Well it seems like our games are never fully paid for these days. With the likes of Gears of War 2, Halo 3 and Fable 2 drip-feeding us new content (that smashes the ‘1250 Gamerscore’ limit just to really fuck us off) it looks like games these days can cost you well over sixty quid if you want the full product. So, we’re here to tell you what’s good and what’s gash.
Red Faction: Guerilla – Demons of the Badlands
Red Faction: Guerrilla did many things right (as the Peoww gents will already confirm), unfortunately I cannot look past several issues I experienced during the game; the difficulty spikes, the atrociously hellish final (and other) level and, as is standard in Volition games you have to play through a sandbox that is only 20% story missions and 80% lazy side quests (time trials, hostage rescues and others that outstay their welcome even more than in Saints Row). Despite this annoyance I went into the Demons of the Badlands DLC with a glad heart, just to see if they could do anything different for us, or at the very least, a better DLC effort than Volition is used to providing.
This new DLC pack has you not playing as a member of the Red Faction Mars resistance, fighting against the evil and oppressive Earth Defence Force (EDF), but rather as Samanya (Sam), plucky sidekick from the main game and former Maruder (scavengers/bandits/ pseudo-badguys of Mars). The game takes place 6 years before the start of the main game and focuses on the Marauders struggle against the EDF.
Demons of the Badlands is basically another â€œsectorâ€ of Mars for you to play through, very similar to the 6 or 7 that came with the full game. This DLC does not at all follow on from your RF:G save game so it really doesn’t matter if you haven’t completed the full game before trying (the DLC area is completely isolated from the rest of Mars). There are 3 main missions that make up this prequel tale to RF:G which very slightly tie in to the story of the full game). These missions are not as imaginative as some of the better ones from the full game, so for the main part you will be levelling enemy strongholds and rescuing allies while you do so, even getting the opportunity to create some tank based mayhem if you’re on your best behaviour. As is the case in the full game, before you are allowed to take on the final mission you must have significantly lowered the â€œcontrolâ€ that the Earth Defence Force has in that area. This is accomplished primarily by destroying EDF buildings marked on your map, this can be done at your leisure or during missions and frankly takes no time at all â€“ before you know it you will unlock the last mission and complete the game.
To try and keep things interesting the game throws a few new weapons at you like the missile pod or the spiker rifle and even gives you a couple of new vehicles in the form of Marauder buggies or even the marauder power walker that you may have seen in game screenshots, but frankly these have got to be some of the laziest additions I have ever seen. The vehicles control identical to Red Faction vehicles from the full game and the power walker is identical too â€“ just painted different, with no new features at all. The weapons are so meh that you will go out of your way to complete some of the tedious side quests just to unlock the weapons from the main game. About the only change to the weapon system I approved of was being able to carry and deploy more remote charges to aid in building destruction.
For 800 Microsoft points (nearly seven earth pounds) I cannot come close to recommending this DLC â€“ if it was on sale for half that price I’d perhaps be happier but for what was barely an hour’s enjoyment I’d rather have taken the chance on several indie games. The die hard fans who will scour the badlands for all collectable Power Cells and will try to beat the pro times on the side missions might gain some enjoyment here, otherwise â€“ stay away.
Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta
Mothership Zeta comes as the final instalment to the Fallout DLC and expands the horizon of the Fallout Universe to the very stars. Having initially stumbled across the crashed alien spaceship in the Capital Wasteland I had thought there may be more to this unique bit of scenery and this DLC uses the crash site as a springboard for a journey to outer space. Upon reaching the crash site you find yourself being beamed up to the alien mothership where you awake to a bit of probing, a prison cell shared by another kidnapped human and some very angry aliens.
The spaceship looks unlike anything you would have seen in Fallout and is made from futuristic looking steel and glass, think 1950’s American sci-fi Buck Rogers. Whilst being a massive change in scenery the tone of the mothership remarkably remains the same as the rest of the Capital Wasteland recalling the hovercars you see scattered across the Wasteland and the art deco style jukeboxes and vending machines. On board the mothership your main objective is to secure an escape and the only way to do this is to storm the bridge, but the route isn’t straight forward. You’ll travel through the depths of the ship and even take a little trip outside on your journey to the bridge and all along the way you’ll be blasting nasty evil aliens with some crazy alien weapons.
