Fallout 3: Game Of The Year Edition
Like the stubbornly persistent citizens that dot its irradiated landscapes, Fallout 3 simply won’t die. Refusing to bow out after first being released this time last year, Bethesda have drip-fed five downloadable missions – Operation Anchorage, The Pitt, Broken Steel, Point Lookout and Mothership Zeta – across 2009 to secure constant exposure. It’s even cropped up again and again within the rigidity of the retail channels, with staggered releases of the first two pairs of DLC for the Xbox 360 and PC. It just won’t go away. And here, with the Game of the Year Edition, the base game and its five add-ons have all been collated into one big, affordable package for one great big last hurrah to this iteration of Bethesda’s apocalyptic vision. Sony fans can rejoice, too; the exclusivity period with Microsoft for the extra content is finally over. Hurrah.
It’s a bit of a coup for traditional retail stores. With an RRP of £39.99, and with most places more than happy to slash a tenner off that price at launch, it’s a lot cheaper to buy the entire Game of the Year package than spend £39.95 on just the add-ons alone via the Playstation Store – plus you don’t have to spend an entire evening angering your ISP by downloading the great big gigabyte wedges of content. It’s odd, perhaps, that an initial foray into downloadable content has ended up bested by oft-criticised brick-and-mortar enterprises, but ultimately if you’ve already purchased Fallout 3 (if you read our review last year you probably would have) and haven’t tried the extra content this is the undeniably the best way to go about obtaining it. On the other hand, if you’re trying to play Fallout 3 for the first time, the game of the year edition won’t make life any easier.
After scurrying the character out of the confines of the subterranean vault that’s housed them for life, they’ll be inundated with a bevy of baffling additional quest options. These are all routes to the precarious challenges of the extra missions, and following their directions instead of the game’s original initial destination, the tick-tocking potentially-explodable city of Megaton, is the easiest way for a new player to be mercilessly slaughtered by Fallout 3’s oh-so hostile world.
That’s one of the problems. Without a well-thought-out system of delivering these swathes of additional content the game just drops them on the player the first time they venture outside. There’s plenty of content within each pack, with the addition of all five packs adding about sixteen hours onto an already hefty game, but they all feel distant from the game’s original landscapes. But, on a positive note, their secluded environments offer some much-needed visual variety from the acidic, overcast look of Bethesda’s interpretation of a post-apocalyptic Washington DC. There’s plenty of aesthetic pizzazz here, such as The Pitt’s charred crimson skies, Point Lookout’s mutated marshlands and Mothership Zeta’s depressingly repetitive corridors.
It’s also worth noting that the Broken Steel pack changes the game’s original ending. Whereas Fallout 3 definitively ends with credits and a concluding rolling movie, the addition of Broken Steel – which continues the story past the ending – means the original ending has been effectively disinherited by the game. It’s a good, thing, too: the original finale was one of the few disappointing parts of the original game.
As downloadable content, most of the five add-ons received lukewarm receptions. The peak is definitely Point Lookout, which comes closest to replicating the base game’s simple joy of exploration and Broken Steel, which tacks on an enjoyable set of missions to the end of the main questline and bumps the level cap to 30. The Pitt’s fantastic twist finale means it’s worth an honourable mention, but Operation: Anchorage and Mothership Zeta represent the low-point of the add-ons. They’re both little more than oft-monotonous dungeon crawlers, and their biggest virtue is the copious amounts of XP received from finishing them. Still, the low-points of the additional content are far easier to swallow when amalgamated into this new addition. It’s all a matter of perceived value, really.
Let’s not forget the entire original game – one of the defining titles of 2008 – is all there, too. It’s safe to say The Game of the Year Edition comprehensively builds on Fallout 3’s core experience, and it’s without a doubt the best way to experience the game if you’ve never played the original. You might want to consider picking it up even if you have. The price is certainly right, and Fallout 3 is still hugely deserving of the same score we gave it last year.
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