Downloadable Content Reviews

  • Mass Effect: Genesis

    Mass Effect 2 CoverWhen Mass Effect 2 was announced for release on the PlayStation 3, there were a lot of questions about how it would work since Mass Effect 1 had only been released on the Xbox 360 and Windows. Not only was Mass Effect 2 the direct sequel to one of the most expansive narratives ever seen in a video game, but the game imported the first title’s saved games to keep the player’s choices intact throughout the series. How would the developers handle the complete lack of Mass Effect 1? The answer: Mass Effect: Genesis.

    For gamers that didn’t have a Mass Effect 1 save to import, BioWare had selected a set of “canon” choices to at least lay down the groundwork. The default choices generally meant that players would miss out on some interesting characters, including Wrex, a fan favorite. For Xbox 360 and Windows players, they could play 30+ hours of Mass Effect to generate their ideal saved game, but with Genesis, PS3 owners could play the 15 minute interactive comic and make a few key decisions.

    Yesterday, Mass Effect: Genesis was surprisingly made available on the Xbox 360 for 320 MS Points, here is my take on it.

  • Mass Effect 2 - Zaeed: The Price of Revenge

    Mass Effect 2 CoverThe supposedly final piece of Mass Effect 2 downloadable content was released recently, and while Arrival bridges the gap between Mass Effect 2 and 3, Zaeed - The Price of Revenge was available at release basically as an incentive not to rent the game or buy it used. Within Price of Revenge is the game's first downloadable character, Zaeed, a gritty mercenary who can pretty much be boiled down to as Wrex the Human - scars and all. We also get Zaeed's loyalty mission, a short little romp into the history of this rather bland character.

    Due to how EA set up Mass Effect 2's Cerberus Network, if you didn't buy the game new, you had to purchase separate access to the Network just to play this particular piece of downloadable content along with the Normandy Crash Site that I reviewed recently. I'm not sure if EA originally wanted every piece of DLC behind this paywall, but this is pretty much it for substantial content that the Cerberus Network required. That's a good thing.

    So here's another quick review of some content I've been meaning to cover for a while. It's my goal to completely cover Mass Effect 2 before number 3 is released in six months or so.

  • Mass Effect 2: Normandy Crash Site

    Mass Effect 2 CoverMass Effect 3 is coming out this year, that just feels weird to write. This means not only will I get to play the finale to one of my favorite game series of all time in about eight months, but that Mass Effect 2 related reviews and articles will just feel terribly stale. Okay, to mostly everyone they already feel totally outdated, and I understand; who wants to read about year old downloadable content? Who knows, but I like writing about it.

    Normandy Crash Site was a zero day DLC available for Mass Effect 2, and is free for everyone who is a member of the Cerberus Network (which is required if you want to buy any downloadable content). It's mostly fan service for fans of the first Mass Effect, but it also serves up a surprising amount of emotion for its small package, especially to someone like me who put over 100 hours into the original.

    I hope to cover the rest of Mass Effect 2's major downloadable content over the coming months, including Overlord and Lair of the Shadow Broker. I won't be reviewing (or buying, for that matter) the weapon or armor packs. I'm sorry, those are just lame. I also plan to re-read the first Mass Effect book for a review and read the third novel for the first time. My review of Mass Effect: Ascension has been available for a while. I have also covered Mass Effect 2's first paid for DLC, Kasumi's Stolen Memory.

  • Borderlands: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned

    Borderlands CoverIf there’s a formula that has worked the last couple of years for video games, it is that zombies makes things more fun. Call of Duty: World at War was wildly successful with Nazi Zombie mode, and the Left 4 Dead series is one of the most popular online games played today. In the near future, Dead Rising 2 will be released and Crackdown 2 will feature zombies roaming around the city during the night. Just about the only series moving away from zombies is Resident Evil, with both 4 and 5 featuring a lack of undead we know and love.

