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Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage
Score: 75%
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG/Action/Adventure


After a very painful and non-normal installation (see below), Bethesda Softworks' Fallout 3's new DLC, Operation: Anchorage, triggers almost immediately as you receive a beacon signal through your Pip-Boy calling for all those receiving the message to help, which then adds an additional quest to your list called "Aiding the Outcasts." If you don't hear the distress call and see this new quest within a few minutes of wandering the Wastelands, review the installation instructions below... my pain has become your gain!

What awaits you is a simulation chamber that can only be accessed by specific devices. Thank goodness you have your Pip-Boy! After accepting the quest, you'll enter the chamber and be immediately thrown into a virtual world (that strikingly looks exactly like the game's "real" world). Here you have to take on the Chinese Communist army in a battle for Anchorage, Alaska.


Being set in the snow, Operation: Anchorage offers a nice twist on the visuals of Fallout 3. Again the world looks very good, and again the audio shines. In fact, I loved the ambient wind as you are pursuing your first missions on the rocky mountain cliffs of the Chinese camp. Not bad for a "simulation."

While it's true that upon entering the simulation, you won't be taking any real-world weapons that you've previously found into VR, you will instead be given new ones inside. Operation: Anchorage actually involves a lot more gunplay than you'll find in the original installation, which makes it - dare I say - even better than Fallout 3 in terms of action-packed excitement. You'll be able to use more weapons than you possibly had access to previously, but that does depend on where you stand with your character's statistics and levels of experience.

In fact, being that I used a character at a low level - I believe at Level 5 when I started the simulation - it was quite awesome to bust out some superior weapons within the simulation. The truth is that for those who are picking up this DLC at an early stage in your ventures, or for those who are starting a new character, playing through Operation: Anchorage is a great way to gain XP. I jumped three levels in the very short amount of time that it takes to defeat the DLC.

Operation: Anchorage actually will have you teaming up with a partner to get through the missions. You'll also be able to choose your team for later infiltrations, which is a cool little twist that does add a small amount of replay value to the DLC. Unfortunately, this doesn't really make up for the ease of play within.


I actually found Operation: Anchorage a bit too easy, and that was with using a fairly young character in terms of experience. I can imagine that fully developed characters will have it even easier, unfortunately. The biggest problem with this DLC is that around every other corner you'll be able to restore your health, replenish your ammo, and pick up a few extras like grenades and missiles. Because of this, it is quite easy to disrupt the intention of the game and go balls-out, Rambo-style into each conflict with the enemy without much of a worry of defeat.

The enemy A.I. is the second tick in the negative difficulty factor for Operation: Anchorage. Unfortunately, there were many times when I saw the Chinese soldiers standing around or completely ignoring me, even when I was standing right next to them ready to blow them away with a good dose of VATS and a kicking shotgun. There were also enemies called Dragoons that appeared Predator-like invisible until you shot them. While this sounds like a huge challenge on paper, the reality was that they would not engage you until you shot them, even if you were walking within a few feet of them.


So the inevitable question is bound to come up... is the Operation: Anchorage DLC worth a purchase? I have mixed feelings about the Content vs. Value debate. On one hand, the fact that you are getting a game's worth of shooting into a few hours of gameplay is hard to deny when it comes to gauging its fun, but the other side of the fence makes me think this content is worth $5, and not necessarily $10.

That said, I feel that those playing through Fallout 3 for a second or third time will definitely find value in Operation: Anchorage, as will those who may have recently purchased the main game. Those who have finished the game and have no intention of playing anything more than the DLC may find that it isn't worth the cost. In my case I loved it, and even though it was far too easy, it still ended up being a fun experience with a great reward at the end (another reason that Operation: Anchorage offers more value to those not already finished with the game). If you can get past some of the problems associated with Operation: Anchorage, I think four out of five people will find enough enjoyment to justify the cost.


Okay, here comes my rant about the installation of Operation: Anchorage and an issuance of my word of warning to all of you geeks out there who like multiple-partitioned hard drives: Make sure your original install of Fallout 3 is on your WINDOWS partition (typically the C: drive)!!! You have been warned. The PC version of Operation: Anchorage WILL NOT LOAD if you install Fallout 3 on any other HDD location (mine was G:). I ran around for more than 15 hours trying to "unlock" this DLC, trying everything that I could to trigger the supposed distress signal... nothing happened.

Finally, the good folks over at Bethesda helped me figure out the problem. It seems that there is an issue with this because the DLC automatically gets installed in the Games for Windows folder - a super-secret one, might I add - on your Windows installation drive, NOT within your Fallout 3 installation folder. I have been told that a fix is in the works now, so check out The Official Fallout 3 Website for a patch. (It may possibly end up here instead.) However, you can also follow one of the following two methods in the meantime:

  1. Reinstall Fallout 3 onto your Windows installation drive (usually C:) - Note that your saved games are within your (My) Documents folder, so you shouldn't lose anything... but back them up just in case!
  2. Manually move the files - "Anchorage - Main.bsa", "Anchorage - Sounds.bsa", "Anchorage.esm" - into your \Fallout3\Data directory with the following steps:
    • Browse to one of the following locations:
      • [Windows XP] C:\Documents and Settings\Your User Name\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\XLive\DLC
      • [Windows Vista] C:\Users\Your User Name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\XLive\DLC
      • NOTE: The Local Settings and Application Data folders are hidden and may need to be enabled in you Tools>Folder Options>View [Tab]>"Show hidden files and folders"
    • Move (not copy) the following files into your \Fallout3\Data directory
    • Run the Fallout 3 Launcher, select "Data Files," check the box next to Anchorage, and then run the game
If done correctly, Operation: Anchorage will run perfectly fine and you will know it within a couple of minutes of walking around the Wasteland. Enjoy!

-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele
Minimum System Requirements:

SAME AS Fallout 3: Windows XP/Vista; 2.4GHz Processor; 1 GB RAM; 6 GB Free Hard Drive Space; NVIDIA GeForce 6800 / ATI x850 minimum; ENHANCED FOR MULTI-CORE
  Test System:

Dell Vostro 1700 Laptop: Intel Core 2 Duo CPU T7100; Dual 1.8 GHz Processors; 2 GB RAM; NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT; Xbox 360 Wireless Controller with PC USB Wireless Receiver

Microsoft Xbox 360 Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage Microsoft Xbox 360 Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and the Damned

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