Fallout 3 DLC
Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks, Zenimax Media
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Genre: Action RPG
Format: Download
Released: US 01/27/09 (OA)
US 03/24/09 (Pitt)
US 05/05/09 (BS)
US 06/23/09 (PL)
US 08/03/09 (MZ)
Official Site: English Site

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Hey now, Canadians aren't all that bad.
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"This'll make short work of these weeds..."
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About the closest thing you'll get to a welcome wagon.
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Probably the kind of water you'll want to filter before drinking.
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Kyle Miller
Fallout 3 DLC
Kyle Miller

Operation: Anchorage

After discovering a rogue radio signal, the wasteland wanderer stumbles into a Brotherhood of Steel Outcast outpost, stationed around a military simulation device. Coincidentally, the simulator only permits one outfitted with a Pip-Boy to partake in its virtual world, a scenario used to train soldiers for the liberation of Chinese-occupied Anchorage, Alaska. The Outcasts call upon the Pip-Boy-wielding wastelander to help unlock the compound's armory, accessible only by those who conquer the simulation.

It may seem contrived, and it is, but the actual simulation is fairly entertaining. Split into two major sections, the simulation details the American victory over the Chinese at Anchorage, Alaska beginning along the wind-swept cliffs and ending in the heart of the Communist encampment. Equipment is limited (and virtual) inside the simulation, which increases difficulty and encourages stealth and strategy. During the second half of the scenario, the player gains control of a customizable squadron of soldiers, ranging from a sniper to a Mr. Gutsy.

Unfortunately, the entire package, in and out of the simulation, is brief, easy at high levels, and somewhat lacking in action. It's too bad the Americans hadn't yet constructed Liberty Prime at the time of the simulation; he would have tossed things up a bit. Literally. One of the advertised highlights, the customizable squadron, has little effect on the gameplay. The end rewards are significant, including a unique suit of armor, but may not be worth the asking price.

For those Fallout fans that can't get enough of the wasteland, Operation: Anchorage provides a few extra hours of bliss. The chilled atmosphere of Anchorage offers a change of scenery as well, but feels less post-apocalyptic than it should, and this may be the most disappointing aspect of all. Operation: Anchorage helps flesh out the Fallout universe, however, with its lesson in history and the events leading up to the big war.

The Pitt

Enter the Pitt: the diseased remnants of a once-prosperous city filled with schizophrenic wild men, malformed troglodytes, and the oppressed slaves of an organized band of raiders all laid out under a perpetually fire-orange sky. The atmosphere is utterly depressing and after spending a few hours in the Pitt, players will beg for the clear skies of the Capital Wasteland.

The Pitt puts players in charge of obtaining a cure for the aforementioned illness that wreaks assorted havoc on anyone who spends enough time in the city. By disguising oneself as a slave (or blasting through the front gates), the player enters the ranks of the enslaved and fights his way to an audience with the raider boss. That's when things get even worse.

I won't spoil the fun, but the core decision of The Pitt plays on the morally ambiguous choice between freeing the slaves or serving the raiders. It might seem like a black and white decision, but nothing is easy in a post-apocalyptic world. Whatever the player does, he's likely to second guess himself later, if not immediately after.

The Pitt features several hours of content, new perks, the amazing Autoaxe (a melee weapon involving a rotating saw blade), and an original atmosphere. Whereas Operation: Anchorage wasn't desolate enough, The Pitt is perhaps more terrifyingly oppressive than the Capital Wasteland. Pittsburgh certainly feels unlike anything else in Fallout 3, and this is an experience worth more than the ten caps it costs.

Broken Steel

Warning: Unavoidable Fallout 3 spoilers ahead.

Perhaps the most anticipated of the Fallout 3 downloadable content packages, Broken Steel allows players to continue playing after the credits. With hours of new content, an extended level cap, and powerful new equipment, Broken Steel is a fantastic download and a must-have for all Fallout 3 players.

Broken Steel continues the main quest from Fallout 3 when the hero (or villain) wakes up in the medical bay of the Brotherhood of Steel's headquarters. The fight against the Enclave has not yet been won, as the ruins of their ranks attempt to gather strength after their defeat at Project Purity. The story follows the final efforts to thwart their plans and eradicate every last Enclave soldier in the wasteland.

