Friday, March 27, 2009

Welcome to Pittsburgh!

Immeasurably Fallout 3 has always existed as a world of grey and even more morally grey choices. Entrenched throughout the lore of Fallout are stories of survival and deep moral choices. The Pitt, Bethesda's latest DLC for Fallout, continues this trend. As the name elegantly suggests, the DLC sends you to Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh carries the honor of being one of the few cities in Fallout lore not to be directly ravaged by nuclear warfare. However, over the years the city has become a breeding ground for slavery and mass disease. Similar to the "Operation Anchorage" DLC, players must wait for a broadcast signal to access the content in the Pitt. From there you are thrust into the city with naught save your wits and must make do to survive in the city. However, if you are level 20 to which I assume most people are, there is little to no challenge in the combat.
Presentation is top notch as it was with the previous DLC pack. The city looks absolutely infested with Trogs, disease, Slavers and the cancerous fumes from the industry. Bethesda has done a wonderful job of nailing the overall presentation. The city looks truly dilapidated as it seems that each instrinsic detail of destruction was painted throughout your environment. You'll explore smoking ruins, brave diseased tunnels and recoil in horror witnessing the slaves being treated like vermin. Achieving a greater sense of immersion with the overall dreary and depressing atmosphere.
The game play is still very much intact from the main game. If you enjoyed the combat in the main game, then this is a very natural and easy transition for you. However, you have two new weapons at your disposal; the Auto Axe and the Infiltrator. The Auto Axe is a wondrously crude chainsaw like blade that eviscerates enemies horrifically. The latter is a small submachine gun with an afixed scope to make combat outside of the system of VATs slightly easier. You'll be using plenty of these weapons throughout the course of Pitt's four to five hour experience. While it doesn't change the game-play in any significant fashion, it provides an innumerous amount of fun.
The story of the Pitt is a wonderfully crafted, albeit predictable tale of freedom and salvation. It provides the series staple of showing gamers the grey side of morality. Good and evil are definable concepts to you. There is no angel or devil to judge your actions, no large consequence for your overall actions. Fallout is a world where the rules of your actions governs who lives and dies in the end. Not to spoil anything, but the big reveal at the end of the Pitt is incredibly intelligent in the support of both the "good" and "bad" karma routes. This leads to one of the "better" quests of Fallout showing you there is almost no "proper" way to finish the quest. Each outcome will make you feel a little remorseful in the end. I believe this to be a brilliant approach to the overall style of Fallout and captures the very essence of the series.
This results in a fair amount of replay value seeing the Pitt from the savior of the slaves and the self-glorified bastard. Is it worth 800 Microsoft points? That depends; If your a fan of Fallout 3 this pack is for you. While it may be on the short side, it provides you with a great experience that will hold you over until "Broken Steel" is released. Eight out of Ten

1 comment:

  1. It was interested to see your thoughts on the Pitt. 8/10 sounds about right, I certainly liked it more than Operation Anchorage, but that doesn't really say much.

    I also really liked that there is no clear good or evil choice, that both choices are evil in their own way. Which decision do you think is the right one? I think that helping Ashur is the "right choice", as abhorrent as slavery is. I've summed up some my opinions for helping either side:

    Helping Ashur:
    - Greater chance of a cure being discovered, due to their better understanding of science and equipment
    - Ashur promises to free the slaves once a cure is discovered and it is safe to do so
    - He seems legitimately concerned about the safety and future of his child. He definitely seems to be a much more trustworthy character than Wernher. I wouldn't be surprised if even the slaves like Ashur more than Wernher
    - The class divide between slave and slaver is not quite what it appears to be at first. The slavers certainly aren't as bad off as the slaves, but by talking to them you realize that their life isn't exactly fun and games either. You can't really say that any one, even Ashur, "lives in luxury"
    - His strong leadership probably represents the greatest hope for the Pitt to emerge a product society.

    Helping Wernher:
    - The obvious good result of helping Wernher is that the slaves are "free". But are they really free. If Wernher takes charge, he isn't just going to let them leave. They won't be called slaves anymore, but they are probably going to have to do the same work they already do. Even if he happens to develop a cure (which seems unlikely), he would probably force the slaves to continue working for him in order to receive it.
    - Also, there needs to be raiders who find food and keep the Trog/Wildmen population down. This class is obviously going to be more coveted than a mill worker, so a similar class structure would probably emerge even if the slaves were free.
    - Wernher seems to want to help the slaves, but it seems that he wants to seize power for himself even more. Compared to Ashur, who has the interests of both the slaves and slavers in mind. But Wernher is such a ruthless bastard that he would kidnap and possibly cause the death of an innocent baby. Also, Wernher wants to condemn Ashur and the slavers to a horrible death rather than integrating them into his new society, or even just banishing them or painlessly executing them. Even Ashur doesn't wish that fate on Wernher.
    - From the personal standpoint of your character, you might want to side with Wernher just to get revenge on the slavers for making you a slave.

    The fact that your choice is so morally gray is what made the Pitt better than O:A, which contained absolutely no choices. I also liked that there were more items you could get than O:A. However, there were several things that I did not like about it.

    There were a lot of plot holes in the entire premise of the story. A lot of them seemed to be for gameplay reasons, but they just kind of took me out of the experience.
    -If Wernher comes to the Capital Wasteland to get help, wouldn't he want more than one person to help free the slaves? Seems like he would try to get at least several mercenaries, but he won't even let you bring followers.
    - The Hole really doesn't seem like something Ashur would approve of. He insists of calling them workers and promises them the cure, but then subjects them to gladiator fights? I think this is one of those things that was put in for gameplay reasons, but didn't really make sense.
    - The whole "cure" thing kind of bothered me. I know science is supposed to work differently in the fallout world than ours, but you can't "cure" radiation. It isn't a disease. It is caused by radioactive particles, and causes cells to mutate. You can't cure it like a virus or bacteria. And if you wanted a permanent solution, you would have to completely purify the water and environment, something even Ashur can't do.

    I also absolutely hated getting the mill worker achievement. I didn't want to use a guide, and spent several hours trying to find all those ingots. It wasn't fun, it was a chore, something I hate in video games. And some of the rewards were cool, but not very useful. Operation Anchorage totally ruined the game by giving out such broken items as rewards. The Chinese Stealth Suit, Winterized T-51b Power Armor and Gauss Rifle are so cheap and take all the fun out of the game. I shouldn't have to purposefully limit myself to not using items in the game, and none of the rewards in the Pitt even come close to what was given in O:A.

    This has gotten way too long, and I have class no, but I might have some more to add later.