This is an overview of Mothership Zeta, the final downloadable add-on for Fallout 3, which has been released for Xbox 360 and PC (PS3 users have to wait a while longer). I also have an overview of the four previous Fallout 3 DLC add-ons. 

The following overview may contain content that could be considered spoilers. So if you’re one of those people, you have been warned.

Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta

A crashed alien spacecraft and the corpse of its extraterrestrial pilot sat in the Capital Wasteland since before you exited Vault 101, sending out an incomprehensible message to parties unknown. Now it’s time to meet the message’s receiver. Become abducted by aliens, then fight back against your captors with their own weapons alongside fellow abductees until you control their ship. 

Shouting random phrases from sci-fi movies while shooting aliens up to personal preference.

What is it about? So how exactly does Bethesda follow-up the excellent Point Lookout? Not by offering the same non-linear fun; Mothership Zeta gives more of the limited exploration found in Operation: Anchorage, The Pitt, and Broken Steel. Admittedly, expecting a huge, open playground in an alien spacecraft doesn’t necessarily make complete sense, but it’s still a bummer that Bethesda couldn’t conclude Fallout 3’s downloadable content with the open-world approach they excel at. That’s not to say there isn’t  space to explore (no pun intended); the level of freedom reminded me of exploring a large building or, for those who have played it, Operation: Anchorage. Too bad there’s very few sights worth finding.

Make sure to place most of your character’s items in a safe place before letting Johnny beam you up. There are a lot of weapons found on the Mothership Zeta, and while the overwhelming majority of the weapon types are of human origin, who can argue with a few more rocket launchers, machine guns, grenades, ect? In fact, the Mothership’s Cargo Hold could be described as a museum of Fallout 3 items, filled with tons of the weapons that populate the Capital Wasteland alongside quite a few non-lethal items. And like Operation: Anchorage and The Pitt, once you’re inside Mothership Zeta, you’re stuck there until the DLC is complete. No beaming down to Earth to drop off your collected loot mid-mission. 

 But don’t worry about fighting without your earthly shotgun; your belongings are found reasonably early on. (Don’t miss finding them as I did with everything but armor). Incidentally, the alien’s own weapons (none of which are particularly imaginative) seem to do a pretty good job against them. In fact, a rifle called the Alien Disintegrator was the only weapon I needed to combat the big-headed space threat, although the grenade launcher-like Drone Cannon (taken from Guardian Drone robots) should satisfy the more destructive players. These two items are found a bit after the beginning of the add-on, however, and since the aliens steal all of your items, you’ll be forced to fight initially with weaker alien weapons.

[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iwFhq57o-M 560×340]

But who says you have to fight most of the aliens? If you grabbed the Chinese Stealth Armor from Operation: Anchorage and worked on your stealth rating, you can go through most of the Zeta by sneaking around. Being able to hack into robots will also be very effective for the numerous drones hanging around. Finally, experimented humans called Abominations are found in a few locations later on, but they were hardly trouble with my high-level character and his Alien Disintegrator. How tough they (or any of the enemies) are with a lower-level character, I cannot say. Abominations do win the award for most amusing new animation. I’m not going to spoil it, but I found it oddly funny.

What you fight most are the aliens themselves, who come in a few flavors. The weakest aliens who fight are the helmet-less, unshielded aliens while aliens who wear either or both are stronger. Alien Workers, who appear like regular aliens clothed in red, don’t fight back, but do cower in fear and run away. You’re even told to not kill the harmless cowards, and doing so results in negative karma. (Strangely, firing the Mothership’s death ray at Earth doesn’t give negative karma. Maybe the area hit was uninhabited.) Raiders, Super Mutants, and other planet-found enemies make appearances, although they’re usually killed quickly by the aliens.

If this sounds like I’m focusing on a lot of aspects that involve combat, that’s because, like Operation: Anchorage, there’s not really anything to do outside of fighting. Recordings of various abductees and their reactions to being brought aboard an alien spaceship can be acquired (a number of which are pretty amusing), and Vault dwellers who find all are rewarded with an achievement, but it’s an incredibly simple task that doesn’t even quality as a side-quest by the game. You would think that with the theoretical technology the aliens could have possessed, there might be a few more interesting events, but that’s probably the result of Mothership Zeta being downloadable content and maybe Bethesda changing gears to focus on The Elder Scrolls V.

Is it worth buying? Not quite the explosive conclusion to Fallout 3’s DLC as hoped, Mothership Zeta still provides something to keep the bigger Fallout 3 fans somewhat entertained for a few hours more. Blowing the big, almond-shaped heads off the aliens’ bodies is surprisingly entertaining at the beginning before you realize that shooting big-headed aliens is essentially the only thing to do. Lower-level characters may benefit the most by either saving or selling the large number of weapons and other items contained in the Cargo Hold, and having another location to store items and sleep isn’t bad, either. 

More casual Fallout 3 fans may want to save their cash and wait for Fallout: New Vegas.