Fallout: New Vegas Review

Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition was released on February 7, 2012, mainly flying under my radar until I was curious enough to see if there was a Game of the Year Edition for it when I was fondly reminiscing about how much fun I had with Fallout 3: GOTY. After I bought the game, I regretted not ever finishing my first playthrough because, once I sat down and put in some effort, Fallout: New Vegas was still a fun time. Although I was thrown off by how much lighter in tone it was than its predecessor, as Fallout 3 has a very epic vibe and New Vegas is more a western with a sense of humor, it grew on me. With a great cast to bring life to the characters, and some gameplay that actually improves on the Fallout formula, it makes me incredibly happy that an Ultimate Edition was released so that I could also play the downloadable content! What made this an instant buy was also the decreased pricing, coming in at only $50 for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, and $40 for the PC! What a steal! So with this review, I’m going to split it up into two parts: the main game, and the downloadable content. That way, I can provide an in-depth analysis on each part without really missing anything!

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Disc One: The Main Game

War. War never changes. In October of 2077, after a long and desperate struggle between the United States and China for supremacy, the bombs drop. Wiping out all of civilization, the remains of mankind, who were sealed in Vaults, emerged out into the brave new world and attempted to rebuild. Introduced to mutated creatures to coexist with, namely Super Mutants, created by the Forced Evolutionary Virus, and Ghouls, humans who have been turned into sentient zombies by radiation, mankind faces new struggles to carry on. In Fallout: New Vegas, hundreds of years after the war, you play the Courier who was meant to make a delivery to New Vegas. However, three thugs, led by their leader Benny (Matthew Perry), capture you and shoot you between the eyes, and steal the package you were responsible for. Miraculously, you are alive, and after being dug up by Victor the Robot (William Sadler) and healed up by the doctor of the small town of Goodsprings, you set out into the Mojave Wasteland. An unforgiving and barren place, made more inhospitable after the nuclear holocaust, the Courier wanders to find Benny, and steal back the valuable cargo. However, you soon find yourself in the dead center of a bitter war between the New California Republic (the N.C.R.), and Caesar’s Legion, a massive empire from the East who seeks to engulf all it sees with violent brutality. Stuck with a choice to make, the Courier either has to choose to help either these two factions in controlling New Vegas, or help the city’s mysterious ruler, Mr. House, keep control. War. War never changes.

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An N.C.R. Trooper

There have been few RPGs that have really taken my attention and ran with it, the first being Final Fantasy IX and only others being Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. While, on my first playthrough, I did not really like Fallout: New Vegas, my second playthrough helped me understand what I was missing the first time. While I raced through the main story the first time I played New Vegas, there is just so much more to do that you can spend hundreds of hours completing everything. Obviously there are side-quests involved, such as helping out different settlements that you run into along the way, but there are also quests that you can complete for the multiple factions (the N.C.R., Caesar’s Legion, Mr. House, or even Yes-Man, a robot who ensures your complete control). Depending on who you side with, you can help your faction of choice amass forces that will help out in the final confrontation at the end of the game. Not only this, but when you run into different followers, you can even complete missions for them, ensuring the best possible ending by the end of the game. For example, you can help your follower Raul Tejada (Danny Trejo) find purpose in his old age, helping him deal with the guilt of what he has done in the past. Since there are eight companions you can have throughout the game, you will be kept plenty busy if you choose to help them all! Helping some might even benefit you when the final battle comes, so it feels like your actions have more weight to them than in Fallout 3, where your companions really just followed you without having their own side-quests to complete. With the Mojave Wasteland being so huge and expansive, there are also plenty of locations to explore, so you’ll never really be bored!

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The companions.

