Originally released on Jan. 27, Fallout 3’s first expansion pack, “Operation Anchorage,” is a stimulating and worthwhile romp through communist-Alaska, but it lacks the levity and overall polish that many fans have expected from the current incarnation of the series.
Nevertheless, it’s still worth it’s 800 Microsoft point price tag, but not for the reasons you’d most likely expect.
Sure, four new quests and 100 achievement points alone are enough for any hardcore fan to dust off the game, but the rewards don’t stop there. Upon completion of the expansion pack, players will have not only have the T-51b winterized armor, the best in the game [it never has to be repaired] in their inventory, but they’ll also have Jingwei’s Shock Sword, an excellent melee weapon that will reduce their enemies to piles of ash at times and the Gauss rifle, one of the most powerful and useful guns in the game, despite its horrible delay between rounds. Playing through the main game later with these weapons and armor is an absolute blast and alone makes up for the pack lasting about three hours.
However, while the add-on itself lacks the diversity of the main game, no one will ever argue that Bethesda didn’t have fun developing it. On the whole, Operation Anchorage plays more like a first-person shooter, as there is far less story than there is just plain old shooting and killing. Nonetheless, while the colorful characters and entertaining story that make Fallout 3 one of the best RPGs of this console generation aren’t there, the game manages to thrive in different ways.
For starters, the shooting action in Operation Anchorage Ranging is nearly flawless. The different types of enemies also play a part in this as well, from the run of the mill Chinese soldiers that require no real finesse to kill, to flat out dangerous Chinese Dragoons, who have their own version of the popular stealth-boy and will sneak up on you faster than Kevin Bacon in “Hollow Man.” When it’s all said and done, the combat in this DLC make up for any misgivings you could possibly have with its length or lack of color. The Chimera tank is also a worthy foe and will require a bit of ingenuity, or a combination of speed and explosives to defeat. If that wasn’t enough, you’ll also find yourself using the VATS targeting system much more in this add-on, mostly due to the number of enemies you’ll be encountering, resulting in a plethora of blood and flying limbs.
Aside from the core gameplay, the graphics in Operation Anchorage are also a departure from the main game, as the dark and gloomy textures of the capital wasteland have been replaced with the type of blue skies that could only be represented properly by an Allman Brothers song. The snow on the ground too gives the game a different type of tone and sometimes makes you feel like you’re playing a different game entirely.
In spite of this however, there is enough of the trademark Fallout 3 components to make this an enticing offering for fans of the series and anyone else looking for a fast-faced shooting frenzy.
When it’s all said and done, Operation Anchorage may be lacking in depth and is far from the revelation its big brother was, but it’s rewards more than out way it’s shortcomings.