by Liam Edwards
reviewed on X360
Sierra Madre where your dreams come true
Dead Money takes place within the Mojave wasteland. You are drawn towards an old Brotherhood of Steel bunker by a strange radio signal explaining the delights and joys of a casino named the Sierra Madre. You are invited to the gala opening of the casino and promised a very fruitful life and stay. What you don’t know is that this recording was recorded before the war that devastated the world and soon you are led into a trap. Within the abandoned bunker you are gassed and knocked unconscious, and it’s all downhill from there.
You wake up from your abrupt sleep to be confronted by the holographic face of Father Elijah. This is the man who knocked you out, and he tells you that if you don’t listen to him or comply with his wishes then he’s going to blow your head off. How, you ask? Well, the son-of-a-gun has gone and strapped a remote-controlled explosive collar to your neck.
He further explains to you that the Sierra Madre was going to be a thriving casino with many famous people being invited to the gala opening. But before they could kick the party off, bombs dropped and the world changed. But stories of a great treasure being hidden in the Sierra Madre casino have spread throughout the wasteland, with many treasure hunters and looters travelling to this isolated part of the wasteland in search of treasure. Father Elijah wants it and has spent years organising teams to get the treasure for him, but all attempts have failed in the past.
Do what I say, or suffer the consequences
You are stuck in a mix between the Saw movies and the Japanese film Battle Royale. You have to do what you’re told or you die. The first task you are given by Father Elijah is to recruit a team. Naturally Father Elijah has already decided who will be in your team and you have to go find them. You are stripped of all your possessions from your main game save and you are given a holorifle and 3 stimpacks to go. The other members who are chosen are just as unfortunate as you are with having being introduced to similar explosive collars. All four of your collars are ready to explode if you one of you dies. If one goes off they all go off. Seems like a nice gameplay mechanic on paper, but after a while you will tire of the constant sudden explosions of your head while walking casually along.
As you are released by Father Elijah into the village at the bottom of the Sierra Madre the first thing you notice is that the surrounding area is covered with red mist. Everything is very bleak and empty. Copy and paste is what seems to be the name of the game in the village, with every building looking the same. The whole environment is a reddish purple that isn’t easy on the eyes. Admittedly the Fallout engine is dated, but the colour in Dead Money’s environment is pretty poor.
Some sections of the village have built up clusters of the red mist and these sections are dangerous and deadly. Navigating through the villas is difficult with hazards and traps being laid down around the area. Think of the most dangerous area you have encountered on your travels across the wasteland, and how on edge you were while walking through. This is what Dead Money is like all the way through; it keeps you on your toes and is one of the deadliest areas you will come across in the Fallout universe.
Excellent dialogue and characters. A very well written and in depth story.
Empty surroundings, lack-lustre gameplay and sometimes quite difficult.