Of course, what really makes New Vegas shine is its story. What good would an RPG be without one? While the beginning of the game can be a little slow, mirroring the basic premise of a classic western where a mysterious lawman helps a small town fight off a band of outlaws, the need to hunt down your would-be assailant fuels your desire to get to New Vegas and find retribution. Along the way, you’ll run into a slew of interesting characters and towns where you are asked to help them with their current plight. For example, the town of Primm is plagued by prisoners who escaped the maximum-security prison and kidnapped the deputy after killing the sheriff. While the N.C.R. is nearby, they are plagued by an inefficient bureaucracy, so they can’t help Primm with its dilemma. Thus, it is up to you to restore peace. What I especially like about New Vegas is the amount of options you can have in completing a quest. You can choose to skip Primm entirely, but once you deal with the criminals, you can either have N.C.R. protect the town and its people, reprogram a robot to become the sheriff, or even enlist the cowardly deputy to become the new lawman. Once you get involved with the factional warfare, after you deal with Benny, the story continues to escalate and get more intense until it reaches its ultimate conclusion, and whatever action you take affects who wins, and how (take THAT, Mass Effect!). To help make the story deeper with its choice system, you are provided with Karma; depending on if you decide to be a good or bad guy, the story changes, and characters’ attitudes change depending on how you treat them. A Reputation System has also been placed in the game to spice things up a bit, so you can’t just go around shooting everyone – while this feature was absent in Fallout 3, Obsidian Entertainment made New Vegas more ‘realistic’ in terms of how you interact with people. For example, if you kill numerous Caesar’s Legionnaires, you gain infamy with their group. Thus, you cannot have good relations with a group that hates you (duh). With this deep system of Karma and Reputation in place, it helps the story become more three-dimensional because how you interact with other people changes the conclusion of the game’s story. With that, I can only say that this helps Fallout: New Vegas become all that much more immersive!

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Caesar’s Legion

If you are familiar with the game mechanics present in Fallout 3, then you may be mostly familiar with how to play Fallout: New Vegas; presented as a first-person RPG, much like Bethesda’s main series The Elder ScrollsFallout: New Vegas emphasizes on going and completing quests for numerous people, culminating in the final confrontation at Hoover Dam between Caesar’s Legion and the N.C.R. The types of missions don’t get dull because they vary from simply either collecting things, or going to kill somebody. Granted, while these two types of missions are present amongst many others, what you do depends on how you want to complete a mission. For example, do you want to get rid of the leader of Raiders by simply going in with guns ablazing and kill him, or do you want to diplomatically pay him off to leave the N.C.R. alone, and take his hat as ‘proof’ of his assassination? The writers for Fallout: New Vegas did a stellar job with crafting a game where you can play the kind of character you want to be, as opposed to just a single protagonist who is the same for everybody (Commander Sheppard, Geralt of Rivia, etc.). For example, I’m a bit of a hippie so I chose the peaceful way out of situations, whereas I’ve been watching my girlfriend play, and seeing her choose different options leads to different outcomes for a mission. The Character Creation system is also in-depth, about as deep as The Elder Scrolls outside of choosing other types of race (such as Ghouls or Super Mutants – you are only stuck with humans). You can manipulate their appearances, choose their S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Attributes (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, Luck), and choose special perks your character can use that helps them in their quest for vengeance! You can customize your character to look like anything, so to emphasize once again, you have a huge amount of freedom to role play as whomever you want!

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The character creation system at the very beginning of the game.

The battle system is also well-made, and although New Vegas may be reminiscent of a First-Person Shooter (aka the creatively bankrupt gaming genre), it is spiced up with the chance-based V.A.T.S. system; whereas a battle is normally in real-time, you can freeze the battle and target a specific spot on an enemy’s body for more devastating effects. Each limb will show a specific percentage which will tell you how much of a chance you have of hitting the limb. This adds a flavor of chance to the game, and it makes combat more interesting. Combat is not very difficult, but it isn’t where you can go “HERP DERP I SHOOT THINGS” – you need to think about what you’re fighting against, and what kind of weapon you are using. For example, say you are fighting an armored Legionnaire – with your sniper rifle, you may want to use the armor piercing bullets first to wear down his armor, and then use regular bullets to blow him away for a short fight. If you just use regular bullets, or hollow-point bullets, on him instead, you might be in for a more difficult time. There is a strategy that goes into the combat in New Vegas, so you have to use your brain. After all, this ain’t Call of Battlefield: Reach. The variety of enemies is also fantastic, Obsidian providing a huge host of baddies: in addition to fighting otherwise peaceful races, like humans, Ghouls and Super Mutants (and their special variation, Nightkin), you also face off against many wild creatures, like Feral Ghouls (ghouls whose brains deteriorated), Deathclaws (the hardest enemy in the game), Cazadores (giant mutant wasps), Nightstalkers (hybrids between coyotes and rattlesnakes), giant ants, mutant molerats, and robots, like the Protectrons (an homage to Robbie the Robot from Forbidden Planet), Sentry Bots, and Mr. Handys. The selection of enemies never gets boring, so they also keep the combat nice and varied. The one thing I would complain about is that once you reach a high level, and have enough Stimpacks (healing items), your character could very easily become overpowered, and that takes the challenge out of things. For instance, I walked into the camp of Caesar’s Legion one day because I was bored, and I managed to wipe every single enemy out. I even killed Caesar himself (don’t worry, there is someone else to take his place if you do this before the climactic battle at Hoover Dam). For being a huge threat to the freedom of the land, if a courier could take out Caesar single-handedly then the strength of the N.C.R. is really put into question. With that said, the combat is insanely fun, but there is the issue of over-powered characters if you level up high enough.

