Fallout: New Vegas Dead Money DLC review

DLC as we know it is still in its infancy and Bethesda has been at the forefront in both its rise to prowess and its much ballyhooed disdain from sectors of the interwebs over the last five years. Thankfully, both Bethesda and the industry at large have come a long way from horse armor, as Fallout 3's line of well-made and game-changing DLC cemented the Maryland-based developer as a leader in the burgeoning digital field. It's a pedigree that Obsidian now has the task of maintaining after their successful (albeit somewhat buggy) first go at the franchise in the form of Fallout: New Vegas. Unfortunately, while Dead Money is full of great dialogue, it's about as fun as running around a bear trap infested town while fighting ghosts with a pea shooter, which is exactly what you end up doing in Obsidian's first crack at DLC.

Above: Do those buildings look cool to you? We hope so, because that's all you're going to look at for around three hours

Upon booting up New Vegas after downloading the $10 pack, you will be treated to a soothing new radio broadcast telling your apocalyptic traveler about the wonderful new Sierra Madre casino located in a sewer pipe in the middle of nowhere. Once inside, your character is immediately gassed and you awaken in a town square right outside of the casino, where the hologram of one Father Elijah asks you to rob the casino, which never actually opened.

Don't want to? Too bad, because there's a bomb attached to your neck a la Battle Royale, and any act of insubordination causes your head to go on a quick holiday from the rest of you. However, in a thoroughly unnecessary move, he also takes away all of the guns, stimpaks, ammo, and armor you have accumulated in your travels. Why exactly did he do this? He strapped a bomb to our neck, so we're not going to run away or try to kill him. Doesn't he want us to succeed? Wouldn't a vast arsenal of weaponry better our chances of completing his diabolical scheme? Apparently not, as Elijah sends you out in your underpants with a pseudo tranquilizer gun in hopes of pulling off the heist of the century.

Before entering the casino you need to go recruit your crew, and it is here where Dead Money shines, as your interactions and dialogue with your three fellow forced partners in crime are easily the highlight of the entire package. Convincing each member of the team, whether they're a mute or a “legendary” lounge-singer-turned-ghoul, involve some of the more interesting dialogue sections in any part of New Vegas. It adds to the generally darker tone compared to the rest of the game, which helps Dead Money feel very distinct. It's a shame the rest of Dead Money distinguishes itself from New Vegas by not being fun.

Above: Does that guy look cool too? As was the case with the buildings, be prepared to fight nothing but that guy for the first three hours of Dead Money

So 75% of Dead Money involves collecting the three crew members, bringing them to the town square individually, and then also individually taking them to another part of town to help initiate the break-in, which leads to a high level of deja vu. The entire town looks the exact same as you walk through one Spanish-inspired house to the other, all with the same walls and tiling, thus causing you to become lost more often than one would like.

While running through the town, you'll be bombarded by the same gas mask wearing enemy that cannot be killed with the one gun you're given, as it only knocks them unconscious. There's a plethora of melee weapons around to help finish the job, but if you're like us and didn't level up your melee skills worth a lick while playing the original game due to all the guns lying around, this proposition gets a little trickier. The game recommends that you don't start Dead Money until level 20, and believe us when we tell you to heed this warning. Dead Money is already highly frustrating, but without being skilled in lock-picking, science, computer hacking, melee fighting, and/or intelligence skills, that frustration may equate to a broken keyboard or controller.

ABOVE: Meet the brilliant criminal mastermind that sends his minions to do his bidding without thinking to allow them to maybe bring some medicine or the occasional mini-nuke launcher. Nice work Mr. Capone

However that's just the start of the things likely to piss you off while playing through Dead Money. You see, that bomb on your neck is wired throughout the city, and if you stand too close to a transmitter, it'll start to beep. Let it beep for too long (which isn't long at all) and it's goodbye head. There's also an absurd amount of bear traps, landmines, and tripwires lying around, which forces you to tip-toe around every corner to avoid accidentally getting your leg chewed off. Finally, half the city also happens to be contaminated with toxic gas, so imagine running through a gas-filled house while your collar is beeping only to hit a bear trap, which causes your character to run slower, and thus causes you to go boom. Once again: not fun.

