Fallout New Vegas – Dead Money DLC Review

Game Review: Fallout New Vegas – Dead Money DLC
Release: 12/21/2010
Genre: RPG
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Available Platforms: Xbox 360
Players: 1
MSRP: 800 Msp ($10)
ESRB Rating: M (Mature): Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs
Website: Fallout
Dead Money starts off like all the other DLC quests have for Fallout 3. You intercept a mysterious radio signal on your Pip Boy and a location appears on your map to investigate. This time around, I was told of a grand casino that was waiting for me to explore. I went there expecting to find a huge building but all I found was a hole in the ground. This was very intriguing so I continued on. When I entered the hole, it took me to a small room with a headless dead body lying on the floor (nice touch..) and a heavy, locked door. Before I could enter, I received a message stating that I should be level 20 before entering ( I was only 6.. Yikes..) and that my level cap was raised by 5 levels (hooray).  There was no turning back once I entered, but I proceeded anyway, so I could have a tale to tell you. I was immediately treated to the story of a casino called the Sierra Madre. It was a premier casino that was going to be the crown jewel of the desert. Only problem was the doors never opened. It was a victim of the nuclear war and was buried before anybody ever got to enjoy it’s beauty. It wasn’t empty though. Oh no, it was filled with a tasty, legendary treasure. After hearing this little introduction, I was excited to go get me some loot. The door then opened and I found myself in a dirty hallway. I started walking and when I got to the end, a gas cloud shot out of the overhead vents and immediately knocked me out.
When I came around, I was standing in a town square with a glorious casino on a hill  in the distance, overlooking the town. A holographic image of a man started talking to me and told me of my predicament. He told me his name was Father Elijah and that he had brought me here to help him whether I liked it or not. You see, I was being held captive with a nasty collar of explosives around my neck. I could not remove it or it would explode. I could not run away, disobey, or do anything other than what he said, lest he pop my head off like a swollen grape. I was at his mercy, so I listened.
Father Elijah had tried, without any luck, to break into the Sierra Madre and steal it’s riches. So, he crafted a scheme that involved myself and three others, working together, to get the treasure for him. The other three “lucky volunteers” also had explosive collars on and were in the same boat as myself. We were being forced to work together as well. You see, our collars were linked together so if one of us died, we all died. We had no choice but to cooperate and do this man’s bidding. My first task was to seek out the other three and get them to meet up back at the square, and so began the fun of Dead Money.

The new characters were interesting and fun to have around, and it was nice having somebody to watch my back. Each of the three companions will grant you a special Perk that will come in handy when travelling around Sierra Madre. For example, Christine gives us more time when running past the speakers before we go Boom (more on this in just a bit).
Dead Money is by far, the most dark and sinister DLC yet for a Fallout game. It plays out more like survival horror than just an RPG. When you finally start off, you find out that you are stripped of all of your “worldly possessions”. You get a new outfit, a spiffy holorifle, and a few other doodads and that’s about it. You will need to scavenge around for any other supplies. Any companions you may have had before you entered are no longer with you as well. You get the three new ones to accompany you in Dead Money (remember, they’re linked to you and your shiny, new collar). Bottle caps aren’t accepted here either. Instead, you need to find the Sierra Madre casino chips to use as your currency at various vending machines that are scattered about.
As you traverse the area, you need to be wary of the many dangers  found in Dead Money. There are traps aplenty (trip wires, bear traps, etc..) that need a cautious step to survive. You also get the added danger of speakers that are hanging around all over the area. These are harmless to the average passer by. Thank God you’re not average! – note sarcasm – Yeah, your collar just happens to get interference from these speakers and if you stay near them for too long, BAMM. There are two kinds of speakers, some are glitchy and can be destroyed with a shot from a gun. Others though, are solidly constructed and and can not be destroyed. You need to avoid these as much as possible. It’s easy enough to tell the difference between the two as the glitchy ones will be glowing blue with sparks shooting from them and the others won’t. There’s also this icky red mist, called The Cloud, that floats around in certain areas outside. You guessed it, it’s not good to breathe this stuff in, so if you have to run through it (and you will), don’t lollygag. Oh and you can’t forget about all of the nasties that will be lurking around either. They’ll take you down faster than a five-legged, radiated Jackrabbit if you don’t stay on your toes. The bad thing with these creepies is that they are “Dead Spacing” it. In other words, they won’t die unless they get amputated, so be sure to hit’em hard and knock their block off. A quick tip on this, I picked up a cool knife spear off of the first Ghost I killed. I then used this almost exclusively to take them out fast and efficiently. It worked wonders and was a nice change of pace for me since I’m going “guns”.
Dead Money does a great job of offering you a different experience form the normal Fallout gameplay. Like I stated earlier, it’s almost like a survival horror game than the typical rpg/shooter that Fallout is. It’s very dark and atmospheric with a huge chance of danger around every corner and this is executed very well. It makes you slow down and think before you step. Another thing I liked was I found some cool new weapons and armor that I will definitely be using when I get back to civilization. These items might not be as useful though if you are already a high level character before starting. This leads me into my next point.
The recommendation I got at the beginning of the dlc about being level 20 or higher should be followed. I was only level 6 when I started but I had to go to do the review. It wasn’t that it was undo-able, but it gave me a run for my money, no pun intended. The part that was the worst for me being so low was the lock picking and the hacking. It  was too high for me to do, even though I am concentrating on those skills. A better way of approaching this would have been to scale the difficulty depending on what level you were. That way I could reap the rewards from Dead Money and still be able to enjoy them while I am playing through the main story of New Vegas. It’s also worth a mention that while I never experienced any major glitches with Dead Money, I have heard reports from other gamers that their games froze on them and other bad things. The problem with this though is that it’s a known fact that Fallout is glitchy and can freeze on you regardless of whether you are playing through the dlc or the main game. It’s just a risk you take when you play and shouldn’t really hold that much sway, if any at all, on whether you buy Dead Money or not.
Brian’s Final Say: I had a good time with Dead Money. The story was pretty cool and the macabre atmosphere was a nice change of pace from the Fallout norm. If you are a fan of New Vegas, then you will more than likely pick this up. Throw in 5 more levels to the level cap and it’s definitely worth the 800 points.
+ Cool story and atmosphere.
+ 5 more levels to the level cap.
+ Companions are fun and interesting to meet.
– Waiting to be the recommended level 20 before starting is sucky.
Final Score: 8/10