(The V.A.T.S. System is the same in New Vegas as in Fallout 3).

One thing I absolutely adore above all else in Fallout: New Vegas is its soundtrack. Throughout your travels, you can listen to several different radio stations that are transmitted throughout the Wasteland, each of them playing a chosen selection of licensed music from the 1930’s – 1960’s. Given the geographical location of the Mojave Desert in the West, and the fact that the Fallout universe has a faux 1950’s feel to it, most of the songs featured are either jazz or country/western songs. This adds a lot of charm and life to the game, giving it a personality that makes you feel like you are really in the Mojave. I always have a radio station playing, and I’ve often caught myself singing an Ink Spots song outside of playing the game. Artists who make appearances here include The Ink Spots, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra. The radio stations that play the music also have personalities of their own, and the hosts of these programs are often enough of a reason to tune in. For example, the Black Mountain Radio Station has a psychotic Nightkin named Tabitha and a robot named Rhonda ranting all day about how awesome Super Mutants are, and often threatening their captive ghoul repairman Raul with death (failing to live up to this promise). Mr. New Vegas is a personal favorite radio DJ of mine, simply because he is voiced by the actual Mr. Las Vegas himself, Wayne Newton!

“Ain’t That A Kick In The Head” – Dean Martin

Wayne Newton as Mr. New Vegas – 1:14-1:42

In addition to creating their own score for the game, such as the mandatory battle music and ambient wandering soundtrack for when you travel the wasteland, Obsidian even produced its own musical tracks for the game’s fictional characters. For example, in the Dead Money DLC the fictional character Vera Keyes has a recorded track that plays on the radio frequencies, “Begin Again.” The lead designer of the game, J.E. Sawyer, also recorded some tracks as a character involved one of the side missions where you need to find some talent for one of the casinos on the strip. Some of these songs include “Home on the Wastes” and “Streets of New Reno.” In my opinion, these studio-produced tracks aren’t nearly as good as the licensed music, but that is understandable given the circumstances. Still, these songs suit their purpose, and for being very minor parts of Fallout: New Vegas, they are much better than they could have been if in the hands of a lazy studio. Overall, the sound design for Fallout: New Vegas is really good, as the inclusion of licensed music adds to the game’s quirky personality by adding some period-appropriate songs. The score for the game is also well-done and serves its purpose. Finally, even though the studio-produced songs for the characters aren’t that great, they could have been a lot worse and still serve their purpose to the quests that they are made for.

