If Fallout 3’s Operation Anchorage DLC was its electro-sword-swinging, happily ending “A New Hope,” The Pitt is its “Empire Strikes Back.” Full of depressing realities and potential backstabs, The Pitt isn’t exactly the best place for a vacation if Fallout 3’s gray skies and grayer morals were getting you down. The DLC’s plot sees you dropping your mechanical trousers, donning slave rags, and infiltrating Pittsburgh’s disease-riddled remains, with the hope of freeing its enslaved citizens. Or cracking the whip even harder, if you’re playing a heartless ne’er-do-well. But is it really worth your time to save Pittsburgh when you could be saving $10? Well, here’s our verdict in five easy points. (Granted, we could’ve given you a simple yes or no, but what fun would that be?)
1. Now with made with 100% real Fallout! – Despite its first-person trappings, Fallout 3 isn’t an FPS. Unfortunately, developer Bethesda seemed to have forgotten that when it released Fallout 3’s first run-‘n’-gun-heavy piece of DLC, Operation Anchorage. With The Pitt, though, the game has kicked its identity crisis to the curb. No more snow, no more identical Chinese soldiers, no more strangely out-of-place cyborg ninjas – Metal Gear Solid this ain’t. Instead, The Pitt sends you on a veritable Wasteland safari, full of open areas, colorful characters, and optional side quests. And for the most part, another few hours of the same things Fallout fanatics have been doing for the past 50 make for an enjoyable – if somewhat familiar – experience.
He, uh, fell down the stairs. Yep.
Be warned, though: if you intend to truly plumb The Pitt’s depths, be prepared to spend a few hours collecting an entire steelyard’s worth of steel ingots. Sure, plucking more than ten of the prohibitively well-hidden hunks of junk from their natural habitat is completely optional, but without doing so, the DLC is pretty short. Also, you’ll nab some free stuff from a guy who sounds like Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and really, when you’re (disguised as) a slave, it’s the little joys in life that keep you going.
2. Get these mothaf***in’ Trogs out of my mothaf***in’ city – I hate Trogs. For the uninitiated, Trogs are The Pitt’s creepy-crawly new mutant type, and as you might’ve surmised, I hate them. They’re The Pitt’s Flood equivalent – mindless, willing to die if it inconveniences you in the slightest, and prone to traveling in (ugh) large groups. Problem is, so far as I can tell, the repulsive little jerks were actually meant to be scary, but they appear so frequently that you might as well just be stepping in gum repeatedly; the effect – both in terms of inconvenience and annoyance – would be the same. Also, Trogs can’t be decapitated, which we’re sure will leave a number of indigenous head-shrinking tribes absolutely heartbroken.
I'd rather not, Ms. - um - Arena?
3. Morals Schmorals – No matter how you choose to roll around in The Pitt, afterward, you’ll just feel dirty. Whether your poison of choice is backstabbing, kidnapping, or some combination of the two, you’ll likely re-enter Fallout 3’s main map wondering, “Did I really do the right thing?” I know I did. Granted, it falls into BioShock’s fair, but far less impactful trap of offering you roughly the same rewards regardless of the path you take, but that’s a small complaint for such a thought-provoking tale.
4. Are you not entertained?! – Every game genre has its own inexplicable little trope that manages to continually defy Father Time, and for the Western RPG, it’s the arena. Whether you look in Fable 2, Jade Empire, or Elder Scrolls: Oblivion (or Elder Scrolls Arena, for that matter), it seems that many game designers secretly aspire to be Russell Crowe, and I’m pretty okay with that. So of course, I welcomed The Pitt’s long-overdue arena with arms just wide open enough to retain my manly aloofness – that is, until I found out it was kind of lame. I mean, sure, it’s a self-contained area where murder is, in fact, encouraged, but the whole shebang’s only three matches long. I’ve seen Food Network shows with more action. Which ties into my next point…
Urge to photoshop a guitar... rising.
5. Potential well wasted – The Pitt is not a bad piece of DLC. In fact, excluding Oblivion’s much maligned equine chic, I think Bethesda – over time – has really helped set the standard for high value, respectably priced DLC. But in this case, that’s a large chunk of the problem. See, The Pitt’s pretty cool for a post-apocalyptic playground, but it doesn’t quite clear the ever-growing hurdle that is expectation. Exhibit one: the steelyard. Yeah, it’s nice and all, but it is, fittingly enough, a one-trick pony. Ingot, ingot, Trog, ingot. Rinse, repeat. And that’s a shame, because the place is huge, mysterious, and just begging for some intrepid adventurer to uncover its secrets. But in the end, it’s all sound and fury, signifying nothing. Exhibit two: every other sentence in this write-up with some form of the phrases “seemed,” “awesome”, and “but actually” in it. The Pitt was delayed earlier this year, and while I’m sure it benefitted from an extra month in development, I feel like another month or two could’ve baked it into something rich and whole, rather than something nice-looking but ultimately shallow.
Recommendation: Buy it– unless your ten dollars are, like, going toward a Maximum PC subscription orphans or food or something. Sure, The Pitt is a bit on the short side, and yeah, it could be a much more impressive product, but it’s still definitely a nice romp. It may not match Operation Anchorage minute-for-minute, but it is – in my opinion – much more enjoyable as a whole. And hey, time flies when you’re having fun.