Monday, August 20, 2012
DLC review: Fallout: New Vegas - Honest Hearts
After picking up a radio broadcast asking for help promoting a caravan company in distant regions, the North Passage becomes accessible, wherein you will meet a small group headed out to Zion National Park in the hopes of promoting trade with a new market. At the outset of your journey, you are only allowed a set number of pounds worth of items that you are able to carry with you. This number can be slightly higher if your stats allow for it, but before you even set foot inside Zion, you will have to think carefully about which items you bring along. Should you choose to leave most of your medical supplies behind, you can live off the fat of the land as there is an abundance of plant life to heal with. The enemy types you encounter are much more limited than in the Mojave, lending to the overall straightforward path the Honest Hearts DLC sets you on.
Upon arriving in Zion National Park, the caravan party you are travelling with is ambushed by savage White Leg tribals. Once you are the only survivor, Follows-Chalk, a member of the Dead Horses tribe, comes to your rescue and explains there are two men like you - men who came from outside of Zion - and that one of them, Joshua Graham, would like to speak with you. As it turns out, Joshua was once a high-ranking officer in Ceaser's Legion, but was set on fire and thrown into the Grand Canyon. How exactly he survived is never made clear, but he was bandaged up, moved to Zion, and fell in good favor with the Dead Horses tribe. Similarly, a man named David found himself welcome among the tribals known as The Sorrows.
Follows-Chalk is one of the first friendly characters you encounter upon entering Zion, and serves as your companion as you explore the area and complete quests. He is far more talkative than the other companions from the main game (none of whom are allowed to accompany you here), but his quips make the Dead Horse culture seem a bit more rich and believable. The same goes for Waking Cloud, a proud female Sorrow who accompanies you during the second leg of your quest to save Zion. Joshua is perhaps the most deep and well thought-out of the small cast in Honest Hearts. He constantly references scripture and though he and Daniel seek a similar goal, their means of reaching it could not be more different.
The creative staff has done the best they can with the graphical limitations of Fallout: New Vegas, using colorful palettes and lighting effects that dance off the rock walls of Zion National Park. The world is designed as a sort of staggered series of cliffs and valleys, with one large river running through the middle. Even when you cannot see it, the slopes make it fairly obvious where you are in relation to the river, and its centralized location makes it incredibly difficult to get lost. Even so, the fact that the entirety of Zion is made up of this series of brown rock formations causes the surroundings to get boring to look at near the final stretch. This is not aided by the fact that all of the indoor locations are simple caves and ranger stations. But the visuals don't feel stale for too long, as the main quest only runs a few hours in length.
My rating: 8 (out of 10)*
*(rating applies solely to downloadable content, not its inclusion with the content on the original game disc or other downloadable content)