“Home on the Wastes”

The last thing of note to talk about is the graphics, which runs off of the same engine as Fallout 3, made two years earlier than New Vegas. Although this is not a bad thing, as the graphics are incredibly detailed in Fallout 3 and still hold up in 2012, some of the details don’t look so polished to me. Granted, I do not mean unpolished to the point of looking shitty like in Duke Nukem Forever, but some of the skin textures for the people don’t look as dirty and grimy as in Fallout 3. Instead, the skin tone is a bit too… clean. This may be because of the setting in New Vegas, where people have to be more presentable, so take this criticism with a pile of salt (namely because graphics don’t matter too much). However, there are some graphical glitches present in the game that may piss some people off. For instance, characters may get stuck in the landscape (this happens a lot to poor radscorpions), exploded body parts may be dangling in mid-air, or items randomly ‘wiggling and jiggling’ in place for no good reason. However, while these may be minor glitches, I have also heard reports of game-ending glitches that forced people to load saves or even start their games over, although these have either not happened to me, or have been patched by the time I got hold of the Ultimate Edition. While people do complain about the glitches, I have to stress that with Bethesda games, they usually create huge, open landscapes with plenty of NPCs and locations to give the processor a good workout. Because of that, there may be a few glitches that they didn’t get to by the time the game was released simply because the game is so big. Granted, they should have done some patchwork for the more serious bugs, but I have heard that they have been fixed for the most part.

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Disc Two: The Downloadable Content

Dead Money:

This was the first of the Fallout New Vegas DLC that was released in December of 2010 for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC and developed by Obsidian Entertainment. While Fallout: New Vegas, as a whole, has a very lighthearted feel to it and isn’t afraid to add moments of levity to otherwise heavier situations, Dead Money has an extreme shift in tone, making it the darkest of the DLCs. The Courier is kidnapped by a mysterious figure only known as Father Elijah, and has a bomb collar attached to his neck. You, along with three other people who were kidnapped, must team together to pull off the biggest heist of the centuries. However, the resort that Father Elijah is sending you into, the Sierra Madre, is literally the city of the damned; not only does the Courier have to face off against invincible hologram security systems, but he also has to face off against the Ghost People, a breed of mutants who can only be killed by having their limbs severed, and the Cloud, an incredibly toxic gas that can kill within a minute. Welcome to Hell. For me, the story in this DLC was incredibly enjoyable because not only do the other characters you meet play very unique roles to the story, but they also grip your heart at moments. For example, you run into the Nightkin Dog, who has two personalities fighting for dominance in the same body, the ghoul/ex-celebrity Dean Domino, who has been waiting for two hundred years since the war to pull off a heist of his own, and Christine, a woman who was trapped in a machine that ripped her vocal chords out while she was tasked to kill Elijah. The character evolution that occurs in this DLC is very dependent on how you treat them during your initial encounter, and subsequent conversations; they can become hostile to you, and a major point in the story that occurs later changes depending on how you played (again, take THAT, Mass Effect 3). The payoff to the story is also great when you finally face off against Father Elijah, and even with all of the grief you go through to get to that conclusion, it is worthwhile!

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Welcome to Hell.

Before you attempt this DLC, however, let me make one thing very clear: when I say Welcome to Hell, I am not exaggerating. Out of all of the Fallout: New Vegas DLCs I have played, Dead Money was initially the least enjoyable. There has been a common complaint had by many people who played Dead Money: it is needlessly difficult, and incredibly frustrating. Before you guys go racing to the comments going “UR STUPID YOU NO LIEK CHALLENGES,” let me explain. Throughout your journeys in the Sierra Madre Villa, you will find out very quickly that unless you are very observant, quick on your feet, and strategic, you will be retrying a lot of sections over and over again. Not only do you have the toxic gas to deal with, which appears in clouds in certain spots that you have to run through (it saps your health very quickly), but you also have to a) deal with booby traps set all over the place (such as bear traps, explosives, and construction girders that come out of nowhere and smack you), b) Ghost People, enemies who can only be killed by dismembering them, and c) radios and speakers that are scattered all over the place, being especially dangerous since they somehow mess with the frequency in your bomb collar, setting it off if you stay too close to a radio for too long. This last part is especially frustrating because if you have no idea where to look, radios and speakers can be hard to find. Simply put, you will have to retry several times until you can find and destroy or deactivate radios so you can progress in some parts of the game.

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Father Elijah, a dick.

