Date: 06-06-2011 23:10
Reviewer: smish34

Type: PS3
Genre: Role Playing Game
Developer: Obsidian

Contains Minor Plot Spoilers

Fallout New Vegas's first DLC wants you to "Begin Again" at the Sierra Madre Villa and Casino, somewhat an urban myth, where the town has been lost for centuries and is said to be under a thick Blood-red cloud where the Villa's inhabitants roam freely and dangerously.

First off, the story
The DLC (as with all the New Vegas DLC) takes place before the 'Second battle of Hoover Dam', and involves the Courier being abducted and forced into a daring heist to steal the secret that lies within the infamous Sierra Madre Casino.

A radio message is picked up, informing the Courier to "Begin Again" at the Sierra Madre. The place of interest is an abandoned Brotherhood of Steel Bunker, not too far from Camp Forlorn Hope. As you proceed through the bunker, you see and hear a radio. Its playing the same transmission from on your Pip-Boy. When you investigate further, you are gassed and you fall unconscious. You then are told about the Mysteries of the Madre by an elderly man. He goes on about how many have found it, but their greed and selfishness have caused them to stay... as permanent 'Guests'. You awaken to see the magnificent Sierra Madre towering above you, and above a thick red cloud, your gear stripped from you and an explosive collar round your neck. A hologram flickers before you, and the elderly man informs you that he is former Brotherhood Elder Elijah, who was once the mentor of possible companion Veronica.

The DLC has a very prominent Survival Horror theme to it. The claustrophobic villa, with its poisonous cloud limits where you can go, and usually leads you into groups of the Villa Inhabitants; the ghost people. A vicious group of people that act without reason nor warning. They wear Pre-War chemical suits and will not die, unless a decapitation is performed. You meet 3 new Companions along the way. Christine, a bald mute who you find in a wrecked medical unit. She cannot properly communicate with you, unless your intelligence is very high. She becomes a more prominent Character and informs you of 'things to come'. The second is an entertainer, singer, ghoul and thief; Dean Domino, who is a long time resident of the Sierra Madre, and frequently played at the 'Madre. You may notice him as one of the Entertainers from the Loading screen posters. The final companion is a schizophrenic Nightkin, known as God and Dog. God being the intellectual side, who sees reason and is very co-operative toward the courier, Dog, is the more animal side of the nightkin. He was part of the masters army in California (Fallout 2), and is faithful servant to Father Elijah.

As you make it further into the DLC, you can unravel a side plot, that is about Deans Past and his reason for sticking around,and some of the more in depth back story of Christine. You also can see Father Elijah's deteriorating mental state and his own 'Personal' reason for wanting to unlock the secrets of the Madre.

Dead Money is frustratingly hard. While playing through 3 times, I died more times than i had done on Hardcore mode. The mix of tough enemies, lack of weapons and the annoyingly persistent collar bomb alarms leaves no impression to go back and replay it. While the reward is very substantial and very very 'rewarding' the player needs to have prior knowledge and expert timing if he wants to take back the treasures of the DLC; and while there is the inclusion of new weapons and armour, they are not very good. There are better items already in the Mojave and, even if you do want them, you need to take them with you, as you cant go back, nor can you buy the weapons from vendors.

Overall, buy the DLC, because while the gameplay and style is very difficult forthe Fallout-world, the back story is key as it will play a major role in the upcoming DLC's, 'Old World Blues' and 'Lonesome Road'. If you are not interested in the story and play fallout purely because of the game-play, or you want some new items, do not buy this.

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