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Operation Anchorage (DLC: Xbox 360/PS3/PC) - 4/10
Three words. What the hell? Eight words. What the hell is this piece of rubbish?
First of all, I can inform you that Operation Anchorage is easily the worst of all the five packages of Downloadable Content for Fallout 3- and it's really a shame that it was the first to be produced and sold. It takes the worst parts of Fallout (primarily the repetitive combat), condenses it - then spits it back out at you. For anybody hoping for a continuation of the narrative, that's not here I'm afraid. Instead you get placed in a fictional "virtual environment" without any solid justification, and are expected to complete roughly three tasks before the package abruptly comes to a halt.
The narrative of this content is very un-Fallout-y (if I'm allowed to invent words). You play your original Fallout character, who must mysteriously track the original source of one of the many unsystematic radio broadcasts across the wasteland. Once "tracked", you must enter a simulation for no apparent reason, other than to please you're co-brotherhood pals. This simulation takes you to the fictional liberation of Alaska. I come from the United Kingdom, so the majority of this had no effect on me; however the narrative seemed to revolve around the fact that America had supposedly fought the Chinese in these arctic conditions to prove something to someone. Or maybe it's cos like three-dawg said: 'War never changes' - ACTUALLY THATS PRETTY CLEVER. Damn. Anyway, you are the "best of the best", armed with any virtual device the game feels cheery enough to give you and with one cool cursing son-of-a-bitch friend for aid.
The new environments, I must say, look stunning - and the game play isn't all that bad. I actually did for one moment feel totally immersed up on the arctic cliffs, listening to the howling winds and seeing the snow crunch under my feet. However the sheer length of it (2 hours it took me!) and the repetitive nature I felt it adopted really spoilt this, otherwise decent, effort from Bethesda.
* Nice new setting.
* Rather cool innovative ways of giving you health and ammo.
* Likeable solider characters.
* Goodies afterward are always a good thing.
* Repetitive as hell.
* Soldiers vanish once dead (I know it's a simulation, just looks tacky).
* Too short - Nothing really to do with Fallout. Other shooter games have done this, and much better.
The Pitt (DLC: Xbox 360/PS3/PC) - 7/10
Three words. Hurray at last! Five hundred and twenty-two Words:
Now we're talking! Unlike the previous instalment 'Operation Anchorage', I finally feel back at home in the Fallout universe. Whilst both are similar to the extent that they both take place in new environments, as opposed to Anchorage's "simulation" excuse The Pitts really makes you feel as if you've discovered a brand spankers genuine location in the Capital Wasteland. The build up to the entry is (like most things about the content) fantastic; as the mysterious Wehrner approaches you in the midst of his own personal battle. Before delving straight into the troubles of the Pitt, you must complete a few missions in the Capital Wasteland. These range from murdering (yay), to changing outfits - but generally it feels nice to prepare yourself for the events as opposed to jumping straight into it all. It is evident that the developers spent a large amount of time on this title. It contains the atmosphere, humour and entertainment we've all come to expect from the franchise - and in my opinion could easily have been included as one of the major set pieces in the original Fallout 3 title.
The ambience is so oppressive, claustrophobic and well crafted that you have to give Bethesda thumbs up for creativity. You're eyes literally feel tortured once you're subject to hours and hours of endless mechanical waste, caged pathways and fiery radiation. I felt it a shame that the majority of the slaves would not communicate with you, as their pain is so evident during their monotonous routine of working in the Mill. I also greatly appreciated the inclusion of an almost "horror movie" -esque back-story/subplot, as Wehrner explains that some of the residents have mutated into ghoulish Trogs. These creatures are straight out of a sci-fi horror, hunting around on all fours, silent yet extremely fast paced. To me, they sort of resembled the aliens from Dead Space, and if you found that scary, you know where you are with this.
That's not to say it is without its problems. The game is extremely buggy; I think I counted six times that it froze on me during crucial moments - forcing me to restart the console (and consequentially the section). At the beginning you are stripped of all your items, and no one really ever tells you where they are. I HAD to use the internet to help me otherwise I'd have walked straight out of Pittsburgh without any of my beloved items. Finally - in the midst of a battle I accidentally hit a crucial character. That character got pissy and started attacking me aswell. There was absolutely nothing I could do to get the character back on my side, so in order to advance the plot I had to kill them and lose karma! Then, later on in the game - another character was telling me about how the character I'd already killed was feeling, and what they intend to do once I complete my next mission. If that's confusing I do apologize, I'm just trying to keep anything spoiler-ish to a minimum. Suffice to say, it was crazy and really detracted from my overall enjoyment of the game.
* Nice new setting, complete with atmosphere and a great narrative.
* A more likable and diverse array of characters compared to Anchorage.
* Some fantastic new weapons! And fantastic horror creatures!
* Far longer than Anchorage.
* Certain areas begin to look the same, making it easier to get lost and easier to get a migraine.
* Full of bugs that need to get patched.
* Still not long enough for the price tag.
For those not already aware, Fallout 3 is a first/third-person RPG set in a post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland. It was developed by Bethesda in 2008 and uses the same engine as Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. It has received critical acclaim and a number of Game Of The Year Awards.
This package contains the first two add-on packs for Fallout 3, "The Pitt" and "Operation Anchorage." Both include vast new areas of land which are placed through "Portals" at the edges of the Capital Wasteland in a similar vein to Oblivion's expansion; The Shivering Isles.
