It’s been a few weeks since the release of Dead Money and I’ve finally had a chance to play it most of the way through. This review may contain some spoilers, so stop reading now if you want to play the DLC fresh without preconceptions.
Overall I found Dead Money brought back much of what I loved about playing Fallout 3, especially quests that were more puzzles than having go get something for someone and bring it back like many of the Fallout NV quests seem to go. A pleasant surprise was the raising of the level cap to 35. So I’m guessing each new DLC will keep raising the cap?
The DLC is set at and around the legendary Sierra Madre Casino. The story and setting reminded me of Bioshock as the Sierra Madre was intended for the wealthy and now its a ruin that has threats to kill you around every corner. Another Bioshock comparison are the Vending Machines spread out through the Sierra Madre. You can buy food, meds and other items with the Sierra Madre chips you’ll find laying about throughout the game. Look for codes to unlock new items in the machines.
You first wake up in the Villa where you encounter the nearly impossible to kill Ghost People who were super creepy and deadly. You also have to contend with being poisoned by a toxic gas that fills many areas of the Villa and Casino as well as many booby traps all around. And finally you learn that you have a bomb collar around your neck, and some radios and speaker all around the casino make cause your head to be blown of your shoulders which happened to me more times than I would have cared for. My advice, save often especially after getting through a difficult section of the game.
Quickly after arriving (and losing all non-quest related items), we learn that it is Father Elijah who brought you to the Sierra Madre. Father Elijah is the former Elder of the Brotherhood of Steel in the Mohave who left the Brotherhood after the defeat at HELIOS One. He has brought you here to open the Sierra Madre casino, and will be the one giving you orders since you have that bomb collar around your neck and the Pip-Boy on your arm he can use to communicate with you and track you. One false move and good bye head.
Your first mission from Father Elijah is to locate 3 others Dog/God, Christine and Dean Domino, because it will take all 4 of you to trigger the opening event. Elijah suggests to you what order to locate the companions, and each one will help to combat one of the threats in the Villa. When you go after the Christine character you will encounter your first deadly hologram. There is no way to kill these guys directly, so you’ll need to be creative to get by them. I loved the addition of the holograms and I hope we get to see that more in upcoming DLC and in Fallout 4. Throughout the Villa you’ll also see graffiti scrawled on the wall before you enter certain rooms or areas. Pay attention to these, they will be helpful to know what threat or trap lies in wait for you.
Once you’ve completed the mission of getting all three characters into place to trigger the event (not an easy task) you’ve got to get into the now open casino. Save often as you make your way back because the Ghost people are out in huge numbers and you’ll have outwit them to make it.
Inside the Sierra Madre the attention to detail is very good. It feels unique much like the other casinos on the strip, but worn down and wrecked. Inside the casino you have to find your 3 companions again but this time it will be more of a challenge to deal with them. Also the holograms are all over the casino, but once you get power back online, friendly holograms pop up on the casino floor and you get to do some gambling! Of course you are playing for SM Chips that you can trade for stimpaks, food and other necessities so you are gambling for your life.
I don’t want to spoil the ending or storyline much more except to say that your interaction with the 3 companions further the story-lines along nicely. Yes there are two stories here, Father Elijah’s and the story of Frederick Sinclair who built the Sierra Madre not so much as a casino but as an impregnable fortress. The final reward waiting for you in the Sierra Madre is one of the biggest payouts in all of the Wasteland well worth the trouble it takes to get here.
I would definitely recommend purchasing Dead Money especially if you’ve found yourself underwhelmed by some of the New Vegas story plots and quests. The game play felt more fresh and updated from that of New Vegas and I hope the other 3 DLC follow suit.
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