As pretty much The Coolest Character In Cinema History, it's good to see Bethesda kicks off its latest round of DLC for Fallout 3 - The Pitt - with Snake Plisken.
Okay, okay. It's not actually Snake Plisken but it's Wernher, the man who sends you to The Putt to recover the cure for a mutation that's spreading across the wasteland. He has a mullet, he has an eyepatch, he has a cigarette and he has a plan.
Heading off into The Pitt (its location is in the far North-West corner of the map), you emerge with Wernher in a small, rocky valley that's littered with train carriages and debris as an armed guard moves forward to meet Wernher. The guard tells Wernher that she's surprised he came back. "I have a lot of guts. You don't," he snaps back, before shooting her and kicking off a gunfight in the valley.
This is all a prelude to The Pitt itself though. Kill the guards and Wernher tells you his plan, which involves you getting the cure and him getting contact once you've received it. You've then got to scramble across a mined bridge with a distant sniper on patrol and figure out a way into the slave camp ahead.
It's at this point that The Pitt shows that it retains Fallout 3's ability to deftly and subtly allow your decisions to influence the action, that makes you want to revisit. As you approach the slave camps, you notice a couple of slaves dashing for freedom, who get blown up by the mines. Will you take their slave outfit and get into the camp that way? Will you try to join the slavers as a recruit? It's up to you.
Once you join The Pitt, you then have to figure out how to achieve your goals while maintaining the facade of being a weak-willed slave worker. The Pitt works as a central hub almost in the same way Megaton did, the difference being that The Pitt is much bigger and the suffocating sense of oppression gives it an entirely different feel. Slaves are covered with cuts, bruises and skin peeling off their faces. The sound of clanking metal and whirring grinders create a noisy din. Guards tell you to "**** off" if you try talk to them. The Pitt isn't a nice place to be.
To make things worse, you have a new enemy to deal with - Trogs. Hideous, deformed humans that look like they failed auditions for The Descent, they scramble along the floor to claw and bite at you. The Trog Fledglings you fight at the start of the game are little more than an excuse for you to get stuck in with your new Auto Axe, which is essentially a chainsaw blade. Later enemies promise to be much tougher...
KEEPING WITH TRADITION
Unlike Operation Anchorage, The Pitt isn't focused on combat. You have the traditional push-and-pull of quests that send you scurrying around the terrain collecting objects, investigating mysterious circumstances or just happening on odd scenarios. In the Steel Mill, you find an injured slave worker on the floor that the guards are ignoring. You have the choice of healing him or putting him out his misery. Help or hinder? The choice is yours.
Inside The Pitt, you have a contact called Midea who sets you on the right path towards the cure - you need to triumph in the arena, where slaves are put up against a vast array of fighters in a 'symbolic' bid to win their freedom. That's where our time with The Pitt came to an end. We were told that the hour we covered was roughly a third of the way into the DLC but there were plenty of quests that we hadn't found, not to mention the various different outcomes to discover.
So while Operation Anchorage felt every bit the away-from-Fallout-3 it set itself out to be, The Pitt feels like a natural extension of the main game. It's bloody good, right down to the details such as the occassional attempt by slaves to escape and getting viciously cut down by the guards to the extra Nuka-Cola bottles lying around, perfect for a certain challenge in the main game...