The first piece of downloadable content for _Fallout 3, Operation: Anchorage_, was released a few months after the original game, promising new weapons and a couple of hours of extra gameplay. I really didn’t know what to expect about this content but was intrigued to see what could be added to an already hugely populated game.
Once installed, an extra quest opened up which directed me toward the outskirts of the Washington DC city area. At which point, it appeared that this new quest would be situated in the already existing game area; although slightly disappointing, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Upon arrival, I was greeted by a group of Brotherhood Outcasts (_Fallout 3’s_ good guys), who then took me underground and quickly informed me of their situation. To open an old U.S Army weapons store that they had found, it was necessary to complete a VR simulation; _Operation: Anchorage_ just got a lot more interesting!
Most of the extra content takes place within this VR simulation which places you in Alaska as an US soldier before the nuclear war. First, you’re tasked with infiltrating an array of Chinese controlled artillery guns and, secondly, to defeat all the Chinese forces within the area. Although this might sound rather random compared to the situations found within the main game, it does give a good indication of the hostilities between the US and Chinese forces, which may or may not have lead to the destruction of most of the world.
Because of this, _Operation: Anchorage_ has a completely different feel from the main game, that has positives and negatives. It’s nice to have a change of scenery that breaks up the monotonous greys and washed out landscape of the Wasteland. Since it’s set in Alaska, there’s a lot of snow, making the game seem brighter and more vibrant and, although still set in a warzone, since no nuclear bombs have yet to fall, everything’s still in working order; there’s no blown out buildings here. In general, there’s a strong contrast and it is nice to see the world of _Fallout 3_ before it all went terribly wrong. On the other hand, this downloadable content really isn’t what I’d come to expect from the _Fallout_ universe. The tone is different; it’s no longer about surviving in a desolate land but more about “sending those Reds back to where they belong”, which instantly causes the game to lose some of its charm. It would have been better for the first DLC to simply give more of the same experience than try something completely different.
There are also slight changes to the gameplay, within the simulation aspect of the DLC, that cause it to lose its _Fallout_-ness. Although the V.A.T.S system is still present, along with some familiar weaponry, rather than rely on items to partially restore your health, there’s simply a health machine that restores it completely. Same goes for ammo; rather than having to scavenge for ammo, there’s a machine that completely refills it. These additions remove one of the most important parts of how _Fallout_ plays; the fact that resources are finite and have to be managed well. This in turn made me start to play the game much more like a ordinary shooter; with infinite ammo you can just run around shooting everything. This, combined with the setting, reminded me a lot of the N64’s _GoldenEye_, but not in a good way.
_Operation: Anchorage_ does contain a lot of new content; the new areas available are of a decent size and there are a few new items and weapons to be had (both in and out of the simulation). It definitely adds a few hours of gameplay but it’s not as enjoyable as that found within the main game. For just over £6,_ Operation: Anchorage_ is worth getting if you simply need more _Fallout 3_ goodness but it’s not vital; you won’t be missing out on too much.