I used to hate Fallout 3, I thought it was terrible. The animation is laughable, the graphics are nothing special, the dialogue is stilted and worst of all, it did not work. I really have lost count the amount of times it has bombed out, either freezing completely or unceremoniously dumping me back on the XMB without so much as an error message. After playing it for about four hours on the day of purchase the disc was consigned to a pile of games that, ironically, would only be played if there was a nuclear apocalypse and I had to spend a lot of time locked in a bunker. That was until two weeks ago when a grey, wet Sunday afternoon in southwest London was close enough to a nuclear winter to justify raiding the aforementioned pile of games. Since then I have played nothing else, zipping through the main game and ‘The Pitt’ DLC and enjoying both.
The first hurdle is getting to the DLC itself. When you start up Fallout and go to the downloads section (seems the logical thing to do) it shows “The Pitt” on the screen, so you press ‘X’ on it (also the logical thing to do). Then ‘Start’. Then ‘O’. And then every button combination you can think of whilst the menu sits there and clicks happily. I gave up in the end and loaded up a save game to continue with some side quests in the main game and lo and behold a radio message appears about the DLC – so what was the point of the “Download” menu selection? To tell me I have the DLC? I watched it download, do you think I am going to forget it is there?
After receiving the message it is a rather long trek right to the top of the map to meet a shady new character who gives you the option to either rescue a group of slaves and then disguise yourself, or buy your own slaves as a cover story to enter ‘The Pitt’. I did not have much of a choice as I was accompanied by faithful pet mutant, Hawkes, who is rather trigger-happy. One short firefight later and I was togged up in the autumn collection from Coco Chanels “Slave to Fashion” line (dirty rags or so in this season, dontchaknow) and started the DLC by entering a train tunnel. Hawkes was still accompanying me but cleverly, the game recognises this and there is some slightly amusing dialogue about why he cannot come.
The physical play area covered by the Pitt is not that large compared to the huge wilderness of the main game. It features a railway area, downtown, uptown, a steel mill and a couple of wasteland areas. Unlike the original game you can run from one end of the map to the other in a few minutes but also unlike the original game you, the map plays vertically as well as horizontally. Occasionally in Fallout you would get a view from the top of a tower after climbing up inside the building, in the steel mill section of the DLC you can go up. And up. And up.
The graphics and sound for the mill sections are very atmospheric. Flames spurt, sparks fly and huge vats of molten steel swing overhead and the whole area is bathed in a red-hot glow, a welcome change from the dull grey and browns of the wasteland. The frame rate does start to judder slightly but overall it looks very realistic, you can almost feel the heat from the furnaces. Whilst playing through the story there are a couple of staged set pieces that make a welcome change to the pacing. Your character will have to win three cage fights and later on, a sequence where the scampering Troggs invade the city. You will also acquire a couple of new weapons including a spinning disc cutter called an “Auto Axe” which is very good at removing limbs. After a big battle the status updates could not keep up with my gleeful dismemberment and was busily pinging “Trogg left leg disabled” “Trogg right leg disabled” “Trogg Head disabled” long after the last leg was severed. A particularly gory animation sequence happens if you fire up VATS and target a Troggs head with the Auto Axe, nicely slicing his skull off so the exposed brains can gush gallons of blood across the floor.
The main story of the DLC took around five and half hours to complete and there is much more exploring and a two side quests to extend the playtime. Eight quid for a couple of rainy afternoons entertainment seems a fair price especially when you consider how much work has gone in to the DLC with new voice acting, set pieces and the stunning vertical exploration sections. You also get nine new weapons, nineteen new clothing variations, three extra perks and for the trophy whores, five trophies including two easy silvers and an easy gold. The DLC is not an essential purchase, but on a wet Sunday afternoon you could do a lot worse than ‘The Pitt’.
Tuffcub’s working through all the DLC for Fallout 3 – once all the packs are down we’ll be doing a recap with the scores.