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10
Zion is a great place to explore and fairly pretty too

Extreme disappointment: Honest Hearts doesn't give you your chance to run a dating agency in the Mojave. No, instead Honest Hearts follows Bethesda's tradition of providing bite-sized chucks of DLC that take you away from the main game and dump you in a completely unconnected story, in an area away from the main map that's impossible to leave until you've finished the main quest.

Why do you keep doing this to Fallout, Bethesda? It's rubbish. Why not integrate your DLC into the base game? You know: expand the Mojave; give us the opportunity to run a dating agency; add new factions, places, weapons and perks to the existing game? Can you not remember the unbridled joy of Broken Steel? That was the right way to do things. This is just Operation Anchorage in strides and chaps, armed with a tomahawk.

Actually, that's doing it a bit of an injustice - it's better than that simulated turkey shoot. This has a story for example. A story set in a place called Zion, in which two tribes of... um, indigenous Americans (I'm trying to be PC and not say ‘Injuns'. Oops)... are fighting the deadly White Legs Tribe. You show up and help the besieged tribes until one of two, some, or more, (un)dramatic conclusions is reached.

Look, I'm not going to go into much detail as, frankly, there isn't that much to go into. Not without spoiling the scant story anyway (although there is admittedly a bit more than just warring tribes). What you really want to know is, "How much more game am I getting for my greenbacks, phat_chopps?". The answer, dear reader, is "sadly not much". Unless you like crashes and bugs. It has plenty of those.

Bugs aside, you'll be able to enjoy advancing a whole 5 - count ‘em! - levels, which is always nice, especially combined with the new perks. There's nothing I like better than having my level cap increased. Also, as was to be expected, there are new weapons, which are pretty darn uninspired to be honest, although I did very much enjoy hurling tomahawks at unsuspecting White Legs. You get new armours as well, although most of them are unlocked upon completion - aside from these, you only get a couple of crappy ones during play.

New companions will join you as well, but they're disappointing and you only get them at specific parts of the game. After that, they disappear back to their camps and you can't recruit them again. Not that that's much of a problem really as they're a bit irritating. Follows Chalk is amusingly naive, but the others are just plain dull.

Worst of all though, there just isn't that much to do here. Steam says I've spent 7.3 hours playing Honest Hearts from start to finish, including seeing multiple endings and doing some aimless exploring. At least 1 hour of that was spent eating Bratwurst and pickles whilst the game was still loaded upstairs in my Control Nexus, so I'd say you've got around 5-6 hours of game here. Pretty tedious game, if I'm honest. The handful of quests you'll go on are dull; short, insipid and devoid of any real consequences. I never got into them or the characters they introduce as much as I did in New Vegas. Mind you, a couple of the main characters are pretty well acted and fleshed out.

The best thing about Honest Hearts is Zion itself. I really enjoyed the multi-layered lay out of the map. Sneaking up to high points above White Legs' camps and sniping them as the sun set over the canyons, is great fun. However, this cool setting just feels wasted and highlights the other flaws through a complete lack of, well, anything interesting at all to do.

As I said, this isn't as bad as some of Fallout 3's DLC (I'm looking at you Mothership Zeta, you can't let Operation Anchorage take all my flak), but it's still hugely disappointing. It just feels like they haven't even tried. I love New Vegas - it's a great game - but Honest Hearts is not worthy DLC.

 

Look at my companion cower in the presence of my semi-automatic pain bringer!