[DLC] Fallout 3 - Broken Steel

The 360 expansions are finally starting to make their way to the PS3, and Bethesda does the first release right.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: September 24, 2009
There are plenty of reasons why getting the Broken Steel add-on first among all the bits of DLC instead of third like it was originally released on the Xbox 360, but the most significant is that it raises the level cap of the game to 30. This single move instantly turns old games into geysers of side-quest rewards, and the new Trophies, more than a dozen new Perks and a trio of lengthy story missions that easily outclass almost anything in the original game's main quest in terms of difficulty.


But perhaps I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. Broken Steel is a righter of many, many wrongs and serves as perhaps the most significant of the 360 DLC packs for the game in that it can be applied to the upcoming releases in interesting ways. For starters, it rewrites (a bit clumsily) the ending of the game to effectively leave it open-ended. When coupled with the raised level cap, the game suddenly becomes much friendlier to exploration and side-questing, and if digested as a whole with the half-dozen or so side quests, there's almost as much content here as there was in the whole of the story campaign the first time around.

There's a catch, of course: you're still going to be traipsing around in the Wastes rather than exploring an alien ship, a simulation or an entirely new city like the other upcoming DLC packs. That's not to say there's not a handful of new spots to check out -- you'll actually head under the White House and out to Adams Air Force Base, picking up the awesome Tesla Cannon that I believe was first demoed when we got the chance to check out Fallout 3 for the first time a few years ago -- and the combo of being able to hook up with Liberty Prime again as it stomps around the wastes and gaining access to some awesome new weapons are a ton of fun.

Broken Steel also serves as a means to pull PS3 version-owning Fallout 3 players back into things if the Trophy patch didn't do so. That may not sound like a big deal to anyone who dove back in after the patch was originally released, but it's not unfair to say that this expansion smoothes out the leveling curve and encourages more languid exploration of everything the game offered on disc. Rather than being a whole new area, it's folded into the story and helps continue things nicely -- a perfect reason, if I may say so myself, to get back into the game and perhaps try being the angel or asshole that you weren't the first time around.

It's hard to review something that many will have played months ago, but in releasing Broken Steel first, then offering up the other, perhaps more imaginative (and certainly more varied) areas in quick succession, I can't help but think that Bethesda actually got the order right this time around. Broken Steel is, without question, a must for those that never picked up Fallout 3 on the 360. It takes all that was good about the original release and expands upon it, allowing for more reward even late in the game and a sizeable, meaty chunk of new exploration for those that have already finished things.

Make no mistake, though, this is definitely an expansion that belongs at the end of the adventure. You're going to need to be as high level as possible for the DLC's endgame, as the combination of ultra-powerful and plentiful enemies will absolutely chew you to pieces with some seriously heavy weaponry. That of course means you can then loot them to get what feels like the "true" culmination of everything in terms of AI partners, equipment and stats. You'll likely have an easier time of things if you follow the wider progression of levels afforded with Broken Steel, but the combo of a new stretch of dilapidated Metro corridor and the Air Force base make for just enough variety that when The Pitt, Operation Anchorage, Point Lookout and Mothership Zeta finally do hit, they'll be the much-needed bits of variety and change in scenery that one will likely need. And believe me, by the time you polish off everything Broken Steel and the core Fallout 3 experience have to offer, you'll be damned sick of the Capital Wastes.
The Verdict
8.5

It's rare that DLC simultaneously benefits the original game and expands upon in it a way that's satisfying for those that already finished the game, but Broken Steel does precisely that. Familiar though it may be, this DLC is an absolute must.

8.5Graphics:

Situating everything in the same basic locale as the rest of Fallout 3 won't cure anyone of Wasteland burnout, but there's definitely some new stuff to be seen here, and it fits with tone and style of the original RELEASE.

8.0Sound:

There wasn't a ton of stuff added here beyond some new conversations and voices to go with 'em, but when the core product was already so aurally striking, it almost excuses things. Almost.

8.0Control:

Here's what we said the first time around: "Interacting with the environment can be a little sketchy, just as it was in Oblivion, and don't even bother trying to grab things in third-person, but at least V.A.T.S. battles play out like a dream." Yep.

8.5Gameplay:

Those playing through things from start to finish will likely feel this is more of the same, just ratcheted up on the difficulty scale. While that's certainly true, the ramifications of raising the level cap mean it's easier than ever to lose 100 hours.