by Ryan Sandrey
reviewed on PC
Being invited to the Cinema is usually an enjoyable perk of friendship. However, in Fallout: New Vegas’ latest add-on, Old World Blues, you don’t even need to have friends to get invited. Wandering around the Mojave Wasteland, minding your own business whilst casually interfering in that of others, a mysterious signal invites you to a drive-in cinema. The jazzy undercurrent to the message tells you that things are about to get funky. But does Old World Blues drop a funky bass-line, or just drop the bass on your toes?
For those not in the know, Old World Blues is the third of four announced add-ons for Obsidian Entertainment’s brilliant Fallout: New Vegas. While the first two were a decent effort they did feel as if they were lacking in some way, wasting the opportunity to utilize the unique areas such as Mount Zion National Park from the second add-on Honest Hearts. In Old World Blues however, we have little reason to complain.
I’ve got humour by the number
Reaching the Cinema, you stumble upon a crashed Satellite. Once it reaches about 11pm, it turns into a projector. Here begins your adventure into the Big Empty! No, not space, but the Big Mountain Research and Development Center. Here, scientists from all over the world congregated in order to build the future of mankind without any moral or technical constraints. Their research - consisting of all kinds of scientific and technological innovation - was housed in the Dome which suffered greatly in the aftermath of nuclear holocaust. With its original creators long dead, the futuristic world they had been building was left unattended and Big MT lies dormant. That is, of course, until the Courier arrives.
Subdued and pacified by whatever mysterious force carried you to Big MT, Old World Blues wastes no time in asserting to you the influences of so-called ‘B’ movies and Sci-Fi movies from the 50s and 60s. It peppers you with encounters with ludicrous and quirky characters, each with their own take on the movie characters of old. Along the way, The Courier, or a ‘lobotomite’ as the Doctors of The Dome call you, meets a cavalcade of quirky and ridiculous characters such as arguing robot doctors, talking toasters and needy light switches.
After the small revelation that your brain has been replaced by Tesla coils and your organs and spinal column removed, you eventually discover that your brain has been misplaced. Worse, it was possibly flushed all the way to the insane Dr Mobius in his dome-shaped dome in the Forbidden Zone. With Mobius spawning all kinds of evil, and the buried technologies out in the crater that are the only solution to ridding the Big MT of the horrors it is suffering from, the Doctors of the Dome task you with retrieving the schematics and technology in order to defeat Mobius. Armed with effective new weaponry, you set off to find the schematics and technology.
Though discouraged from wandering by the not-entirely persuasive Doctors, you would be a fool to not explore such a rich environment as Big MT. A vast expansive wasteland filled with Sci-fi equipment, such as a gun shaped like a dog that whines when you holster it and a Proton Axe that really puts the bang back into melee combat, offers plenty to help the diligent explorer. Just beware, with the level requirement being 15 or higher, the enemies can be tougher than any you’ll face in the Mojave (save for the Deathclaws and Yao Guai). However, with the level-cap being raised by 5 in this latest add-on, the Courier can level up very quickly provided he survives.
Perpetual Retrieval Vehicle
Amongst all the character, there are a few slight drawbacks. Nearly every quest is in the ‘go here, fetch this’ mould, which doesn’t add any variety to the game and can leave you feeling a bit unfulfilled. On the plus side, the game does encourage you to explore the vast and rich areas. Finding all of the holotapes to bring The Sink’s many insane robots and technologies to life is just one of the many rewards the game has to give to those that take the time to explore it.
Some of the stability issues that plagued so many people in New Vegas, finally reared its ugly head for me in this add-on. The worst of these was a frustrating crash that happened when initiating fast travel. These all sought not to dampen my experience as you might expect, but further make me realise how enjoyable Old World Blues is, in that I kept returning to play as much as I could in-between crashes when I usually lack the patience required for dealing with such bugs.
So the story soon pulled me back in, with its pure insanity and ability to cultivate the desire to find my brain. I found mine, and you’ll find yours too. Ending in typical Fallout style, the 12 or 13 hours you have spent in Big MT do not feel wasted and the add-on never feels rushed. With the ability to return to Big MT anytime after completion and the lure of places that lay unexplored calling you back, Old World Blueswill keep pulling you back in like a Tractor Beam, its colourful inhabitants and mysteries always there to greet you in your wait to hit the road in the next add-on, The Lonesome Road. After the last two add-ons fell short of the charm and quality of the main game, Old World Blues surpasses it in every single way, with only a few bugs and a handful of mundane quests preventing it from being absolutely perfect.
Well written, Charming Characters, Great Humour, Good Length, Brilliant new weapons and locations.
Annoying fast-travel crashes, a handful of mundane ‘fetch’ quests.