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Fallout 3: Point Lookout

Fallout

For those wanderers who’ve grown weary of the Capital Wasteland, fear not; for a small price you can leave it all behind while cruising the Potomac in style aboard the Duchess Gambit. New adventures and curious folk await you on the other end of your voyage in the rustic portside town of Point Lookout.

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Once you’ve stepped off the Duchess Gambit and onto Pilgrim’s Landing you should begin to realize this isn’t just another piece of Fallout 3 DLC. Unlike the confined story-centric areas found in most of the other DLC packs, the town of Point Lookout is a wide open location just waiting to be explored. In many ways, leaving the Duchess Gambit has a similar feel to that first moment you left Vault-101, albeit on a significantly smaller scale. Like that day at the Vault you’ll have an active quest to follow up on, but it’s totally up to you whether you make it a priority or wander a while before coming back to it at your own leisure.

If you should choose to wander the ‘Capital Swampland,’ Point Lookout rarely disappoints. Scattered throughout its terrain are dozens of locations waiting to be discovered, a handful of engaging side-quests, great locales and some nasty locals. Even though comparatively speaking, Point Lookout is rather small compared to the vastness that is the Capital Wasteland; Bethesda has done an excellent job of varying the scenery. Scattered about the area you’ll find beaches, rolling hills, a rundown boardwalk and much more.

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While you’re trudging through the bogs you’ll have to keep your wits about you as the swamp folk that populate the outskirts of town don’t take too kindly to outsiders. In fact, the first time you run into a group of them you may find yourself questioning whether you’re still playing Fallout 3 at all, or if someone mistakenly loaded your hidden copy of Redneck Rampage. The enemy design is downright bizarre and sometimes inappropriately hilarious, as evidenced by the Tracker, who looks remarkably like Sloth from the Goonies. Appropriately, these backwater miscreants aren’t packing the weapons you might have become accustomed to, but rather employing double-barreled shotguns, wood choppin’ axes and even fertilizer shovels.

Despite the widely different location and overall feel of Point Lookout, it retains everything that made Fallout 3 special. Unsurprisingly, it has also carried over some of the original complaints players may have had with the original game. While Fallout 3’s story was certainly decent, it will never be what the game is remembered for and Point Lookout is no different. The story is merely there to get you started, and although it involves its fair share of interesting NPCs and locations, the overall brevity of it won’t grant you enough time to care for or trust anyone involved. That isn’t to say there aren’t a few great moments scattered throughout Point Lookout’s story but you aren’t given enough time to absorb any of it and decide where your allegiances lie.

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The only other real complaint about Point Lookout is the same complaint you’ll read about each of the other DLC packages: bugs. The game will regularly freeze on the PS3 and often times without any kind of warning or prompts. About half of the times it does, you may be able to let the game sit for a minute or more and the gameplay might resume; other times the freeze will remain permanent, or you’ll have given up well before the game decided to come back. It certainly debilitates the overall experience and happens more regularly than is normal by Fallout 3 standards.

Speaking in terms of content alone, Point Lookout is hands-down the most impressive and enjoyable DLC available for Fallout 3. Thanks to its expansive new area, Point Lookout comes the closest of all the DLC to evoking that same sense of freedom and adventure one found while wandering the Capital Wasteland. Plus it’s also populated with a ton of quests, locations and NPCs to interact with. Unfortunately the entire experience is hobbled by the frequency of its frame-rate issues and outright freezes, which makes the trek through Point Lookout tepid. Still, if you have the patience and memory to save often, Fallout 3 DLC doesn’t get any better than this.

7 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in April 2008. Get in touch on Twitter @_seankelley.

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