This DLC introduced me to some very unlikable characters. Dean Domino tried to backstab me, and Father Elijah was crazy and greedy beyond reason. Anyway, here’s the rest of the story.
We left off yesterday with the PC getting everyone to their places. Then she (my character’s female) had to get to the top of the bell tower, in the north “Sunrise” (it’s “[something] Del Sol” in Spanish, but I can’t remember which one was which) section of the villas. As a side note, Sinclair, the guy who paid for this place to be built, really screwed up with the architecture in the villas. It’s probably authentic (-ish), but the “streets” are so narrow that they’re almost claustrophobic. To keep people in a good mood and willing to spend money, you need wide avenues to stroll along.
So. Suffice it to say that the place she had to get to was all the way across the villas, inevitably with more Ghost People between her and her destination. Another side note, the Ghost People are creepy and horrifying and pathetic, all at the same time, especially when you figure out what they are. Through terminal entries, you discover that the corrosive red mist that is in (some of) the streets originally came up through the ventilation system. Because it eats away at any exposed flesh, someone came up with an Auto-Doc harness system, kind of like a space suit that will give you stimpacks as needed. Great idea, but the cloud corroded the clasps shut on the suits… so the Ghost People are dead, but kept “alive” by the suits, which is why they can get back up after you “kill” them unless you dismember them.
They have a weird lurching sort of movement, which is slow enough to get away from; then they see you and they “zap” places by jumping, if they’re close enough to you. Ugh, it gives me the shivers. But if you just run past them, they take a second to figure out what’s going on, and by then at least some of them have forgotten you. I know you were meant to sneak around them, but I’m just not patient enough to sneak. Maybe if I’d been smart and installed this mod, maybe it wouldn’t have been so frustrating, but I got really tired of trying to sneak past them and ending up in the middle of a mob. (The mod, as it explains on the page, changes the Ghost People’s Perception to 1 instead of 0; a Perception of 0 means that they basically have infinite Perception, and thus are impossible to sneak past.) This was, by the way, with a Sneak of at least 75, with an extra 10 on top of it from a sneak suit.
Back to the story. So she got to the top of the bell tower and triggered the Gala, and yay, the gates are open! Run and dodge through the narrow, twisting streets of the villas and there she was, inside the casino! And there are the other three! Wait, what? Why is the screen going dark?
She wakes up and Elijah’s yapping at her (the man dearly loves to hear his own voice), and you notice that the other three aren’t in the lobby anymore. And of course, there are speakers everywhere, which make your collar freak out. After a quick exploration, you discover that there are security holograms everywhere, but they’re not too tough to sneak past, and that there are four main doors leading to the lobby, but three of them are locked. You have to turn on the power to get the security to shut down, and of course this is really complicated.
There were a couple of puzzles, and eventually at the end I just made a run for it. There was kind of a red herring in one of the terminals, about an older lady who was walking on the rafters over the casino floor. I tried that, and the holograms still saw me, but at least it was only one of them. Once the power was back on, I had the opportunity to trade chips for pre-war money, which was nice, but whatever. I also found out (at some point) that the others had been transported to wherever the casino thought was most appropriate.
I headed to the Tampico Theater (I expected gallon jugs of “orange drink” of questionable nutrition, but alas, no) to find Dean Domino, since he was a big pre-War singing star, and discovered that the jackass was going to double-cross me. He hadn’t planned on me finding the backstage key, though (and damn that heavy curtain, it was practically a wall! 😛 ), nor had he thought I’d figure out his plans. He just kept flapping those ghouly lips, though, and he didn’t know that as long as I managed to get far enough away in a certain amount of time, my collar wouldn’t go off if he died. So, since my choices were to kill him or let him shoot me, I went with self-preservation.
Next I went looking for Christine, who had a voice again, yay! It wasn’t “her” voice though; she even commented that it “sounded like she’d been chain-smoking for years”, or something to that effect. She’d been transported to the suite belonging to Vera Keyes, Sinclair’s starlet girlfriend and the model for the hologram at the fountain, because her vocal cords had been healed to sound like Vera. Apparently Dean’s plan to break into the Vault was to make Christine sound like Vera, but it got interrupted. When I confronted Dean earlier, I found out that he was blackmailing Vera to steal the treasure (Treasure of the Sierra Madre) from Sinclair; he needed her, or at least her voice, to unlock the elevator down to the Vault. When talking to Christine, you find out that Vera had some sort of terminal illness, and her vast amounts of chem usage, primarily a combination of Med-X (morphine) and Super Stimpaks, were related to managing the pain.
