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Review: Fallout 3: The Pitt

Fallout 3's irradiated wasteland gets its second boost of content with The Pitt, a downloadable content package that adds an all-new side in a different part of the world. The Pitt takes players to the blasted remains of Pittsburgh, PA. It has become the East Coast's largest slave encampment run by a boss named Ashur. Like with the previous content add-on, Operation Anchorage, the player receives a distress call on the radio, and it isn't long before you meet Wernher, an escaped slave looking for help to free his people. Additionally, inhabitants of The Pitt are infected with a mutagenic plague that transforms them into feral creatures called Trogs, but Ashur may be close to developing a cure. So, it's off to Pennsylvania to rescue a city full of slaves... or find some way to turn the situation to your advantage.

As expected from a small add-on like this, The Pitt offers a brief side story for 800 MS Points (10 dollars). Playing through The Pitt is a very short experience, and most of its content can be explored in less than a day, especially if you're using a high level character. Similar to Operation Anchorage, the Pitt will force you to abandon all your gear at the door. It then demotes you to lowly status of a slave. However, it's not long before you have a weapon in your hands again, starting with the Auto-Axe, a new handheld buzzsaw specific to The Pitt. This weapon is pretty menacing and does tremendous damage, but it's also the only weapon that uniquely stands out above all others. It turns out that losing all your gear is a very minor setback, since you get it all back in a very short time. All it takes is a few rounds in the arena, where the radiation is deadlier than the opponents, to win Ashur's trust and regain all your worldly possessions.

The Pitt itself is made up from handful of areas that includes a steel mill where the slaves are forced to work. All these places are dark and drab. Not even the Uptown area (where the slavers hang out) or Haven, where Lord Ashur himself lives, looks much better. Parts of the city, particularly the Steel Yard, are overrun with Trogs. Although these creatures are about as tough as most of the animals that roam the Capitol Wastelands, they're fast moving and have a tendency to group together and overwhelm victims. They're an interesting addition to the Fallout 3 menagerie and generally carry useful things like stim packs and bobby pins.

What The Pitt really strives for is a story that produces a sense of moral grey. There are no right or wrong decisions here. The main characters have their own justifications and believe they're working towards the greater good. However, this grey sense of ethics doesn't really meld all that well with Fallout 3's somewhat black and white karma system. Siding with the slavers, even if you think it's for the greater good of humanity, will lead to a negative karma because you'll have to fend off attacking slaves. Otherwise you'll need to go to great lengths to avoid encountering them. Siding with the slaves and committing some atrocities on their behalf results in positive karma because the game only recognizes slaves as good and slavers bad. All the while, you're never quite sure how your actions will impact your karma since, out of all the characters, Ashur does the most to explain his point of view. The slave contacts don't have much to say, and Wernher comes off a more than a little shady, so we found it hard to trust them. In truth, we were never really sure if we were helping to save these people or being tricked into setting up something worse. This should be a great thing for an RPG, if only the ending statement didn't make the player come off as a total jerk. We played through The Pitt twice to experience multiple endings, but they all turned out to be let downs. However, we'll mention that helping the slaves is much more involved and sadistically satisfying than siding with the Ashur's crew.

Completing The Pitt add-on, no matter what side you choose, ends with two major rewards: A permanent boost in radiation resistance and unlimited access to the mill, which can convert scrap metal and unwanted ammunition into other types of non-energy ammunition. Both are great to have, but neither is game changing enough to compel people rush to download the add-on. Players will also be free to play item collection quests to earn rewards and boost karma. If you're a Fallout 3 fan and already explored every corner of the Capitol Wasteland, ten bucks will provide an extra few hours of entertainment. There are certainly worse ways to spend the time and money, and plenty of more satisfying options, but none will provide your Fallout 3 character with a nice Auto-Axe to run around with.

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