What do you get when you combine the world of Fallout 3 with a snowy Alaskan environment and a bunch of Chinese Communists trying to kill you? You get Bethesda’s first downloadable expansion to Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage. With a deadly virtual reality simulator you are sent to a military base in Anchorage, Alaska to help the soldiers repel the Chinese attack. The style is more run-and-gun and differs from the Fallout 3 experience, but it is still entertaining and interesting to see how the in your face shooting mechanic works with V.A.T.S. and the game’s overall engine.
The way the expansions work for Fallout 3 is by radio signals. After downloading each expansion and starting up the game you will be treated to a new radio signal on your Pip-Boy 3000 and a new quest to follow. For this expansion the Outcasts from the Brotherhood of Steel are seeking your help. Not really because of how badass your character is, but because your little arm computer is the only thing that will interact with the equipment they found.After heeding their call you fight off some super mutants and head underground to where they found a mysterious device. It turns out the device is a military simulator that drops you behind enemy lines to sabotage cannons that are bombarding the U.S. encampment and upon completion it unlocks a room full of goodies you find while in Anchorage. The simulator also throws your character into cardiac arrest if he or she dies during it, but since you have your Pip Boy you’re the only one who can interact with the simulator. Lucky you!After sabotaging the guns and meeting up with the commanding officer the mission is pretty straightforward. All it boils down to is killing people and blowing stuff up until the Chinese are repelled from Anchorage. This overall mission is broken down into a few smaller ones taking you to different locations, but the objective is always the same.The look of Anchorage is pretty standard for Alaska. It is very snowy and white. Everything on the outside, from the landscapes to the pipes and buildings, looks great. My favorite thing to look at is the sky. Unlike the polluted atmosphere of the Capital Wasteland, Alaska’s skies are very blue and the clouds are white instead of mostly gray. Along with the landscapes, the new equipment Bethesda added to Fallout 3 with this expansion also looks unique and different from the other items already in the game.While the outside looks great, the inside suffers from some similarity issues. The handful of times you enter a building in Anchorage it looks just about the same as every other interior in the expansion. It makes sense since they are military outposts and are probably designed to look similar, but a little more variety indoors would have been more engaging for players. Fortunately, you only have to go inside buildings a couple of times. The rest of your time in Anchorage is spent in the great outdoors.The sound is very similar to that of the rest of Fallout 3. In addition to the ambient music and the additional voice acting, you have the fierce winds of Alaska blowing and the Chinese soldiers speaking their native language to each other (to the best of my knowledge) during battles. And since you are in the middle of a war, the constant background gunshots and explosions make the environment sound like it. Overall, Bethesda added choice sound effects to make Anchorage an entirely separate entity from the Capital Wasteland.
The most notable difference about Operation Anchorage is the style of gameplay you are employing. During most of Fallout 3, you can choose whether or not to sneak through expansive areas or take enemies head on. You can do this in Anchorage, but the areas are much more linear and straightforward. This offers up a new style of playing not really explored in the Capital Wasteland.
Operation Anchorage is a military simulation based on the “shoot first, ask questions later” philosophy. The gameplay is very run-and-gun and there isn’t very much to explore. This style offers an interesting new look at V.A.T.S. and allows players to adapt their strategies to this new way of playing. Some might find this a little repetitive, but I found it entertaining to break away from the exploring and just shoot my way through this expansion. Plus, when you finish you get a few new items to play with during the rest of your stay in the Wasteland.
Operation Anchorage is the first of the five downloadable expansions Bethesda made for Fallout 3. It offers up a new play style that is more straightforward than the main adventure in the Capital Wasteland. Although there aren’t as many places to explore and sneaking isn’t as effective, it is still entertaining and offers up a new way to experience the game. Also, the weapons and armor acquired from Anchorage supplement the rest of the game well. This expansion is good for anyone who wants to further their adventures in Fallout 3 and wants to take a brief break from D.C.
Other Fallout 3 Reviews
Fallout 3: The Pitt
Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage
Fallout 3: Point Look0ut
Fallout 3: Broken Steel
Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta
Published by: Bethesda Softworks
Developed by: Bethesda Game Studios
ESRB Rating: M for Mature, 17+
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC
Release Date: January 27, 2009