"All science will be mine!" "We want you to stop him. Somehow. With science." Fallout: New Vegas' latest DLC expansion, Old World Blues, revels in lines like those. And it's absolutely wonderful. Yes, the folks at Obsidian have clearly fallen head-over-mechanically-augmented-heels for Portal, but they use that goofy, self-aware sense of humour to great effect. Old World Blues is utterly ridiculous and it knows it, making it far-and-away the best piece of New Vegas DLC so far.
You kick off your off-kilter adventure by losing your heart, spine, and brain. Seriously. A group of disembodied-brain-in-a-jar "scientists" knock you unconscious, replace your precious organs with semi-precious metals, and then not-so-politely request your help. Without spoiling too much of the amazing dialog exchange that begins your scavenger hunt, the Think Tank (your pals/organ-kidnappers) are locked in a nasty struggle with the maniacal Dr. Mobius... and his army of laser-firing robo-scorpions. Since they lack, you know, bodies, they need you to be their arms, legs, and, well, everything that's not a brain. Because -- I can't stress this enough -- you don't have one of those anymore.
The main quest sees you scampering between zany pseudo-science labs in search of crucial technologies for use in the war against Mobius. Or, in five-year-old's terms, "Hooray! New toys!" As is typically the case with these things, a couple of said toys are clunkers, but, for the most part, there's some excellent loot to be had.
For instance, there's the attention-starved stealth suit that won't ever shut up. In the wrong hands, she'd be annoying, but here, the gag's hilariously endearing. Other items, meanwhile, tend to be more practical, but still well worth using.
Really, though, Old World Blues will leave you with a case of the "Whoops, I'm $10 poorer" blues if you rush through the main game without seeing the sights. The Big Empty's a mini-wasteland, after all, so it's littered with sidequests and secrets. Fortunately, another central (though optional) quest -- which involves breathing life into sentient kitchen appliances -- points you toward most of the major landmarks.
Frankly, there's enough ambition on display in Old World Blues that you could almost be forgiven for forgetting that it's a one-off DLC release. Almost. Sadly, it succumbs to a couple of classic DLC pratfalls. For one, enemy types tend to repeat themselves. Sure, you'll giggle with glee when you spot your first robo-scorpion, but you'll probably be singing a far angrier tune when robo-bastard number 267 laser-blasts you in the back. Also, the DLC's first hour or so is a bit too chatty, revelling in its own dialog-centric cleverness when you just want to do something already.
By and large, though, Old World Blues is exactly the type of thing gamers dreamed of when they heard Obsidian was taking the reins on the Fallout franchise. It's got all the exploration you know and love, but with truckloads of the rib-tickling (and possibly removing) humour that was mostly absent in Fallout 3. Put simply, if you own Fallout: New Vegas, this one's, well, a no-brainer.