I really wish I could properly review the first bite of DLC for Fallout: New Vegas, but alas…I cannot. Why? Well, I was unfortunately stuck in the DLC at an unbeatable section with truly little hope to hope for and had to reload an old save from many hours ago (and levels, grrr). Dropped from level 30 to level 26 in a matter of seconds. I absolutely hate doing that as it totally ruins my perception of roleplaying; undoing all my actions, changing my stats and gear and perks yet again, retconning, allowing me to know forthwith what could and could not potentially happen in future locales before I even get there…that’s just not right. But I had to do it. I’ve not yet beaten the main game with my first character, and if I hadn’t made the early save slot, I’d have lost everything.
But let me set up Dead Money first. Because, storywise, it’s pretty potent, sinking its hooks in right from the start. The DLC starts like all previous Fallout 3 add-ons, with a mysterious radio signal leading you to a specific location. In this one’s case, it takes you to a hidden bunker where your character is gassed, stripped of all possessions, and forced to wear an explosive slave collar. You wake up near the Sierra Madre hotel before the hologram of Father Elijah. He gives you the big mission: break into the Sierra Madre casino, get into the vault, and pull off a heist. You’ll need to recruit three others for the Ocean’s 11 job, and they also have exploding slave collars on them. They die; you die. The first part of the big mission is to round up the companions; the second part is to open the hotel; and the third is, I assume, raiding it for whatever good loot is available.
I was only able to complete the first two parts…never even making it inside the Sierra Madre. What a crock of Blanco mac and cheese!
The problem with the Dead Money DLC is its gameplay. In the same fashion that Fallout 3’s first add-on of Operation Anchorage was a completely different direction (Call of Duty wannabe), Dead Money is more like a survival horror game with a heavy emphasis on melee and unarmed weaponry. That foretold bad news for my character who, going in at level 26, never put a single point into melee, unarmed, or survival. I’m a stealthy guns dude. The villa around the Sierra Madre is filled with traps, a poisonous cloud, and Ghost People, who are very hard to kill without weapons that dismember. Also, health supplies, ammo, and food are very limited, and the Mojave Wasteland caps currency are tossed aside for Sierra Madre casino chips which, while at first seem bountiful, quickly lessen. So yeah…I got screwed pretty fast.
I’m probably not gonna try this DLC again with my current character. Sadly, it’s the sort of add-on very specific for a type of character, one I’m not ready to build. I can only imagine how impossible survival the villa is in Hardcore mode. No thanks.
That said, God/Dog is a marvelous companion, with topline writing. I wish Dead Money let you take them back with you to the Mojave Wasteland, but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that in the last chunk of the heist mission some vital decisions about your comrades-in-collars are made. I’m currently now working on some other side missions like Crazy, Crazy, Crazy and trying to recruit Raul as my last main companion. If anything,for 800 Microsoft Points, Dead Money does boost the level cap from 30 to 35, which will give me a bigger excuse to explore before trying to protect the Hoover Dam from destruction.