Fallout 3: Broken Steel Review
With the release of the third DLC pack for Fallout 3, some gamers are finally going to see what Bethesda has been doing since the release of the game over six months ago. The first two packs whisked you away to entirely new areas and didn't integrate terribly well with the usual Capital Wasteland experience. With Broken Steel, Bethesda has stopped Fallout 3 from ending once you complete the game, increased the level cap from 20 to 30, added a range of new perks to take, and allowed you to become even more incredibly powerful with new gear.
Broken Steel continues the Brotherhood of Steel storyline by having you finish off the remnants of the Enclave. You'll travel to a couple of old places that have gotten a facelift, explore new (mostly indoor) areas that augment the D.C. area's existing environments, and visit a couple of places that only the most attentive gamers ever got to see in the original game (including what's left of the White House) on the way. Toss in a few new enemies including the Feral Ghoul Reaver and some beefed-up Enclave troops, and it's a well-rounded package overall.
Those who have played Operation Anchorage and The Pitt have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Broken Steel, but it's the increase in the level cap and the additional perks that make this one significantly better than the first two DLC packs. It's also nice to see a continuation of the game's real storyline in a way that doesn't diminish the ending, and it even adjusts a few bits of the game's original ending to make a lot more sense, too. The new gear you'll gain access to is fun, but don't expect it to change the way you play the game; the Fat Man and its unique version are still the most powerful weapons in the game, although a new one here, the Tesla Cannon, is pretty damn powerful and uses fairly common ammo, too.
It's difficult to continue on without mentioning some of the technical problems that the PC version of Fallout 3 is currently experiencing. The v1.5 patch for the game was released in anticipation of Broken Steel, but it's included some nasty bugs that interfere specifically with user-made mods and still doesn't fix a couple of the V.A.T.S. issues that gamers have been complaining about since 1.1 was released months ago. Many of the serious players are still using the game executable from the very first patch (v184.108.40.206) and a "Fake Patch" mod in order to keep up compatibility with things like the Fallout Script Extender utility. If you're one of these people, getting Broken Steel to work 100% for you is going to be a serious exercise in patience, because there are a number of solutions out there right now to get the game working with the old executable but none that I have found solve every issue. To do all of that right requires fiddling around with moving mods into the game's data directory, loading the right versions of several things (and in the right order), and dealing with crashes that can come either infrequently or after loading a game - every time - and having to go back to an older save.
From the perspective of many PC gamers who don't play user-made mods, have installed the 1.5 patch and didn't notice any difference, and only play the DLC packs, Broken Steel does work just fine now that the download issues of the first couple days have been fixed. So don't be scared off by that previous paragraph unless you've got some mods that you simply need in order to fill out your FO3 experience. And this is definitely the best DLC add-on so far, as it adds plenty of gameplay, some great-looking new areas both inside and outside the area you're probably very familiar with by now, and is the only pack released so far to really change what's happening in the regular game. If you almost bought The Pitt but held off because $10 seemed maybe just a bit too much, then go ahead and pick up Broken Steel because it's definitely worth the cost this time.
Now we've heard that a fourth DLC pack might be on the way and so far it's just been unconfirmed rumor, but it seems likely we'll see more. At the same time, Bethesda probably can't (or at least shouldn't) keep this up, adding new chunks and pieces to the game that don't even sit on the regular Capital Wasteland map. While Obsidian Entertainment is working on the new spinoff game Fallout: New Vegas, the team that's currently working on Fallout 3 DLC - assuming they're not moving on to Bethesda's next big project - should probably work on a real expansion pack of some kind, like Shivering Isles for Oblivion. Until then, though, I think you'll have a good time in finishing off the Enclave in Broken Steel.