decide to check it out.  However, when you reach the radio relaying the message, you're knocked unconscious, your equipment is stolen, and you're forced to  participate in a robbery of the casino's inner vault (which, of course, involves some complications and a dozen quests).

Nicely, Dead Money has a lot of things going for it.  Most importantly, at least for me, is that it doesn't play anything like New Vegas or Fallout 3.  The action takes place at the Sierra Madre Casino and the villa surrounding it, which has a unique appearance (and possibly even answers the question of what Fallout: Spain might look like), and you have to do odd things like dodge radios and speakers, run through poisonous gas, and defeat enemies by dismembering them or decapitating them (if you don't then they just get right back up and attack you again).  Plus, because you lose your equipment, you have to scrounge around for supplies (which are seriously limited, at least for a while), and you have to use items that you're not accustomed to.  I bet I ate more pre-war junk food in the DLC than I had with all of my New Vegas and Fallout 3 characters combined.

Also, Obsidian did a nice job in the DLC of telling a story and of connecting the events in the casino with the rest of the Mojave Wasteland (among other things, you learn why there's a headless corpse in Veronica's quest).  During your time at the casino, you meet three new companions, and they're acted and motivated pretty well.  They don't just join you because you're there; they have their own motivations and agendas, and they want to use you as much as you want to use them.  By the end of the DLC, you might even  care what happens to them (since they can't return with you to the Mojave Wasteland, it's not guaranteed that they'll even survive).  Plus, the DLC previews some things to come, so it's good to see that Obsidian isn't just plopping down new locations for players to visit.  It looks like they have an actual plan for their content, and a larger story to tell.

If that wasn't enough, the Dead Money DLC also comes with some extras.  The DLC raises the maximum character level from 30 to 35, and it includes numerous new perks, challenges and achievements.  Sort of oddly, many of the challenges are of the scavenger hunt variety (you have to find suitcases, gambling chips, playing cards, and more), and I have no idea why such searches have become a staple of the recent Fallout games.  After finding intel cases in Operation: Anchorage, steel ingots in The Pitt, captive logs in Mothership Zeta, star caps in New Vegas, and now all the odds and ends from Dead Money, I certainly hope Obsidian has something different planned for us in their upcoming DLCs.

For me, the Dead Money DLC worked out pretty well.  It took me about a dozen hours to complete, and I enjoyed its slower, more thoughtful pace.  The DLC emphasizes exploring and avoiding attacks more than gunning down enemies, and so it might not appeal to those of you visiting New Vegas for the combat, but for everyone else I'd say that Dead Money is a fine DLC and well worth the $10 purchase price.