Unfortunately the new enemies on show here come in only two basic forms, however the weapons on offer do make up for this lack of variety as they are all fun to use. You’ll also come across a variety of new armours and clothes and a scattering of new items with some fantastic uses, allowing you to repair your weapons without paying for it. The level design of the Mothership isn’t the greatest though and it’s easy to find yourself getting lost in the samey corridors and linear levels. The variety on offer in the main quests also isn’t up to the standard of the quests found in the other DLC for Fallout, although the optional areas are nicely implemented and do compensate for the main quests.
As standard this DLC rolls in at 800 MSP and as with the rest of the DLC on offer here it’s pretty short, in fact this can be completed with a straight run through in just less than five hours making it the shortest DLC on offer. There are however some very interesting views on offer in this DLC that you wouldn’t have seen anywhere else in your Fallout career which is a nice draw to purchase this DLC. The achievements on offer also fall along the same old route with one for each mission plus an additional one which here is a collect-a-thon, annoyingly this is terribly easy to miss on a first run through and impossible to get once the DLC is over, meaning you’ll have to start the DLC from scratch again. Mothership Zeta has to be compared to the other DLC on offer and although it takes you to the most bizarre location yet it’s not the best by far. I’d buy this but only if you love Fallout.
Skate 2: Maloof Money Cup
Oh fuck you, EA. The original Skate remains maxed out at 1000GS but after getting 1000 on Skate 2, I reluctantly bought two more DLC packs that took the game up to 1250GS. After that, with there being minimum multiplayer interest in the game, I traded it in, confident that the game was fully finished.
The Maloof Money Cup DLC adds another 250GS (taking the game up to 1500) which is represented by four achievements. Two of these are for completing very short, and easy, tournaments and the other two are for location specific tricks. The DLC can be completed in well under thirty minutes and the new area it unlocks is a fairly generic skatepark.
As ever with EA DLC, it’s sold on the basis that other people will be buying it and so the focus is on multiplayer larks but Skate 2 already has enough locations to piss about in so I’m not sure this DLC is a good idea and the extra GS just exploits us OCD whores.
For 240M$P, it’s a bit of a rip-off. Hopefully this will be the last one they do.
Mass Effect: Pinnacle Station
The second DLC mission has just been released for Mass Effect (the original being the pretty decent ‘Bring Down the Sky’), ‘Pinnacle Station’. At only 400 points it makes it one of the cheaper expansions out there, but money is still money, so is it worth it?
Well, let’s look at the content. Downloading this DLC opens up the titular Pinnacle Station to you, a space station used to train soldiers using virtual reality. Upon arriving someone is accusing someone else of cheating and it’s your job to prove the scores are beatable by coming first in each VR challenge. The challenges come in four flavours, Hunt (who can kill the most), Time Trial (who can kill all the enemies fastest), Capture (capture the points in the quickest time) and Survival (survive as long as you can). These challenges take place on three different levels based around the ME universe, Volcanic, Subterranean and Tropical, making a total of twelve different missions. Upon coming first in all twelve challenges an extra ‘untested’ level is unlocked for you to complete. That’s it. You do gain a high level weapon (nothing that can’t be found elsewhere and I already had something better) and there are three new achievements.
Thirteen levels may seem like a decent amount, but they are all fighting based and so you are effectively just doing the same thing over and over. The difficulty is all over the shop as well. Playing on Insanity difficulty as a level 59 Soldier on my first attempt at a Hunt level I destroyed the table by tripling the highest score, yet by the time I reached the final Hunt mission, it was impossible to get anywhere near the target (seems like it is geared far more towards an Adept) and I actually ended up turning down the difficulty a notch just to see all the DLC as it blatantly wasn’t going to happen otherwise. I managed to complete all the other challenges on Insanity, but again some were completed on my first try whilst others took multiple attempts.
Difficulty spikes aside, there is little content here for your 400 points and I struggle to recommend it. If you absolutely adored the fighting in ME and you like the idea of trying to better your scores then maybe it’ll be worth a look, but for me, even on subsequent playthroughs, I probably won’t bother with this DLC again.