If each Fallout 3 expansion is an attempt to expand Bethesda's game into new genres, then this week's Point Lookout is an axe stab at survival horror. Scared?
Where does a sprawling game that's already sprawled across three downloadable expansions set partially in Alaska, Pittsburgh and an Air Force base go in a fourth? To the rocky beaches, creepy swamps and faded boardwalk of a new island called Point Lookout.
With so much content already released that makes the massive Bethesda game more massive, the offering of another $10 expansion is either a tough sell or a necessary fix for those who've been buying everything. Following the bombastic, level-cap-raising, end-revising Broken Steel, however, the next piece of content just can't seem like that big a deal. Good thing it's interesting.
Creepy Creeps:Point Lookout is no Resident Evil. It's not as scary as the first of those games. But it's got a double-barreled shotgun and plenty of shambling enemies to be shot with it. It's got a boarded up mansion, a propensity to exhaust its visitors' ammo supply, and some great psychological tricks similar to what Bethesda's designers dabbled with in one of the Vaults in the core game. It also has a bunch of new inbred enemies and a lot of people swinging axes in close quarters where your rifle is poor defense. If you like to panic while playing your games, this is the Fallout 3 DLC for you.
Beauty And The Beach:Games grounded on real world terrain such as Grand Theft Auto and Fallout benefit from art designers who draw from interesting elements of real geography. Forget lava bridges and rainbow roads. There's beauty in bringing a strong art style and the player witnessing it to craggy cliffs that overlooking a shipwreck and the shoals of sand exposed by low tide. A smoky sky, a looming Ferris wheel, a lone lighthouse in the distance, a cave littered with coffins… this is the scenery to make you feel uneasy.
Strange Pace: It starts hard. It ends easy. There are lots of optional side mission, at least one that was surprisingly simple for a Level 26 hero. An expansion's degree of challenge certainly doesn't need to be set to a steady incline, but when you feel like it's getting good is when it's ending.
This one's the haunted side-trip of the Fallout 3 downloadable expansions. It offers players a more significant change of scenery than any of the DLCs since Operation Anchorage. It breaks no new ground for gameplay, but advances Fallout 3's aesthetics.
Recommended for those seeking uneasy and weird. And, hey, if you play Fallout 3 and already have your hero eating the flesh of the ghouls he kills, then uneasy and weird is just right.
Oh, and it features Mother Brain. See? Weird.
Fallout 3: Point Lookout was developed by Bethesda Softworks and distributed to the Xbox 360 and Windows for download on June 23. It's also announced as coming to the PS3 later. Retails for 800 Microsoft Points ($10 USD). Played the five core quests, one extra, sampled the new weapons, raised my hero from Level 24 to Level 26 over the course of about five hours.
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