Fallout 3: Broken Steel

Broken Steel, the final chapter of Fallout 3’s immediate DLC, is the best yet, for several reasons. Incorporating some of the best aspects of both the original game and the other two DLC installments, the episode feels surprisingly epic, featuring some impressive combat sequences and offering a variety of reasons for players to return to the Fallout universe and remain there for a while longer.

Operation anchorage was frustrating but modestly entertaining. The Pitt was a marked improvement but still just a side note. Broken Steel surpasses them both, in length and enjoyability, extending the main quest of Fallout and taking advantage of the D.C. Wasteland while still providing several large additional maps.

It’s hard to evaluate the episodic enclosure of Fallout 3’s DLC considering the strength of the main game was it’s expansive freedoms and successful moderation of boundaries. The condensation of it’s size was one of the flaws in Bethesda’s approach to DLC but they have all been fun diversions. Broken Steel smartly concludes this package with great additions to the existing game that make it a must buy for fans. If you’ve been on the fence about the DLC, now may be the best time to pick them all up. The various additional creative weapons, armor and bonus features alone are very nearly worth the price of the downloads and when used within Fallout 3’s main quest are extremely entertaining.

Broken Steel is a great way to conclude the series of add-ons not simply because it includes the standard additions of two new weapons and a new suit of armor, or because it’s slightly longer and more epic than the previous DLC, but because it finally delivers on the much anticipated promise to raise the level cap. Now players can grind away all the way to 30 and the points needed to do so are substantial. The quest to once again max out will last far longer than Broken Steel, which is of course the point.

This feature alone has had players eagerly awaiting it’s release, with some fans even holding off on the other DLC until they could take advantage of it. What makes Broken Steel the best installment so far is the way it provides players with so much, with little additional effort. I don’t think it’s actually that much bigger than Operation Anchorage or The Pitt but it’s the features it offers and the way it incorporates them that make it seem so big.

It extends the main quest of Fallout 3, returns to the massive world of the Wasteland, and offers the incentive of a raised level cap and new perks to reinvigorate this post apocalyptic adventure. Combined, these elements result in easily the most satisfying and worthwhile episode yet and as the crowning achievement of the trio, alongside them justifies the entire package.

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Broken Steel begins where Fallout 3 ended and allows players to continue on, joining the Brotherhood of Steel in their campaign against the Enclave. If you’ve played through Fallout 3 you know why this would be difficult to do. Without giving too much away Bethesda essentially chose to alter the ending, which is a little awkward and detracts from the original story. However it’s story was never it’s most compelling or outstanding feature so I doubt any tears will be shed. As a continuation of the main quest this means you will need to finish Fallout 3 before you can begin Broken Steel. Most people who have already done so will have at least one saved game nearby so this shouldn’t be a problem.

It’s a little odd since now, instead of a full fledged ending you will have, Broken Steel. The story line simply continues and you are thrust into action alongside the Brotherhood who, armed with Liberty Prime (the enormous robot) are conducting an extermination crusade against the remnants of the Enclave. Make no mistake, this is a combat quest. There is a lot of fighting and fortunately it’s all a lot of fun. There isn’t a lot of necessary structure to the story-line other than what I’ve already explained. The game takes you from one location to the next completing objectives, gathering intel, and eradicating the Enclave. The story for the main game was passive but well done. Here it’s just okay, so it’s fortunate we barely need it. A great story wouldn’t have hurt but what’s offered is serviceable and it’s just so much fun mopping up the Enclave that I didn’t need an abundance of narrative. To quote Aliens, “I only need to know one thing: Where. They. Are.”

The fight eventually leads you to a military air base which boasts some memorable sequences and a generous gratuity of Enclave to dispatch with the copious selection of “hot death” at your disposal. Speaking of which the new Heavy Incinerator may be the hottest “flavor” yet! Picture this: A flame-thrower machine gun. It’s easily one of the coolest weapons ever and the most fun in Fallout 3. That actually should have been the first thing I mentioned in this review because after that there really isn’t any reason to go on. Once you get your hands on a gun that shoots giant balls of fire incredible distances rapidly, you’ve already gotten your money’s worth. Because of it’s incredible range it works great in broad expanses as a first strike weapon that allows you to light your enemies on fire before they even realize they’re being attacked: It’s hilarious. In addition there is an accompanying suit of armor that is my new favorite. The other new weapon, the Tesla Canon, is almost as cool. A heavy, one shot, reload, deal that blast enemies with cocoon of electricity then delivers a crippling surge, the TC definitely has it’s applications.

Though, as far as I could tell, unrelated to the main events of Broken Steel there is also the Tri-Beam Laser, an upgrade to the standard Laser Rifle. Not to be outdone by the weapons, certain enemies have also been upgraded as well. Super Mutant Overlords, and Feral Ghoul Reavers make an appearance as tougher versions of their respective casts. Incinerator wielding Enclave also make things interesting.

Besides the combat and some pretty impressive set pieces, what really makes this experience great is how these events unfold within the context of the Wasteland. Though most of the action still takes place on a few exterior locations, the way the quest is grounded within the primary overworld, allows players access to familiar amenities, and lends to the feeling that this campaign is huge, certainly bigger than it would seem on its own.

The fact that it requires players to complete the game means that most will be playing with fairly leveled up characters, the amount of weapons, perks and other advantages available at this stage in the game (including the additional armaments from previous DLC) is staggering.  Again the general feeling is a newfound immensity to a game that has gradually shrunk with the 100’s of hours spent in it.

What Bethesda has done to extend the playability of the game is commendable. One of the best ways they’ve done this was incorporating the logical progression of the main story-line into the world itself. There are various changes to the wasteland that reflect the events that transpired at the end of the main game as well as the pivotal choices the player can make at that point. It’s this natural evolution of the environment that attributes a sense of novelty to locations hours of playtime have since exhausted. In addition to the primary campaign against the Enclave there are a few side quests that branch into these new developments.

These additional quests are brief but satisfying and contribute to value, scale and enjoyment of Broken Steel. Bethesda was smart and with all the incentive features at work here, it’s clear that this DLC is intended, not only to last longer than the others but inspire a renewed interest in the Fallout 3 experience as a whole as players return to the Wastes in pursuit of level 30. If you haven’t checked out Fallout 3’s DLC yet, if you’ve been waiting for a reason to do so, rest assured, that reason is here. Whether you decide to pick up the others, which are worth it for the additional weaponry, or not Broken Steel is a must for fans of the game. You really owe it to the Wasteland to do something about the Enclave. Do it for Dad.

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