Saturday, April 23, 2011

The (Vidya) Wasteland Survival Guide - Part 1

Its the year 2011.... The golden age of Genesis and Snes has long past, a new oppressive industry has come to power in the land of GameIndustri.  If you wish to survive, you will need help. Don't forget your guide.

In this series I will try to help people (that don't "demo" before they buy) save some money with general opinions about things they might be on the fence about. we'll be covering many topics over the course of this series. but today's topic.

DLC - Finding the Gems in the turd ocean

Like it or hate it. These days DLC is god damn everywhere, while most of them are crap there are a few gems out there. The ones covered ahead are to be some of the best "in my opinion" DLC out there to help consumers. Also to put it out there now, Age means nothing in this article, if its this gen and it was good. I am going to try to list it.

The grading scale will look somewhat like this.

(if to goes past here its not really going to be listed, for this part of the DLC article anyway.)

Bioshock 2 - Minerva's Den

Price - $9.99
Overall - Excellent-Average (more on "average" below)
Availability - PS3/360/ "PC" (announced. but seriously don't hold your breath)

Quite simply put, this is what Bioshock 2 should have been, in this decent sized add-on, average of 3 hours if do the "take in the sights" aapproach along with replays on multiple difficulties, you play the role of Subject Sigma another of the first run big daddy series who has been recently liberated from its mind control (and apparently the sister bond, cause none of that bullshit from the main story need apply here).

You are sent to Minerva's Den, the central processing hub of Rapture and home to computers that pre-date the birth of computers on the surface, to find a still working transport sub that has a IFF to bypass Rapture's missile defenses and escape to surface with by Tenenbaum along with recovering the most advanced technology of Minerva's Den: The Thinker, a program algorithm so advanced that it can predict the future.

The Story and Pacing of MD is perfect, it also hosts a new plasmid type, Vortex, which is a blast to use if you pardon the pun. MD is a facinating place to explore, something new from Rapture, and fleshes out the city's lore even more. Lastly the plot throws a beautiful twist that I didn't see coming until only a few steps shy of when it happened, its nice when a twist is done WELL and not lame, its such a rarity these days.

The main game could have taken notes from this DLC in all seriousness, and such the main reason this has a -average rating and not straight excellent is the fact you have to own Bioshock 2 in all its turd glory to play this. Thankfully BS2 is cheap now days so if you can afford the few bucks or are a weird person and actually think BS2 wasn't inferior to BS in almost every way imaginable, grab this DLC or as I like to call it "BS2 - Off the Record"

Resident Evil 5 - Lost in Nightmares

Price - $9.99*
Overall - Exceptional
Availability- PS3/360
*(also pack in with Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition)

Ever wish for the old days of Resident evil? Where atmosphere mattered a lot more? Well while this DLC doesn't completely take you there, it tries its best to. And ends up delivering a better co-op challenge than even the base game, hows that for you?

Plot summery is this takes place before the events of resident evil 5 and are the direct events leading to Jill Valentine's "death" also in turn is a keystone event in the fall of umbrella arc as this is the fall of Oswell E. Spencer.

The game play itself is less "action-y" than RE5 itself. Focusing more on the survival and creepy atmosphere of the Spencer Estate (The estate itself has many nods to manor in RE1 as jokes). Ammo is scarce on higher difficulties, making what few enemies there are a actual threat instead of being a nuisance. The puzzles are pretty much all co-op oriented, and were more thought out than 5's making them more fun to do. The DLC ends on note that's weak (cause its very action oriented) and very cool at the same time cause of how its done. I don't wish to spoil too much. If you are a fan of actual horror RE instead of Dynasty Warriors: Zombies and guns edition. This is for you.

Also I want to give a honorable mention to the other RE5 DLC: Desperate Escape for being truly a challenging DLC on higher difficulties. but its not enough to warrant a whole separate review cause it did nothing special but be "RE5: another story".

Fallout 3 - Point Lookout

Price - $9.99*
Overall - Excellent
Availability- PS3/360
*(also pack in with Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition)

When we first heard the concept of DLC, people thought "expansion packs delivered cheaper for all", overall that hope has been dashed completely, but every once in awhile one delivers expansion pack level content. This is one of those times.

The main storyline for Point Lookout is not the meat of the game (only roughly 2-3 hours, unique gear at the end, standard FO3 fare) the meat is in its side quests and landscape, there are plenty of random things to check out, and plenty of loot for the Wasteland scavenger (I easily blew an additional 8 hours on screwing around in Point Lookouts surroundings) . However be warned! The denizens of Point Lookout are not for the faint of heart and will prove quite the challenge for the low level wanderer.

