Platform: PS3*/Xbox 360/PC
ESRB: Mature (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs)
In February, Bethesda unleashed the New Vegas: Ultimate Edition, which came bundled with all the DLC, a kind tip-of-the-hat to the snubbed Fallout faithful despite no game of the year awards. The DLC is expansive and exciting, opening up even more solid experiences in the Mojave and beyond.
Things were not off to a good start here. Dead Money is inherently bad – the very nature of it makes it bad. This particular segment of DLC whisks the player to the Sierra Madre Casino where Father Elijah (who one may have heard Veronica talk about) has tasked you with breaking into the Sierra Madre vault to steal a ton of stuff. How has he shanghaied you into this? There’s a bomb collar around your neck and you’ve been stripped of all supplies. Awesome. This, by itself, wasn’t so awful, but it gets worse. A lot worse.
The courtyard and adjacent areas surrounding the Sierra Madre Casino are sitting in a cloud of nuclear…junk. Standing in it depletes health. It’s not too difficult to get around, so it’s merely a nuisance. However, these streets are also flooded with ghost-like enemies – shrouds of the former inhabitants. These things are not only brutes in battle, but they come back to life if you don’t behead them. With a severe lack of health supplies and weaponry, they are best avoided. That’s right – stealth in a Fallout game. This is where it gets inherently bad.
At the same time, there are radios in place around the area as well, all of which will trip the bomb collar, so now these have to be avoided as well as the enemies and red cloud. Has anyone ever played a Fallout game attempting to avoid things? No! We get over-powered and jump headlong into anything. Super Mutant Behemoth? All the better! Bethesda stripped this away. The first portion of this DLC becomes an extreme burden and takes away everything that made Fallout fun.
After recruiting some pals and breaking in, things begin to take form. There’s an interesting plot at hand and speech interactions can have a big impact in true RPG fashion. The ending can even take a couple of fun turns. Despite a strong finish, however, Dead Money is dead in the water, removing everything fun from Fallout.
Things begin to pick up now. To get started with Honest Hearts, the player has to drop his or her weight significantly, which is actually really cool. Time to pick out the important guns and armor. It adds a fresh aspect to the game that I really enjoyed.
While this ingenuity is promising, the story is not so much. There isn’t a lot to do in Zion National Park and the main quest is pretty short. The best part is probably the return of the Yao Guai. Which is awesome. Otherwise, forgettable.
Old World Blues
Here’s where things get good. Everything Dead Money did to kill Fallout, Old World Blues does to revive it. The player is transported to the Big MT. From the play on its name, hilarity ensues. The player meets several disembodied scientists who have been at the Big MT for a very long time. The player can join forces with their kidnappers or turn against them. Either way, the player will be scouring the area for technology to aid in the fight.
This scouring is very reminiscent of vault exploration in Fallout 3. There are several research facilities to be explored, many of which have lots of exploration to do alongside individual traits similar to those of the vaults. The main quest will not take you to all of these, and there’s a lot of loot to be had, so feel free to explore. The lobotomite enemies are nothing more than fodder for your rifle, so leave no stone unturned.
Additionally, this one is all humor. Outrageous enemies like a mini-Deathclaw are paired with hilarious NPCs, including appliances with McCarthy-era personalities. If you don’t find their upgrades to allow them to speak scattered across the Big MT, you’re missing out. The toaster is probably the best. Find it.
The story is kind of interesting, but in many ways, just a good laugh, which is good news for most fans of the series.
A couple other DLC adventures foreshadow this final one – a lonely adventure to where the Courier came from…or something like that. There’s a lot of chatter in this one, and not all of it really comes together in the end. However, there’s quite a bit to explore and you get this awesome gun that blows up nuclear warheads. There are several upgrades for ED-E while you’re here, but otherwise, it’s a pretty on-par extension of the standard wasteland.
Over-arching all of these, there are significant technical problems on the PS3 said, though I can’t speak for Xbox or PC. The extension of the world causes a lot of lagging if you aren’t restoring your file system on occasion – especially in Old World Blues and Lonesome Road. This can even carry over to the main story – I immediately was unable to travel in Nipton with anything better than a frame every second or two.
However, after taking the time to stay a step ahead of this, the DLC is, overall, a pretty great pack and a good excuse to sink some more time into New Vegas.
Bottom Line: 8/10