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With Point Lookout, the fourth in a series of downloadable packs for the amazing Fallout 3, I think Bethesda have gotten into their stride. The first DLC, Operation Anchorage wasn't great, and although The Pitt was an improvement, it wasn't perfect. Broken Steel was much better, improving the end of the game and adding another 10 levels. I believe that Point Lookout is the best so far; as it takes all the things I loved about Fallout, and extends the experience into a whole new area.
It starts out fairly innocuously, with you following a new quest which ends up with you finding Tobar, a shady salesman who sells Punga fruit for a living. For 300 caps he'll whisk you away to Point Lookout, which is perfect for adventurers and treasure hunters alike. It's actually, y'know ... a swamp. Admittedly, a swamp filled with mutated red necks, a surly ghoul called Desmond and a cult of hippies. But, still a swamp.
The reason Point Lookout is so much better than the previous offerings is because it's like a mini version of the original game.
The main quest is undeniably awesome. As you sail into Point Lookout, you'll notice that smoke is rising from a mansion Tobar thought was abandoned. When you head over, you are quickly pulled into Desmond's (who is rude and angry, but also really awesome) fight to defend the mansion from a horde of angry Tribals. After defending the mansion, you're drawn into service for him with the promise of training. He wants you to find out why the Tribals are so intent on attacking him. Of course, they won't let you in to the cathedral where they live without some kind of test, and the test leads to the most awesome section of any of the expansions, and I think of the main game. I can't go into details because it'll spoil things, but it makes Point Lookout seem very much like the Shivering Isles of the post apocalyptic wasteland.
But the reason Point Lookout is so much better than the previous offerings is because it's like a mini version of the original game. Everything I like is here. There are plenty of distractions, like side quests and locations to explore. The side quests are particularly awesome, and my favourite is ‘Behind the Velvet Curtain'. You discover a message in a hotel room which gives instructions for a Chinese spy to carry out.
It's a long quest as you follow the trail, and it comes to an excellent conclusion in the spy's safe house (again, a moment which I can't really go into, because the surprise is what makes it awesome). Side quests that were actually interesting were sorely lacking in The Pitt and Operation Anchorage, so it's nice to have more things to do.
Also, it's an entirely open world, similar in style to the original Capital Wasteland. The other DLC's offered you a fairly linear path through the world, with the obvious exception of Broken Steel. However, Point Lookout offers an entirely new segment to explore, and it seems to be maybe a fifth of the size of the Capital Wasteland. I think that this is great. Exploration is one of the best things about Fallout 3, and if this was another fairly linear expansion, it would not have been nearly so good. Finding new areas, side quests and items is excellent fun and there's a lot of it to be done here.
Two of the best missions in Fallout 3 coming from this pack.
There are a few problems. The ending to the main quest is fairly disappointing. I like to have multiple ways of completing a mission, but here it seems entirely unnecessary. At the end, you can choose to side with one of two people, killing the other one. But I can't think of a point. Both characters have a particular reason for wanting the other dead, and the reward remains the same as far as I can tell. You can't choose between good and evil, and you can't choose between rewards so what's the point? Talking of rewards, the end reward is fairly lame as well. There's no new armour like in the other expansions, and the weapon you're given is one I don't think I'll ever use. Apart from that it's just more of the same when you beat the main mission, with copious ammo boxes and spare parts.
However, the rest of the game is absolutely fantastic, with two of the best missions in Fallout 3 coming from this pack. I think that despite the flaws, it's definitely the best expansion so far, and I'd recommend it to anyone who owns Fallout 3. With the next DLC coming up, Mothership Zeta (which will be using entirely new material), I believe that Bethesda has learnt from the previous expansions, and I'm very excited because of it.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
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