Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fallout 3: The Pitt (Xbox 360) Review

The second DLC released for Fallout 3 is entitled "The Pitt," and it's the second of the five DLC add-on packs that I've decided to play through. Varying greatly from Fallout 3: Operation - Anchorage, Fallout 3: The Pitt is much closer to the traditional gameplay we've come to know and love.

During the Great War, Pittsburgh was spared the horror of having bombs dropped on them directly, however the three nearest rivers became highly irradiated bringing sickness and mutation to any survivors in the city. Now 200 years later, it has been renamed the Pitt and it has evolved into an industrial town ruled by Lord Ashur and his band of Raiders who force Slaves into labour, toiling in the local steel mill.

Like all the DLC, it can be used with a new or existing character, and once it's downloaded and installed you'll shortly receive a message telling you that Wernher's distress signal has been picked up and following it will lead you far to the north of the Capital Wasteland. Once you meet up with Wernher, you'll learn that he's an escaped Slave from the Pitt and he's looking for help to free his people from the Raider's oppressive heels. After a quick sequence of events, Wernher will lead you into some old train tunnels and you'll immediately travel to a new hub: The Pitt.

Note that similar to Fallout 3: Operation - Anchorage, once you enter The Pitt you can not leave until you complete the Quest there, however just like the last DLC the game will create a save independent of your other save games just before you head out, just in case. Once you arrive you'll need to gain access to the city's downtown, which is a very straightforward task, and then you'll begin the real Quest of trying to help free these slaves.

Note that once you approach the downtown area, the Raiders will relieve you of _all_ your items, however this is normal. Your items are _not_ gone for good and you'll get everything back later.

The Pitt is a fair sized map with several districts to explore, and yes, you really can take your time and explore them this time around, and you can interact with objects, pick up items, and loot corpses in traditional Fallout 3 fashion. Personally, I really liked the design and layout of the Pitt, as its tone and art style reminded me of a darker, more twisted, and less pretentious City 17. The Raiders, in the way they act and even the way they dress (many wearing gas masks and full body suits due to the high levels of radiation) really reminded me of the Combine, and the slaves are a group of oppressed people who can't breed looking to you as their saviour. In the Pitt, however, you don't have a Crowbar, you get an Auto Axe.

The Auto Axe is a concrete and steel cutting tool that resembles a chainsaw but has three spinning blades on its end instead, and even with a low Melee skill you'll find it very handy. You'll quickly find yourself exploring the abandoned Steelyard looking for Steel Ingots, abandoned that is save for an infestation of Trogs and Wildmen just begging to get acquainted with your new cutting tool. Trogs are people horribly mutated into bipedal creatures who will rush you, pouncing and dealing lots of damage, and they're very silent often letting them get the drop on you. They actually reminded me a good bit of Half-Life 2's Fast Zombies without the howling. The Wildmen are people who've lost their higher reasoning and are turning feral due to the radiation, but who haven't twisted into Trogs, and they'll attack pretty much anyone outside of their group. These are the core of the new enemies you'll find in Fallout 3: The Pitt, and there's additional new weapons and armour, including variations of traditional items, kicking around.

One of the major differences with Fallout 3: The Pitt when compared to the rest of Fallout 3 is the moral ambiguity with the Quest. The Pitt is very shady and downtrodden and there really is no clear right or wrong. Ultimately you're going to need to make a very important choice that will affect the fate of the city, and it's not as clear cut as you'd think. I applaud Bethesda for doing this as in real life there's far too many grey choices for us to make, and it's nice to see moral complexity reflected in the game.

Once again we're treated to a complete lack of new music, but the new sounds, voice acting, and ambient noises are great and very atmospheric, meshing well with the darker, grittier atmosphere the DLC is going for. There are three additional Perks to earn which are given over the course of the main story, and we also get four additional Achievements to pad our Gamerscore. The first three are awarded simply for completing the DLC, and the last is given for finding all 100 Steel Ingots in the game. As of this typing, I've found 87 and know where 3 additional ones are, so there's just 10 more to go.

Which regrettably brings me to the huge negative with Fallout 3: The Pitt: the bugs, and I'm not talking about those damn jumpy Trogs. The Xbox 360 version of the DLC was so buggy at launch that it had to be pulled and later re-released. While it's now stable and playable, there's the chance you'll find areas of the game world where clipping issues occur, mainly in the Steelyard. The Steelyard allows you to climb to the highest point in all of Fallout 3, but good luck getting there as one roof you need to run across will often see you falling right through to your death. These clipping issues seem to _mainly_ be caused by Fallout 3: Point Lookout, the 4th DLC released for Fallout 3, and deleting that will usually fix things up. Some players have had luck deleting and re-installing Fallout 3: Point Look Out and Fallout 3: The Pitt will work just fine, but for me, I needed to remove it completely and I'll re-install it once I'm done.

In addition to the above clipping issues which should have been patched long before now, I've also encountered the occasional audio stutter and towards the end of the final Quest, I was also experiencing minor pausing and slow down. A few times while playing Fallout 3: The Pitt, my Wireless Controller also just randomly disconnected, pausing the game, and after a few seconds it reconnected on its own. While this might have been a coincidence, it should be noted I've never experienced this with any other game or DLC before. Fallout 3: The Pitt also reminded me of how annoying running and jumping is across gaps, as the game often doesn't register that you've jumped and you'll just drop, though this isn't exclusive to the DLC and is present in the main game as well.

I also found it frustrating that you don't have access to a good vendor for some hours into the DLC. While I never found myself short on items, I often wanted to sell loot I'd gathered, but I've been forced to stash it instead. I now have lots and lots and _lots_ of items that I'm slowly moving back to Megaton to ultimately sell.

So is Fallout 3: The Pitt worth your time and Microsoft Points? Assuming you can put up with the bugs and you don't have any important items from Fallout 3: Point Lookout that you'd loose by removing that DLC and then loading up your save game, then yes, 800 Microsoft Points is a fair price.

Fallout 3: The Pitt took me about 7 hours to playthrough, and unlike Fallout 3: Operation - Anchorage, there's some real replay value here as there's multiple ways to complete this add-on, so if I venture to the Pitt once more with an additional character I can do things differently. I also very much enjoyed the darker tone of this DLC, and thought its Quest was very well thought out. Considering I got this on sale for 400 Microsoft Points, it was a real steel.


Anonymous said...

it was a "steel" eh :D

Juxtapose said...