Review

Fallout: New Vegas - Lonesome Road Review (Xbox360)

Here we are now, at the possible end of Fallout. Well, I highly doubt the series won’t be continued, but for sure this is the last time I’ll have to reinstall Fallout: New Vegas. Let’s hope it’s a worthwhile finale for the Mojave.

The first two DLC packs for Fallout: New Vegas had something critical wrong with each of them. Dead Money didn’t leave much room for exploration, and Honest Hearts had a huge area to explore but had nothing worthwhile in it. Old World Blues, on the other hand, was perfect, so I was really hopeful the final pack Lonesome Road would be more akin to that than the first two. The funny thing is, it’s kind of both. Lonesome Road does have something major wrong with it, but at the same time it’s really enjoyable to play.

ED-E, your faithful companion

So, straight to the critical problem. It’s right there in the title: Lonesome Road. Yes, you’re on a road. Consequently, the DLC is a lot more linear than a lot of people will like. There’s a lot to find and plenty of secret areas to discover, but it’s closer to a straight FPS than Fallout usually is. There’s not a huge area to explore at will, you’re on a path with a beginning and an end.

Furthermore, there’s not a great deal of people to talk to. Transactions are done via automated Commissary machines, the locals aren’t friendly, and don’t even think about chatting with the Deathclaws. The only times you get some conversation is with the twisted ex-Courier Ulysses who brought you here, and your robotic companion ED-E who joins you – who’s surprisingly talkative considering he communicates via beeps and JPRG victory fanfares.

You’ve been summoned to the Lonesome Road, otherwise known as the Divide, by the aforementioned Ulysses. He was the Courier who refused to take the Chip that got you shot, and you’ve been unknowingly shadowing his movements ever since. He’s got a grudge against you and the NCR, and a lot of firepower to back him up – of the nuclear sort. The Divide is a piece of land that was cracked open by a nuclear barrage (internal and external), and exploring the twisted landscape is one of Lonesome Road’s joys.

It may be linear, but it’s most definitely challenging. There are two new types of enemies to face in the Divide, and both are incredibly tough. The Marked Men are the remains of both Legion and NCR troops who explored the Divide and came out with broken minds and their skins burnt off. They have a wide array of weapons and are pretty tough, but the lizard-like Tunnellers are even tougher. They’re hard to kill and can take you out in just a couple of swipes. Don’t let them get close.

The Tunnellers are particularly nasty

It’s in this challenge that Lonesome Road makes itself fun. I’ve never been pushed so hard by Fallout and keeping ahead of the various inhabitants of the Divide is as entertaining as some of the best FPSs I’ve played. It’s certainly more shooter than many people, myself included, would want from Fallout, but I couldn’t help but get into it. All the obstacles standing between myself and Ulysses just had to be overcome, and it’s great to do so.

Not that there’s nothing else fun here. I called Lonesome Road an FPS, but if we get into specifics I’d say it’s closest to Bioshock. No one talking except the insane overlord trying to kill you, mutants and mind-addled citizens in your way, a ruined city to pick through, a lot of looting for cash and supplies, but most importantly a lot of backstory to discover. There are logs and diaries all over the Divide, with many little secret areas. I was searching quite thoroughly (I thought so anyway) and I still missed a good percentage of the stuff in here.

I’m not going to ruin any of the surprises, but there are plenty of them, including ultra-powerful monsters, hidden locations, secret stashes, and a Futurama reference that made me smile. And at the end there’s Ulysses to fight… or not, as befits Fallout and RPGs that focus on choice (are you listening Eidos Montreal?). The finale is really quite spectacular and rather poignant. It only took 5 hours to get there unlike the dozens I spent on Old World Blues, but I definitely felt satisfied when I walked back into the Mojave.

Yes, while this is an end to Fallout: New Vegas, it’s not an end to the game. Like previous DLC packs it still takes place before the battle of Hoover Dam, so that’s a little disappointing. I was hoping, as I’m sure others were too, that Lonesome Road would be the equivalent of Fallout 3’s Broken Steel and finally allow players to continue the Courier’s journey. Guess that’s not happening then. Oh well.

Keeping on the slight negativity train, the moment where I realised that Lonesome Road not only was going to keep being linear but stay as basically an FPS was the appearance of one of the most clichéd events in gaming. I’m talking about a sequence on a large slow-moving lift where enemies drop out of nowhere. I hope you weren’t bored of this playing every single side-scrolling beat-em-up ever made, and the odd Resident Evil, because it’s here too.

I’m not afraid of large masked men with chainsaws!

So, on to the crucial question: should you buy it? I’m going to go for yes (that sound you hear is Obsidian breathing a sigh of relief). It is with a caveat though. While I personally enjoyed it I try wherever possible to think what type of person wouldn’t like it, and it’s quite simply someone who plays Fallout for the massive areas to explore at will, the people to talk to, and non-linearity. Lonesome Road lacks all three, and is far more of a shooter than I’d normally be comfortable with, but is still a good fun challenge.

There’s still plenty of exploring to be done, ED-E’s a lovely WALL-E-esque companion, and Ulysses is a cool villain with a wonderful voice. The ending’s superb (much better than both New Vegas and Fallout 3), and I never was bored or wanted to give up. It’s not the full Fallout experience, but as the ultimate final test of your skills it works very nicely. Now then… when’s Skyrim out again?

Top Game Moment: The finale is epic and can unfold in several ways. It’s the Futurama reference that’s my personal highlight though.

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Comments

By noobst3R (SI Core) on Oct 23, 2011
noobst3R
Well, I played F3 and it's expansions (which I loved), but it seems this is a decent excuse for re-beginning Fallout New Vegas which I never ended. :p