Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage Review

The new winter tile set is a stunning and refreshing change from the DC Ruins.
Operation Anchorage is the first in Bethesda's ambitious campaign to offer regular and worthwhile additions to their magnus opus Fallout 3.  The expansion allows players to participate in the 2066 Battle of Anchorage, in which American forces successful liberated Anchorage, and it's oil, from Chinese invaders.  The distance and time discrepancies are overcome by having players participate virtually in the scenario. 
Your player will encounter a new band of Outcasts who need your help, more specifically your Pip Boy's help in opening a newly discovered weapons cache.  This cache can only be accessed if someone successfully negotiates the virtual battlefield...it's a bit confusing but just set your disbelief aside and go with it.
Once you enter the scenario you'll be treated to a totally different world than the one you've become accustomed to in the DC Ruins.  Mountains, snow and artillery fire dominate this landscape.  It's all beautifully done as you'd expect, what was unexpected those was the lack of a free flowing open environment.  This expansion reminded me more of Fable with it's "quasi-open world."  I hate being funneled here and there (my primary complaint with Fable) and for the first time I found myself funneled in the Fallout Universe.  This is more a factor of the DLC's linear story than anything else, it was just surprising to experience.
Your first task is to silence the artillery pieces that are pummeling your allies.  In a string of bunker assaults reminiscent of Call of Duty you clear enemy hard points, take out snipers and places explosives on the towering artillery throughout the map.  Your kit for this task consists exclusively of small arms in the early stages, which caused me to struggle a bit (I have virtually no skill in small arms).  Later though players can outfit their character with any conventional weapons kit (basically anything but energy weapons). Once completed your are warped (literally) to the American base where you meet your resident commanding officer.  
He sends you off to select your squad and weapons.  This is where I got my first big loot thrill of the expansion.  I used my speech skill to convince the requisitions officer to give me access to the good stuff and I was rewarded with the Mighty Gause Rifle!  Any fan of the Fallout Series can imagine the nerd screech I let out when I got this.  The Gause Rifle fills the role of energy weapons sniper rifle, and since my primary character is an energy weapon specialist the rest of this campaign was a bloody mess of head shots, and limb severing snipes.  Good times, good times.
Oh my sweet Gause Rifle how do I love thee.  Let me count the ways... headshot, headshot, headshot.
Your squad doesn't really play much of a role in the mission, but I like that Bethesda is experimenting with this sort of dynamic.  The squad basically just follows you around, unlike say Mass Effect with it's superb squad control system.  The mission comes to an end once you deactivate the Chinese Energy Shield which is preventing the American Power-Armored troops from pressing forward, you and the Power-Armored troopers assault the Chinese stronghold and the mission ends, and you're pulled from the simulation.
Then your reward... you'll walk away with unique Winterized Power Armor, a unique Sword, unique Stealth Suit, and a GAUSE RIFLE!  
I had to make two trips to get all the loot back to my home in Megaton, but it was well worth it.
Operation Anchorage is well worth gamerpoints, and it's good to see Bethesda branching out and experimenting with the kinds of missions we can accomplish.  The next DLC promises to be even better, particularly because they'll be bumping up the level cap. 
Final Verdict:  Operation Anchorage is Worth it.


ForceFlow said...

I agree with that OA is worth it. However, I have two major gripes. The first may only be a problem on the Xbox version: Picking up items is such a chore! You have to wrangle the control sticks just to get a tiny little microfusion pack or something. Takes way longer than it should.

Second, OA is mostly straight-up combat. While this may be your playstyle, Fallout 3 isn't strong enough as a 1st person shooter to warrant this. Breaking things up with dialogue and looting is what keeps us from noticing how bad the combat is sometimes (except for VATS. Never dull).

Killer of Hopes said...

@Forceflow: Exactly...

Other than the worth it part. Should have been about $2 or so cheaper

Daggoo said...

Yeah, outside of VATs the combat is not good (inside of VATs though every time I play Fallout I'll cackle at a limb cleave or decapitation). I also noticed that it was a pain to pick up all the little ammo packs scattered throughout the level, and that there's a little lag when accessing new content (i.e. the Gause Rifle) there's the briefest of hic-ups when switching to the new gear.

All that aside though, the more Fallout Content the better. They had me at Fallout 3.

ForceFlow said...

All in all, I regret nothing. It's amazing that we have a feature like VATS that never gets old. The sheer delight of an enemy's head taking an unexpected trajectory...

I'm really looking forward to the 3rd DLC where they raise the level cap. I hope that means unlimited skill points. Finally, I will become the Ubermensch!

Daggoo said...

I thought Pitt was going to raise the level cap and isn't that going to be the second DLC?

Wrecklaimer said...

The 3rd DLC, "Broken Steel", will raise the level cap to 30, as well as continue the game after the "end" sequence.

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what happens when you find all the intels?

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