The last member of the party, Dog/God, was transported to the kitchen of the casino’s restaurant, but there’s a gas leak and the doors won’t open! At least, not without finding the override key and going through the hotel entrance. You have to talk him down, because the room is absolutely swimming in gas and he’s about to trigger his collar, which will kill you because, well, you’re in the room full of gas. (I’m very glad for saves, because they’re not very clear that you have to talk to him NOW, and I tried to go around fixing the gas valves first. Not the best plan.) I managed to talk him down and work with him to integrate both personalities, but as a side effect, he didn’t remember most of what happened. I’m not sure what he calls himself now, either.
With everyone squared away (or blown away, DEAN), you splice together several audio tapes of Vera’s singing that you collected, so that she can “speak” the code to open up the elevator. Once down there, it’s a mess, and very tricky to get everything right, so I highly advise you save early and save often. I must have died fifteen different times, either from the character’s collar, or the security holograms, or falling off a catwalk into the Cloud/falling endlessly, or breathing the Cloud… but eventually I got there.
Right outside the Vault is a holotape (and Frederick Sinclair’s body, although I looked in the wrong place for it) to Vera, rather angry about her betrayal. Inside the Vault, however, was another letter to her on the terminal, saying that the Sierra Madre was to have been his gift to her, the Vault to protect her in case of war, but when he found out about her betrayal, he had set the Vault to trap her inside. He cautions her not to read the entry titled “Sinclair’s Personal Accounts”, which was still a trap, but set for Dean. He also explains that when he tried to set the security systems to let her out if she was indeed trapped, he couldn’t reverse the process.
Of course, right after reading this touching account, the PC is contacted by Elijah. (He’s such an ass. At one point he was complaining about how slow things were going, and I yelled out loud, “Then maybe you shouldn’t have put this stupid collar on me!” I got a funny look from Mar for that.) Anyway, the PC goads him into coming down to the Vault, which seems to take a bit of time. I put that time to good use by tossing most of my inventory, because the treasure of the Sierra Madre is a nearly obscene number of gold bars. At 35 pounds each, it’s very easy to get overburdened, and I didn’t want to let anything slow me down; my most important goal was getting out of there.
There’s a confrontation with Elijah, and then you have 60 seconds to get out… except that the short way isn’t available. You have to backtrack and get out using the same elevator you used to get in. I died at least three times in this section.
Eventually, though, I got to the elevator, and ended up back in the courtyard. This was the end of the content, but now I had free reign to explore the Villa. I didn’t explore much, though, just enough to get the snow globe. Then I went to the gate and left as fast as I could.
The tagline for the Sierra Madre Casino was “Begin Again – Let Go”, and that’s really the lesson that the PC has to take to heart. Yes, my character left a lot of gold there… but it wasn’t worth her life. Apparently there were a lot of people who didn’t understand that.
There is one post-script to this DLC, though. Once back at the abandoned bunker, you can access Elijah’s terminal and download a voice log. If you go to the 188 and find Veronica, then exhaust her dialog tree regarding Elijah (it starts with “Tell me about yourself”), when you back out of that choice, you have the option to tell her that you found him, then give her the audio log. Optionally, you can tell her you found him and have her unlock the audio log, then keep it yourself. Whoever ends up with the audio log gets a bonus to their unarmed and melee combat, and if it’s Veronica, she has a melancholy commentary about it.
This was a nerve-wracking DLC, but overall, I liked it. The casino was very art deco, which is a style I appreciate, and it was interesting finding out the other characters’ stories. In retrospect, I should have done Old World Blues first, then Dead Money, then Lonesome Road, because Christine mentions that Ulysses saved her from Elijah at the Big MT (although she simply calls him a courier; apparently she didn’t get his name), and that he had mentioned looking for another courier. It’s definitely him, because she mentions the flag he wears on his back. Additionally, some of the terminal entries mention the Big MT in regards to the suits that the Ghost People wear, and I believe Sinclair is mentioned as being connected to the experiments there, as well. Still, the story here was quite emotional, and I think it was well done.