Not even Bradshaw can save this Pitt…
[Author’s Note: Word of mouth (tested by the reviewer at least on the Xbox 360 version of the expansion) is that a full hard drive installation on the NXE for Fallout 3 fixes most of the bugs found in this DLC. Here’s hoping that you have the extra 8GBs in case you are experiencing any issues!]
After a slightly turbulent first attempt at downloadable content for Fallout 3 with Operation: Anchorage, Bethesda is at it again with The Pitt, a DLC pack that places you in the ruins of the steel giant – Pittsburgh.
[image1]It all starts with a distress radio signal, similar to Anchorage. The signal takes you to a secluded location in the depths of the Capital Wasteland, where you meet a resistance fighter named Wherner, who tells you about the suffering of Pittsburgh’s residents. Once the US steel-producing capital, Pittsburgh fell to anarchy after the Atom War that tore the country apart, becoming a hellhole simply named The Pitt, where slavery is just commerce and a ghastly sickness claims more souls everyday. They obviously need a savior (or a scourge), so guess who that might be? Shortly after deciding your course of action – evil or goody two-shoes – a rail cart trip in a train tunnel takes you immediately to the contained environment of this DLC pack.
Instead of just apparently changing the color palette to white like in Anchorage, Bethesda obviously put a lot of work into making The Pitt a whole different environment, as soon as you step off the tunnel. Pollution is everywhere, and you can’t tell day from night by looking at the sky, with chimneys constantly choking out flame and smoke. If Blade Runner’s L.A. was ever going to go to ruins, this is what it would probably look like. [It already is. ~Ed.]
The main draw to The Pitt along with its new environment setting is its central quest, which pits you (pun intended) between two opposite factions, the Slaves and the Slavers. Simply put, the Slavers have been developing a cure for the disease that’s been ravaging the local population, and the Slaves want it. On the other hand, the Slavers don’t want to lose control of the Slaves, and wish to keep a firm grip on its steel and ammo-producing operation. See the dilemma?
[image2]Regardless of your choice, the quest line progresses at a brisk pace. In the end, though, the choices presented to you aren’t as varied as say, most of the choices in Fallout 3, where you could be a good but neutral character, or an evil bastard (with a heart of gold hidden deep inside).
Instead of the feral ghouls found in the Capital Wasteland, Trogs – humans who have been thoroughly mutated by the disease and attack anything that moves – mill about the steel-yards of The Pitt. They are a distant cousin to the Feral Ghoul, resembling a Licker from the Resident Evil series, crouching (without the tongue) and waiting to lunge at you from a distance. Where there are several types of ghouls in the core game – some feral and some that can talk and some that are pack mules for Power Armor – they have different appearances and behaviors. The Trogs have no such variation in intelligence, tending to stick in packs… which is good since you don’t have to tell them apart.
Everything in The Pitt feels more mature compared to the main Fallout 3 game – it’s a much grittier environment, and NPCs don’t avoid using stronger curse words at you more often, even though the sometimes comical nature of the violence still tips the scale back to remind you it’s a game.
[image3]It’s not much of a secret that right when you arrive at The Pitt’s main quest hub, you’ll have your equipment taken away – you should be used to it by now. But don’t let that discourage you, because in the absence of your beloved Terrible Shotgun or Gauss Rifle, comes the next best human invention: the Auto Axe. You’ll get introduced to this little baby as soon as you enter the city and get to meet the slave workers handling this contraption, and that’s where the fun begins. The Auto Axe is basically a portable meat grinder that makes quick work of anything in front of its dangerous end. It’s an incredibly satisfying melee weapon, far surpassing any other non-projectile-based armament found in the rest of the game. Even after finding some guns scattered in the yards, you will keep going back to the axe.
Happily enough, Bethesda made some smart decisions with this DLC pack, mainly based upon complaints from Operation: Anchorage. After completing this hub’s quest, you can keep exploring the big sections of town, collecting steel ingots that net you extra unique pieces of equipment, like armor, guns, and variations of the Auto Axe. However, instead of opening up a storage room and grabbing all you can carry (since the place will be locked afterwards, like in Anchorage), these prizes are given to you as you turn in a few ingots at a time, out of the total of 100, giving a bit more to do after deciding the fate of both factions. These rewards are extremely cool and will easily surpass anything that was picked up during your ventures in the Capital Wasteland, or Anchorage for that matter. It’s great to see a developer listening to the users and tweaking minor but thoroughly important issues.
On the other hand, The Pitt still suffered from a rocky release full of bugs on both PC and 360 versions in its first week. Some bugs date back to the original Fallout 3, but shockingly, some of the new bugs from The Pitt make it unplayable for many users, with problems ranging from deleted saved games to fully corrupted game installations.
The Pitt is a much more fleshed-out expansion than Operation: Anchorage could ever hope to be. Still, its four-or-so-hour campaign does not have as many choices as the original game, making it feel limited in some aspects. However, even after considering these issues, your trip to post-apocalyptic Pittsburgh is worth the ten dollars (or 800 Microsoft Points). Even if it’s for a short stay, there’s lots of worthwhile new equipment – along with chills and thrills – waiting for both good and evil boys and girls to take back to their vaults, to remind them of the wonders and horrors of The Pitt.