Dead Money is the first DLC expansion for the hugely popular but insanely broken Fallout: New Vegas. Released last month for Xbox,Dead Money not only adds a very large quest in an entirely new area, but raises the level cap to 35 and comes hot on the heels of a major update that promises to fix many of the bugs which caused this reviewer to dock a full star off our review score, and consider not considering the game for The Escapist's Game of the Year award.
Before jumping into the overview of Dead Money, I wanted to mention that the update (patch) actually did fix a great many bugs in Fallout: New Vegas, which is both good and bad. Good in that those bugs are now gone, of course, but bad in that there were so, so many of them needing to be quashed. Seriously, a game that incredibly broken in so many ways (up to and including averaging one hard lock crash per ten hours of play) should not have been released without a "Beta" sticker. In any event, most of the bugs have been fixed (although there are now a few more), so let's move on to discussion of Dead Money.
Dead Money introduces players to the fabled Sierra Madre Casino, nestled somewhere deep in the Mojave Wasteland. After downloading the DLC pack, players receive the Sierra Madre Casino radio signal and will notice a new location on the map, an abandoned Brotherhood of Steel bunker just South of NCR Camp Forlorn Hope. The radio signal is an advertisement for the casino, extolling the virtues of "beginning again," and the bunker is little more than a basement with a radio in it. Walk towards the radio and BAM!
CUE: BioShock camera swoop. FADE TO WHITE, then FADEUP to SETTING: Sierra Madre, where you find yourself talking to the holographic image of a man who informs you that A) you have a bomb around your neck and B) he will make it explode if you don't help him break into the Sierra Madre Casino. Thus begins the heist portion of the DLC, or as I like to call it "Tediously escorting three endlessly-nattering companions (well, two and a half, really) to random places on the map that have no bearing on anything whatsoever."
The new companions in Dead Money, while suffering from an even more severe shortage of dialogue than their main game counterparts, are nevertheless fun and interesting characters. I actually enjoyed them more than the companions in New Vegas. They are (in no special order): Dog, the schizophrenic super mutant; Dean Domino, the one-time New Vegas-headlining crooner; and Christine, the mutilated mute with a mysterious past. Christine, in particular, is fascinating and her background, once revealed, will raise a few eyebrows for long time fans of the Fallout games.
The three are allegedly going to help you with your quest to infiltrate the casino and help your tormentor, a man named Father Elijah, plunder its riches, but in actuality they don't do much. The first half of the game, in fact, involves wandering around with them in the villa just outside of the casino and leading them to odd locations from which they will theoretically help you get the doors open. It's a bit convoluted and silly and, I suspect, engineered to make the quest feel longer than it needs to be.