The first DLC for Fallout 3, Operation: Anchorage, brought new toys and plenty of action to the wastes. The second one, The Pitt, focused on providing moral choices. As for the third, Broken Steel, it rewrote the ending and provided a climactic battle against the forces of the Enclave with massive firepower. So what can the fourth one bring to the table? Two words: real estate.
Point Lookout is the fourth DLC for Fallout 3, this time taking the hardened apocalyptic warriors from the DC wasteland into the backwater marshes of the coast as they fight off the fruits of irradiated inbreeding — think of it as a cross between "Deliverance" and "Rambo." If you haven't gotten enough of Fallout 3 yet and love to wander around and explore, Point Lookout's vast playground has plenty of walking room to romp around in while allowing you to point your trigger finger at anything that moves.
Once again, Games for Windows provides the only way for PC players to snag the download, which currently goes for 800 Microsoft points or around $10 USD. PC players might also have to fiddle with installation in order to get the game to recognize that you have it. The bright spot to this is that the info to do so is available on the Internet or Bethesda's forums, and it's usually just a simple copy and paste. Once installed (and working), it only takes a few minutes for the DLC to kick in and invite you to a new port that has just opened up for business on the coast.
Tobar, a friendly peddler from Point Lookout, is your host aboard a weather-beaten ferry for the right price. After introductions are made and caps change hands, off you go to a place that the bombs had largely left alone, aside from the sprinkling of fallout that continues to contaminate anything wet. Your companions will be forced to stay behind on this trip, making this a solo vacation.
Point Lookout's white sandy beaches lapped by radioactive waves are only some of the sights that newcomers can look forward to experiencing. An abandoned fun park and the rotting remains of its boardwalk are the first things that you'll see, remnants of a bygone age. Although the locale is mostly closed and boarded up, Tobar wasn't kidding about this being a land of opportunity and danger. The question is whether it'll be enough to make those three or four promised hours worth the effort.
At first glance, there doesn't seem to be much of a main quest to follow, but eventually the player will be pulled into a very old vendetta stretching back to before the war. Although there aren't as many moral questions in this particular adventure, there are quite a few colorful characters for wastelanders who are eager for more Fallout 3 lore.
The quests outside of the main arc, on the other hand, aren't as interesting; they tend to become collect-a-thons or require that you have a strong case of wanderlust before signing on. Players who are interested in acquiring more Achievements for their Live profiles will find that there are a few for covering the main quest and exploring everything that Point Lookout has to offer — and there are quite a few places to visit beyond the beach. There's the lighthouse on the point, the run-down amusement park that is still standing after 200 years of neglect, and the hidden shacks and overgrown homes of the swamp. The natives are also restless, especially the swampfolk whose mutated appearance is likely because of a combination of radiation and implied inbreeding.
Ranging from skinny, pot-bellied, shotgun-wielding, ratty pants-wearing scrappers to bald-headed, thick-fisted, gas station attendant rejects who answer to any sound with their fists, swampfolk shouldn't be underestimated because of their lack of proper English. Other than the Feral Ghoul Reavers introduced in Broken Steel, swampfolk can easily remind players just who's the boss when they come swarming out from the salty marshes. Even high-level characters armed with the best gadgets from the previous DLC episodes may find themselves challenged by these deadly idiots if they're not careful.
Then there are the tribals, who the player will probably meet and greet with buckshot during their trip into the country. Although they claim to be "peacefully" seeking a higher calling and a greater consciousness, these tripped-out inhabitants have their own problems that revolve around the holy ground that a certain house is sitting on, along with a new fruit called punga, which is actually healthy to eat and won't irradiate you with every bite. It comes with its own perk, too, which is easily picked up to make harvesting these naturally occurring band-aid alternatives worth a little effort.
The locals may not take kindly to strangers, but they also know how to arm themselves, if not with newfangled fancy-pants plasma rifles and Tesla Cannons, then with the raw, vulgar power of a double-barreled shotgun or the long-distance killing subtlety of the repeating lever-action rifle. Armor-wise, don't expect much in the way of anything to take the place of your favorite combat-ready clothing from the main game or the other DLCs, powered or not. But you can get away with looking like a clown-faced, knife-wielding, psycho-stalking swampfolk in the game or dressing up like one of the locals to try and fit in — if they can overlook the fact that you have all of your teeth.
Aside from the new monsters and toys that are often present, customized tourist spots, ranging from buried ruins in a cave to a Ferris wheel overlooking the wreckage of the fun park, provide a few new places to gaze and rifle through for anything that might have been left behind. For modders looking forward to tinkering with a few new assets, Point Lookout brings in more dilapidated interiors, beaten and broken shacks, moonshine stills, and weathered boardwalk planks.
There's also the feeling that despite so many locations to discover within Point Lookout, only a handful of these are particularly interesting, if only because they have side-quests attached to them. Just like the DC wastes, expect to see a lot of boarded-up doors that you can't get into or locations that are interesting in name only. Despite the massive facade of Point Lookout's amusement park, don't expect to go traipsing around inside each building in a quest for rotten cotton candy that might have mutated into something worth selling. For players hoping for a little more to do with so many locales without having to wait for modders to fill in the blanks, Point Lookout can seem a bit shallow outside of its main quest.
It also stops short of confronting the player with ethical choices or a battle against tremendous odds by focusing on a fairly straightforward side-trip filled with the usual amount of peril. It isn't without its own unique flair, though, especially in the tales that it spins within its quests, but gamers looking for more in the way of compelling dialogue choices from The Pitt or heavier hardware won't find much to get excited about here if they already own the other content packs.
If you can't get enough of Fallout 3 and want to take a vacation away from the bleak, crumbling spires of the DC wasteland and experience what the past two centuries have done to a quiet spot on the East Coast, Point Lookout does a fairly decent job with its change of scenery. It won't ask you to determine the fate of the wastes with a few smart words or load you up with even more civilization-ending firepower, which is something else that players should consider when looking at buying this DLC. To others who are only looking for another reason to head back into Fallout 3, this solo side-trip into the backwoods could be a welcome respite from their worries in the wastes.Score: 7.5/10
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