Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wier Reviews: Fallout 3: New Vegas DLCs

It has been awhile since I have sat down to write a post for the blog which is something I want to start doing more regularly so here we go. I return to you all with my triumphant review of all 4 major DLCs for Fallout 3: New Vegas! And as all good stories go...this one begins at genesis, er the first DLC rather.

Dead Money begins as pretty much every Fallout 3 DLC begins, with a radio signal. The mysterious broadcast calls upon would be treasure hunters to come find great treasure at the grand opening of and Old World casino called the Sierra Madre. You, as the courier and a fool, decide to go investigate the signal whereupon you find yourself meeting the black out screen once again only to wake up in an even worse situation than before. Rather than spoil the major plot elements of the story behind the DLC I'm going to instead talk about what new game play aspects are introduced to you and how well they work. Granted there will be a little bit of general spoilers here but it wont be anywhere near telling you the following; "WELL DIS GUY AT DA END TELLS U HEZ UR FATHUR! :B".

In the begining of Dead Money you find yourself saddled with an explosive slave collar by your nemesis in the region who I shall refer to from here on out as Mr. Silly Bottoms. Mr. Silly Bottoms wants you to galavant about and do exactly what it is you planned to do in the Sierra Madre when you first entered which is find the treasure! The trick is that there are a multitude of old world radio systems in the casino and resort area that can trigger your bomb collar and kill you instantly. To this end Dead Money forces you to be a lot more cautious in exploring than you may have been in the primary campaign since exploring too quickly will guarantee you a swift and brutal death. Unfortunately this serves as a barrier to exploring areas thoroughly which is something that I personally really love about the sand box rpgs that Bethesda has produced so far. Granted you can destroy the radio wave emitting devices by shooting them or blowing them up it becomes exceedingly difficult to find some of them. At times you'll be running down a hallway littered with intercoms and radios that are hidden behind poles and pipes behind you that are extremely difficult to find. This lead to a tremendous amount of deaths on my part going down these hallways. It was a little like playing Mega Man where I was ensured death at least 50 or so times before the conclusion of the game. But hey, there's no problem with dying or the threat of death in a game. If anything this added to the tension of the area.

Aside from the radio bomb collar trick there was a second gimmick to the area which involved a red mist. This red mist was basically everywhere and impeded your travels almost as much as the radios. Walking through it would eventually drain your health and kill you so exploring it proved to be rather difficult. Consequently when I started the area I found myself traveling through a part of the resort that has blanketed in the stuff and narrowly made it in and out to get to my objective alive. This also caused me to die a multitude of times. Unfortunately for me it seemed I had chosen the wrong option as to where to begin my adventure considering that another path would have led me to a companion that reduced the amount of damage I would take from the red mist. Sad Pandas, at least I did the other part on HARD MODE! Either way the mist's low visibility and constant threat of death made exploration undesirable and difficult when added to the ever present danger of radio head explosions.

Ultimately the story proved to be a little lack luster considering it was quite disconnected from the main story of New Vegas. Though you will recognize Mr. Silly Bottoms if you had done some thorough investigation into one of the groups Mr.House/Yes Man wanted you to learn about. I will say that Dead Money was entertaining but also a little frustrating at times but hey nothing with that many traps laying about is going to be a cake walk. Though it does teach you a harsh lesson in the end which is simply that greed kills. When you get to the end I hope you will appreciate the dilemma that the Sierra Madre provides for you as much as I did.

Honest Hearts is the second of the four DLCs that Bethesda released. In it you are off to join an expedition to Zion National Park in search of new trade routes and fortune. Upon entering the area a great deal of Shenanigans occur where you find yourself in the middle of a tribal war between two major factions. Ultimately you find yourself on the trail of the legendary "Burned Man" who was mentioned in the original campaign if you talked to enough of the right Caesar's Legion personnel.

Honest Hearts featured an interesting new out door area for you to explore which felt...rather small in retrospect. In all honesty I can't remember a great deal about Honest Hearts from when I played it which does not spell very good news for the DLC itself. There were some neat weapons when it came to hand to hand combat but on the whole the entire area and story felt rather flat. Having had little interest in the Burning Man's story from the original New Vegas I found it hard to get into a campaign centered around him and his deeds. The whole zone, while quite good looking, proved to be a big let down for me. The story was not engaging, there were pretty much no major game play gimmicks or additions, and there was not very much to explore.

