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Dead Money review roundup

Ausir December 24, 2010 User blog:Ausir

Here's a roundup of reviews of Fallout: New Vegas add-on Dead Money.

Xbox360Achievements - 8/10:

Each companion character grants unique perks - just like in the main game – so, Dog or God each give you either a strength or stealth perk respectively, while Dean Domino can temporarily protect you when exposed to The Cloud, and Catherine can extend the time you have before your collar goes off when within range of radio waves. Ah, yes...radios and speakers: possibly the game's worst enemy. For some reason, the radios in this zone have been damaged causing them to broadcast at a frequency that causes the explosive collar to bug out, giving you a limited time before it detonates. Consequently, you'll find yourself desperately running, or backing away and scoping out your routes before advancing, lest your head go 'pop' like an over-ripe melon.

[...]

Dead Money clocks in at a good five hours or so, and is well worth investing in if you're thirsty for more New Vegas action. There's plenty of what Fallout does best, with new melee weapons and guns to try out as well as several divergent conclusions to reach once you manage to successfully or indeed unsuccessfully) pull off the Sierra Madre heist. But does Dead Money deliver on the same level as Fallout 3's DLC did? To a certain extent yes, but having played through the DLC episode, we can attest that Dead Money is absorbing while it lasts, yet you might still be left wanting more once the credits have rolled.

NowGamer - 6/10:

We just don’t understand the point of releasing this kind of DLC for this kind of game – other than milking more revenue out of fans and putting people off the idea of trading their copy in once the main game is done. Fallout: New Vegas is a game set in a huge, detailed world with dozens of cleverly interwoven quests and a real sense of freedom and meaningful choices throughout. Dead Money is none of that.

Instead, Dead Money is a standalone, linear series of quests set across a few bland, samey maze-like environments, with very little in the way of freedom, choice or fun. It’s a new piece of New Vegas with none of New Vegas’s strengths included. But New Vegas’s bugs, glitches and crashes? Oh yeah, it’s got those.

Dealspwn - 7/10:

The main problem with Dead Money is the level design. The stages are decepitively large and promote fastidious exploration, but they’re also labyrinthine and skinned with uniquely boring repeated textures. Criticising a Fallout title for being visually dull seems like flogging a dead brahmin, but most of Dead Money ends up being a bit of a chore that could have done with a splash of colour and considerate map design.

The risk vs reward ratio is also completely ridiculous. It’s challenging enough and the story is excellent, but you won’t have anything to show for it afterwards besides some weak weaponry and a character level or two under your belt. The level cap increase is the only major payoff, but it feels utterly disconnected and disjointed from the rest of the experience. This unfortunately makes the price tag feel fairly steep despite the hefty amount of content.

GamingBolt - 6/10:

The DLC provides a large are with lots to do and many places to explore. Things worthless from the main game can be worth something of much higher value here. Doing everything in the Dead Money DLC pack would take quite some time making this a worthy buy but things change when you quickly learn how annoying the actual tasks get. You collar for instance can be set off by almost anything from radio signals to the casinos own speaker system! Leaving you dead and loading again. If that is not enough there is the environmental hazard of the toxic red mist, which will lower your health rapidly if you get near it. This, along with many of the quests just being so damn annoying make this less like the classic Fallout that we are used to and more like a damn nu-sense. I think I died more in this DLC than in the whole game.

Metro - 6/10:

In terms of set-up then the download is excellent, with a story that takes at least four hours to tell and which can easily last you twice that long if you take up some of the (usually quite dull) side quests. On top of that the tense atmosphere, the effectiveness of the enemies and traps, and the paucity of ammo and health gives it a near survival horror feel.

In theory anyway, in practise after the intriguing introduction and initially fun stealth-focused combat the game ratchets up the difficulty level and throws so many obstacles and enemies at you at once it just becomes all too frustrating and repetitive.

Having your collar blow up prematurely if you get too near a radio or speaker (because the bomb technology is old and broken) is an interesting idea the first few times, but having to avoid indestructible speakers, stay out of the poisonous mist and fight off enemies with bear traps for hands just becomes too much.

Doesn't the collar beep when it's close to detonation?

IGN - 6.5/10:

One of the characters suffers from a split-personality and I apparently chose to recruit the wrong one. Subsequently all quest lines broke, but I didn't realize it until I had already completed everything and wasn't given any new missions. I had to restart the whole game, which flat-out sucked.

I know Bethesda and Obsidian are infamous for making games with lots of bugs, but I was really shocked that this DLC is so easily broken. I didn't make some crazy decision wearing a strange costume in an unforeseen area, it was something the game offered to me and yet it halted my progression. That's unacceptable.

You do realize you can switch between the Dog and God personalities?

Eurogamer - 7/10:

Your bomb collar also tweaks the gameplay in an interesting, though not always enjoyable, manner. Bodged together from pre-war components, it's vulnerable to signal interference. Anything from a domestic radio to the casino's own speaker system can set it off, causing an incessant beeping whenever you get in range and culminating in a rapid cranial eruption should you linger too long. Normal radios can be turned off or destroyed, unshielded speakers can be shot from afar, but there are also invulnerable speakers that can only be deactivated using a terminal, or cannot be switched off at all.

Also providing environmental menace is the toxic red cloud, which eats away at your health with ferocious speed should you venture into it. If you're playing in Hardcore Mode, even the seemingly clear atmosphere itself becomes hazardous, reducing your health slowly whenever you're outside.

The cloud also adds some fun new recipes to your crafting options. Find or collect some cloud residue and it'll brew up some seriously nasty poisons or a useful stat-buffing cocktail, depending on how you mix it.

And, finally, there are some interesting new enemies in the shape of the casino's holographic security system. These glowing drones are limited in reach by their emitter range, but are otherwise indestructible and come armed with deadly laser weapons. Navigating your way past them, either through cunning or by changing their programming, is one of the stiffest stealth challenges the game has to offer.

All these elements are used to herd you along, but they can become annoying – particularly when their use combines with the maze-like streets of the villa exterior. Having less than ten seconds to locate and destroy a radio before your head explodes is exciting the first few times, but by the end it's become a chore and one that reduces one of Fallout's greatest pleasures – exploration – to a frustrating save-and-reload routine. That Dead Money's finale finds you racing through a veritable gauntlet of broken walkways while being constantly stymied by holograms, radios and the poisonous red mist makes what should have been a thrilling climax more irritating than it needed to be.

onPause - 9/10:

Now, I will quickly say, Dead Money is a great improvement. The bugs that got fixed really help with the overall game play. But, with fixes come new problems. One such bug really annoyed me. I had to make my way across some steel beams. And, let's just say my acrobatic abilities suck. I fell. And I noticed I was going to die, so I reloaded my last save. BUT, to my surprise I just died all over again... and again... and again. Apparently, something kept telling the game to reload my death, even after I told it not to. So, I was forced to shut off, and reload the next previous save. It finally worked and I had to progress from that point instead.

If I could bestow some wisdom and parting thoughts, I would say this, be prepared to scream, save often, and have your melee weapons skill up to a decent level. Dead Money strips you of your gear. Most Ghosts have Bear Trap Gloves or Knife Spears. You may find some guns and ammunition in crates, but nothing beats the infinite ammunition of a melee weapon. Also, the story behind Dead Money is one worth taking your time and investigating. It fills in story holes that you didn't know or didn't remember.

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