Without a doubt, Fallout: New Vegas is the best Fallout game released in a decade, and I have been thoroughly enjoying it as such. And while I haven’t come close to running out of things to do, I couldn’t help but check out New Vegas’s first piece of DLC, Dead Money. The question is, was it worth the standard $10 price tag?
The story in Dead Money takes you to the Sierra Madre, a casino whose grand opening was ruined by a certain atomic apocalypse. However, it has remained untouched by the denizens of the Mojave, and thus, its vaults are filled with untold riches. As such, you’ve been recruited to take part in a robbery of this casino. Or should I say kidnapped, stripped of your gear (until the end of the DLC only of course) and strapped with a bomb collar to ensure cooperation?
Overall, it’s a good plot, made better by the quality writing and voice acting that can be found throughout the rest of New Vegas. But what really makes Dead Money’s plot shine are the characters. In order to help you accomplish this heist, you’ll be aided by three other “recruits”: Dean Domino, Christine, and my personal favorite, Dog/God. Each character is unique and well crafted, lending complexity to conversation. And like the game, Dead Money also comes with its own beginning monologue, and ending slideshow showing the consequences of your actions. So if for nothing else, the story makes Dead Money worth checking out.
You know you’ll love Dog/God when he threatens to “shatter every one of your limbs to splinters”
The gameplay is also a strong suit for Dead Money. As your character is stripped of all their gear, you’ll have to make due with what you can find, and what you can find isn’t a lot. However, Dead Money does throw you a bone, as you’ll be able to collect Sierra Madre chips throughout the DLC, which allow you to buy supplies from some conveniently placed vending machines. For predominately Guns/Energy Weapons builds like my character, this is a godsend, as it means you won’t have to always rely on the far more common melee and unarmed weapons because you can buy ammo. You’re supplies will still be limited, but you’ll at least have enough to survive, and that gives the DLC a fun but somewhat challenging design. And even then, your skills will factor into how you go about conversations and tasks in Dead Money, just like in New Vegas, which is always nice.
Additionally, you’ll face the denizens of the Sierra Madre, the ghost people and holograms, throughout the DLC. The ghost people can only be killed by dismembering them, while the holograms are invincible unless you take out their emitters (or just avoid them with some tricks you learn during the DLC). Neither is a terribly difficult enemy, but they’re nice gimmicks that do increase the challenge a bit. What serves as your greatest enemy, however, is the environment. Throughout the DLC, you’ll run into poisonous toxic clouds that deplete your hit points with each passing moment, and radio signals that can set off your collar. Now, you can sometimes avoid the gas or destroy/deactivate the sources of the radio signals, but in those instances in which you can’t, a panic-like mood arises as you frantically try to get past your obstacle. It does make the DLC challenging, but it happens so much that it can become a nuisance. Still, the gameplay overall in Dead Money is quite good.
The ghost people are about as intimidating as they look
Dead Money’s real drawback is that there’s not much else once you finish the DLC. Overall, the DLC took me roughly eight hours to complete, but there’s not a whole lot of post-game content to keep me occupied. You can’t revisit the Sierra Madre once you finish the DLC, and you can’t take any of your companions with you into the Mojave either. And while you acquire some interesting weapons like the holorifle and the knife spear, neither lasted me as long Chinese stealth suit or the infiltrator from Fallout 3’s DLCs. And while the increase in the level cap is nice (albeit unnecessary), I almost capped out my character by the time I finished the DLC (I was only a few XP away from level 35). So really, Dead Money is fun while it lasts, but it won’t last you that long.
Finally, we come to the technical aspects. I never found the DLC to be that glitchy, but as with any game, your experience in this area may vary. As for how the DLC looks, well, the art design is great, and it’s certainly different than any other area in New Vegas. It’s still on the outdated Gamebryo engine, so I’m not going to say it looks spectacular, but it’s at least designed well. And as with New Vegas, the voice acting is superb, and the ambient soundtrack is excellent.
At the end of the day, your experience with Dead Money is going to depend on who you are. If you play Fallout games for story and seeing how your character’s skills affect the world around you and how you go about things (which I do), you’ll end up liking Dead Money. For those of you that play Fallout for the combat, you’ll probably also like Dead Money. But if you play Fallout because it’s a massive game with lots to loot and do, you’ll probably be a bit disappointed. Still, while Dead Money’s experience isn’t that long, it’s quite good while it lasts.
+ A great story, well developed characters, and some challenging gameplay with interesting mechanics
– It’s not that long, and there’s not a lot of content for once you finish the DLC
7.5 out of 10