While in the other DLCs, you can take your weapons with you, and you usually pay with caps (that’s a no-brainer, right?), Dead Money takes both of those away from you. Instead of kicking some ass with your chosen arsenal of ass-kicking, Dead Money instead makes you fight with lousy weapons that are barely effective against the Ghost People, such as the ‘fantastic’ Knife Spear or 9mm Pistol. The only weapons that appear to be worth a damn are the Holorifle and Police Pistol, and even the former is worthless when it comes to dismembering Ghost People effectively. You also need to scrounge for Sierra Madre chips and purchase items from vending machines scattered throughout the land, but the problem with this is that you need to effectively scrounge for chips in order to get vital things like Stimpacks or healing items. However, you can’t even buy most things until you find codes to unlock them throughout the town, so you are screwed until you find codes for the most effective items, such as the Stimpacks and Med-X. What I do like is that you can exchange cigarettes and clothes for Sierra Madre chips, but that doesn’t really help if you tend to have a hard time fighting the Ghost People. Needless to say, I experienced extreme frustration with all of these factors while playing through the Villa section of the Dead Money DLC, where the Ghost People, cloud, and traps are most prevalent, because it is a bunch of mindless gunning-and-running. However, once I got into the Sierra Madre hotel/casino itself, there was more thinking involved, so while the first half of this DLC was mindlessly frustrating, you actually had to use your brain in the second part of the heist. I appreciate that, since there were far less Ghost People and more hologram security guards that you had to intelligently manoeuver around (since they are invincible enemies). Thus, once you go into the casino and have to find your way down to the vault, all the while rescuing or killing your teammates, Dead Money gets infinitely better.

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A Ghost Trapper, a variant of Ghost People

All in all, when I first played Dead Money, I thought it was the least enjoyable of the DLCs that arrived for Fallout: New Vegas. I was even about to go as far as to suggest that if you got it with the Ultimate Edition, I would have said either play this one first to get it out of the way, or avoid it altogether. However, as I played through it again,  even with the hard-core challenge, you might enjoy Dead Money, if not for the story. Sadly, the story may not be enough for some to make up for the extreme and unnecessary difficulty, so depending on what you like in your game, you might either enjoy or hate Dead Money.

Honest Hearts:

Released as the second round of DLC on May 17, 2011, Honest Hearts was developed by Obsidian Entertainment for Fallout: New Vegas. The Courier, being called by a mysterious radio broadcast,  joins the Happy Trails Caravan to take some supplies to New Canaan, a settlement that lies beyond the Mojave Wasteland. Unfortunately, upon your arrival, the entire caravan is slaughtered by the White Legs, a bunch of tribals out for blood. Fortunately for you, the Dead Horse Tribe comes to the rescue, with their mysterious leader Joshua Graham (aka “The Burnt Man”) helping you along the way as he also works out his dark past as a Legion Legate. Now, faced with a struggle for survival, you must help the Dead Horse and Sorrow Tribes survive against the White Legs, who are seeking to join the Legion by wiping out these two peaceful tribes.Honest Hearts is an interesting DLC because, like the others, it does something new that differentiates it from the rest; the landscape of Zion is absolutely stunning to behold, the time and effort put into the details simply amazing! I believe this was due to the fact that it was based on an actual national park that lead designer J.E. Sawyer loves to frequent. What makes Honest Hearts especially unique is the fact that it is the only landscape in the entire Fallout series to feature rain! As with the Point Lookout(Fallout 3) and Old World Blues dlc, Honest Hearts is more an open world expansion instead of a straight-forward linear add-on, so there is much more to do aside from the main quest. For instance, ever wonder what it is like to wander through canyons while on some trippy drugs, and then fight a fiery ghost bear? Strangely specific I know, but you get my point – you don’t have to stick to the main mission, and you can go around and explore whatever you want! There is also a neat host of unique items in this region, and you get to take quite a few of them home with you after you wrap things up!

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The beautiful world of Zion!

