Downloadable Content Reviews

  • Borderlands 2 - Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate's Booty

    Borderlands 2 Captain Scarlett and her Pirate Booty Banner

    I loved Borderlands 1, but was always little cool on its downloadable content. The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned was a tedious addition with boring enemies, and Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot was just an endless barrage of arena battles, better tuned for testing weapons out than actually having fun. So while I also loved Borderlands 2, I was very leery about its additional content available for purchase.

    But Nate treated me to the season pass, and a few weekends ago Steve and I took down the first DLC released, Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty (there’s a pun in there somewhere). Turns out this release is a much more traditional release featuring a half dozen new zones, a bunch of new enemies, over 20 new missions, a new vehicle, and at least one raid boss (okay, there’s two, but we couldn’t beat the first one).

    There’s honestly a ton of content here for a DLC, it probably took us about five hours to reach the first raid boss and lose to him a couple of times, so you’ll certainly feel like you got your money’s worth. But at the same time, it’s kind of a slog. All the new missions are self contained in the new Oasis zones so there’s a ton of backtracking and retreading ground. The central hub is also kind of out in the middle of nowhere, and if it wasn’t for the new skiff, would be exceedingly obnoxious to get to. This is one of those cases where there just might be too much.

  • Trine 2: Goblin Menace

    Trine 2 CoverTrine 2 was a fun game, and its simple but challenging formula of platforming meets cooperative puzzling should be pretty easy to extend. Thus enter Goblin Menace, the first DLC available for the late 2011 release. We don't cover a lot of downloable content here, and most of it is for games like Mass Effect or Borderlands where the developer has so many more ideas for new characters and storylines that just couldn't fit in the original game. Frozenbyte, on the other hand, is less concerned about introducing some new class to play as or world to save, but they do seem full to brim with ideas of completely awesome and insane locations to send our heroes.

    Goblin Menace was released in September and can be purchased for $8 on Steam. The DLC was not released on the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, but will be available on the Wii U along with the full Trine 2 game when the system is launched next month. Two Steam keys for Trine 2: Goblin Menace were given to us by Frozenbyte.

  • Mass Effect 3 - Leviathan

    Mass Effect 3 CoverI'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to some proper Mass Effect 3 single-player DLC. I loved the game and the series as a whole, and I'll take any more content I can get in the universe before it's gone forever. Since I haven't been playing multiplayer, the numerous map packs do nothing for me, and while the Extended Cut was welcome, I didn't see it as totally necessary. Welcome, sure, but it didn't add much to my overall experience.

    So finally being able to download Leviathan is exciting! Mass Effect 2's bonus content ranged in quality quite a bit: Lair of the Shadow Broker made for some of the best levels in the game, bar none, but the Firewalker Pack? Not so much. So it's certainly a point of concern to worry about the $10 download I just made, but hopefully my review presents a concise answer on whether it is worth your money or not. Since there's no new vehicle, my money is on "yes".

    Along with Leviathan and the Extended Cut, I also reviewed Mass Effect 3's day one DLC, From Ashes, which included the exclusive squadmate Javik. Keep an eye on First Hour for future reviews of Mass Effect 3 downloadble content.

  • Mass Effect 3 - Extended Cut

    Mass Effect 3 CoverI didn't mind the original Mass Effect 3 ending that much, but others did, hated it even. But even I can admit there were some reasonable arguments against the game's last few minutes, and maybe BioWare did too, because here we are with the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut available to download.

    This introduction will be spoiler free, but after that, I'm not going to hold anything back. Nonetheless, the endings are now availabe on Youtube, but I still woke up at 4 AM this morning to download the update and replay the last few hours of the game. The developers recommend that you begin your Extended Cut journey before you enter Cronos Station, which is Mass Effect 3's point of no return. I'm not sure if it's totally necessary to start that far back (took me five hours to beat the game from this point my first time through, and over three hours my second time), but I wasn't going to take any chances the first time.

    Before I go on, I believe the Extended Cut is a decent addition to Mass Effect 3, it does clear many things up, but I'm sure some will still be disappointed.

  • Mass Effect 3 - From Ashes

    Mass Effect 3 CoverThere doesn’t seem to be a major release from one of the big name publishers that hasn’t received negative attention for one reason or another lately. Whether it’s nasty DRM, a lack of dedicated servers for multiplayer, or it simply doesn’t meet expectations in previews, a minority set of gamers love to complain vocally. The gaming press gives these guys attention and highlights the low-rated user reviews on Metacritic as evidence of either ignorant gamers or evil publishers, but the same development team is back in the office the next day making a sequel.

    Mass Effect 3 is the latest target, and while a variety of complaints have bubbled to the top ranging from complaints about the ending to homophobic insinuations that Shepard could never, ever be gay, the main factor seems to be about the day one downloadable content, From Ashes. Similar to Mass Effect 2’s launch day Zaeed: The Price of Revenge, From Ashes features a new level and a new playable character.