Dead Money has been available for a couple of months on the 360 thanks to an exclusivity agreement, but it's now available for the PC and PS3. All three versions run through New Vegas, which means that they're all buggy. The game crashed on us a couple of times during the four hours it took to complete, and at one point we were talking to an NPC who decided to mysteriously vanish during mid-conversation, which got a haughty chuckle. There weren't any noticeable bugs exclusive to a certain platform, but the PC version is the one to get if you have the rig, thanks to drastically shorter load times, a better framerate, more definition in the textures, and the developers’ ability to release a patch instantaneously via Steam instead of waiting around through the consoles' respective certification processes, which were all true of the original release of New Vegas as well.

ABOVE: Okay we know questioning videogame logic is a slippery slope, but how does a hologram shoot frickin' laser beams out of its head?

It's evident given the more hostile setting and the lack of supplies that Obsidian was going for a survival horror type experience with Dead Money. While this is admirable, the game itself just isn't fun. Their attempts at breaking the New Vegas mold come off as annoying rather than innovative, and all of the cheap deaths and frustrating moments end up squandering a really fantastic story and premise. If you're all gung-ho about playing every bit of New Vegas that's available and a 5 level cap increase interests you, then you may be able to squeeze some enjoyment out of it if you also happen to be somewhat of a masochist. For everyone else, hopefully Obsidian's future attempts at DLC will be far more successful.

Mar 11, 2011


  • xSlasher - May 18, 2013 9:47 p.m.

    I bought this DLC, the first DLC I bought for Fallout actually, and I still haven't gotten past the very last part. It pissed me off so bad that I deleted my save data just so I can restart and be out of that worthless DLC. The bomb collars were the only part of the DLC that pissed me off, but they pissed me off so bad. I expected to get a DLC like the ones in Fallout 3 that are actually enjoyable. Not one that sets a dark tone that makes people even more frusterated then they will be while playing the game. And why in the hell did Father Elijah take your guns if they wont kill damn near anything anyway? I wouldn't even give this DLC a 4. I'd give it a 1. Only because Bethesda and Obsidian made my two most favorite games.
  • lina-kim - February 11, 2012 2:51 a.m.

    Thanks for this review. Even though some people didn't agree with your rating, I think it's safe to say it's either not worth paying for it or it's the worst of the 4 dlcs. I was thinking of buying 2 dlcs and Dead Money will not be one of them.
  • BlindPilot42 - May 12, 2011 8:11 p.m.

    is ther any way to get out of Dead money or even to lock father dude in the vault or just talk to him face to face and gtfo of derad mioney
  • elchamber - March 16, 2011 9:26 p.m.

    Screw this. I don't have time to deal with shotty work.
  • burningp - March 16, 2011 6:55 a.m.

    Lack of freedom of choice - in Since Fallout2 you could start a quest, change tack and do some side quests, finish a different quest, then comeback to the one you were on - Dead Money leaves that behind. Everything else in the series has been done with a little tongue in cheek humour, not this...4 was perhaps generous as I now have a different feeling about the title.
  • Revanjd - March 15, 2011 3:34 a.m.

    Dude with the green googles looks kickass! I want that mask! :p
  • porjos - March 12, 2011 7 p.m.

    This is a 4 and Halo got an 8???????? Disclaimer for the dumb-ass's : This post was a joke
  • SonyBacker - March 12, 2011 6:21 p.m.

    IS IT BROKEN ON PS3?, is what people want to know, i played fallout 3, love the game, even just starting it again just because its awesome, then the dlc and i hate it operation anchorage lagged badly due to dropped frame rate aswell as freezing and the eventual locking my ps3 so i had to get up every 10minutes, i dont like spending my time sitting in front of my tv having the hit the reset button twice, don't even get me started on mothership zeta, that is FUBAR, i tried the dlc from both the psn and goty edition, same problems. i'm gonna start new vegas once the patches are done for (give it another month at least) then wait for patches for dead money.
  • Fiin - March 12, 2011 4:05 p.m.

