|System: X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Bethesda Softworks||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Bethesda Softworks||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 3, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Any normal person would have probably stopped playing Fallout 3 a long time ago. After spending dozens upon dozens of hours in the Capitol Wasteland, an absurd amount of elusively hidden nooks and crannies littered throughout the game are still waiting to be uncovered in the devastated murky brown and gray terrain. Bethesda managed to stretch the already impressively deep core game, and our attention spans, nearly to their breaking point with the previous four expansions. It seems fitting that the fifth and final Fallout 3 DLC installment doesn't even take place on the planet.
While some of the DLC expansions are far more successful than others, Bethesda has at least done an impressive job of keeping up a fair amount of variety in each excursion. In some ways Mothership Zeta is wildly different from the downloadable vignettes that have come before it. The blend of old-school sci-fi flair, X-files creepiness, and subtle humor it features makes the trip a memorable one, even if you're bound to encounter intermittent moments of repetition and boredom along the way. Is it the best of the bunch? Not hardly. But dismantling giant death rays, brawling with alien-human hybrids, and chatting up cowboys and samurai is worth the hassle of being probed and prodded.
An unintelligible but "ominous" radio signal draws you to a UFO crash site located in the northernmost region of the wastes. Before you get a chance to thoroughly inspect the wreckage and the deceased alien that fell out of it, you're caught in a tractor beam and sucked skyward. You wake up dazed and on the chopping block surrounded by aliens with big, sharp pokers. Fortunately, you're momentarily spared and imprisoned rather than being completely dissected. You'll have to figure out a way to escape and battle your way through the ship, if you ever want to set foot on terra firma again.
Stripped of your clothing and gear, it immediately becomes apparent you're not the only abductee onboard the spacecraft. In fact, the aliens seem to have spent quite a bit of time cataloguing and collecting human specimens from different eras, forcing them to make short voice recordings before permanently preserving them in cryofreeze. Stumbling on these audio recordings found around the ship offers moments of humor and snippets of story to add greater depth to the fact you'll spend most of your time blasting through high-tech corridors crawling with little green men and automated robotic drones.
Mothership Zeta's aliens are well-designed and come in a few different varieties. Early on, you'll encounter feeble scientists who run for cover when you approach and armed aliens in cool spacesuits. Popping through the round helmets of the latter with some expertly-placed laser jolts is particularly satisfying. Tougher aliens with better weaponry and portable energy shields eventually begin to pop-up and are usually accompanied by various robotic drones and turrets. The best new foes by far are the beastly alien-human hybrids that screech demonically and point a clawed finger in your direction before charging at you with destructive might. Aside from the turrets, it's great to battle enemies that are substantially different in design from what you'll find elsewhere in the main game.
Earthbound weaponry is not as effective in fending off your new opponents as the newfangled high-tech damage-dealing blasters you'll steal from them. There's nothing really outstandingly new about most of the weapons you'll encounter (an array of batons, alien laser pistols, and energy rifles), except for the awkward robotic exploding drill shooter that are best left alone. Without stimpaks, you'll have to improvise when it comes to restoring health. Consuming vile alien worms and other nastiness restores a meager amount of health, but hacking various healing gateways littered throughout the ship is the best means of staying alive. Loot hounds will be disappointed by the lack of goods to procure, though there are a few items (like traditional samurai armor) worth scavenging for.