Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition
is a huge game. Easily spanning sixty hours for the main story quests alone, there is an awful lot of game on the disc. Instead of breaking down the basics of the main story or explaining where your dad went off to (you can read that in last year's review), I thought I would break down each of the five DLC add-ons one at a time in no particular order.
Since all of the DLC packs are on the disc, the moment you put in the disc for Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition, all five install themselves immediately. No matter where you are in the Wasteland, the first add-on will prove useful. Broken Steel is the only add-on that adds a fundamental difference to the game-world. Instead of capping out at level twenty, Dungeons and Dragons style, Broken Steel raises the level cap to thirty and still adds a slew of new quests after the main game story is complete. No matter which ending you earned, your character wakes up from a coma under the care of the remaining Brotherhood of Steel. Each of the subsequent quests focuses on helping the Brotherhood rid the Wasteland of any last remnants of the oppressive Enclave including escorting the enormous robotic weapon, Liberty Prime, one more time. Of all the add-ons, Broken Steel seems like the most unpolished. Numerous bugs, crashes and glitches mar an otherwise excellent chapter in the Fallout legacy.
Operation Anchorage, on the other hand, is much more subjective experience. After you seek out a radio signal and help a satellite group of Brotherhood soldiers, you have to use your Pip-Boy to unlock a vault. The vault can only be opened once you play out a simulated sequence that chronicles the events that led to the Great War that wiped out humanity. Set in Anchorage, Alaska, you are a frontline soldier that has to hold back the encroaching communist forces of the Chinese Army. After a quick infiltration mission, you are in command of your own squad as you attempt to take out the General of the opposing army. Unfortunately, this add-on actually does a disservice to the game's shooter system. You are only issued weapons that you find throughout the virtual simulation and you replenish health through health stations scattered throughout the battlefield. Fallout wasn't designed to be a shooter and shooting isn't its strong suit, even with V.A.T.S. Once again, freezes and glitches are plentiful and it most certainly does not ruin the enjoyment, but it can kill the momentum.
Trading the frozen tundra of Alaska for swampy marshland, Point Lookout is the most open-ended of all five packs. What is essentially a whole new area of the map to explore, Point Lookout has numerous quests and side-missions that will occupy many more hours of your time if you let it. Be warned though, this expansion was initially released after the level cap was raised, so the enemies in this area are much tougher than usual, even though they are wearing nothing but overalls. The local flavor of the residents is quite humorous whether it is the gentlemanly ghoul that is defending his mansion at all costs or the jerk of a riverboat captain that won't sell you a cheaper ticket - each new person is fully represented and realized in this world. Once again, the only downside to any Fallout story are the inevitable technicalities. At one point in the main story, a seemingly insignificant gameplay bug soon blossomed into a game-halting situation where I had to lose about two hours of progress to continue. It is incredibly aggravating to have to make so many concessions for such flaws in a game like Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition, but the core-game is so strong, it is like an addict going through withdrawal. You can lower your standards a lot to get your next fix, but at the end of the day, was it worth it? With Fallout, the answer is always an emphatic "Yes!"
The Pitt suffers the most from the compilation. Notoriously broken and buggy upon its initial release, Bethesda had to release three different patches before it was able to run smoothly. I don't think it is nearly as bad as its initial release, because it wasn't available on PS3 until now, but the common detriment of Fallout 3 still looms quietly in the shadows. The "Pitt" is short for Pittsburgh, as in the steel manufacturing capital of America. Or at least it was in the Fallout universe. The residents of The Pitt have all been mutated by the irradiated rivers that flow around the city and most of them have been taken into slavery because of their "condition." There are a few new quests like the other packs, and at least one cool new weapon, the "auto-axe," but I could not finish everything in The Pitt, so I haven't fully seen what it has to offer. Like Point Lookout, it, too, has its own map with new areas to explore and items to collect like steel ingots and the short time I spent there did seem like a lot of fun.
Lastly, my favorite additional chapter in the Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition is Mothership Zeta. It plays very similarly to Operation Anchorage, but I think the charm more than makes up for the gunplay. A mysterious alien signal is detected in the wastes and you discover an alien crash site. As you approach the spaceship, a beam of light pulls you toward the sky and you awaken surrounded by aliens performing a strange operation on your helpless body. You are deposited into a holding cell where you start to plan your escape. At first, you have to play dirty by ambushing your alien captors and beating them with their own shock batons. Soon enough, though, you retrieve all of your old equipment and the war in space begins. Some argue that the focus on action in this entry detracts from the overall experience. But with the super-powerful alien weaponry literally laying everywhere aboard the mothership, I would argue the focus isn't on the action, but on the set-pieces. Space-walks, death-rays, and horrifying alien experiments are all included in the final chapter of the epic saga, but being able to recruit a cowboy, a samurai, a spaceman, and a futuristic soldier all at once definitely trumps some shoddy aiming.
The best part of having all of the expansions on one Blu-ray disc is that you will never have to install it to the hard-drive. All of the quests are available from wherever your last saved your game, (except for the post-ending Broken Steel.) So whether you are still playing last year's copy or picking it up for the first time, there are still a few hundred hours of game to play.