Fallout 3: The Pitt costs 800 points, or approximately $10, on Microsoft's GFW Live, and should you opt to buy the DLC, the service dutifully downloads the content to your PC. The problem is that the DLC didn't work in the game until I tweaked the install. Foolish me for thinking that Live would handle this on its own, but then again, Operation: Anchorage did the same thing, so I knew to treat it exactly as I would a Fallout 3 mod by copying the files to where they were needed, which did the trick.
Once that was done, I wandered around the Wastes and waited for a radio signal from the north, where a slave named Werhner begs you to help free his people, who are being held in the Pitt, which had once been the city of Pittsburgh. The ruins are now under the thumb of a new master named Ashur, who controls everything with an iron fist. The only way into the city is as a slave, so one of the first orders of business is to find a disguise. The good news is that there's a nearby slaver camp that's getting another group of kidnapped souls ready for shipment to the Pitt.
On our way to the camp, I ran into a Deathclaw that had become indestructible. My shots completely passed through him, but he was able to unfairly rake his claws across my face. My character's movement had also started stuttering across the landscape as if my feet were clipping through the terrain up to my knees, allowing me to pass through rocks but apparently not kill anything that I shot at, even in VATS. After quitting and reloading the game, I went back, and it seemed to be fine until I went deeper into the title.
I approached the slave camp after successfully killing the now-mortal Deathclaw, and the slavers had apparently decided to not attack me until I tried talking to their boss. It was at that point that they decided to open up with everything they had. Why slavers would even let me walk in close in the first place with as much hardware as I was carrying isn't half as bizarre as when I simply opened my mouth and they took that as the cue to suddenly realize that I was dangerous.
The weirdness didn't end there. On my way to the Pitt, I had to cross a bridge filled with ruined vehicles of a bygone age, frozen in their flight from the impending apocalypse that narrowly missed turning the city to dust. It was also covered in mines, which I could disarm as long as they didn't suddenly fall through the street, leaving only a mocking light flashing beneath the surface. At this point, I stopped wondering about what I might find in the Pitt and began thinking just how much buggier things could possibly get.
The Pitt challenges the player right from the outset by taking away his gear; he's dropped into the slave city with only the clothes on his back and the skills that he'd managed to improve before arriving. There's no real way around this artificially conscripted piece of equipment neutering, such as sneaking in another way or bursting in with guns blazing and then negotiating a way through after proving your worth as a possible gun for hire. Unless you play along as a slave and accept the fact that you'll need to bid your favorite weapons good-bye for a time, this can feel a bit contrived.
The Pitt has plenty of personality, with tattered walkways, ruined offices, crumbling buildings along the skyline with famous facades that some Pittsburgh natives may recognize, and a working forge filled with plenty of sparks and deafening presses. It might not be as rat-infested as Bartertown, but it does a decent impression of a ruined city on the verge of a slave revolt. It can also feel a bit underwhelming after experiencing the vast ruins of Washington D.C., from the main game, although it has a great horizon that modders might eventually fill in with new areas.
It's also home to the Trogs, subhuman mutants that are what people eventually devolve into when the disease-pervading the Pitt completely runs its course among the infected. Their Spider-Mannish ability to leap and crawl up walls makes them dangerous adversaries, along with a seemingly endless number of them flowing in from the city beyond. The raiders in control are also a colorful group of crusty cretins wearing new duds that can eventually be yours, whether you ask nicely or not.
There's a lot of new stuff to play around with here, far more than there was in Operation: Anchorage, and the focus is now along a more story-driven approach to the problems plaguing the city than in simply fragging away until you get to the end — although there's a lot of that here, too. From new helmets allowing you to masquerade as Hell's Fireman to one of the most satisfyingly vicious melee weapons yet in Fallout 3 with the Auto Axe, missing your arsenal of pain isn't so much a cause for tears as it is in making room for more goodies. There are also three new perks that players can earn during their time in the Pitt, along with four more Achievements, if you're into that sort of thing.
Wastelanders disappointed with the shoot-'em-all backdrop of Operation: Anchorage will find the Pitt's story line to be refreshing. Players will get to pick through a few interesting dialogue choices and experience an unexpected twist toward the end that nearly feels as if it had taken a page of gray morality from The Witcher, but without that, it would otherwise have had a hard time competing against some of the other side-quests from the main game. Much of that feeling is due to how unfinished the rest of the DLC feels, if the glitches weren't enough of an indication that something was wrong.
One early example of this has to do with named NPCs. The RPG fan in me knows that when NPCs have names, they, more often than not, have something important to say or have some degree of interaction, no matter how limited. At best, they might even lead to a small side-quest. There are quite a few named NPCs in The Pitt, but most of them seem to be there for flavor and simply recite a pre-recorded line. I suppose it was to break up the monotony of labeling everyone as a raider, but it would have been nice if a little personality came with each one of these "special" NPCs.
Some of the things that you can also get away with in the Pitt as a slave will have to be taken with a large grain of salt. One of the main quests in the DLC had me head into an area called the Steelyards to collect 10 steel ingots. After exploring the place from top to bottom and killing nearly everything there with an assault rifle that I'd managed to find, I was able to trade in my rags for some decent armor and add a few other weapons to my arsenal. Apparently, no one had a problem with this, as I wasn't bothered about them upon leaving, probably because they believed that I could now be trusted enough to not go postal on the first slaver I saw.
However, the worst part was at the end of The Pitt. In my first playthrough, I chose to support the slaves in their revolt and ran through to the point where I make contact with the underground to deliver "The Cure." After I stole from their boss, a gang of raiders came after me with everything it had, but I kept running ahead in order to fulfill my mission as quickly as possible. What I didn't expect this to do was for it to break the logic of the game.
I made it back to where I was supposed to go and spoke with my contact when a horde of raiders — some of whom were important enough to have their own names — burst into the room and completely focused on killing me, never mind that the slaves were revolting and one of the slave leaders happened to be in the same room. After running away once again, I finished the rest of the plan and everything should have been at peace ... or so I thought. Those same raiders came after me again where I had left them outside and still tried to take a few more lucky shots. After speaking to Wehrner, which officially completed the mission, the raiders continued their chase while Wehrner calmly walked into the group and then past them as if he were invisible. I finally decided to solve the problem with my combat shotgun, but it was ridiculous.
Throughout The Pitt, there were also quite a few graphical glitches that were hard to ignore. At one point, some of the textures turned into triangular curtains stretching across the screen or stuck to sleeping people on mattresses. Equipping the Auto Axe, switching to something else and then back to it would occasionally make it "disappear" from my hands in first-person mode, although I could still see it in third-person. I could still attack using it as long as I didn't mind that it appeared as if I were using the air to dismember everything in front of me.
Getting through this particular piece of DLC will take anywhere from two to four hours, depending on how long you want to keep looking for steel ingots in the Steelyard in order to earn an Achievement. The flawed feel of Fallout 3: The Pitt extends beyond the battered, war-weary facade of its buildings, and the rushed, unfinished feel of this particular adventure makes it a painfully disappointing experience. Fallout 3 fans who are hungry for a new place in which to hang out, along with beefing up their arsenal with a few more unique pieces, may be able to scavenge enough memorable moments during their visit, but they'll also need to be inoculated with enough patience to deal with its problems.
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