Published on July 30th, 2011 | by Ben Gray0
Review: Fallout New Vegas: Old World Blues
Summary: Ben takes a look at Fallout New Vegas: Old World Blues, is it any good? read the review to find out!
I think of myself as a very comparative person. When I play the sequel to a game, or watch a movie, or read a book, I can’t help but compare the item to its predecessor, or the author’s past work. In this particular case, I have been consistently comparing New Vegas’ post-release content to that of Fallout 3, and by the end of September I will make a judgement deciding who did the better job at additional content; Bethesda or Obsidian. Fallout 3, which was a game revived into a different genre (and it’s one of very few games that did it right), had five downloadable content after its release throughout 2009, some received well (Broken Steel, Point Lookout) others not so much (Mothership Zeta). Obsidian Entertainment released the first add-on for New Vegas, Dead Money, just two months after the game released, before going completely dark. It wasn’t until May, that we learnt of the developers plans for additional content; a five month hiatus that led many to trade the game in with the impression that the game had nothing left to offer, or should I say, the developers. But like many games with role-playing elements and quests to complete, fans will strive for more. Dead Money, Honest Hearts, and now we are onto the penultimate DLC for New Vegas, Old World Blues, and it has certainly left a lasting impression, having done everything the content has to offer. Let’s take a look.
Fallout content seems to take the same starting approach every time since Operation Anchorage’s release back in early 2009. Upon downloading the message you are greeted with a message, which could be in the form of an invitation, a broadcast, etc. Basically it’s a way to let players know that the content is there and ready to go. Now usually, a existing area in the Mojave Wasteland which was previously blocked off (supposedly with the prospect of add-on content in mind at the time of designing the wasteland) would suddenly be opened up for you to head to, which will take you to the location where the new quests are located. This time, however, a satellite appears to have crashed in front of the Mojave Drive-In; an area not so at the edge of the map or one just simply opened up mysteriously; a small but welcome change. When investigating the satellite, you are proposed with a message outlining the recommended requirements for the quests ahead, and answering questions that will be on any Fallout fan’s mind; can I return afterwards? Am I stripped of my equipment? This prompt is something that was absent from Fallout 3’s DLC and consequently stranded some players in areas too difficult for their skill level, or giving them the impression they could return and collect all the leftover loot once they’d done all the quests; when they were unaware that they couldn’t.
Back on track, when you investigate further you are magically teleported to the Big Empty, the expansive area where Old World Blues is set and like Zion National Park was, an explorer’s dream. However, (and this might just have been me missing something in the dialogue), how you were mysteriously teleported to the Big MT, and what that crashed satellite was is completely left unexplained throughout the add-on, which might not phase many, but it begs the question for me. I started this content with the mantra ‘Everything has a reason’, but by the time I’d sifted through conversations and audio logs, I had given up on that statement. Old World Blues is downright mysterious in every sense of the word, and those who have been following the intriguing side-plot of Ulysses that comes full circle in the final add-on, are about to get their minds played with. The plot of Old World Blues raises more questions than it does answers, and the shroud of mystery that swirls throughout every development made by the player is what makes this the most interesting plot in New Vegas yet.
You start off atop The Sink, which lies at the centre of the map, and also acts as a home base not just throughout the DLC, but if you wish to, for good. It also has a great view of the entire Big Empty too from all angles. I’ll talk a little more about that later, but below The Sink is the Think Tank, where five brains trapped inside floating contraptions with monitors sprouting off showing the images of eyes and a mouth have stolen your brain… well, had stolen, before the antagonist of the DLC Dr. Mobius nicked it and took it away to the Forbidden Zone, another giant dome at the edge of the map inaccessible until the end. The starting conversation with these five robots is a lengthy one, but one that sets the tone of the story. Humour is a key element in Old World Blues, and there’s more hilarity in this single questline than there is in New Vegas, and the previous two add-ons combined. Despite the fact you never talk to a living human being throughout the entire DLC, there is so much personality in each robot you meet, partially thanks to the brilliant voice acting that has brought these usually dull chunks of steel to life, and also to the downright craziness that has gone into developing these characters. At points during Old World Blues you will find yourself talking to two arguing light switches, a midget securitron that has an obsession for mugs, and my personal favourite, the talking toaster with the line “A toaster is just a death ray with a smaller power supply!”. The cast of characters make the story what it is, and will have you returning to the Big Empty again and again, even upon completion. Each one is so distinct in personality, that it makes each conversation different.
When sent on my way to explore the area and do some tasks, I was a little irritated to find that the quest structure is near identical to that of Honest Hearts; basically a bunch of fetch quests. However, Old World Blues does offer a significant number of quests to keep you busy longer than the previous add-on, which in hindsight does make up for it. The quests will basically take you to the four corners of the Big Empty (or four points I should say, given the fact that a circle doesn’t have corners) before ending on one final quest. Unfortunately, there were no stand-out missions for me, as they all felt the same. There’s a lot of fetching to be done, and the quests that put you in training scenarios get increasingly repetitive as it sends you through the same area four times. The only thing majorly diverse is during the final quest (which I will not detail for spoiler purposes). However, the quests themselves were not what interested me in this content. You see, if you actually listen to character dialogue, you can make a lot of links in this location through visual landmarks, audio logs and weapon placements. For instance, one of the characters mentioned an explosion that derailed one of the trains, and when you go out and explore, you will indeed find the train. There is also more mystery surrounding the character Ulysses (once again, spoilers) and you’ll be rewarded with more insight if you do the extra exploring the Fallout fan does.
Speaking of exploration, the Big Empty is certainly an interesting place to explore. The colour palette still remains fairly grey and dull in comparison to the colourful browns and oranges of Honest Hearts’ Zion National Park, but the technological themes of the area bring out a host of bright neon blues. Technology plays a key part in Old World Blues, as shown by the new weapons and apparel on offer, consisting of energy weapons that really do pack a punch. A personal favourite of mine is the LAER, which will replace the Laser Rifle for many wasteland wanderers. The Stealth Suit has an artificial intelligence similar to Halo’s Cortana and the suit will automatically apply Med-X and Stimpaks when in need, as well as make you aware of enemy presence. If you’re too easily annoyed by a robotic voice trying to interact with you, you’re out of luck, there’s no mute button. As expected, the enemies mostly consist of the robotic types; Robo-Scorpions, Securitrons and all that, but expect to see a lot of Nightstalkers and the Lobotomite experiments wondering around – there’s a LOT of them. The former can turn invisible at times, which led to me jumping out of my skin when exploring a seemingly abandoned lab.
Back to The Sink, which is an area which the player can use as a home base during and after the downloadable content ends. Also included are some kinks such as an Auto-Doc that can change your body parts, completely heal you and allow you to change your attributes too. The midget Securitron I mentioned earlier, Mugsy? Give him some mugs, he loves the mugs. There’s a talking vendor right in the centre of the sink where you can buy all sorts from ammo to weapons. All in all, The Sink is the ideal location for a adventurer. It has everything there is and you’ll rarely need to venture to other places to get something specific, as it’s all in one place. It’ll take you a while to transfer your loot to your new base, but it’s worth it in the long term. On that note, you can return to the Big Empty afterwards via a Transponder that sticks in your inventory and allows you to travel between the Mojave and the Big Empty at the push of a button. It’s pretty useful, but unfortunately won’t get you out of sticky situations in a flash; it can only be used outside where there are no enemies.
Old World Blues is by far the strongest expansion for Fallout New Vegas yet and will delight the regular wastelander with everything on offer. Some of the quests are weak, but the terrific voice acting and range of characters make the DLC stand out from the crowd.