Title: Operation: Anchorage and The Pitt DLC for Fallout 3
Platform: 360 (Also for PC)
Review by: Bill Jones
Fallout 3 is an amazing game, but at a mere 50 to 100 hours of gameplay, who can blame gamers for craving more? The title has two bits of downloadable content on the market, with a third announced on the way. Pads & Panels has played through the first two DLC offerings – Operation: Anchorage and The Pitt – and has the scoop. They each retail for 800 Microsoft Points on Xbox 360 or $10 on Games for Windows LIVE.
The first piece of DLC for Fallout 3 starts with a distress call from the northern end of the map. The player ventures there to discover the Brotherhood of Steel Outcasts are trying to acquire some military tech sealed behind a door. The only way to open it is to complete a virtual reality simulation of the liberation of Anchorage, Alaska from the communist Chinese, who have invaded in the future setting Fallout 3 takes place. (Who comes up with keys like this?) The simulator requires an independent computer system to operate. Good thing the gamer’s character has a Pip-Boy.
Being that the 95 percent of the Operation: Anchorage content takes place within a simulator, the player does not have access to his accrued arsenal, which is instead replaced first with a silenced pistol and a knife, and then gradually more weapons. The gamer is presented with the option to go into the mission guns-a-blazin’ or using stealth, but either way it quickly turns into a series of firefights.
The VR gameplay is incredibly similar to that of Fallout 3 at large, but enemies disintegrate after death, blue walls barricade certain areas, and ammo and health are replenished through clearly computerized tanks and dispensers throughout the levels. Fallout 3 was designed to present the gamer with options for different styles of gameplay, with the RPG elements allowing one to play as a fighter, an intellectual or somewhere in between. The action-heavy focus of the liberation assault is a nice change of pace for the game.
The simulation introduces the player to some new tech, including the Gauss Rifle and Chinese Stealth Armor. The latter is used by the elite troops of the enemy during the scenario, and renders them nearly invisible before they are struck, adding an element of caution to the otherwise bum-rush gameplay. It also prevents the player from locking on to them via the V.A.T.S. system before the enemy is hit at least once. Many of these new items can be acquired for use elsewhere in the wastelands by playing through Operation: Anchorage.
The scenery looks quite different from the common desolate wastelands of Fallout 3, but closer inspection reveals many of the same textures and designs changed seemingly only by a blue, winter tint. Still, the color is enough to make it feel different and give gamers something new.
Operation: Anchorage comes in a bit short for the money at only a few hours, but the battle is enough fun to make it worthwhile for anyone craving a bit more of the Fallout universe.
The Pitt, in contrast, returns the gameplay to morally ambiguous decision-making and desolate environments. Again, it starts with a distress call, but this time the gamer finds himself racing to a scene where a slave is trying to escape the clutches of Pitt raiders. The slave explains that he is seeking help in finding a cure for the Pitt’s inhabitants who, aside from being enslaved, are mutating into trogs or becoming wildmen, similar to raiders. The city’s boss reportedly has found a cure, but will not give it to the slaves.
The gamer assumes the role of a slave to infiltrate the camp, and in the process once again loses his equipment for the majority of the scenario. The Pitt itself is back to the bleak orange tones of the wastelands, and looks like something out of the child slave camp in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The characters are dirty and oppressed, the environment is beautifully bleak and blasts of fire from furnaces and the like add to the tension. And that’s the good part of town.
Within the Pitt there is an abandoned area where the trogs dwell. It also happens to be where to find steel ingots, which the player must if he plans to keep up the disguise of slave.
Of course, things aren’t exactly as the escaped slave explained. Or maybe they are. The player is presented with differing stories and choices that aren’t clearly good or evil, and that’s the core of The Pitt.
It is a more well rounded experience than Operation: Anchorage, and the gameplay is a bit longer if the player decides to truly explore the environment and recover all of the steel ingots. New equipment is highlighted by the AutoAxe, a brutal saw-based weapon that is awesome to look at but essentially boils down to a melee weapon harder to fight with than guns. The player can also recover The Infiltrator, a scoped assault rifle with a silencer, as well as a slew of new armor.
Despite some early set-backs that have since been fixed by Bethesda, The Pitt is a solid piece of content that follows the core ideas of Fallout 3, but with an extensive new environment, interesting equipment additions and tough, tough choices.
Many gamers will be tempted to complain that $10 is a bit steep for downloadable content that only lasts three to four hours with Operation: Anchorage and four to five hours with The Pitt. And mathematically the complaint may seem justified when considering the original content of Fallout 3 provided 50 to 100 hours for $60. But all things considered – a slew of new equipment that can be used everywhere else in the game, brand-new environments and fresh scenarios – it is well worth it for gamers craving more. For those stuck choosing between the two, The Pitt gets our vote, but both pieces of DLC offer unique extensions to Fallout 3.
For more info, fallout.bethsoft.com