Depending upon the player's final decision in Fallout 3, the wasteland inhabitants may view his character as saintly or demonic. Regardless, he is tasked with assisting the Brotherhood in all they do to counteract the Enclave's final push to conquer the wasteland. While the actual plot of Broken Steel is limited, it offers plenty of action and thrill, including more time with Liberty Prime. There may not be many exciting plot twists, but the events that scarred the Capital Wasteland are put to rest. The repercussions of that which occurred at Project Purity are the most interesting additions to the game, and they serve to further enhance the believability of Fallout's world.

One of the major draws of Broken Steel is the increased level cap, moved from 20 to 30. New perks have been introduced to accompany these levels as well, although they are less than spectacular. Most of the new perks are interesting, but not useful at such high levels, such as the ability to transform several regular Nuka-Colas into one Nuka-Cola Quantum. There are exceptions, such as the level 30 perk that causes the character to release a burst of energy once reduced to less than 20 hit points. Getting to that point will most likely take some grinding, however.

Broken Steel also introduces a few exceptionally powerful weapons, such as the Tesla Cannon, which produces a massive blast and plenty of leaky chunks of meat. New enemies also make an appearance, including more powerful Enclave soldiers and an upgraded mutie. The new areas mostly resemble old ones, but the air force base toward the end of the main quest offers a unique cityscape.

Broken Steel would have probably been worth purchasing even if it had only included an increased level cap and the new perks. Thankfully, there's much more than that included in the expansion. Broken Steel could easily add ten hours of questing and another five for grinding to any player's Fallout 3 game. With so much for players to accomplish, this downloadable package is about as sweet as some Mississippi Quantum Pie.

Point Lookout

"Come on over to Point Lookout for a stay! The bombs have dropped, and you deserve a vacation. Just step on the barge, take a quick catnap, and you'll be here in no time. The unspoiled wetlands of Point Lookout are jam-packed full of adventure, treasure, and breathtaking scenery to accommodate those from all walks of life. And if you care to, grab a shotgun, some moonshine, and a harmonica and let loose!"

The fourth and latest DLC for Bethesda's masterwork Fallout 3 takes players to the swampy backwater tourist trap of Point Lookout, Maryland. From the moment the wasteland hero steps off the ferry and onto the abandoned boardwalk, players are immersed in a land of skeletal trees, bubbling methane swamps, and deformed swampfolk that recharges the magic of that Fallout-style exploration that made the core game so magnificent.

Point Lookout presents a non-linear area for those eager to go into the swamps unadulterated by a linear story. Players are free to dive for treasure along the rocky beaches where ships have wrecked. They can delve deep into the marshes to discover old shacks and the corrupt result of generations of inbreeding. Or perhaps players simply want to climb atop the lighthouse and observe the gulls circling above. No matter the player's vacation agenda, the experience is fantastic. Like all vacations, however, this one goes by too fast.

Fortunately, there are a number of quests to bolster the time spent in Point Lookout. The main quest involves investigating a score of drugged-up cultists for a foul-mouthed ghoul, although later the cult takes to the backwoods while the Point Lookout lighthouse shines its beacon on more modern troubles. The main quest is brief and lacks the flair of Fallout 3's major events, but manages to entertain nonetheless. One step of the quest in particular upsets expectations in a short-lived, but effective scene. Perhaps the worst aspect of Point Lookout is a lack of interesting material rewards, especially from the main quest. The scenery is great, but the pay? Not so good. Side quests are typically fitted to the setting, such as making moonshine, a smart move by the developers. This ensures that players get the full effect of that lovely bayou life.

And such a life wouldn't be complete without the appropriate gear. Thus the developers have blessed players with the double-barrel shotgun, lever-action rifle, and even a few Confederate hats. There are the requisite achievements and perks as well as a whole host of new graphical components. The unique graphics of Point Lookout make it a refreshing escape from the Capital Wasteland, even if the Wasteland Wanderer is unlikely to agree after being hacked half to death by an axe-wielding brute. Whether it was radiation or years of "selective" breeding that made the Point Lookout folk so strong is unknown to all. Regardless, the never-before-felt atmosphere of Point Lookout is one of its biggest tourist traps.

