The Verdict: Fallout 3's Mothership ZetaBy Brian Leahy - Posted Aug 04, 2009
The final piece of Fallout 3 downloadable content hit the Xbox 360 and PC this week and takes you to the stars aboard "Mothership Zeta". After being abducted by some annoying little aliens, players will find themselves trapped in a cell with Somah, a fellow Wastelander that has been in the ship for a bit longer than your brief stay. After a quick chat about how to escape, a plan is put into action and the 4-ish hour fight to gain control of the ship begins.
"Mothership Zeta" is light on story and is an extremely linear experience. The only choice to be made is in which the order to tackle the middle quest's objectives, much like "Operation: Anchorage". There are several other abductees that can be spoken to for some additional details, but more often than not, they won't actually answer questions. The characters you meet will all help you out as you fight your way to the ship's bridge, but they can die. Also, bring a lot of caps with you as Somah has a repair skill of 100, but refuses to work pro-bono despite the dire situation. She's thinking about her future back on Earth, after all.
There is no new armor to be obtained (unless you kill the other abductees), but there are several alien energy weapons to snag. They range from pistols to rifles to big weapons. If your character isn't setup to use alien weapons, you'll be more effective with your conventional arms, but be sure to stock up on ammo before inspecting the distress call. You won't find much non-alien ammo on the ship. What you will find, however, is the most awesome item in Fallout 3: the Alien Epoxy. This little item will repair your currently equipped weapon without requiring a spare. The amount repaired also depends on your repair skill level.
The aliens themselves are fairly durable... if they get their shields up in time. Staying true to alien mythology, the visitors are physically weak, but posses superior technology. Without their shields, the aliens are easily dropped with one or two shots from an assault rifle or combat shotgun. With shields energized, players will need to put constant fire on them to disrupt them before doing any real damage. Fun fact: their weapons are pretty devastating to you.
As a combat mission, "Mothership Zeta" is excellent. It's fast paced, full of enemies, and great for loading up on XP. I finally hit level 30 about two-thirds of the way through. You won't just be fighting aliens -- abducted ghouls and raiders can also be found in certain sections of the ship. Additionally, players will come across archways that can be modified to fully heal their wounds, but must recharge and eventually break down after three uses. Modifying them will also grant experience. Bonus: the Mysterious Stranger has the ability to track you into space and help you on the ship. There is no limit to his mystery!
The next section will contain spoilers for some of the more exciting firefights in "Mothership Zeta".
There are two firefights in "Mothership Zeta" that are worth specifically talking about. The first occurs in the ship's hanger. While trying to gain access to a generator that needs to be destroyed, an alarm is tripped and aliens being pouring into the hangar below. Quickly outgunned, it's time to make use of the control panel in front of you, which activates several pylons that send out shockwaves in different areas of the hanger. Timing these correctly with the advancing aliens leads to a lot of flying body parts and easy kills. You won't get experience, but it's a great sequence. Bonus points if you can launch the aliens into the giant pit under the docked spaceship.
The final fight that occurs on the ship's bridge is extraordinary. Another alien ship appears and players have to fire the ship's ìdeath rayî at the other craft while fighting off aliens attempting to retake the bridge. The best part is the ability to control power distribution between the ship's shields and laser. Do you opt for stronger shields, which will take longer, but are less risky or do you put all of the power into the weapon, but risk destruction at the hands of the other ship? Or, do you alternate power between shots to maximize your damage output and defense? It's a refreshingly active fight that goes beyond Fallout 3's combat system.
Ok, the spoilers are done.
"Mothership Zeta" is definitely worth picking up if you can't get enough Fallout 3. It doesn't compare to the amount of content in "Point Lookout", but it's a focused combat scenario with some great new weapons and challenging enemies. The ship is also a nice change of pace from the post-apocalyptic ruins of Earth. "Mothership Zeta" will run you 800 MS Points ($10) and is available now for the Xbox 360 and PC.