    So it probably came of little surprise when Gearbox announced the first piece of downloadable content for Borderlands would be about zombies. The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned to be exact. The name itself is intriguing to veterans of the game, as Dr. Zed was a friendly NPC that helped you on your quest for the Vault, raising the question: who is Dr. Ned compared to Dr. Zed?

    The answers lie within this multi-hour extra, along with many, many zombies to blow away. This DLC is available via download or by buying the Double Game Add-on Pack disc which contains Zombie Island and Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot, which I’ll be playing next. The disc is useful for a number of reasons, while the initial price is the same as if you bought the add-ons online, you can pass the disc on to friends or even resell it. The only catch is if your hard drive gets wiped or you uninstall the content, you’ll have to install the DLC from the disc again.

  • Mass Effect 2: Kasumi's Stolen Memory

    Mass Effect 2 CoverKasumi's Stolen Memory is the first major paid downloadable content available for Mass Effect 2.  It was released earlier this month after a slew of "free" content for those who bought the game new (I'll eventually go back and review each of the major DLC's including Zaeed and the Firewalker pack).  For 560 Microsoft Points ($7 USD) you can recruit a new crew member, play a new loyalty mission, get a new SMG and casual outfit, and satisfy your curiosity of what happened to a bunch of famous relics on Earth.

    This is almost less of a review, and more of a walkthrough of the actual content, but it's a fun way to describe all the new stuff packed into the DLC.  My recommendation is that Stolen Memory is a really great piece of content and is worth its purchase price for big fans of the series, but probably not worth it if you've already moved on completely.  Here's my review of Kasumi's Stolen Memory, played as a renegade female Shepard.

  • Mass Effect: Bring Down the Sky

    Mass Effect Cover

    Considering I've reviewed just about every other aspect of the Mass Effect series, I thought it would be appropriate to write a review on the game's first downloadable content: Bring Down the Sky. While the second DLC, Pinnacle Station, was more of an experiment in arena action, Bring Down the Sky was more familiar to the style of gameplay the full game offered. It was released just a few months after the release of the game in March 2008, seemingly indicating that there would be plenty more content available in the coming months and years. However, there would be just the two downloads available over the next two years, and the worst part? I really enjoyed Bring Down the Sky and would have happily paid for more like it.

    With BioWare's latest RPG, Dragon Age, released and pimping downloadable content from almost the start of the game, it seems very likely that Mass Effect 2 will employ a similar strategy. In a recent interview with the Mass Effect project lead, Casey Hudson, he indicated that after the game's release (and hopefully a lengthy vacation), the developers would immediately move on to downloadable content. This is an exciting prospect and as long as I get my money's worth on the initial purchase, I have no problem paying for more content. Hudson also mentioned that when it came to DLC for the original Mass Effect, the game was simply not developed with it in mind, and that both Bring Down the Sky and Pinnacle Station were larger efforts than should have been necessary.

    With a bit of history out of the way, let's get into my review of Bring Down the Sky for Mass Effect.

  • Mass Effect: Pinnacle Station

    Mass Effect Cover

    Pinnacle Station is the second, and probably final downloadable content for Mass Effect. Unlike the first DLC, Bring Down the Sky, Pinnacle Station is not a new set of story-based missions but is instead a series of arena challenges. This is a bit disappointing considering Mass Effect 2 is probably about six months away and BioWare could have explored that game's future content by introducing some new characters, locations, or even the new alien races. But sometimes you just have to take what you're given, and Pinnacle Station is the patient fan's reward.

    I honestly don't have anything against arena fighting, and I was just looking for any excuse to put Mass Effect back into my Xbox 360. I was one of those gamers that actually enjoyed the combat in the game, especially on the higher difficulties. While more story would have been awesome, more combat that doesn't take place in the same warehouse as all the other big fights is also very welcome. So here's my first opinion on Pinnacle Station played on the Xbox 360 with my level 60 Soldier on Insanity.

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