Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta
Those that have spent a large amount of time exploring the Capital Wasteland in Fallout 3 have probably come across the downed Alien Spaceship before. It lies to the north and has little significance other than to provide you with one of the best weapons in the game and stir up some thoughts and musings at to how the ship came to be. Mothership Zeta – the final piece of DLC for Fallout 3 – is here to provide some answers, although you’ll probably be left disappointed by the results.
As per usual you’ll receive a distress signal and map marker leading you to the new DLC. The difference this time is that the signal is coming from the downed alien, and upon arriving at his ship you’ll find yourself being pulled up off the ground by a mysterious blue glow. Things kick off from there as you awaken on an alien ship to find the little green critters performing what I can only imagine to be an anal probing. Obviously you don’t want to hang around to see what other experiments they have lined up, so with the help of some other human captives you begin your escape.
Sadly Mothership Zeta is very similar to Fallout 3’s first DLC release, Operation: Anchorage. It strips away most of Fallout 3’s best elements leaving just the combat and a few minimal dialogue options. Essentially it’s a corridor crawler as you make your way through the extremely linear spaceship, taking on a few distinctive kinds of alien and robotic foe with a couple of the new alien weapons you can pick up along the way. The setting is certainly a nice contrast to the rest of Fallout 3 with the ship’s stark, clean and futuristic interior, but there’s not a lot of depth to it when you’re just blasting away aliens the whole time.
The aliens are gratifying, though, if a little unimaginative. They’re in keeping with the style of the game, utilising that classic ‘50s look with the big green heads and giant black, soulless eyes. We’ve seen it all before but it fits the tone and they’re definitely a lot of fun to blow up; due in part to the new weapons. You’ll spend most of your time with the Alien Disintegrator, a sleek-looking rifle that packs a mighty punch. It’s a bit of a let down that none of the weapons here are as good as the Alien Blaster you find at the downed ship, but I can guarantee you’ll be using the Disintegrator for a while yet.
However, in the end the fun factor that comes from the combat can’t be sustained over Mothership Zeta’s relatively short run-time. There’s just not a lot of variety here, and exploration is minimal. You can search containers for a few new items and look for audio logs from other captives on the ship, but it’s not all that exciting. The ship is definitely a cool place to navigate and seeing all of the different experimental devices is a high point, but looking at them is as far as the exposition will go. Everything still remains a mystery including a few of the new characters you meet. They seem interesting on the surface but beyond that there’s nothing else there so the story becomes extremely bland and monotonous.
And that’s Mothership Zeta’s biggest downfall. The concept of an alien spaceship in Fallout 3 is a fantastic idea but the execution is sadly uninspired. It could have been so much more, but what we’re given is a basic corridor shooter. It’s fun in places and some of the set pieces are enjoyable, but for the most part you’re just blasting away aliens and pressing switches for the majority of the quests. After Point Lookout’s brilliant story lines, characters and level design, Mothership Zeta is a step backward. It’s a shame that the last piece of Fallout 3 DLC is just as disappointing as the first, especially when it carried so much promise. It’s still worth playing, just don’t expect a product with the same quality as either Broken Steel or Point Lookout. If you’re starting your Fallout 3 adventure now, get those two first.