I really can't give this DLC more attention than that since it was such a forgettable piece for me. Kind of a shame really.

Old World Blues quickly became my favorite of the DLCs when it was released. You, as the courier, are drawn to a signal inviting you to a "Midnight Science Fiction Show" at one of the old abandoned drive in theaters. You encounter a crashed Satellite that displays an image of an eye on the screen at midnight whereupon you can travel to the mysterious Big Mountain research facility. This facility, established before the nuclear bombs all fell and turned the world to radioactive soup, was home to the greatest scientific minds of Old World America. Here you will find yourself at the mercy of...well I'll call them mad scientists, that wish you to aid them in their fight against another more evil and more mad scientist! Without spoiling too much more I will just say that you have a vested interest in finding this other scientist and retrieving something he stole form you.

This DLC embraces more of the humorous and witty appeal that fallout and fallout 2 had to them. The added humor to the situation and the characters around you do not manage to detract from the story elements at all. I found that I was enthralled by the characters and story that you follow inside of the Big MT. Searching every area and exploring every nook and cranny of the research area to find out what other odd ball inventions or experiments were being conducted was extremely fun. No part of the DLC pushed you away from wanting to explore or learn more about what was going on. Ultimately you find yourself equipped with a myriad of interesting weaponry and items for your adventures outside of the facility. The DLC also features a base of operations for your player that you can return to at any time when you need a place to put up your Mojave dust covered boots.

I wouldn't say that there were any really new game-play features added in this DLC but it does provide a very interesting new story to play through. Honestly I don't want to spoil any part of it so I will leave it at that and urge you, as a fallout fan to check it out for yourself.

Of all the Fallout 3: New Vegas DLCs the Lonesome Road is by far the best. Ever since the beginning of New Vegas you find yourself wondering who your character is. People call you the Courier and some know who you were before you got shot. As a player you're left with all sorts of questions as to where you come from, who you are, what you have done and who was it that passed up the job that lead to you being shot in the first place? All of these questions and more get answered in the Lonesome Road. In it you journey to the Divide, an area that has more than once been touched by devastating forces. All along the way you learn about yourself and the deeds that you have done which lead to what the Divide now is.

The interesting part about all of this story is that it is being told to you via communications by a cryptic character know as Ulysses aka Courier Six (for those paying attention he's the man that passed up the job to carry the platinum chip). As you navigate the ruins of the Divide he contacts you, beckoning you forward to come meet him and settle accounts at long last. The Divide has many lessons to teach along the way and as a player you come to finally gain an understanding and connection to the Courier and his/her past.

The Lonesome Road is an excellent piece of story telling that delivers well on making sense of everything that lead up to the beginning of Fallout New Vegas. It's extremely difficult to describe it without ruining the plot as I wont go into more detail than that.

There isn't a lot in the innovative game-play market for this DLC but I have to recommend it based solely on how well it will characterize you as the courier. Especially after you get to the very end and you have two extremely difficult decisions to make.

Stop reading this and go play it NOW!

The Final Verdict:

Dead Money: Interesting game play mechanics and a high difficulty curve if you suck at finding grey things on grey backgrounds. I would say it's worth a look.
Honest Hearts: Felt like a total throw away story line to me. I wouldn't waste the caps on it.
Old World Blues: Reminds me of older fallout style humor, great story and a lot of fun to explore. Definitely worth getting.
Lonesome Road: This is a must have for anyone who enjoyed the story components to New Vegas. If you aren't a complete lore lover like I am then you might not enjoy this one as much as Dead Money or Old World Blues but honestly I think it was the best of the bunch.

Yes, I am aware I need to stop gushing all over Fallout related games but that was the reason I decided to do all the DLCs at once. Now that we have that out of the way it's on to other games!

Stay tuned for my upcoming reviews of League of Legends, Witcher 2, and Borderlands. (I know they are older games, but hey I just played them jerks!)


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