What was also neat about Honest Hearts was how different it was from the rest of New Vegas in terms of characters and the type of civilization you run into; while the stories of Dead MoneyOld World Blues, and Lonesome Road actually all tie into each other, setting up the confrontation between the Courier and Ulysses, this particular add-on doesn’t have a strong tie to the rest of the game. Instead, you are an intermediary between warring tribes, the murderous White Legs, the peaceful but war-loving Dead Horses, and the peaceful Sorrows. The story is simpler in scope, but I feel that this is never a bad thing simply because it makes Honest Hearts a refreshing experience. Whereas other quests in Fallout: New Vegas are a little more black-and-white, the characters in Honest Hearts ask you to take different paths to resolving the conflict between the tribes. Do you ask the Dead Horses and Sorrows to evacuate Zion and allow the White Legs to have their way, or do you form alliances between them and wage war on the invading marauders? The choices you make don’t ensure a completely happy ending, but the grey moral area makes for a very compelling set of quests. The characters are also compelling in their own right, particularly Joshua Graham. Joshua used to be a Mormon missionary before he cofounded Caesar’s Legion, and when he failed to lead them to victory at Hoover Dam, Caesar ordered him to be lit on fire and thrown into the Grand Canyon. Understandably, while Joshua was meant to die, he is still very much alive. There is actually build-up to Joshua’s appearance throughout the main game, as numerous people speak about the legend of the ‘Burned Man,’ and various Legionaries are forbidden from ever mentioning Joshua’s name. Even though Joshua used to be a Legionnaire, and even though he was infamous for his violence, he still makes a compelling character because he tries to find redemption for his past acts. Acting as the chief of the Dead Horse Tribe, all he wants to do is ensure their peace, and even though he still has a violent tinge to him, he is a very likable character who only has the best interests of the people in mind. By the end of the DLC you can choose to help lead him down a path to peace and redemption, and this makes the conclusion of Honest Hearts that much better. Other characters also give this DLC more personality, like Follows-Chalk, who is extremely curious about the Old World and violates the Dead Horse Tribe’s taboos to learn more about how the world used to be, and Daniel, another Mormon missionary who looks after the Sorrows and fears for their safety, even going so far as to ask the Courier not to teach them how to fight if that means they won’t get hurt.

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The man himself, Joshua Graham

If there is one thing that I have to say that is negative about Honest Hearts is that while the other three add-ons add a healthy dose of challenge to their enemies, with Dead Money’s Ghost People, Old World Blues’ lobotomites, and Lonesome Road’s deathclaws and Marked Men, Zion is not an inhospitable place. Sure, the White Legs have powerful gear, and can be difficult to take out, but there are few of them in posted battles, and the other enemies present aren’t very tough (it may have been that I had my most powerful guns at this point, but even with the Anti-Material Rifle in Old World Blues and Lonesome Road, I had difficulty taking out those enemies while the White Legs and Yao-Guais, the mutant bears, weren’t too difficult). Overall, Honest Hearts is a great DLC because it takes a break from the overarching story, and it mixes things up with its own tale of redemption and grey areas of morality. The people you meet are compelling, and the story is really good! The only complaint I would have with this DLC is the easiness of enemies, but aside from that this is one not to miss!

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Follows-Chalk

Old World Blues:

Released as the third DLC on July 19, 2011, Old World Blues takes place in the Big MT, where the Courier has been abducted and lobotomized by strange brains in robot bodies, collectively known as the Think Tank. The Think Tank, who used to be human scientists working on innovations before the Great War, now conduct strange and cruel experiments on whatever they can lay their not-hands on. However, when a rouge Think Tank member, Dr. Mobius, threatens to destroy the others, they send you to deal with him and his army of roboscorpions! Now, one of the things that is instantly noticeable about Old World Blues is that it veers off in the complete opposite direction from Dead Money in all aspects; whereas the first DLC had a very linear progression in its story, Old World Blues has a huge world to explore, following the design ofFallout: New Vegas by providing the player with plenty of areas to explore, and plenty of weapons to find and enemies to kill! Generally, a problem that I have with DLCs forFallout 3 and New Vegas is that although some of them are very engaging, like Operation Anchorage from Fallout 3, they are also incredibly linear, so you have a set and direct path to follow until the very end without deviation. However, as was the case with Point Lookout in Fallout 3, Old World Blues gives you a giant world to explore, and there are plenty of side-missions to complete as well! By far the most expansive of the DLCs, this add-on has a huge map of destinations; you can go anywhere from the abandoned mines of the Forbidden Zone, the Cuckoo’s Nest (a hive of lobotomites), or even old medical laboratories that were used to test splicing different creatures together!