    I think hes dead on with a 4.. its what I was thinking too. Instead of having that "Oh man, I hope this is a long DLC pack" feeling, about 30 mins in, it was more of a "Get me out of this repeatitive hunk o junk". One of the worst DLCs for a major title since horse armour imo.
  • StealthEagle - March 12, 2011 3:59 p.m.

    Hm, guess I have to wait for New Vegas goty edition(if there is ever one..) before touching on any DLCs. Speaking of "godamn bear traps", that doesn't sound like a good news considering how many times I stepped on these damn things in FO3 sewers before the "light step" perk. Does anyone have more/less difficulty on playing this because this DLC is more catered to certain perks and skills(for example, melee)?
  • cuorebrave - March 12, 2011 2:53 p.m.

    I have to defend the reviewer here - after playing the original Fallouts, Fallout 3 + every single DLC, and Fallout: New Vegas to completion many times over, I HAVE to say that this was the ABSOLUTE WORST parts of any Fallout game in history. I hated every moment of it. What a waste! There wasn't a single scene where I was like, "Wow! This is AWESOME!" I'm going to write this off as the developers went temporarily insane to make this utter nonsense. Holograms you can't kill? Ghost People with beartraps on their hands? And the final scene with invincible Elijah walking slowly to the Vault entrance? The whole thing screams ridiculous. And boring.
  • miked00d - March 12, 2011 1:42 p.m.

    This is a ridiculous review. Dead Money is flawed, but it delivers what it promises- A new location, new enemies and a more challenging gameplay style. 7 at least.
  • ricochetguro - March 12, 2011 12:34 p.m.

    I actually had fun playing this dlc and enjoyed all the new characters so a 4 seems quite strange to me.
  • CitizenWolfie - March 12, 2011 12:03 p.m.

    I didn't think it was that bad, to be honest I enjoyed the change in tone from the sunny New Vegas desert. As for the speakers and toxic gas, you did have the option of getting one of your followers to give you a perk to extend the time limit of the beeps or reduce the effect of the gasses, and Dog would finish off any unconscious Ghosts long before they got up again. Even the holograms could be switched off if you found the terminal. But then I played it from about level 28 so I had pretty high hacking and lockpicking skills. I think if it had let me keep my existing loadout, I would have breezed through the damn thing in an hour or so. Removing your stuff was more of a challenge. My only issue was the Vault at the end which was so ridiculously winding and frustrating I nearly gave up. And the crappy AI for Elijah made his confrontation almost impossible.
  • GamerTagsSuck - March 12, 2011 11:56 a.m.

    I think it's worth noting that you can get around 30000 caps worth of gold bars at the end (You need a glitch to actually get them all out, otherwise, you go boom boom). Also, the dlc will all have related stories, unlike Fallout 3 where absolutely nothing was ever related.
  • I_fucking_love_desert_levels - March 12, 2011 10:13 a.m.

    Yeah I'd agree with this. At first (looking at other reviews) I thought I was among a minority who thought that this DLC wasn't actually fun, but GamesRadar, you came through and finally put what I was thinking down on paper (or uh screen).
  • jackthemenace - March 12, 2011 9:04 a.m.

    Well, that cements it. Not buying it. I'll wait until they do a Broken Steel-like DLC that lets you play on after the credits. That really annoyed me when i finished it.
  • VictorRay - March 12, 2011 5:17 a.m.

    I thought the DLC was decent, Dog/God was an awesome character and it left exciting hints for "whats to come", but the alarms and trapper ghost people were bullshit. BULLSHIT.
  • AndIThoughtHeSmelledLikePizzaOnTheOutside - March 12, 2011 4:47 a.m.

    1. love reviewing dlc. Needs to be done. maybe sooner. much less consistant then quality of games. 2. Melee being overpowered? There is a good reason for that. I admire those that made it through fo2 with their fists but all those other options have to be tempting. 3. Actually i have no priblem with anyone's comments. Keep on keepin on. Evryone here is great! (is it just me or is capthca getting more tricky?)
  • Yeager1122 - March 12, 2011 3:55 a.m.

    Maybe ill get these judging from the comments everyone else thinks it wasnt a 4 but thats only if i ever actually finish new vegas.

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