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Point Lookout is the 4th piece of downloadable content for Fallout 3. To clarify, I won't be reviewing the actual gameplay of Fallout 3. I'll just take a look at what this new expansion offers to gaming universe. If you want to see a review of Fallout 3, take a look at this comprehensive article.
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We might as well start off with the worst. The weapons this time around are just pathetic. Really pathetic. There a re just 5 real additions. The axe and the shovel account for 2 of them, and they aren't even that useful to a melee player.
The lever action rifle is the big addition. It's just Lincoln's Repeater with a new skin though. It does roughly the same damage, looks the same, fires the same, and even sounds the same. It's only useful since it uses 10 mm pistol ammo, which is normally useless to high level players who aren't willing to melt it at The Pitt.
The double-barrel shotgun is an interesting addition, but fairly useless. The Terrible Shotgun is statistically better and even the Combat shotgun is more useful. The single shot capability is absolutely useless thanks to the bullet sponge enemies.
The last reward is the Microwave Emitter. I was hoping this was a cool melting gun. It's actually just a variation on the plasma rifle and it happens to do more damage to robots. That's it. Really worthless.
I understand that they have a big problem with topping the almost game breakers from the first 3 packs, but this feels like they were just phoning it in. There are no unique or truly cool weapons.
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The enemies can best be covered by examining the 5 groups in the swamps.
The ghouls make a return. There is a new swamp ghoul, but it's just a feral with a new skin. The reavers are back, but I've made peace with that annoyance after Broken Steel. They do fit the swamp environment well.
The mirelurks get some new additions. There are swamplurks and a few newly skinned mirelurks. They also fit the coastline well. They may not bring much new stuff to the game, but it's not a game breaker.
There are smugglers and tribals in the area. They basically stand in for the raiders and talon company. The smugglers aren't bad, but I have some problems with the tribals that I'll address in a minute.
The biggest addition is the group known as the swampfolk. They are mutated hillbillies that take the place of super mutants in the swamps. They are actually interesting additions. They clearly mark their territory, don't always attack unless you trespass or strike first, and even present some interesting challenges. They are the one enemy that feels a bit unique. Plus, they are a bit of throwback to some Lovecraftian models, which always impresses me.
There is one big problem with Bethesda's enemies though. They seemed to avoid making the ghouls, mirelurk, and smugglers into bullet sponges. The tribals and swampfolk still are though. They can often take shot after shot. It is also just getting absurd at this point. A tribal with no armor should not be able to shake off 3 shotgun blasts to the head.
The worst offender is the issue of borderline cheating in the game. Tribals and swampfolk all get a magical +35 to any damage that they do. This can't be blocked or stopped. This means that your level 26 champion with top of the line armor will still get killed a lot. I understand the effort to rebalance the game, but this just feels cheap. It also makes it almost impossible to legitimately fight any significant group. It just left a bad taste in my mouth.
If it wasn't for the somewhat interesting addition of the swampfolk, then this would be a 1.
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The quests are a bit of mixed bag. The main quest is a complete disappointment in my opinion. It starts off with a large defensive battlle and then turns downward into a simple series of running from place to place. It just feels a bit wandering, especially when you look at the epic nature of last game's main quest.
The side quests are a bit more interesting. There are unfortunately 2 that are simple gathering missions. The other 3 are fairly interesting though. The game features an interesting ghoul shooting gallery for part of a "safari" quest. There is a full Lovecraftian quest where you have to retrieve a ritual book from the swampfolk, with a nice tie in to the Dunwich Building in the Capital. There is also an incredibly large and interesting quest where you pick up the mission of a Chinese undercover agent.
One nice thing is that they included a lot of little "unmarked events" that you can uncover. There's an outcast child living in the mines that you can help. There is a mutant circus bear hiding in a cave. You can raid a trapper's hut to get a lot of supplies and face a full ambush on the way out. These little touches helped fill out the environment and brought the score up a bit. I just really wish that they would have taken the time to put features like this in more areas.
The quest are pretty average overall. I will say that I just like the feel of them. They seemed to work well in the game. The main quest could have finished on a more climatic moment though and there still could have been more real missions to fill the gaps.
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Atmosphere and Setting
This really deserves special mention. I just loved the atmosphere of it. It really reminded me of the way that I felt when I first picked up Fallout 3 all those months ago. I had a new and strange world to explore and there was danger around every turn. It was fascinating and gripping and very enjoyable.
The world is just very mysterious with lots of little things to find. There's a crashed pilot who apparently died in an axe fight with the swampfolk. There's a hotel room filled with skeletons and bones along with the pint-sized slasher mask in the bathtub. There's a drug deal gone wrong in another room. I mentioned the trapper's shack already. There's just so much to find, that an explorer character will be well rewarded.
It's also another active environment. It wasn't odd to see feral ghoul reavers fighting swampfolk. With a little running, I've triggered full massacres of the tribals and some sentry bots as a horde of ghouls chased me. Smugglers are usually in fghts whenever you see them. This active environment is just another thing helping the world seem dangerous and alive.
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The 4 may seem weird after the rough start, but I really did like the total package of this add-on. It's a weird case in gaming where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It's truly an experience. The problems are annoying, but I realize that most of my complaints are a turn on the uncanny valley, where I nitpick a game more as it gets better. There's a lot of missed opportunity, but it's still a fun experience.
There should be more quests, better enemies, and new weapons. The enemies definitely should not be borderline cheating in this release. These things are just a bit disappointing considering the past successes in the downloadable content. They did get the overall idea right though. I just had fun in this add-on. It was fun and interesting and they did some cool stuff that kept me entertained. Point Lookout is just a good experience for anyone who wants more Fallout 3 for a small price.