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Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta

Since October, Fallout 3 has provided some seriously memorable gaming moments. Setting fire to a gigantic radioactive scorpion, blowing apart a demented hillbilly's head and surviving the dingy filth of The Pitt have all left me with fond memories of The Capital Wasteland. Mothership Zeta marks the final official add-on and combines an exotic new location with extremely combat heavy missions.

Mothership Zeta Screenshot 1

Taking inspiration from the well hidden alien crash site of the main game, Mothership Zeta points you in the direction of the wreckage. Upon arrival The Lone Wanderer is abducted and must set about escaping while simultaneously stopping the alien threat. The setting is perhaps the most unusual of all the downloadable content packs and feels very different to the inhospitable wilderness of the remnants of earth.

The shiny corridors of the ship look suitably futuristic and the aliens themselves are pleasing science fiction clichés. As ever, this expansion includes the requisite new weapons, armour and items and they generally don't disappoint. Decapitating people with a samurai sword is worryingly satisfying and reducing an alien into a pile of shimmering blue ash with the Disintegrator leaves you feeling pleased. There is certainly plenty to do with a great deal of new content to collect which is suited to a variety of different character types.

Mothership Zeta Screenshot 2

Mothership Zeta feels at its best when you get the opportunity to explore the depths of the ship. At the mid-point you are given a quest which you can approach in any order with plenty of extra locations to investigate and it is here that subtle plot details can be found and enjoyed. I particularly liked the alien research laboratory consisting of hundreds of children's toys that had been altered with sinister intent. Here the humour of the series comes into play and several of these rooms house unique weapons and items rewarding the player's inquisitiveness.

The inclusion of several alien captive recordings to discover is also a nice touch and adds a good layer of depth as many come from the game's otherwise rather lacklustre non-playable characters. Most offer some interesting insights into the aliens and their mysterious role which helps to tie the plot together. Sadly the story is very brief and doesn't measure up to the scope or content of Point Lookout or Broken Steel. The length of Mothership Zeta also surprises at only three quests long, which will average at two to three hours.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this expansion is the overreliance on combat which comprises virtually all of the expansion. Boiled down to its most basic form, Mothership Zeta is a series of connected corridors and rooms filled with aliens. Your character's skills disappear out of the window and the only real way to progress is to shoot, stab or bludgeon your way to the end. This linearity feels out of place in such an open-ended title making several sections seem arduous.

Mothership Zeta Screenshot 3

A lack of variation in the enemy types also adds a sense of déjà vu as you battle aliens, robot aliens, some different aliens and the odd roomful of existing Fallout baddies. The quests themselves are generally moving from place to place until the next objective triggers, with the exception of the more varied mid-section of the expansion. Even this variety feels a little arbitrary as your choice is in which order to perform three very similar tasks. The most diverse section of Mothership Zeta is the finale that manages to reduce a climactic space battle to a series of button presses turning it into a serious anti-climax. Sadly, the phrase "anti-climax" sums up this downloadable content pack which brings plenty of promising ideas but little to bring them together.

After Broken Steel and Point Lookout, Bethesda's downloadable content really looked to be hitting its stride with some great ideas which helped to play to Fallout's strengths. Mothership Zeta is a brave idea to do something different and to some extent it works, but it becomes too bogged-down in extended battles and long brightly-lit hallways.

Mothership Zeta Screenshot 4

The expansion is certainly not a terrible experience and at times you'll feel a grin when you discover something new. For example, the new alien epoxy acts as a health pack for any weapons condition which becomes a godsend in the expansion and beyond. But for each positive there is a vast chamber filled with turrets, aliens and the switch you need to push. This is the first downloadable expansion which is hard to recommend and if you haven't tried one before, this isn't the place to start. For fans of the series there are a few moments to experience but they are fairly few and far between.

Fallout's ongoing support and development has helped to expand an already huge title and as a general rule Bethesda's experiments have largely succeeded. Where the Fallout series heads next remains to be seen, although lets hope it isn't into a galaxy far, far away.

Mothership Zeta Screenshot 5

Pros: 
  • Radically different visual style
  • Impressive new weapons and armour
  • Subtle backstory to discover
Cons: 
  • Linear gameplay
  • Very short content pack with little replay value
  • Limited enemy designs and locations

 

Playability:

7 out of 10

Replayability:

4 out of 10

Graphics:

9 out of 10

Sound:

8 out of 10

Overall:

6 out of 10
evilgiraffeman | 13th August, 2009
POBmaestro's picture
The first review in the new website layout looks seerrweet.

Fallout 3 GOTY (with all the DLC) is still my most awaited game atm. I'm itching to get my hands on this epic RPG, even if all the add-ons aren't up to scratch.
Dead Alive's picture
I was also dissapointed by this. It was the first expansion I started, and I done it totally by accident - I had never found the alien UFO before - then had it completed within a few hours.

I've yet to try the others out, but Point Lookout is my next goal.

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