Posts Tagged ‘DLC’

Dead Space 2: Severed

Posted: March 18, 2011 in Review
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Dead Space 2: Severed Review

Just one month on from Visceral Games’s excellent survival horror sequel and players are already being treated to something that the first game never got: downloadable content.

‘Severed’ is a fairly short expansion on the premise of the main game, in that the story unfolds during the downfall of The Sprawl. You take on the role of Gabriel ‘Gabe’ Weller, a soldier who is one of only three survivors of a fierce battle in the mine shafts. Abandoning his mission, Gabe attempts to cut a path back into the rapidly falling city and rescue his wife.

It’s largely the same as the main story in that you’re simply running from A to B and getting swarmed from all directions. It’s far more action-oriented than its counterpart, seeing Gabe carve a blooded path through hundreds of Necromorphs with nothing more than a Pulse Rifle and a Flamethrower. It’s an intense, if surprisingly short, add-on that combines the frantic tension of being swarmed from all direction with the satisfaction of Dead Space’s fantastic combat engine.

As good as this mini-chapter is at inducing tension, it’s incredibly short. There are just two chapters here and you’ll rattle through them both in around an hour on your first sitting. In fact, you’ll finish the entire game and get every achievement in just two runs, so for a fairly steep asking price – 560 MS points – you’re not really getting that much for your money.

Most of the locations you pass through are ones from the game, with a few minor exceptions in the first chapter. Even more disappointing is that you’re not doing any new things in the areas, Gabe is simply running through the level in the opposite direction to Isaac.

Having said that, there are a few very good set pieces and boss encounters on offer. The excellent hanging-upside-down-blasting-everything sequence from the main game is here redone to perfection, while an excellent first boss and a genuinely powerful final stand might just be enough to keep players coming back for more.

‘Severed’ seems a bit of a missed opportunity. You don’t get to see much of The Sprawl’s downfall and it doesn’t feel quite as epic as the main game. It also doesn’t bring anything new to the table, which is quite disappointing considering the splendid variety offered by Dead Space 2. If you can’t get enough Necromorph-dismembering action, then ‘Severed’ is a real treat, although one that’s a little too expensive for what it offers.

70%

Resident Evil 5: Downloadable Content Review

It’s been over a year since Capcom’s co-op adventure finally saw the light of day and the developers haven’t been resting on the laurels. Instead, they’ve crafted several downloadable add-on packs to enhance what was already a great game and the result is this thrilling ensemble.

First up, ‘Lost in Nightmares’, a new story chapter and probably the weakest of all the expansions. The short (45 minutes or so) mission sees Chris and Jill infiltrating Spencer’s mansion from the flashback scenes in the main game. The scenario has players skulking around the usual, if delightfully familiar, gloomy mansion, solving rubbish puzzles and dodging the only enemy: the anchor-wielding, Executioner-cum-Lisa Trevor-alike ‘Guardian of Insanity’.

While it is a nice retro throwback to classic Resi, it is a very slow-moving, almost empty game. The problem is that it’s a horror game made by action developers, so there’s not much going on. You don’t have many guns and the guardians only crop up for only a few times before moving a side for a disappointingly easy fight with Wesker.

Saying that, there is one excellent centrepiece moment where Chris and Jill are disarmed and forced to take on a group of Guardians with a variety of sneaky traps. It’s a brilliant, intense and highly enjoyable section. It’s just a shame that the rest of the scenario isn’t as good as this section.

The other story chapter is ‘Desperate Escape’, where Jill and BSAA member Josh Stone race to flee an onslaught of Majini to get to a helicopter. It’s fun, fast, frantic and action-packed, easily rivalling parts of the main game for explosive thrills.

Essentially, all you’re doing is running down a really linear set route, but it’s the pace and the intensity that really drag you into it. At the beginning, only a few Majini are after to you. Towards the end, you’ve gotten the attention of dozens of them, all of whom attack you at once. To make the action even more exciting, the chapter ends with an incredible ten minute siege against waves of unrelenting enemies of all kinds and random appearances from the biggest nasties – Executioners, Gatling Gun Majinis, you name it. ‘Desperate Escape’ is easily the most enjoyable of the two story expansions.

The story add-ons come with two halves of an additional expansion – ‘The Mercenaries Reunion’, an update to the much-loved point-scoring killathon. The levels are the same as they were before, but this time a few of the time extensions and score bonuses have been moved around. While this might not seem like a lot, it does alter the game significantly for those who knew the maps like the backs of their hands.

