Reliving the Chinese Communist Invasion of Alaska in 2077, thanks to Fallout 3 expansion packs

has been out for a week or so now, and was the one I had the least interest in, since it mostly takes the form of a simulation of events in the game's pre-nuclear holocaust past (our future?!?!). One of Fallout 3's great strengths is the way you build up your character and his or her gear, but for most of this new quest, all you get is your skills and perks.

I have a number of minor complaints, like the fact that I was confused about how to actually play the damn thing at first. Turns out you just have to buy it, load up a saved game, and then wait a few minutes before you can pick up a mysterious new radio signal that sets you on the path. Once you're inside the simulation, there was a weird little inconsistency in that my special perk, The Mysterious Stranger, worked in the sim, which makes not a lick of logical sense, but was kind of fun.

But the real complaint is that this scenario is pretty much all combat, and pretty linear combat at that. The choices and options were what made Fallout 3 great. The combat, much less so. When you take away the fact that you now have a much more limited selection of weapons and gear, that takes away a lot more strategy – which usually comes down to choosing the tool you want for the task at hand. There's even an artificial limitation placed on the number of times you can switch weapons packages, which only made the problem worse.

I've read elsewhere that people liked the new environments, but really it's just trading bleak wastelands of ruined city for bleak wastelands of snowy wilderness. Still a lot of gray, just with more white in it this time around. Overall, I'm not super impressed, but I'm not disappointed enough that I won't download the next DLC release on the day it drops. And I remain very excited about the third one, which continues the game's storyline and lifts the level cap.

My final analysis is that, if you're a Fallout 3 fanatic like me, it's worth getting. The gear you get as a reward is cool and unavailable in the regular game. Plus there's 200 achievement points to be had. And it will keep you interested and up-to-date until the next one comes out. Now if I could only find 3 more Nuka-Cola Quantums...

Fallout 3 is probably my favorite game of the past few months. I devoted hours and hours to exploring its version of post-nuclear war Washington DC, and am more than ready to spend hours more, so I was excited when Bethesda announced that they'd be releasing three downloadable expansion packs over the next three months. The first of these, Operation: Anchorage,

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