Written by  :  Steelysama (106)
Written on  :  Jul 30, 2009
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars

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Fallout 3's first DLC offers a refreshing trip to the frosty north.

The Good

Downloadable Content (DLC) has an uneven history with gamers. In some cases, it has served as a reasonably priced way to extend the content of well-loved titles. In other cases, well, you have "horse armor". For those not aware of it, Bethesda Softworks offered, for a small fee, to allow players to download a pack of skins placing armor on horses in their blockbuster title The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. This DLC became a symbol of companies trying to sell trivial content which probably should have been in the game already.

So when Bethesda came out with a series of new content packs for their wildly successful post-apocalyptic RPG, Fallout 3, gamers could reasonably wonder if it would be worth the price.

Originally, the Fallout series was developed by mastermind gamecrafters Black Isle Studios. The backdrop which was introduced in the first game involved a post-apocalyptic future in which nuclear war between the major powers had nearly destroyed humanity. Then Black Isle added a mix 1950's kitsch and future-tech to the pre-war culture, creating a style which would live in the memories of gamers long after the studio had closed its doors.

Recently, Bethesda took over the intellectual property rights for Fallout and created the third game which some gamers had thought might never come to be. They moved the timeline forward to some 200 years after the war, moved the action to the Washington DC area from Southern California, and brought the world into 3D from 2D isometric. Whatever mistakes they might have made, Fallout was given a new lease on life.

The essential idea behind Operation: Anchorage, the first DLC for Fallout 3, is that the player enters an old military simulation in the basement of a ruined base. In the simulation, the Communist Chinese army has invaded and taken hold of Anchorage, Alaska. The player takes the role of an American soldier tasked with helping in the liberation of the city. Although the storyline is somewhat simple, it has enough inspiring and interesting moments to keep the player going.

From the very first, the graphical scheme of Operation: Anchorage is refreshing. Fallout 3 presents a world which is mostly devoid of any green foliage and is primarily covered in drab, dilapidated colors. After spending much time in that environment, despite the powerful graphical engine, seeing the white snow and glistening mountainside of Alaska is wonderful. The developers truly did commendable work creating an enjoyable environment, graphically and stylistically.

Gameplay in the DLC is a real departure from the "open world" kind of RPG presented in the main game. Inventory management is never an issue, speech checks are few and far between, and all of the primary objectives are achieved solely through combat. Most items in the game world cannot even be picked up. Essentially, this is an action experience. And it works well as such.

The action in Operation: Anchorage is fun and fast-paced. There are plenty of enemies to face, including some who are able to stealth, adding an extra challenge. A fully leveled player character will probably slice through the content without much trouble, but it still manages to be a good time.

There are a few new goodies - armor and weapons - available through the DLC. Two new items standout as perhaps the most exciting. First, the Chinese Stealth Armor, which increases your character's sneak and has a permanent stealth field similar to the stealth boy's temporary one. The other is the Gauss Rifle, a powerful new scoped energy weapon that can knock down an enemy if it does not outright kill them.

The Bad

Operation: Anchorage is extremely short, even compared to the other DLC's. If it were any shorter, it could have been a deal-breaker.

Also, one objective in the simulation for which you are awarded with a perk is to collect a group of ten intelligence cases throughout the mission. There are at least three places where, if the player has missed any of the cases, it is not possible to go back to get them without reloading an earlier save.

The Bottom Line

Operation: Anchorage is worth the price of admission, even if it just barely makes it. The content that is present is very enjoyable. However, it is really only an afternoon's worth of gaming.