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The Old World Blues map – for frame of reference, the orb in the middle is a huuuge building in itself. Prepare for a lot of exploration.

The best thing about Old World Blues that separates it from the rest of the New Vegas experience is how light-hearted it is; whereas DLCs like Dead Money had a Silent Hillvibe to it, and Lonesome Road had a Fallout 3 feel, this add-on feels very much like a 1950’s B-movie. There are numerous references to old cult classics like Forbidden Planet, like the name of the villain Dr. Mobius and his fortress The Forbidden Zone, Invasion of the Body Snatchers with the inclusion of plant people, and even Plan 9 From Outer Space. To fit its lightheartedness, the cast of characters are also hilarious, the Think Tank and the Sink Appliances being the best part of the whole experience. The Think Tank have their own unique(ly insane) personalities, which can lead to some funny moments like the robotic brains referring to your toes and fingers as “penises” (since the doctors haven’t been human for a very, VERY long time). For example, Dr. Borous, the genetic specialist, has a long-held grudge against his tormentors from high school, and sounds like a dramatic announcer from an old serial series like Flash Gordon. The Sink Appliances, machines and robots with implanted personality chips, also provide a great laugh with a great cast of varied personalities. For instance, there is a neurotic little robot named Muggy who compulsively collects coffee cups because he was programmed that way (as a “fucking JOKE”, as he puts it). The whole vibe of this DLC is what made it especially enjoyable, and it definitely mixed things up quite nicely in an otherwise serious game.

Notable quotes: “You will never survive my deadly robo-scorpions, technological terrors and, uh, um… BIGGER, more ATOMIC versions of these things!” – Dr. Mobius

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Muggy, the tiny, slightly psychotic robot.

However, one complaint I did have with Old World Blues was that while it was very enjoyable, the enemies were overwhelming at times. Often, you will find Nightstalkers, Cazadores, lobotomites (unfortunate humans captured by the Think Tank and lobotomized), various robots, and robo-scorpions chasing you down, and when you have limited ammo you will die time and time again. The best method to deal with them is either learn when to run, or carefully take them out from a distance. While it may seem that a bunch of brainless idiots couldn’t hurt you, lobotomites often travel in groups, and they can gang up on you pretty quickly. I found this annoying at times, especially when robo-scorpions ended up coming out of nowhere and raping my ass after I completed a major mission. This complaint is minor because unlike Dead Money and its goddamn Ghost People, the difficulty isn’t overwhelming, so once you learn how to either avoid groups of enemies, or take them out, you shouldn’t have that much of an issue.

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The Think Tank

Overall, Old World Blues was probably my favorite downloadable content featured in the New Vegas Ultimate Edition because although the enemies were somewhat difficult, the lighthearted tone and hilarious cast of characters put it above the rest in terms of quality and pure enjoyment. Combine this with an expansive world to explore that only rivals Honest Hearts, and you will have yourself a very good time!

The Lonesome Road:

The final DLC for Fallout: New VegasLonesome Road was released for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PC on September 20, 2011 by Obsidian Entertainment. The story comes to a close for the Courier as he receives a mysterious broadcast from an unknown voice, telling him to travel to a place known only as The Divide. A hellish world torn apart by earthquakes, storms, and atomic explosions from numerous warheads, and inhabited by murderous mutants and special, ghoulified N.C.R. soldiers and Legionnaires, the Courier must find a man only known as Ulysses, who wants to unravel a tale of death and destruction… brought upon by your actions. All of the other DLCs’ stories make allusions to Ulysses as he travels from place to place, meeting the different main characters and changing their life in some way. The endings of these expansions also talk about the confrontation of Ulysses and the Courier at ‘the end of the world,’ so there is a build-up to the events in Lonesome Road when you play the game. I find that really neat simply because it adds to the depth of Fallout: New Vegas‘ story. Speaking of which, the story is the strongest aspect of Lonesome Road; during your travels throughout the Divide, you will meet a companion named ED-E, a little robot who had to escape the labs where he was made. As you travel with him, he will tell you his sad story, so you will get to learn a little more about him. ED-E is easily the neatest thing about the story simply because he is a great character – even though he communicates in beeps (what he says is explained in your dialogue options), the designers made the little guy really expressive, happily bobbing in the air, shaking in fear, or even ‘coyly’ beeping. I actually got to establish a connection with ED-E in ways I didn’t think I would, and by the end his impact on the story only made me fall in love with him even more! The main meat of the story also comes from interactions with Ulysses via his use of ED-E as a sort of speaker, unfolding the mystery of the Divide and its inhabitants with conversations that you have throughout the DLC. Even though most of the story is expository, it is also deeply involving because Ulysses challenges your characters’ convictions, your alliance with the N.C.R. or Legion notwithstanding. I’d like to not give too much on the story away, but Lonesome Road has one of the strongest stories of the pack of downloadable content!

