Greed Is a Powerful Thing
Welcome back to the world of Fallout: New Vegas. There’s a two hundred year old treasure that’s been lost, and it’s up to you to recover it. Of course nothing in the Fallout universe is ever that cut and dry, and you’ll have to face some of the most dangerous obstacles in order to complete this one-way journey. However, there will be a helping hand to guide you along the way.
After intercepting a lost radio signal, you discover a curious beacon announcing the grand opening of the illustrious Sierra Madre Casino. With interest piqued, the Courier sets off to find the source deep within an abandoned bunker, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Upon entering the fortification, you are immediately gassed and knocked unconscious, only to be awakened by the apparition of a man named Father Elijah. He begins to explain the newly-acquired, explosive collar that’s been placed around your neck and that you must now do his bidding in order to survive.
All of your items and equipment will be removed on arrival, courtesy of Father Elijah, so it is best to keep this in mind when starting the new content. Like many adventurers before, you’ll be waddling around like a fat penguin when everything is returned upon completing the mini-campaign. Rest assured; there are plenty of new items for your hoarding pleasure to be found within Dead Money.
The brand new Holorifle is one of the weapons you’ll begin with immediately. It’s an energy weapon that is a creation of Father Elijah’s, and it packs one hell of a punch. There are also a few other arsenal additions that you’ll uncover on your travels, as well as some fancy new armor and clothing with a variety of skill bonuses. You’ll need all the help you can get, considering that you won’t be the only one scavenging the Sierra Madre.
After the bombs dropped from The Great War, the resort town of Sierra Madre became frozen in time and its casino’s grand opening never occurred. This triggered the resort to launch its state-of-the-art security system into action, and eventually lead to the failure of the climate control system. This caused massive toxins to encompass the city and formed what Father Elijah refers to as “The Cloud.” If playing Dead Money on the hardcore setting, breathing in the air from the cloud will slowly erode your health over time, but will only cause death in highly concentrated pocket areas. It certainly adds to the difficulty of this already rough expansion, and is still just one of the many things to stand in your way.
Living within The Cloud is a mysterious group called the Ghost People, who are extremely savage. Not much is known about who they are or how they came to be, but they are highly resilient. The only way to actually cause death to the Ghost People is to kill them with explosives, dismember their bodies when they are knocked out, or burn them. They are surprisingly agile and sometimes travel in groups, so it is usually best to avoid them whenever possible. They are also known to set traps within their stomping grounds, so a highly cautious individual will likely stay alive much longer.
Since you’ll probably lose a lot of health during your time with Dead Money, it’s also advisable to get familiar with the vending machines. They are scattered throughout the resort and can load you up with health items, chems, and even a few weapon mods. Some of the more special items are only unlocked after finding vendor codes hidden in random areas of the city. Standard bottle cap currency is not in effect here either, but rather Sierra Madre chips that can be found in drained fountains or acquired by trading cigarettes and other items to the vending machine.
Father Elijah’s task is not only dangerous, but it also involves three others to accompany you in doing his dirty work. The characters are all interesting in their own right, and have unique backstories associated with the Sierra Madre. They can all be a huge asset in a dangerous situation, and each come with a temporary perk when they travel with you. However, only one person can join you at any given time, so it’s best to plan accordingly depending on your duty.
Dog, or God, depending on which persona is present at the time, is a psychologically disturbed super-mutant who grants you an easier method of dealing with Ghost People. When Dog is present, he is far more aggressive and feeds on them, as opposed to God who grants a bonus to your sneak skill and helps to avoid traps. Dean Domino was a pre-war lounge singer before he became a ghoul in the fallout. Other than his charm and wit, his specialty is to give you a brief buffer period when standing in a concentrated area of The Cloud. Lastly, Christine is a semi-failed surgical experiment who became mute during a recent procedure. Communicating with her can be somewhat difficult for players lacking high perception or intelligence stats, but can easily be remedied with chems or skill magazines before a conversation.
Although you’re under the control of Father Elijah during the span of Dead Money, it’s not as linear as one might think. There is still a lot to be done in terms of exploration, and you’re only limited by the security systems that are in place. The Sierra Madre has a complex intercom network that can interfere with the explosive collar around your neck. Once you hear any sort of beeping, you only have a few moments to move out of range before you’re blown to bits. Scanning the immediate area will usually uncover a radio transmitter or speaker that can be destroyed to make your life a bit easier.
If that wasn’t enough to deal with, there are also security holograms that can be found guarding a particular area of interest. Most will patrol a certain location that is within range of their emitter and can only be destroyed by disabling it or hacking a separately linked terminal. Luckily their field of view is short and can only see what’s directly in front of them, so they can be somewhat easy to avoid. However, if you are spotted, there is no other option other than to retreat, because shooting them has no effect.
Much like its primary content, this new experience isn’t without its flaws. The textures are buggy and consistently popping in and out. Sometimes companions can even get locked in stairwells if you’re not careful, and it generally feels unpolished. I even ran into a few bugs when aiming in V.A.T.S. that caused a few restarts, so you’ll want to save early and often.
Dead Money raises the level cap to thirty-five, throws in a few more perks, and is a pretty sweet deal at only ten dollars (800 MS Points). The campaign is surprisingly lengthy as well, clocking in at anywhere between eight to twelve hours depending on how many menial time wasters you perform at any given moment. Also, considering the difficulty, there is a recommendation that you play with a character that is level twenty or above, but I did fine with a starting level of eight and the hardcore setting on. So depending on how much punishment you can take, adjust accordingly.
Even with the drawbacks, it’s hard to deny the amount of fun you’ll have experiencing this latest Fallout morsel. Fallout fans should be sure to check it out.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.9 Graphics
Some textures in Dead Money are severely buggy. Also, the overall look is a bit more monotonous than the shining lights of the Vegas strip, but it suits the mood well. 3.4 Control
Some textures in Dead Money are severely buggy. Also, the overall look is a bit more monotonous than the shining lights of the Vegas strip, but it suits the mood well. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Hearing the faint screeches of a nearby group of Ghost People can be quite terrifying in the right moment, and the music and voice acting are just as great as ever. 4.5 Play Value
Although you can’t go back to Sierra Madre after you have completed it once, the campaign length is decent and it’s certainly worth it the first time through. 3.6 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best