21 Sep


The fifth and final expansion for Fallout 3 takes you out of the Capital Wasteland and off of Planet Earth entirely. Mothership Zeta takes the Lone Wanderer into space aboard an alien mothership and the only thing you do while you are on the spaceship is try to get off. The game play is very similar to Operation Anchorage in that you run through the entire expansion shooting everything in sight. Like in the other expansions, Mothership Zeta has a variety of new equipment to get and new enemies to fight. This idea sounds like a blast on paper, but the shallow storyline and the linear environment will probably leave most players disappointed.

I think he needs a ride... no wait, he's dead.

I think he needs a ride... no wait, he's dead.

When the expansion is activated you will have yet another radio signal added to your Pip-Boy. The location is tracked to the Alien Crash Site in the Wasteland where you can find the Alien Blaster in Fallout 3. This time instead of finding the Alien Blaster you are abducted and beamed aboard an alien spaceship. You briefly see the stereotypical big headed, black-eyed aliens performing various procedures on you, which most likely involve the infamous anal probe and then you are thrown in a jail cell conveniently with another person.

After that whole spectacle your only mission on the spacecraft is to get off of it. Along the way you will find out that the only way to get off of the ship is to blow up a bunch of generators in various rooms to create a distraction that doesn’t seem to work and kill the alien captain running the ship. You will also notice that there are no choices along the way that affect the outcome of the story or your karma. The interesting part of the story is the allies you have with you. Besides the people you have with you at the very beginning you meet a cowboy, a samurai and a few soldiers from the Anchorage conflict against the Chinese, all of whom were frozen in cryo-stasis. Ultimately these characters don’t really add to the story much and the rest of the experience is very linear with hardly any twists and turns to speak of.

I hope you like gray.

I hope you like gray.

At first glance the mothership looks very interesting. You see machines working, the aliens and their robots trying to kill you and all the futuristic new items. The problem is this atmosphere never changes. From beginning to end you are going to be inside this spaceship and surrounded by silver and gray rooms that all look very similar. There is one part where you exit the ship and perform a space walk, but that turns out to be just as uninteresting as being inside the ship. All you do during that part is walk slowly in between two grayish silver layers of the ship in a spacesuit for a short period of time. The mothership has a lot of ground to cover, but if you’ve seen one room in the spaceship you’ve seen them all.

Like the graphics, there isn’t much to say about the audio in Motherhship Zeta. Unlike the rest of Fallout 3 there is no background music to speak of. Most of what you will hear is the whirr of the vast amounts of machinery onboard the ship. The only interesting point about the audio is the new voice work. Not so much the regular peoples’ voices, but the samurai speaking Japanese and the aliens jabbering on in their moon language are fresh and new.

Blowing up one of the many generators.

Blowing up one of the many generators.

The game play is very similar to Operation Anchorage. The game forces you into combat and there really isn’t any way to get around it. The problem with that style of play in Mothership Zeta is most of the rooms or hallways you fight in are very condensed with no cover in sight. This means you’re going to be shooting up stimpaks like you’re addicted to them. This is especially true if you are at a lower level. Ultimately the run and gun style of play does not work very well in this environment and it can lead to more frustration than fun.

The new enemies consist of mainly the aliens and their robot helpers. Some of them will shoot you while others will try and cave in your pathetic human skull with their shock batons. Most of the time they’re not really a problem, but then there are a few times where they get smart and attack you in large numbers. When this happens there are so many enemies that your action points in V.A.T.S. are quickly depleted unless you have the Grim Reaper’s Sprint perk which restores all action points when you kill something in V.A.T.S. If you don’t have that perk you are forced to shoot like a normal First Person Shooter game and as I said in my Fallout 3 review, shooting without V.A.T.S. does not work that well.

A high point in Mothership Zeta resides in the new items you find while exploring the ship. As far as weapons go you get a few of the alien guns, which are mostly energy-based weapons, cryo grenades, which freeze opponents, and specialty weapons obtained from the non-playable characters such as the samurai sword or the cowboy’s six-shooter. However the one you will probably use most often is the Alien Disintegrator, the energy rifle.

There isn’t much in the way of armor and clothing. The main piece of attire you get is the spacesuit, which you need to do your walk outside the ship. There are also the samurai’s and the cowboy’s armor and clothing, but you have to either kill them, let them die in battle, or steal it from them to get it.

Going to space, be back later.

Going to space, be back later.

Unlike the other expansions, Mothership Zeta actually has useful items you can pick up. The alien crystals sell for quite a bit of caps (as do all items from this expansion). The alien epoxy can repair your equipment based on your repair skill, which is great if you’re not near a city and your equipment is busted up. Last but not least is the alien biogel, which can be changed into adapted biogel by one of the NPCs. The adapted biogel is the best healing item in the game, but it can cause side effects such as Intelligence or Perception minus one or strength or agility plus two. My only complaint about the items is when exploring the mothership everything around looks like an item you can pick up and there is no real way to know until you figure out what all of the items are in the expansion.

Overall Mothership Zeta is a let down. The new items are fun and some of them are pretty useful, but unfortunately that is just about the only good thing about it. The environments are mostly cramped and very bland offering up very little variety from one room to the next. The combat can get very tedious because of these cramped spaces and it becomes frustrating when you run out of action points in V.A.T.S. In the end, Mothership Zeta is a very linear and underwhelming experience compared to the rest of Fallout 3. Only hardcore fans of the series will get any enjoyment out of it.

Other Fallout 3 Reviews

Fallout 3

Fallout 3: The Pitt

Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage

Fallout 3: Point Look0ut

Fallout 3: Broken Steel

Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta

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Published by: Bethesda Softworks
Developed by: Bethesda Softworks
ESRB Rating: M for Mature, 17+
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Release Date: August 3, 2009
Genre: Action Role Playing Game