x360a Review: Fallout 3's Broken Steel
Written Wednesday, May 06, 2009 By Nate Gillick
Bethesda's first two DLC additions to Fallout 3, Operation Anchorage and The Pitt, were both essentially self-contained adventures. Each offered a few hours of new quests, a couple new weapons, and a perk or two, but nothing fundamentally gameplay changing. Once their quest lines ended, neither DLC pack had much to offer. Broken Steel, the third DLC pack for Bethesda's award winning game, ups the ante considerably, and continues to add to the Fallout 3 experience well after the quest line is complete, making a truly must-own addition to the game. While players will have to complete the game's main quest line to get to Broken Steel's story, the other benefits (higher level cap, new perks, etc.) will be available immediately upon download.
Broken Steel has changed the game's ending to be less ... final than it used to be. Upon reaching the ending of the game's final quest, players now have a third option on who will activate Project Purity. At this point, the game ends as you'll remember it, with the same final cinematic reflection on the choices you've made. As soon as that ends, "Two Weeks Later" will appear on the screen, and you'll immediately be at the start of Broken Steel's quest line.
Liberty Prime hates Communism. Do YOU?
The Enclave took a beating at the Jefferson Memorial, but they're still far from waving white flags. The Brotherhood of Steel is looking for your help in hunting down and eliminating the remnant of the Enclave in the DC wastelands, so it's time to repair that power armor and V.A.T.S. some heads off. Running approximately four to five hours, Broken Steel's quest line is the most in-keeping with the spirit of the main game of any of the DLC packs to date. Dialogue options are reasonably plentiful, there are several optional aspects to the missions, and you'll find yourself fighting through a mix of open-air and interior areas all of a scale larger than that of Operation Anchorage or The Pitt. Kicking Enclave ass with the assistance of Liberty Prime and its hilariously over-the-top dialogue is one of the game's most satisfying experiences.
As with previous DLC packs, Broken Steel introduces a pair of new weapons into the game, and both bring incredible amounts of power to the action. My favorite, the Tesla Cannon, could be considered Fallout 3's rendition of the Spartan Laser, firing off a massive beam of electricity at an enemy, which not only does a lot of up-front damage, but also deals some damage over time through static discharge. The Tesla Cannon is so powerful, and ammo so plentiful, that it's borderline overpowered, as only the strongest enemies can withstand more than one or two shots. The other weapon, the Heavy Incinerator, is capable of shooting balls of fire across a distance to damage enemies and set them on fire. It's a very potent mid-range weapon, though it's not as cool as the Tesla Cannon.
What gives Broken Steel its true longevity is the increase of the level cap, from 20 to 30. Trekking to level 30 will take quite a while, as re-completing the last mission and the whole Broken Steel story only got me to about level 24. Along the way, there are several new perks to choose from, examples include perks that will instantly change your karma to a different alignment, a perk that grants "well-rested" status from sleeping anywhere, and a perk that will make Dogmeat's death (if he should ever die on you) a lot less tragic. The ability to gain ten more levels provides a lot of motivation to go back and explore every previously unseen nook and cranny of the D.C. Wasteland, and when has more Fallout 3 ever been a bad thing?
The Enclave won't go down easily.
However, don't expect to be a living God on the way. Many enemies (particularly in the Broken Steel story line) have been powered up to match what you can bring to the table, and pack some serious firepower. You'll also find intimidating new foes, like Albino Radscorpions or Super Mutant Overlords, as you traverse the Wasteland. These enemies promise to keep you on your toes, and bring a level of challenge to the game that was mostly missing once players hit the old level cap.
Broken Steel's new achievements are of the predictable garden variety that has been the standard for these DLC packs. There are achievements for each of the story's quests, and three more for reaching the new level cap with each karma alignment. It's decent stuff, and it will be fun to work for level 30, but I'm starting to long for something a little different at this point... maybe achievements tied to using the new weapons, or defeating the new enemies. Broken Steel's 150 points won't be a problem for those willing to put the time into the game.
Providing players the broadest DLC quest line yet, new weapons, new enemies, and ten more levels to gain, Broken Steel is worth every penny you'll pay to download it, and is recommend for both newcomers to Fallout 3 and veterans alike. Broken Steel's additions to the game will continue to be felt and enjoyed long after the 4-5 hour storyline is complete. Wastelanders, get out there and crush the Enclave!