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Fallout 3: Point Lookout

Bethesda is a developer known for producing downloadable content, extending the lifespan of the studio's already enormous games. Fallout 3's first few packs were diverting and enjoyable enough but it was Broken Steel, the third expansion pack, which felt like an important add-on. The latest pack, Point Lookout, is the most complete and satisfying yet, though it does come with some frustrations.

 Point Lookout Screenshot 1 

Fallout's Capital Wasteland is a stunning post-apocalyptic environment but on occasions you find yourself yearning for a change from the dusty wilderness. In a great move Point Lookout is set in Maryland's swampy and equally inhospitable countryside giving this add-on a totally different feel. After installing the content, you soon hear word that a boat has docked in South Eastern DC. Upon investigation you see a ferry manned by a slightly mysterious individual who offers transport to a rich and exciting new location.

After the short journey you arrive in Point Lookout and are free to do as you please. This content pack takes place in an open world map, separated from The Capital Wasteland. The new area is considerably smaller, but is a good size and fully exploring it will take some time. Instead of having to pursue a set quest line in the same manner as the other expansions, you can tackle quests at your own pace and set off into the wilderness when you want to. With around 30 new locations to find and investigate I was kept busy, especially as each is carefully crafted and many add some new back-story to the game. Another pleasing option is the ability to travel between DC and Point Lookout at any time, meaning you aren't stuck in one place for the duration of the quests.

 Point Lookout Screenshot 2

The new environments are excellent, being swampy with a lack of the radiation found elsewhere. Buildings and homesteads are starting to be reclaimed by nature and the expanses of greenery provide a nice contrast to The Capital Wasteland. The diversity on offer is great and there are a few nice gameplay touches. Methane from the swamps collects in certain areas and can be ignited with explosive results during combat which adds a further tactical element to the battles.

Combat is a necessity as it becomes immediately obvious that the locals aren't friendly. To reinforce the atmosphere, most of your new enemies are the demented "Swampfolk". These hideous freaks have undergone decades of inter-breeding and mutation preventing any of them becoming "America's Next Top Model". Worrying foreheads, facial anomalies and hideously deformed arms mean getting close is unpleasant especially when at the receiving end of one of their axes.

 Point Lookout Screenshot 3

Other new opponents include a distinct new Mirelurk variant, Smugglers who don't take kindly to competition and an insane religious cult, The Tribals, who play a large part in the main quest. With a little exploration you stumble across a huge mansion under attack by these spiritual maniacs and are soon roped into investigating them. Whilst the story is relatively short, there are some nice interesting missions and you are forced to make decisions which have a few unexpected outcomes. With only a handful of individual tasks it is very easy to rush through to the end and I imagine some might feel short changed.

However, the missions feel part of the environment. Instead of being a virtual reality simulation or set of quests, this feels like a new location. Searching through the undergrowth to stumble across a group of Swampfolk standing in a filthy and dishevelled children's play area is incredibly sinister, especially when there are dolls thrust on spikes and skeletons hanging from trees. Similarly, finding a half sunken research ship with a sinister back-story is also a little chilling.

 Point Lookout Screenshot 4 

Everything is carefully designed and thankfully there are several side quests. These are a highlight with a brilliant and complex mission involving Chinese agents really standing out. Whilst some are a little brief and one merely consists of "bring X amount of Y here" they fit in with the atmosphere a lot better than some other side missions in the previous packs. Point Lookout's new weapons and items are also fun to use if a little underwhelming in scale. The double-barrelled shotgun packs serious damage and makes short work of the bigger Swampfolk, but is also a formidable weapon in their hands.

Yet, for all the great features of Point Lookout, I encountered a large number of problems. The frame rate dropped to almost unplayable levels on a couple of occasions forcing me to quit and reload a save. I also encountered a few bugs where quests couldn't be advanced and on several infuriating occasions the entire game just froze, usually at key moments. It must be very difficult to iron out the problems in such a large game but I was hoping for something smoother and more complete. Hopefully a future patch will remove these issues, but they seem to be starting to become a trend as I experienced this issue to a lesser degree in the other releases.

 Point Lookout Screenshot 5

If you can ignore these technical problems then Point Lookout is a great experience. Immersing yourself in the new location is easy and there is plenty to explore and investigate with some satisfying new content thrown in. During my time in the swamps I brewed Moonshine, decapitated more insane hillbillies than I could count and even ended up finding a horribly mutated dancing bear. If that doesn't sound even remotely appealing, then it's probably one to avoid. For everyone else grab your lever-action rifle and get shooting some inbred psychopaths.

Pros: 
  • Well designed new open world area
  • Some enjoyable quests and items
  • Diverse and different location
Cons: 
  • Technical problems undermine this installment
  • Short set of main quests

Playability:

9 out of 10

Replayability:

7 out of 10

Graphics:

8 out of 10

Sound:

8 out of 10

Overall:

8 out of 10
evilgiraffeman | 6th July, 2009
POBmaestro's picture
It's nice to hear that these F3 DLC add-ons are of good quality, as many are nothing more than cash-ins. I'm still holding out for a GoTY edition which will hopefully contain all the DLC packs and fix the technical problems
Rasher's picture
what sort of price do these add on work out at?

also what about the PC version (as i just brought the one on steam)
Nice review mate. It's very well written, you've come along loads .
evilgiraffeman's picture
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snoozer View Post
Nice review mate. It's very well written, you've come along loads .
Thank you very much for commenting, it is really nice to get feedback from people, especially a talented writer like yourself.

I've been working hard on my reviews, mainly as I love doing them and enjoy it so it is nice to hear that someone feels they are coming along.

In response to Rasher, the game packs are currently available for PC and Xbox 360 for around 800 points (roughly £6). A GotY pack will be released before Christmas and will cost around £35 for PC which was include all of the 5 packs.

If you just purchased the deal on Steam, then looking through the packs out already might be an idea and seeing if one takes your fancy. Otherwise, the GotY pack will be better for brand new players.

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