I made no secret of my disappointment for Operation Anchorage
, the first Fallout 3 DLC. It just didn't feel like Fallout 3 and it wasn't fun. Well, this time around, I'm embarking on a trip to Pittsburgh with my Wastelander as I partake in the second of three announced DLC for Fallout 3, The Pitt. Does it redeem itself by offering what Operation Anchorage lacked?
First let's start with the story of the Pitt and again, I will refrain from any spoilers in this review and be as vague as possible. Has a cure been found for mutations? You're going to find out as you take on a role of a slave and travel to the Pitt in search of the potential cure and the man behind it. While the area was spared of the bombs, the radiated water from the rivers has changed the city for the worse. The Pitt was "purged" by the Brotherhood of Steel some 20 years earlier as they rescued children and killed many of the Raiders that were there. For the game, you get a signal just like in Operation Anchorage but this time from a runaway and when you meet up with him he tells you he needs help in retrieving the cure from the Raider boss. Again, just like in Operation Anchorage, you're going to in without any of your previous weapons, armor, or items. To be honest, I'm really hoping the method of stripping the player bare for these DLC in Fallout 3 stops with the next one as I'd like to be able to use my own stuff even if it does make the DLC a little easier. I mean, I've built up my character so don't penalize me for having great items for the DLC when it comes out. But I digress. By taking an underground rail care you'll reach the Pitt which entails a brand new map to be explored.
The environment is a stark contrast to what you are used to in Fallout 3. Like that sense of awe when I first came out of Vault 101, I got it again when I crossed the bridge into the main part of the Pitt. The Pitt isn't nearly as run down as the Capital Wasteland and the area has an orange hue which helps convey the sense that you are in an industrial city. Large smokestacks billow out dark smoke in the distance and the mill is constantly working churning out items. There are also areas where fire bellows out signaling the workings of the factory. Various buildings come together to make a maze like dungeon that you'll have to traverse through in order to compete your quest. You know you're in a slave area as there are a number of fences and gates to keep you in. Various NPC slaves work as you walk around and you'll see one or two scripted events of slaves trying to escape only to be brought down by the Slavers. When you do finish the Pitt, you can really see how different the environments are when you go back to the Capital Wasteland. The designers and artists have done a great job though in creating an industrial environment and I really liked how everything looked in the game.
For the main quest, the nice thing is that it's not a black and white decision where you can see one choice is overtly better than another. It adds a little more intrigue and some thought on what you want to do to finish the DLC. There's only one side quest that's not too hard to finish though which is a little disappointing. There's also a scavenger hunt where you have to find these steel ingots scattered about the Steelyard area. Returning them to a person will net you with new items that can help you in your quest in the Pitt as well as the rest of the Capital Wasteland.
Two new weapons easily available for this DLC consist of a melee and a rifle. The AutoAxe lets you shred enemies up close and personal. It does take a short time to rev up so you'll want to be a little bit away from the enemy before you go attacking. The rotating blades on the end will do its best to maximize the damage done when it meets the flesh of your opponents. Like a lot of weapons, this one was used for a different purpose such as cutting meat or using it for construction. Now though, you'll wield it as a weapon to defend yourself. The other intriguing weapon made available easily is the Infiltrator. This weapon is a rifle that holds a scope and is silenced as well. Doing 21 points of damage, the Infiltrator does have a medium sized spread when fired. Now, there are some variants on the two that offer better damage that can be had if you do a scavenger hunt. There is one that is the Infiltrator with a smaller spread making it a more dangerous weapon.
Three new perks will also become available for you to use. The Auto Axpert will increase the damage done when using the AutoAxe. It does come pretty shortly into the main part of the DLC so you'll be able to be more proficient with the AutoAxe in a relatively short amount of time. Booster Shot increases your radiation resistance. Pitt Fighter will increase both your radiation and damage resistance. Overall, the three new perks are OK but nothing really cool. By the time you finish the DLC, you'll get an increase of 13% in radiation resistance and 3% in damage resistance through the perks.
For new enemies, we have one here with the Trog. Originally in the canceled Van Buren Fallout 3 game, they make their debut in the DLC. Similar to Ghouls, these mutants though travel on all fours and attack with all their might when they see strangers. They look pretty freaky when they are coming towards you on all fours. Like Mogwais, they hate sunlight and thus they've lost all the pigmentation on their skin by staying the dark. A side effect of this is that their skin has become thicker so they are a little tougher to kill than ordinary humans. They come in a few variants from really small fledglings to brutes. Being that you are devoid of your armor and all your items when you get into the Pitt, the Trogs are harder than they would normally be and they are pretty quiet. You'll have to keep your eyes out as they can easily sneak up on you and start pounding. With just a slave outfit as your only protection early in the game, you can't survive too many surprise attacks from these guys. Even later on when you are fully armored and have your items back, these guys can overwhelm you and knock health off quickly. There are also enemies called Wildmen but they look like slavers so I don't really consider them new.
It didn't take me long to finish this DLC as I got through it quicker than Operation Anchorage. What it does do better though than the first DLC is return to what made Fallout 3 so good which is interacting with the NPCs, exploring the areas, and making tough decisions. I completed understand Bethesda trying something different with Operation Anchorage but I'm really happy to see the return of the traditional formula for The Pitt. Also, you can revisit the Pitt when you are done, something you couldn't do with Operation Anchorage. There are also more items to be able to pick up even though a lot of the weapons are just variants of the main two in the DLC and you'll also be able to find items scattered about which was something that was missing from Operation Anchorage. So, even though it is a quick 3.5 - 5 hour experience if you just go through the main quest, you can extend it by finding all the ingots as well as revisiting the area again. The main thing is I had more fun playing the Pitt than I did with Operation Anchorage and the Pitt does offer more new items than the first DLC.
Now, the DLC didn't start off nicely on the 360 side with the corrupted file that forced Bethesda to take it down for a day. Even with the updated file, there are still issues that linger. First off, lock ups can still occur as there are some reports that those with level 20 are experiencing it if you have completed all the quests. There are also parts of the game where you can have it freeze on you. Reports of corrupted save files after a speech by Asher has also shown up. I’ve experienced weird slowdowns and stutters on some areas of the game that others have talked about. Also, I've seen items just floating in the air but that's not as big of a deal as I've seen that happen a few times in the core game. It's a little disheartening to have these happen as the Pitt was delayed a bit to try to iron these things out. Unfortunately, we still have some pretty sever bugs that can ruin your experience.
With the problems that it initially had and still there, the Pitt is still a nice add-on for Fallout 3. I was able to get through the DLC with some minor problems and nothing that prevented me from finishing the quest. It's a return to the Fallout 3 formula and you'll be able to revisit the area when you are done. The new items can be fun and I enjoy using the Infiltrator as well although I don't think it will replace the Gauss Rifle from Operation Anchorage as my distance weapon. I still think it’s a tad expensive at $10 for a short experience and feel that $5 would be a better price point. But, the value of the Pitt in my opinion exceeds that of Operation Anchorage which I felt was really overpriced for what it offered. There's only one really new enemy to battle as the rest at either the slaves or slavers. Overall, the Pitt should satisfy fans of Fallout 3 for more quests and items to be found. Now, let's just hope the Broken Steel DLC gets off without the problems that this one exhibited.
There are still nagging programming problems but for the most part, the Pitt does a lot better job at continuing the Fallout 3 experience. I enjoyed the DLC a lot more than the first one and it's nice to see a new and different environment in the game.