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  • Great review Brian. Having finished New Vegas and Dead Money, I have to say the story of this DLC is really good and the characters are solid. I was level 30 going in and it was still challenging for me. Your absolutely correct about the pacing and comparing it to Dead Space. It’s not a Run and Gun experience. Well done!

    • Brian Heitzenrater (FrehleyzComet)

      Thanks Chris. I’m hoping to come back to it again when I get a lot higher. I’m such a fiend when it comes to lock picking and computer hacking! It’s driving me nuts that I couldn’t do them. :p

  • The word you wanted was “breathe” not “breath.”

  • Since it’s only for 360 that should mean it’s automatically worthless. Thus I give it a solid -10 points in my review, and since I’m superior to everyone else that’s the only review that counts.

    Oh, and if you own a 360 then you’re an idiot. Sorry, but that’s a fact.

    • If the 360 is worthless, why are you on a page that is reviewing a game exclusive to the 360?
      Kinda makes you an idiot.

      Great review, Brian. Thanks for grinding through for us! I got locked in at the end though, because I read the note from Sinclair that was not meant for me.
      Save frequently guys.

      • Amen to that. Xbox 360 is a great game system!

      • Fallout: New Vegas isn’t exclusive to 360, it’s a multiplatform game that came out on PC and PS3 at the same time as 360.

        I assume that The Namer is one of the many bitter PC and PS3 players who were burned by publisher Bethesda who announced (after the game’s release,) that all DLC would be exclusive to 360, which is understood by the community to be the result of a deal between the Bethesda and Microsoft, which is apparently stupid enough to believe that PC (ironically also a Microsoft platform, way to go MS,) and PS3 players would actually go out and buy a new console, a second copy of a game they already paid full price for, AND a subscription to Xbox Live as a result.

        The way PC and PS3 players see it, they’re being burned by Bethesda who’s doing it for a payout from Microsoft (Obsidian’s J.E. Sawyer has already confirmed that Obsidian had no hand in the decision.)

    • yup there goes more ps3 lovers bashing xbox again, we have no need to bash you morons, because xbox has a better online community and gets 90%of dlc and such first, there is also only a small amount of retards on xbox compared to most of the ps3 community (what community, so you people have a good time with your shitty system, we are having tons of fun and doing just fine without you people, stay on ps3 where you belong, with other nigs and retards

      • Xbox 360 is literally just a low-end gaming PC with training wheels and a different OS.

        The reason 360 gets DLC first is because Microsoft paid Bethesda to delay release of DLC for PC and PS3, not because 360 is a better platform.

        If it was a better platform, why would they need to pay publishers for exlcusivity deals? Wouldn’t the supposed superiority of the platform speak for itself and sell itself?

        • nicely put playstation is superior i had an xbox i had 2 have it repaired 6 times in 1 year so i went back 2 ps3 i dnt know if the remodelled 360 slim is any better id rather not risk it but then again people like what they like they should release dlc for all platforms just like with the game

      • Dont want to get into another console war, as I own both and am not that pathetic anyway, but I do have to pull you up on one or 2 things. Owning one or another console does not make a person a moron; someone with the mentality to say such is in actuality the moron. Ps3 is a better prospect for some people because to play online doesnt cost you any extra, and PS3 gets more exclusives than the 360. Having said that I love both systems and fail to understand why there is all this childish name calling between owners of either console.

  • J

    people who shit on people’s reviews for grammar are assholes.

  • Dan

    I found this add-on to be more of a grind then anything else.
    It is true that the story and the characters are solid, but this is a lot more trial and error. BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BOOM!, Reload, Repeat…. The repetition reminded me a lot of the quests in “World of Warcraft” that people complain about.