Having picked up a radio distress call from a man named Wehrner, The Lone Wanderer (The player) is given the opportunity to travel to a vast slave-driven steel mill, and colony, ran by an idealistic tyrant named Ashur. To pour salt into the wound, a radioactive virus is slowly causing the workers to change into animalistic troglodyte cannibals, who crawl around on all fours, clawing, biting, and disemboweling their way through the steelyard, barely held at bay by Ashur's ragtag band of raider sharpshooters.
Ashur's wife, meanwhile, is working on a cure and vaccine for the 'trogg' virus, the key to which seems to be her daughter, Marie, who has built up an inexplicable immunity, but the slave underclasses are becoming desperate. As you might expect, it's up the Lone Wanderer to redress the balance in whichever way he sees fit.
Graphically, it is easily the most stunning Fallout 3 level of them all. The enormous flame-emitting furnaces of the steel mill and monolithic industrial structures are incredibly well-rendered and designed, giving a real sense of fear of the industrial prowess and intimidating height of Ashur's work-camp. Sadly, this is probably its best feature.
Despite its excellent premise, The Pitt falls short in many of the ways that Fallout 3 does. First off, the whole thing has a half-finished feel to it, as the player does a hell of a lot of running around from one objective location to the next, with little distraction in between. The instances are too big and ambitious for such a small and conventional quest.
Chracters are a little weak as usual, (it even seems pointless to give most of them names.) and despite there being a few unique shop vendors, there's really not much of a reason to return to The Pitt, once you have finished the short-lived, if relatively non-linear quest associated with it. There are no side quests and few ways to make the story your own. You can either join the good guys or the bad guys, and neither will make a great deal of difference, not to mention that it is far too easy, with the troggs going down in one or two hits, and giving out far too much XP. Also, the player must fight in "THE ARENA," a Mad Max style fighting pit, against various opponents who look intimidating but are a piece of piss to kill, even if your skills are incredibly low. This cant even be rectified by using the already flawed difficulty options in Fallout 3 (if you set combat difficulty to low, XP is scarcely given out, and if you set it to high, much more XP is given out.) - Doesn't work at all.
Basically, they should have put a lot more work into this, and despite there being a lot of new weapons and unique raider apparel to take back with you (Including the 'Auto axe,' a huge industrial steel-cutter perfect for eviscerating the most threatening of foes,) the characters, and quest is so half-baked that alone it wouldnt really be worth paying for. Also its buggy as hell, and the constant reloading of savegames to surpass programming errors gets really, really tedious.
Upon installing this expansion, the player once again receives a radio transmission, this time from the Brotherhood of Steel Outcasts, requesting backup. Exploring the source of the transmission will reveal that The Outcasts are in need of an interface device in order to access a virtual reality system in an underground bunker. The only way the Outcasts can retreive the locked hidden technology inside the bunker is by successfully completing an ancient virtual reality-based military training program, - The liberation of Alaska from the Chinese. Your signature pip-boy computer serves perfectly as the interface device, and you must enter the virtual reality program and help defeat the chinese. Donning the Neural Interface suit, the player plunges into the VR simulation and becomes part of the team partaking in Operation Anchorage.
The levels are full of "recharge stations" for health and ammo, and guns cannot be picked up from enemy bodies, which detracts from the RPG element, but really throws you into the simulation effecively.
Once again, the graphics here are excellent, and running across snow-capped mountains really shows the diversity of the Fallout 3 graphics engine, as the setting is incredibly different from that of the Capital Wasteland.
First off, the player must navigate his way across a network of Chinese patrol outposts, in order to attach explosives to their artillery cannons and run like hell. This works really well as it is probably the best way to stretch the stealth aspects of Fallout 3 to their limits, sniping off Chinese troops as you creep from post to post via flimsy bridges is a lot of fun. (But of course you can always just run in with all guns blazing!)
There's no safety parameters in the simulation so game death means real death.
Having destroyed all the cannons, you recieve a promotion and are debriefed, before being given your next and main mission; The assassination of a Chinese general.
The player gets to outfit his own team of 5 troops, arming them with the arsenal of his choice, Assault, Sniper, Heavy Weapons etc, and this does add to the expansion's re-playability value, but, as we have come to expect with these expansions, there remains one gaping flaw:
Throughout your primary mission you are accompanied by an army lieutenant who you can give orders to (again adding to re-playability) but is for all intents and purposes, utterly indestructable. So to finish this very long quest, you don't even have to fire your gun. Its far too easy with this character on your side, and there's nothing you can do about it.
About the only element of non-linearity in Operation Anchorage, is that you can do sub-objectives in the order you wish, in the main quest you have to destroy tanks, disable a pulse field and invade a compound, and you can do it in any succession you see fit.
Characters are pretty likeable here, and the level design is a bit samey across the board, but there's some really nice textures and models, as well as a lot of cool-looking new technology here that's definitely worth a look. Also, having completed the simulation, you are granted access to an armament cache, which contains many really cool and unique artifacts - weapons and apparel, from the Operation itself.
This expansion is very playable if you just forget about your invincible companion, and the fact that if your team is killed, you can requisition a new one. So once again, difficulty is what really lets it down.
Although both games are only mediocre overall, two expansions for this price for a relatively recent Game of The Year is probably worth it.
Over the last few days I've seen this game for various prices, the best being around thirteen pounds on Amazon. If you've finished Fallout 3 and need something new, try and get it for around this price or second hand. If you're into torrenting, these expansions are remarkably easy to find free on the internet, and incredibly easy to install if you're playing it on PC. The box itself doesn't really come with anything other than the data. So its up to you.
MUST HAVE FULL WORKING VERSION OF FALLOUT 3 INSTALLED.
Minimum System Requirements:
XP with service pack 2/ Vista
DirectX 9.0 compliant graphics card with 256gb of RAM
*NvidiA 8600 or greater.