3.27.2009

Video Game Review: Fallout 3's The Pitt Expansion

by Phil Kehres

Fallout 3 – The Pitt expansion (rated M for mature, available for download on Xbox Live & PC — Xbox 360 version reviewed)
Release date: March 25, 2009.

Fallout 3’s latest downloadable expansion, The Pitt, is a big step up from the last one, Operation: Anchorage. (For the full review of Operation: Anchorage, please go here.) The Pitt sticks to the strengths of Fallout 3 and expands on them, providing the player fascinating new areas to explore, unique non-player characters to interact with and difficult moral choices to make. Though the main experience lasts only four to five hours, The Pitt remains open to the player after completion of the main quests. Unlike Operation: Anchorage, then, the download is well worth the 800 Microsoft points (MS points: 800 = $10).

The Pitt is all about the story. After downloading it and booting up an old saved game from the Fallout 3 main game, the player will receive a distress call. Upon finding the source of the call, you’ll encounter a man named Wehrner fighting off a band of nasty Raiders. When the Raiders are defeated, Wehrner explains to you his dilemma: he has come from The Pitt — the post-apocalyptic wasteland version of Pittsburgh, PA — in search of someone to help him cure the mysterious diseases and mutations that are afflicting the citizens of The Pitt. The catch is that The Pitt is a city of slaves overseen by ruthless Raiders and their overlord, Ashur. Wehrner accompanies you to The Pitt, where you’ll have to disguise yourself as a slave to enter the city and search for the cure.

You’ll enter the city through a virtual send-up to the iconic real-life Fort Pitt Bridge. The Pitt looks a bit different than the Capital Wasteland of the main game, with more oranges and reds saturating the color palette. Plumes of fire and smoke billow from industrial furnaces and steel scaffolding dominates the skyline. Overall, though, it still looks and plays just like the Fallout 3 you know, which is a very good thing. The Pitt plays like a true extension to the main story rather than the linear one-off simulation in Operation: Anchorage. It excels everywhere the first expansion fails. You will encounter new characters with unique back stories, new enemies such as Trogs — former humans twisted into savage beasts by the deadly plague affecting The Pitt — and explore new areas like a slave-run steel mill. One of the quests even has you fighting for your freedom Mad Max-style in a cage filled with barrels of toxic waste.

The highlight of The Pitt, however, is the feeling of moral ambiguity that encompasses your character in certain situations. Without giving too much of the story away, suffice to say that you’ll be faced with some very difficult choices after you earn your freedom from slavery. The choices you make won’t affect the in-game karma meter, but the story is engrossing nonetheless. It feels like Fallout should, much more so than the shoot-em-up action of Operation: Anchorage. My only complaint is that the enemies in The Pitt are no match for a fully leveled-up character. The issue is minor, however, as you’ll be more focused on the story. This is not to say, however, that you won’t love mowing down mutants with new weapons and gear like the AutoAxe, a deadly, serrated rotary saw. Furthermore, you can actually explore The Pitt after the main story quest is completed, engaging in sidequests and interacting with characters. You can even leave and come back, a feature that makes The Pitt feel much more like a worthwhile investment than Operation: Anchorage.

The Pitt functions very well as expansion of the rich Fallout mythos. Gamers are rewarded with the requisite achievement points, perks and weapon and gear caches but, more important, are treated to a fulfilling gaming experience. I have no problem with shelling out $10 for this, especially considering the egregious prices we’ve been charged lately for trashy content.

Final verdict: 4/5

(Phil Kehres also is the co-author of Excuse Me, Is This Your Blog?)

(Promotional screenshot of The Pitt provided by Bethesda Softworks. To see a trailer for The Pitt, please check below.)















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