The one thing I can find to really complain about with Lonesome Road is that it is far too linear; reminiscent of Fallout 3 expansions like Operation Anchorage or Mothership Zeta, this DLC has you mainly running from one point to another in tracking down Ulysses. Unlike Point Lookout (Fallout 3) or Old World BluesLonesome Road does not really have much else to do aside from the main quest. You can get achievements for finding all of ED-E’s upgrades, upgrades for the Red Glare and Shoulder Mounted Machine Gun, and for detonating all 30 atomic bombs lying scattered around, but other than that the object of the game is fairly straight-forward and does not leave much room for exploration. As a result, while the new weapons offered are really awesome (namely the aforementioned Red Glare, a rapid-fire rocket launcher, and the Shoulder Mounted Machine Gun), the gameplay is very much like a first person shooter instead of an RPG that you would be expecting. This doesn’t make Lonesome Road awful, but it just makes the gameplay feel a bit shallow. At this point, I would also be complaining about how hard the enemies are, but the game recommends that the player be a high level before attempting it. Speaking of enemies, you get to encounter four enemies in the Divide, half of which are completely new: in addition to Sentry Bots and Deathclaws, you run into Tunnelers, the mutated residents of Hopeville that are extremely powerful when in packs (they can take down Deathclaws fairly easily, as can be seen when you first run into these beasts), and Marked Men, a special type of ghouls who were flayed by the constant storms but were kept alive by the ludicrous amounts of radiation present in the atmosphere. These guys may be hard as hell to fight, but the difficulty of this DLC is very well-warranted (unlike with Dead Money and those damn Ghost People).

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Tunnelers, scary sons of bitches.

In summation, Lonesome Road is one of those kinds of experiences that are hard to express in words mainly because of the impact the story has on your character – you learn so much about your past (before you got a bullet to the brain and forgot it), and it enriches the mythology of the game as a whole. Although the gameplay was weak compared to the others, namely due to the linearity and first person-shooterness, it is still really fulfilling. If anything, I suggest that you save this expansion for last, but definitely give it a play regardless.

The Final Verdict:

Even though, in my very first playthrough of Fallout: New Vegas, I found it to be less than thrilling, that was because I didn’t really give it the chance to wow me, and I didn’t really explore all that could be explored. However, when I decided to pick up the Ultimate Edition and actually play it in an in-depth way, I slapped myself hard because I missed out on a great experience. While Fallout 3 has a nearer and dearer place to my heart, New Vegas has actually gained some major points in my book for not only being a really fun game, but having the in-depth story it does, having a load of quests to do, having the goofy and light-hearted feel that makes it an enjoyable romp, and by keeping to the mythology that the previous four games previously established. The expansion packs/DLCs also add to the experience because although each of them may have their own separate hang-ups, they are all really good in the end, especially with their own stories, host of characters, and unique qualities that separate them from the rest. Please do yourself a favor and give Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition a try, because you won’t regret a single moment!

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Kenny

Born in the stomach of a whale in a small fishing town in Antarctica, Kenny knew that his life mission would be to end world hunger, save Tibet, and finally learn how to dougie. Instead, he ended up studying law and writing the "Food For Thought" article series for CheshireCatStudios.com. One day, he hopes to become President of Brazil and blow up the moon.

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