Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fallout 3 Operation Anchorage review

Yes I've splashed out on the downloadable content for Fallout 3 and I've just finished the Operation Anchorage simulation.

I'll start with the good points - it feels as big as the main game in itself right from the get go. Stuck on the side of a icy windy mountain the view gives the same wow factor as when you first hit the scenic outlook on your exit from the Vault. Objectives are clear, and with the benefit of this being a simulation there's little to nothing to interact with so it has the feel of a polished first person shooter., which works. In essence this extra content gives you four missions - Stop the guns, retake the listening post, destroy the Chimera station, shut-down the pulse field.

Other than the fast-paced FPS feel the main difference is the squad that you can take with you; you don't have total control over them, and only once can you actually order them to wait while you scout ahead, with the main interaction being to dismiss them from the squad. The sergeant with you can be interacted with to bring in more or different squad members up to your allocation limit.

As with squads, so to do you get to pick your weapon package and this introduces you to the new weapon - the Gauss Gun. Uses the same MF cells as the Plasma Gun, but only holds one clip; this poor rate of fire is made up for the mule-kick it delivers - a good shot will knock even a Sentry Bot over leaving them prone and defenceless until they manage to pick themselves up.

Run through the whole simulation and you get to unlock the armoury and gain Power Armour and a Gauss gun of your very own to take back out into the wilderness; well worth it.

So that's the good points what are the bad?

The first mission started off a little ropey; your contact scaled a mountain and walking over to it you got the interaction cross-hair; several minutes of trying to climb the same cliff with no success I determined that I was supposed to follow the path. That was the only time I didn't know where to go; just bad that it was my first task.

Out of that and into the three main missions proper and the troubles started. Visit the computer to pick squad members and you see each has a point value; this would be useful if I knew how many points I had to spend. Trial and error worked that out.

Out of the command tent and a quartermaster and medic were available. Other than a Speech bonus for the QM both were pointless as an Ammo and a Health Spawning machine are in the QMs tent. Of the three main objectives the third is only accessible after the other two; you talk to your sergeant and tell him which objective you're taking and off he and the squad run. At which point you chase after them because although all three objectives show up on your map none are labelled and you can't pick one as your quest so at the very beginning at least you've no idea which way to head.

Once you're there the FPS nature guides you through easily and you can complete your objective... or not. Getting to the Listening Post control room I talk to my sergeant and he tells me that the objective is complete, talk to him again and he told me that he was following orders and taking back the listening post; make up your mind. Turns out the LP could only be taken out when all the enemies were cleared from the area. I headed out to the roof and got killed by a sniper; reload and the sniper wasn't there so I couldn't finish. Reload and two snipers were there this time. Killed one and up came the sergeant to tell me the objective was complete and away I was whisked to the command tent. Hang on what about the other sniper?

Another important point for those used to the wilderness is that there is no autosave for the return to the tent only when you step out of it. Sounds minor, but it caught me out.

Okay other bugs - slide-show levels of slowdown during the Chimera mission. Enemies showing Green and not noticing me even standing next to them and one major problem with the end mission. Word of warning SAVE BEFORE you step into the final bunker blasted open by the Power-Armoured troops. Stepping through the door is an auto-save and upon death I would be reloaded to that point after opening the door, be frozen in place for the speech which wouldn't happen. The auto-save seems to record prior to the freeze and weapon-down and the pause between the load and the freeze in this instance seems to disable the speech and you can't continue.

One other freeze happened when I levelled up, but couldn't shake the Caution enemy warning to actually level up. I headed through an auto-save door and the game froze. However this may have been me being impatient as level loads seem to be very long in Anchorage I've timed one at a minute before the screen changed to loading.

A minor annoyance was the attitude of the Outcasts after completing the simulation. Here I am opening the armoury for them after battling my way through the training simulation and they're still stuck with the default "Shouldn't you be banging some rocks together" insults. Glad I was playing an evil character and could kill them all.

Caveats in mind it's still worth doing, the perk is petty but the Gauss gun is certainly worth it and it did indeed make a nice change in pace.