What may be the best Fallout 3 DLC to date, Point Lookout effectively sets the mood almost immediately upon arrival to the haunting Maryland locale. The developers did almost everything right. From the ferryman that looks and talks just as one might expect down to the shocking and witty writing, almost all aspects of Point Lookout outshine previous downloadable content. Had there been greater rewards and a slightly more dramatic main quest, Point Lookout would have approached perfect. Nevertheless, the atmosphere is truly unbeatable. So grab a beer, set your fishing rod aside, and keep that shotgun within arm's reach. They're coming for you.

Mothership Zeta

Bethesda has shown extreme flexibility in their creations; they have created post apocalyptia, dystopia, horror, and now sci-fi, all using the same game engine and all contained within the same world. As the (allegedly) final Fallout 3 DLC, Mothership Zeta is an appropriately lighthearted sci-fi adventure that solves one of the Wasteland's most enduring mysteries; namely, the origin of that fallen UFO and its deceased, green pilot. Like Operation: Anchorage, Mothership Zeta moves away from the post-apocalyptic feel, but it still manages to retain the Fallout atmosphere. I appreciated their departure into sci-fi, though, because science fiction material is rarely well-executed in video games. The final Fallout 3 DLC is fun and contains some fantastic ideas, but suffers from repetitive gameplay and scenery, a weak plot, and some minor glitches.

Mothership Zeta begins with an extraterrestrial radio signal that leads the Wasteland Warrior straight into a tractor beam. Before he can even move, he's on an alien ship and imprisoned with another captive. Play begins with escaping the initial containment cell and continues with a larger-scale escape plan: one that will land you back on solid ground.

There isn't a strong plot here, just an escape story with complications and a few hints concerning the activities of the aliens, none of which are ever confirmed. Most of the story arc consists of running through corridors, blasting aliens in the face, and picking up whatever junk they left behind. It's one extended escape, although there are a few areas (some optional) that present pieces of the aliens' insidious plans or just showcase what they've collected over the years. This is where Mothership Zeta excels. There are also other living captives on board, and they provide some engaging encounters, especially considering that the aliens have been collecting specimens for a very long time, from around the entire world. This clever mechanic isn't quite played out to its fullest potential, but the many captives' recordings to be collected and listened to are excellent entertainment.

Since the developers were dealing with extraterrestrial technology, they had to create an entirely new set of graphics to accompany this DLC. Although the designs of the ships and aliens play off common images, they fit the Fallout mythos far better than any unique designs would have. Unfortunately, the atmosphere created by these new graphics almost feels too dirty and aged for an alien species. This may be how Mothership Zeta manages to maintain the Fallout feel: the alien ship almost seems technologically stunted, especially when juxtaposed with their weapons. There is also little variation on the ship, and even after only the four or five hours it takes to conquer Mothership Zeta, the player might come to be disenchanted with something that should always be fascinating. Certainly, after slaughtering the fiftieth identical alien, the player might be ready to self-destruct the ship and be done with it, killing them all with one fell swoop. However, there are some solid new weapons to turn those green freaks to ash, and they represent some of the best weaponry in the game.

Strangely, even alien technology isn't perfect; perhaps as expected, Mothership Zeta is not without glitches. There are frame-rate cuts and a general sense of instability at times, as if something could very suddenly go very wrong. Furthermore, much of the DLC relies on NPC followers, but they often disappear or malfunction. The player might turn the corner to find that his backup support has vanished.

Mothership Zeta may not be the strongest Fallout 3 DLC, but it's a memorable one. Despite some repetition, bugs, and the lack of an entirely alien atmosphere, Mothership Zeta manages to offer great rewards, entertaining dialogue, and a playful sci-fi theme. And, for all those completionists who need to collect every unique weapon in the game, players can return to the ship once the scenario is complete. The fifth and final DLC is perhaps one of the least engaging, but it's worth playing for its extension of the Fallout lore and its sci-fi flavor. Mothership Zeta is a fitting end to a long line of wonderful Fallout 3 add-ons.


© 2008-2009 Bethesda Softworks, Zenimax Media. All rights reserved.

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