fallout new vegas honest hearts cover

Look at the scars, Sansa!

Developer Obsidian Entertainment, Bethesda Softworks

Things You Might Like

  • Two very well-plotted additions to a game that could pass as an epic
  • Extremely well-designed atmosphere
  • All of the new companions that join you in your brief (or extended) excursions
  • The voice acting!
  • Seeing what’s up with Joshua Graham
  • The Sneering Imperialist perk

Things You Might Not Like

  • The glitches and bugs make their ugly reappearances
  • Waiting as the game tries to render a horde of angry tribals
  • All of the new issues that seem to crop up in the main game

All around, the first two packs for New Vegas make a superb showing when it comes to story and characters, but console owners beware: Obsidian and Bethesda care naught for your cries of ‘gltiched!’

5 out of 5 Screeching Ghost People

Aaron Simon


As you may remember, I was a pretty big fan of New Vegas. It got into my head in ways that many games hadn’t since WarCraft III, when I started having dreams about commanding armies of Orcs. (Sadly, I’m not joking about that.)

When I read about the new pack coming in the future, I started up a new character – the immortal, time-traveling Putz McGee – and worked him up to the mid-twenties before Dead Money came out for Playstation3.

I’d read some reviews about the add-on pack, and thankfully managed to avoid any spoilers. Well ‘thankfully.’ See, Dead Money is  pants-shittingly terrifying.

It begins, as many packs do for the Fallout universe, with your character following a Pre-War radio signal broadcast by an unknown source and promising an amazing gala event at a casino called the Sierra Madre. Presumably thinking about how many goodies there are in that place, you delightfully scamper along to the source of the broadcast, an abandoned Brotherhood of Steel bunker.

As you open the door, what should happen but you are rendered unconscious by a sudden rush of knockout gas pumped in through the vents of the bunker!

A Jabberwocky attacks a man from above

Callooh, callay! I've been gassed again!

Upon awakening, you find that you’ve been captured by a now-insane Father Elijah. (You may know the name from Veronica’s companion dialogue, mentioning that Elijah started growing estranged from the Brotherhood and disappeared one day.) The reason? He needs a group of people to break into the Sierra Madre Casino to steal the treasures therein.

And the plot thickens from there.

I’ll leave you to solve it yourselves, but let me tell you, it’s a very well-plotted add-on. The atmosphere is a fantastic blend of survival-horror, puzzle, and first-person shooter. The enemies are terrifying to the point where I had nightmares. (They’re a zombie cult of cannibals sealed up in otherworldly hazmat suits–which, if you have the capacity for fear, should be enough to make you jump every time you hear an ambient sound in the game.)

As you progress through the pack, you run into badies like the Ghost People, pictured below; holograms (yes, you have to fight holograms); and The Cloud, a ubiquitous, red, toxic cloud that’s good for nothing but ruining your day and wishing for the relative Suessian glee of the Mojave Wasteland.

A man with green glowing eyes

That which will haunt your dreams.

Much like New Vegas, there’s not much in the way of negatives for Dead Money. Exceptionally terrifying, yes, but that’s intentional, and it’s sure as hell effective. The bugs were slightly less infuriating than in New Vegas, so (for a time) I thought Obsidian had gotten their shit together on consoles, but, as I found out, they hadn’t.

Which brings me to Honest Hearts, the next add-on for New Vegas before Old World Blues coming out July 19th </plug>.

Honest Hearts is a complete one-eighty from Dead Money. You don’t get gassed at the onset of the add-on. Instead, you sign on with a trading caravan trying to reestablish ties with the city of New Canaan, the stronghold of the Mormons and the only bit of civilized towns (or so we can assume for now).

Upon reaching Zion National Park in Utah, your caravan is ambushed by a group of tribals from the White Legs, a group from the Great Salt Lake that are responsible for razing New Canaan to the ground.

You learn this from Follows-Chalk, a member of a tribe based in Zion National Park called the Dead Horses, who has been scouting the White Legs on the orders of his tribe’s leader, none other than the Burned Man, Joshua Graham.

After meeting with the man hunted down by Caesar’s Legion, you face the choice of deciding the future of two underdogs fighting for survival.

The tone, as I mentioned, is a complete 180 from Dead Money. While dangers abound – like the return of the Yao Guai – there aren’t any that seem like they should be in Dead Space instead of a futuristic-retro post-apocalyptic RPG.

Oh, and I should say something that is extremely amazing:

There is rain.

[Reviewer's note: I was going to embed a video of Evie from V For Vendetta saying God is in the rain" but YouTube has stymied me. So you're getting a melting Nazi.]

The first time you hear a clash of thunder in the distance, and then see the sky suddenly darken and then hear the gentle pittering of rain on the ground, you’ll be a bit confused. At least, I was.

See: New Vegas is set in a desert two centuries after a nuclear war changed the way the world’s environment worked. As such, you spend most of the game seeing only blue skies and dead of night. The appearance of something as real world-mundane as rain is jarring, but in a great way. It further drives you into the game’s world, and makes you realize how precious Zion is to not only the Dead Horse tribe, but to the remnants of humanity.

So, brilliantly played, Oblivion. You blew my mind with something incredibly simple. But, still guys, you have to figure out what makes my Playstaion3 freeze up every time you generate some enemies at the end of the add-on pack. Taking an hour to get through what should be a ten minute section of the game is inexcusable.

But, then again, you smart sons of bitches, you’ve made me love the game by plotting it so damn well and continuously creating companions I give a damn about.

So. Final verdict? Damn, damn good. Just… play it on PC so you can avoid ripping your hair out when the Playstation3 inevitably freezes up.


2 Responses to Dead Money (2010) & Honest Hearts (2011)

  1. Sonnykaminski1 says:

    every body stop complaining what if we didn’t have games like this one, so there’s a few flawes shut up!!!

    • Aaron Simon says:

      While agree that there’s a huge balance in favor of gameplay and story in the Fallout series–starting with 3, and continuing with New Vegas–it is infuriating that the developers can’t quite get a grasp on how to make a game that doesn’t freeze at pivotal points through the story. Old World blues, while awesome with voice acting, setting, aesthetics, and everything else, has some serious flaws. Freezing during autosaves, freezing during quick travel, loading new rooms, buildings, or spawning huge groups of nearly unbeatable enemies turns it into a slog rather than a fun experience. I didn’t mention that in this review because it didn’t seem that bad–but whatever Obsidian did to create OWB exacerbated the problems and turned the game into a huge headache. I stopped playing it a couple months ago. Killed me to not get to the end of the DLC, but then I remembered that Minecraft doesn’t freeze and, luckily, books don’t burst into flames when you open them.

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