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Review: Fallout 3: Point Lookout

Point Lookout, the latest downloadable content expansion for Fallout 3, takes a short break from the retro sci-fi theme that defines the rest of the game. Instead, this new area centers on more of a B-movie horror theme. Players get to go to some secluded swamplands and unload using a double-barreled shotgun on its mutated, cannibalistic, locals while confronting a local cult. In the meantime, you end up in the middle of a long running feud, uncover a book of the occult, and brew up some moonshine.

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In the expansion, players hop aboard a ferry that takes them to the seaside town of Point Lookout in search of a missing girl and the source of the mysterious punga fruit. Point Lookout's geography protected it from the nuclear blasts, which is why many of its buildings are still in decent condition, but the fallout has taken its toll. However, high radiation also means there are plenty of ghouls wandering the area, and they especially like hanging around the graveyards. The nearby swamps are also heavily irradiated, so falling into its waters can be very dangerous. Roughly half of Point Lookout is swampland, which makes exploration a little more difficult than it usually is. Yet, exploring is worth it for picking up the punga fruit, which grows naturally all around the area. Consuming the fruit, especially the cult grown "refined" variety, restores health and cleanses radiation from the body.

Playing through the Point Lookout expansion is a lot like experiencing the Fallout 3 version of Redneck Rampage. There's a fair share of campy humor to be had, and we admit to taking a guilty pleasure in firing the powerful double barreled shotgun at the mutated swamp-dwelling folk, but we didn't find a lot of the quests to be as fulfilling as we'd hoped. Most start off promising, like where you need to defend a mansion and its single occupant from waves of attacking cultists, and continues to be interesting when the player infiltrates the cult itself. Yet, this and at least one other storyline fizzles out at the end. The boss fight at the end is ridiculously easy, especially if you have a high level character equipped with excellent weapons and armor.

One quest in particular has you seeking out a book of the dark magic, and the player must choose to either trade the book in for a sizeable reward or make their way through the labyrinthine underground hallways of a Capitol Wasteland office building to destroy it. Although there's plenty of loot to be picked up along the way and karma points to be gained or lost, there's no big finale. We were kind of hoping that trading in the book would summon a new monster to deal with, but nothing like that ever happens. Considering the Broken Steel add-on included a scene where an orbital weapon fires upon a gigantic Enclave fortress, Point Lookout offers the least impressive stories out of all the add-ons so far.

There's little reason to return to Point Lookout once all the quests are completed. With the exception of Operation Anchorage, previous expansions included collection trade-ins, like super mutant blood samples for the Brotherhood of Steel to study or parts toward building a new Liberty Prime in Broken Steel. In The Pitt, players won access to the steel refineries to convert scrap metal into ammunition. The most Point Lookout has to offer is a chance to distill moonshine for booze and profit. The problem with this system is that punga fruit is one of the main ingredients of moonshine, and you need a lot of it. Although they grow naturally in the wild, they don't seem to grow back - at least not in any amount of time we were willing to sit for. Plus, despite infiltrating the cult, we were never privy to the secrets of refined punga fruit harvesting, so there went our dreams of cornering the market. Over time, players will eventually exhaust all the fruit in the area, leaving little reason to return. Installing the add-on stocks punga fruit in the inventory of many of the traders across the Capitol Wasteland, but that simply underscores the point.

There's also an arena where you can jump in and unload against waves of feral ghouls. Yes, you actually pay caps to be locked into a pit of ghouls. It's a nice way to relieve stress and build up experience points, but it's not so different from walking through some of the abandoned subway systems. Even the big weapon that found at the end of one of the main quests, the Microwave Emitter, turns out to be a little disappointing. Although it dishes out a great deal of damage, it reuses the art for the Mesmotron and takes up a huge amount of screen space when in first-person mode.

Considering the amount of fun that can be had with Point Lookout, especially with some of the new weapons, we can't say that the content isn't worth the relatively low asking price. If you've already played through most of what Fallout 3 has to offer, Point Lookout offers a nice change of pace and scenery. However, we didn't find its stories quite as fulfilling as some of the ones from previous add-ons, so you'd be better off picking up one of them (if you haven't already) before visiting the boardwalk.

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