Challenge? check. Plenty to do? Check. LOOTZ!? double check. For a sandbox exploration rpg, this truly feels like the days of expansion packs again and was the gem that shined above the 3 other DLCs for FO3. I honestly wish I could say more, but being a sandbox game, the fun is what you make of it. So the its very much in the eye of the beholder here.

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood - The Da Vinci Dissappearance

Price - $9.99*
Overall - Good
Availability- PS3/360/PC
*(comes pack in free for PC)

Following the Animus events of ACB by two whole years in his respective story. This DLC puts you once again in the shoes of Ezio Auditore Da Firenze in the year 1506. Kidnapped by a group calling themselves the "Enlightened Ones" Leonardo Da Vinci has gone missing. It is up to Ezio to find where he has been taken and rescue him.

The Content of the DLC has good in some places, and lacking in others. It was rather "video game cliche" to have most of the content be fetch quests in the way of  "There are clues to where he might be hidden in 5 paintings he did, find these 5 artifacts paintings", but on the upside the actual quests to retrieve them are fairly entertaining and expose you to a lot of old friends from Ezio's life. The final segment in the DLC, The Temple of the Pythagoreans, was the best part in my opinion. The architecture and designs were beautiful.

My main complaints with this DLC are symbiotic. Universal to ACB, the difficulty is well stupidly easy. even for 100% sync on these missions you really wont break a sweat. Because of its ease it winds up being terribly short, 1 hour to clear maybe 2 hours to 100%. It also "extends" the global story of Desmond past the ending of ACB a bit, but in a cocktease, not really answering anything fashion. In all its not bad, and if you have $10 that you really don't want to keep a hold of for whatever reason, there are worse places to put it.

Borderlands - The Secret Armory of General Knoxx

Price - $9.99*
Overall - Exceptional
Availability- PS3/360/PC
*(also pack in with Borderlands Game of the Year Edition)

Taking place after the events of the main game. The Atlas corporation, not hearing what had happened with the Vault was in the best interests of all, and just generally for being dicks with sticks up their asses. send another crew to the dusty world of Pandora to secure full order of the planet and to bring the players in, dead or alive. The Atlas Corp., much like Fallout's Enclave, has the interests of the common man least dear to their heart yet sugar coat everything that they are fighting the good fight. One of their personal Assassins, Athena, has grown tired of their Bullshit and recruits the players in an effort to liberate Pandora from the hand of Atlas, forever. In return she promises you a share of their armory's loot considering it more than enough payment.

I had had a lot of fun in this DLC, it was by far my favorite of the 4 for this game (however do check out Claptrap's New Revolution and Island of Dr. Ned. as they are good too) my only two complaints was there's a lot of driving from place to place but that is negligible if you play multi player as it becomes fun there. The other complaint being that you can only loot the armory a total of 3 times legitimately, after that is beyond your reach, but if that's not to your taste there are glitches that can bypass this.

Other than that this addon was solid. The dark humor of Pandora bubbles up in General Knoxx, a character I found very enjoyable (fighting him not so much, I had shitty guns at the time) which brings me to another point. this game raises the level cap to 61 (71 with the free level patch from New Revolution) and while can be played straight from a new game, is not intended till post game, as it is hard. This also was the only addon that provided something I used to love from ps1 era games, an optional hard as hell boss. (your mileage may vary, it was mostly "hard" for me cause it requires teamwork and every partner I got lagged to hell and back). In all I highly recommend this one if enjoyed borderlands at all.

Bioshock - Comic Book Challenges

Price - $5.99
Overall - Good
Availability- PS3

Last but not least for this article I'd like to give an honorable mention to this DLC, for cashing in on something I wished the original Bioshock had done more of (and Bioshock 2 failed to try either) What it did is explore the puzzle aspects of the plasmids a lot more, throwing you in scenarios that force you to think more whereas the base game was a lot more action oriented.

There are 3 Scenarios:

Chamber Of Thrills - you must use your powers cleaverly and slay a big daddy without weapons.
Wheel of Terror - The little sister is trapped atop the half broken Fairish Wheel, how will you get her down?
Worlds of hurt - Chamber after chamber. progress how you choose. can you reach the end?

The former two are well thought out. the last one ends up an action fest and ends up no thinking unless you try the "wrench + plasmids only" run, then its hard. the downside really to this DLC is it leaves you wishing for more. Even with the time challenges and rose hunts these are not very long. I would have loved the whole game been like this.

That brings this chapter to a close. I'll update again when I have more content. take care.

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