    It’s true that having a higher skill in the lock picking and hacking will help, it’s not as useful as you would think. I entered at level 22 and based on your review, our experiences were similar.

    What really hit me for a loop, was the convoluted mess that is the endgame for this DLC. You are given several options as to what you can do to complete the endgame, but the game tries to cheat you out of them.

    Not going into detail and giving anything away the Fallout Wiki states, “Elijah is immune to damage until he reactivates the forcefield blocking access to the elevator…”. {The elevator being the way out}. WTF!?!

    Obsidian storied their way into a corner and has to resort to a cheat to get
    out of it? That’s what I’ve come to expect from Obsidian {KOTOR II, anyone?}, but not from the Fallout franchise. Dirty pool, gentlemen. I restored my game to prior to entry into Sierra Madre. I may try it again, but I doubt I’ll have the time.

    I am also disappointed that the DLC can not be accessed after the Hover Dam endgame. If you try Dead Money, be sure to attempt it before the final battle at the Dam. If they plan on putting out more DLC for this game, they need to rework that similar to Fallout 3. I hope they give the next Fallout game duties back to the developers that did Fallout 3.

    I’ll give this a 6/10, and it’s definitely for ‘fanboys only’.


    • Don’t worry, I’m sure that it will be available for the PS3 eventually. The DLC’s for Fallout 3 came out later for PS3 than for Xbox360. It’s not quite fair, but what can you do?

  • Pretty decent review, but I really feel the need to disagree about the level scaling point. This wouldn’t be better if it scaled according to the playr’s level, the level scaling is what made Oblivion such a dull game and was a big problem with Fallout 3 as well. At level 6 you’re *supposed* to be i constant peril going through this – and, on the other side of the same coin, at level 35 you should be able to breeze through it like the demigod your character is.

  • once again you f&%# the rest of the players that doesnt play on 360..
    VERY VERY disapointing!
    And you complain that people doesnt buy the pc products… wonder why?

  • While I appreciate your review and the experiences you had while playing, I’m afraid I could not disagree with you more. As a long-time fan of Bethesda gaming (Oblivion and Fallout 3 rank as two of my favorite all-time games), I was expecting far more from this DLC, particularly because the game play in NV had been phenomenal up to this point. I think that Obsidian must have been rushed to get out a DLC quickly, but instead of taking a cue from Bethesda’s “all good things in time” philosophy, they decided to cut corners and just put it out there. Unfortunately, it shows in every aspect of this DLC.

    Dan made some very valid comments concerning some of the short comings of Dead Money, and I happen to agree. Instead of fleshing out the world and writing in new challenges as you went along, they just gave up and relied on three tired gimmicks: Ghost people, radios, and holograms. I came in as a level 26, and I couldn’t believe how often I was saving and reloading- having to probe almost EVERY room or hallway, looking for the signal, hoping you could shoot it, or trying to figure out where you need to run to get past it. What could have been an interesting obstacle if it were resolved earlier in the game play became an annoying ploy that detracted from enjoying the new environment. And had I NOT saved repeatedly (especially right before I logged on to the computer in the vault), I may have been stuck like Dan. And I would have been mightily pissed.

    I also disagree with your assessment of the characters who become “companions” during your quest, although that may simply be a matter of the experiences we’ve had at our different levels. Certainly, Dog/God could prove himself useful in a fight, and Christine had her moments, but there were times when it took everything I had NOT to shoot Dean in the face. Sorry, but give me Boone and Rex over these guys any day!

    This is the first DLC associated with Bethesda with which I have been disappointed- I can’t help but think that it’s because Obsidian is at the helm. I also hope that the next DLC continues the story line past Hoover Dam- I think there’s a lot that can be done there. Here’s hoping that they take their time with it- I can wait.

  • fallout 3> New Vegas

  • i didnt like the review, review shouldnt be about telling the story, rather about the mechanics and improvements

  • or get both systems so u don’t complain about video games, if you actually care about video games that much, then waste your check on the two systems, or just happily wait for the dlc 3-6 months later, there’s other games out there to give a look out on

  • Brian Heitzenrater (FrehleyzComet)

    For everybody that was civil in their replies, thank you for your opinions. It’s always nice to read what others have to say about something, especially when it comes to reviews. The problem with reviews is that not everybody is going to agree, so it’s nice to hear from you.

    For everybody that is arguing about Sony and Microsoft, please do it somewhere else. This article is about Fallout New Vegas – Dead Money, not about who has a better console. I’m sure Bethesda has their reasons for what they do, and I honestly do not care. Don’t be a fanboy.

    For everybody else that had nothing constructive to say, ….

  • I have tons of friends who are PC players. They always get bitter when they have to wait a few months for console games to be released on PC. Because they are so easy to steal when they are on pc. Maybe if some of you PC guys would start paying for your games again. They would release them at the same time. Just a thought though.

    • go f*** yourself, dark. not all of us are theives

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