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anglebender [Celluloid 07.28.09] post apocalyptic review video game



PLATFORMS - Windows XP/Vista, Xbox 360 (PlayStation 3 coming soon)
DEVELOPER - Bethesda Studios
PUBLISHER - Bethesda Softworks

GAMEPLAY - 6
GRAPHICS - 5
SOUND - 4

OVERALL – 5

I felt Point Lookout is the best of the Fallout 3 expansions released so far- “Operation Anchorage” is too short, “The Pitt” is shorter, and “Broken Steel” is fun but felt like what the ending of Fallout 3 should have been in the first place. For this review, and in the spirit of The Apocalypse, I elected to leave behind all the nice DLC weapons I had gathered from the last three expansions.


I wanted to see if I could scrounge and gather from the environment of Point Lookout to survive and complete the main quest. Don't get me wrong, I didn't go all Survivorman, I took a rifle and explosives. The parts are scattered around the swamp, but I was able to rig together a rock-it launcher and a flaming sword. Aren't I MacGyver-like?



Point Lookout is a smaller version of Fallout 3's D.C. Wasteland only not as populated with baddies. You'll run into the occasional rabble of yokels with shotguns, but the bog isn't as dangerous as I bargained. I hadn't anticipated the toughness of those redneck jerkweeds, especially the one that looks like Chunk from the movie “The Goonies”. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to pick a bulletfight with more than six enemies at a time even though I tried using mods to increase the number of foes.

GAMEPLAY – 6

This DLC, unlike the others, is open-world. Fresh off the boat you can wander deep into the swamp and engage Chunk in combat, which is exactly what I did. There's a main quest, and there's a few side quests too, but none of it seemed “right”. All the objectives in each quest were so neatly aligned that it felt like an amusement park ride, which I think might have been intentional.



The whacky misadventures of Your Character versus The World seemed too forced to be really happening in the game. I wanted more than campy romps in the everglades with gunshots. When I finished the DLC, I had the same feeling I get from leaving a carnival funhouse- the ride is over, now leave. I can (and have) gone back to the swamp but it feels revisited. Shooting at the same 3 models of “the locals” became very repetitive, although vaporizing Chunk while he's charging becomes addicting.

Point Lookout wasn't touched by the nuclear war 200 years ago, so there's lots of trees and underbrush around. There's even a native fruit that lowers your radiation level. The absence of supermutants and Enclave soldiers makes this place feel far from home. It might seem like a vacation from the wasteland, yet it feels disconnected from the main game somehow. For example, there's a side quest involving a 200-year old uncompleted Chinese sabotage mission, but even this antiqued reminder of yesteryear is affected by the weird abruptness that's rampant in Point Lookout.



Maybe it's because there aren't as many good/evil choices like there have been in the previous DLCs. While disappointing, it plays into the madcap escapades of the Player through the swamp. The Player's character is far from home and being that he's disconnected from the swamp, the surreal antics of the swamp's denizens seem activated only by the presence of the “outsider” (the Player). Then again, I opine: screw the metaphysics and pass the grenades.

GRAPHICS – 5

If the designers were going for a Resident Evil / Silent Hill vibe, they hit paydirt with the creepy mansions and ghoul-infested graveyards. I mentioned there's only three types of Locals, and while I have faith in the extensive Fallout 3 modding community, it seems odd that a company would leave blanks to be filled in by fans. Console players don't have access to Fallout 3 modifications like PC users do, so they had better get used to seeing Chunk a million times.



SOUND – 4

There isn't new music, and while you'd think Point Lookout would be wall-to-wall banjos, this isn't the case. If you'd like fitting background music, I suggest older stuff by Hank Williams Sr., Woody Guthrie or any country music older than 1959. There's enough goofy moments that jug-and-washboard tunes would be appropriate. As for ambiance, there's the usual sounds of the swamp that you'd expect, like frogs and that constant acacia buzz. It sounds great in either 5.1 or headphones.

If Point Lookout was intended as an amusement park ride then I'd be more than happy to get in line again. Although the rails seem wobbly on this roller-coaster but it's good for a ride or two.

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