One of the advantages of living in the future is that video games can be updated quickly and easily with new content over an internet connection. For PC gamers, this is nothing new – PC games traditionally attract big modding and homebrew communities. Paying for that extra content, on the other hand, was lambasted at first. This was not helped by Bethesda Softworks, developer of the Elder Scrolls series and Fallout 3, who charged for a near-useless content such as the now infamous horse armour.
Over time, complaints over paid downloadable content have died down and we now pay for much more. Operation Anchorage and The Pitt are two examples of this. They are currently exclusive to the Xbox 360 and PC, costing around about $10 each.
Operation Anchorage takes your character back in time to the early days of the American-Chinese War which resulted in global nuclear annihilation. The lead in to this quest arc manages to retain the in-world immersion – shortly after you start playing with the addon downloaded, your receive a radio transmission from the Brotherhood Outcasts seeking help. After fighting off some Supermutants and being shanghaied by the Outcasts, the real game begins when you step into a holographic training unit. This handily strips you of your guns, armour and items.
From then on in, you are effectively a commando behind enemy lines. The first part of the quest is great fun – sniping, sneaking, scouting out terrain and finally making some big explosions. My one problem with it is that like the main quest, Operation Anchorage is a very linear experience. Take away VATS and much of the initial quest could be lifted from Call of Duty.
The second half improves on this slightly by giving you some choices. You get issued with fixed packets of weapons to replace the pistol and sniper rifle from the first quest, you get to choose some squad members to come with you and you get to choose which order to complete the objectives in. Thankfully, these do have a pretty big effect – I choose well for the first objective and dispatched it in a timely manner, but on the second quest I picked the wrong set of weapons and the wrong squad members and it was far more difficult. It’s nice to see effects like this – I played through the main game on Hard and found that by the time I was level 11 or so, it was an absolute cake walk. More situations requiring tactical thinking please developers!
The final part of the quest before you come out of the machine is a rather good boss fight. This was a great addition – in the main game, even central characters go down with a couple of shots and some key fights are disappointingly quick. Instead, this one last several minutes, while power-armoured US troops fight around you. Very immersive.
And that’s it…it’s all over rather quickly. It took me about two and a half hours to complete, maybe a bit less. Which disappointed me because I was expecting something with similar scope to Oblivion’s Knights of the Nine addon quest, which added ten hours or more of gameplay.
Would I recommend Operation Anchorage? Yes, largely because it fills you in on the background to the Fallout universe and provides a few nice rewards which are useful in the main game. Would I say you are missing out on something Earth shattering if you don’t buy it? No.
Coming soon…review of Fallout 3’s second addon “The Pitt”
Edit: Thanks to Bob from The Dice Bag for pointing out that Fallout 3 DLC is avaliabe for both PC and the Xbox 360, not just the 360 as I originally stated.