    I haven’t beaten Mass Effect 3 yet, but I have played this DLC and spent some time with the new character. Here’s my review on From Ashes, the first of undoubtedly many DLCs to come for Mass Effect 3.

  • Batman: Arkham City - Catwoman

    Batman Arkham City CoverThis console generation will probably be well remembered for the rise of downloadable content. In an era where publishers whine about used game sales, they certainly found one of the most effective ways to further their profits. Whether it’s armor for your horse, patches that turn burlesque breasts tassel-less, or multiple hours worth of new content, DLC is here to stay.

    I generally have little problem with it, most of the time I pass, especially when I pick up games used for cheap and I have to spend more on the DLC than the actual game itself. But I’ve also bought some quality downloads that are worth the money. I begin to have issues with it when a game is advertised in such a way that you expect that content to be there in the first place.

    Take Batman: Arkham City, an excellent game starring the caped crusader. When Game Informer featured the title on its cover, we got an artsy and sexy preview for it with Catwoman right alongside Batman. That pairing, however, is not guaranteed for all owners of the game. Here’s my review of the Catwoman DLC in Batman: Arkham City.

  • Mass Effect 2 - Arrival

    Mass Effect 2 CoverI just finished up my playthrough of the hardest difficulty in Mass Effect 2, and in the process finished unlocking all the game’s achievements along with playing all the downloadable content released after my first playthrough. I missed quite a bit of content, including Overlord and Lair of the Shadow Broker, but that’s all been played and reviewed now.

    Which leaves me with just Arrival, the most recent and supposedly last piece of DLC released in February 2011. It is meant to bridge the gap between Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, and from the E3 preview of the third game, it will kick off with Commander Shepard feeling the repercussions of his decisions in the DLC. An interesting decision to place a semi-major plot element in a paid piece of content, but that’s business.

    After a bum-rush of Mass Effect 2 related reviews over the past few months, this is probably my second to last piece on the game. I’m planning a Daddy Issues feature and that will be it (unless BioWare sneaks another piece of downloadable content on us, which seems unlikely). But don’t worry, I still need to write about all the different comics in the Mass Effect universe, so there is still more to come.

    Mass Effect: Arrival costs 560 MS points or $7.

  • Mass Effect 2 - Lair of the Shadow Broker

    Mass Effect 2 CoverWith Lair of the Shadow Broker, Mass Effect 2 finally gets the add-on fans have been waiting for. Additional characters in Zaeed and Kasumi are great, and Overlord was a decent side story, but Shadow Broker is the real deal.

    The DLC not only brings back fan favorite Liara from Mass Effect 1, but features a pair of excellent boss fights and some awesome action set pieces. There’s also a handful of bonuses available after the action is over, extending and expanding upon the main game’s feature set.

    Available for 800 MS Points ($10) since July 2010, here’s my review of Mass Effect 2’s penultimate DLC, Lair of the Shadow Broker.

  • Mass Effect 2 - Overlord

    Mass Effect 2 CoverIf there’s anything we’ve learned from science fiction, it is that artificial intelligence cannot be trusted. Isaac Asimov’s 1950 collection of short stories, I, Robot, was all about robots, A.I., and Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, which above all is about the protection of humans. 2001: A Space Odyssey famously featured the not-so-friendly HAL, and recent movies such as The Matrix and Moon both star some nasty A.I.s. In gaming history, GLaDOS and SHODAN are two of the medium’s most popular villains.

    So it was only a matter of time before Mass Effect featured a big bad A.I. story, and that arrives in Overlord. It was the first paid Mass Effect 2 DLC that didn’t include a new character or weapon, so at 560 MS Points ($7), the story would have to be well worth it.

    This isn’t Mass Effect’s first foray into evil A.I. with the Geth and Reapers featuring so prominent in the story along with the Rogue V.I. mission in the original, but this is its first take on the traditional human menace we all so know and love.

  • Mass Effect 2 - Firewalker Pack

    Mass Effect 2 CoverI’m about two-thirds done with my insanity playthrough in Mass Effect 2. Insanity is the hardest difficulty in the game and beating it will also unlock my final main game achievement. The only other game I earned all the achievements on? The original Mass Effect.

    So on this run I’m also playing all the downloadable content I missed the first time through (mostly because it simply wasn’t available yet). So while I’ve reviewed Normandy Crash Site, Zaeed, and Kasumi add-ons earlier, I’m now venturing into Firewalker, Overlord, Shadow Broker, and Arrival territory. General reception of these has been a mixed bag, but I’m excited to form my own opinion.

    So as you can tell, Firewalker is first up. This was Mass Effect 2’s first foray back into vehicles. Mass Effect 1 heavily featured the Warthog-like Mako and built dozens of multiple square mile planets to land on and explore. The Mako was probably one of the weaker aspects of the game, but I found it pretty fun when we weren’t required to climb up 80 degree angles.

    I was pretty excited to try out the M-44 Hammerhead myself, let’s see how that turned out. The Firewalker Pack is free for members of the Cerberus Network, much like the character Zaeed and his loyalty mission.

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