What’s most exciting about the maps are the new playable characters. Chris and Sheva come in their two new costumes, both of which can be worn in the main game as well. Chris gets two slightly weird costumes – the hyper-camp, Mad Max-alike Warrior and OTT Heavy Metal – while Sheva has to make do with the token ‘sexy slut’ Red Riding Hood-inspired Fairy Tale outfit and sexy secretary Business gear. The other characters are a lot more exciting; letting you play as ‘Desperate Escape’ support character Josh Stone, the main game’s underused sub-villain Excella Gione and two classic Resi fan favourites – Barry Burton and Rebecca Chambers.

Naturally, each character has a different set of weapons that bring a different challenge to the table. Arguably the most difficult is Barry, who lacks a shotgun for crowd control, while Heavy Metal Chris carries only a Stud Rod and an infinite ammo gatling gun. There are also ten new unlockable figurines to earn of all the new characters in action poses, al of which are included in the download. ‘The Mercenaries Reunion’ is easily as great as the last time around, and the added bonus of familiar faces is highly welcome, marking this out as one of the many reasons to invest in the cost of the download.

The final add-on for Resident Evil 5 is probably the most exciting of all of them: Versus mode. Essentially, Versus is a slightly modified version of Mercenaries, where players still get swarmed with Majini, but this time you can target each other.

Versus has two game modes – Slayers and Survivors, both of which can either be played by four individual people or in teams of two. Slayers simply sees players battling for the high score with the added bonus of being able to kill other players for extra score, or dying to lose major points. It’s fast, fun and frantic, although it would really have benefited from having a separate rule system for not killing other players. Those who want a non-violent score challenge are forced to ask the other players nicely and hope everybody is listening, which can be infuriating.

Survivors is an entirely different kettle of fish. In this mode, the characters are all stripped of their secondary weapons, forcing them to rely only on pistols. Majini still attack constantly, but no points are awarded for killing them. The only way to get points is by killing other players, while bonus weapons are found only by killing the boss monsters – Executioner, Giant Majini, etc. It’s a tough game mode, but a very satisfying, highly enjoyable one. On top of all these additional gameplay add-ons are twenty new achievements – some simple (complete ‘Lost in Nightmares’), some insanely difficult (defeat a hundred players with melee attacks), but all of them add an extra layer of challenge to what was already a classic game. The only real downside is that you can’t use the new characters from Reunion in Versus.

There are two ways to purchase the new modes – if you have Xbox Live, you can download the whole lot for around 3,000 MS points (about £25). If you don’t have Live, you can buy the newly released Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition, which contains all the new content except for Versus mode. Gold Edition will set you back at least £30 – it’s far easier just to download.

Should you buy the expansions for Resident Evil 5? Essentially, yes. If you liked the main game and want more of the same, you couldn’t ask for a better series of add-ons. Even if you didn’t like the main game, it’s well worth playing Versus for sheer fun. As an investment, it’s one of the best expansions available for any game and well worth the money.

90%

Left 4 Dead 2: The Passing Review

‘The Passing’ is a downloadable expansion with a real emphasis on ‘expansion’. While the two new chapters on offer are fairly short, Valve have cleverly attached a fantastic new set of challenges, all of which are a part of the content.

‘The Passing’ is set between the survivors’ mall escape in ‘Dead Centre’ and their arrival at the fairground in ‘Dark Carnival’. In it the survivors are forced to abandon their car and head underneath a river to lower a drawbridge. The twist this time is the cameo appearances of two of the previous games heroes – Zoey and Francis.

This two-chapter campaign might be a fairly short ride, but there are plenty of great ideas stashed away, like a devastated wedding with a gown-wearing Witch and a phenomenal scramble through a water-logged sewer with alarm bells bringing the horde down with you.

There are no new enemies on offer, but there are a couple of ace new weapons – the slow but wide-swinging golf club and the non-reloadable belt-fed M60. Both of them are a welcome addition to the weaponry roster and bring a great slice of zombie-exterminating mayhem into the bargain. There are also new weapons stashes, metal lockers that carry an unlimited assortment of random goodies and a new Uncommon Infected – the freebie-carrying Fallen Survivor.

‘The Passing’ also has new maps for Scavenge and Survival modes, as well as ten new achievements. But all of this is nothing compared to what comes with the download: Mutation Mode.

The Mutations are brand new, weekly game modes with new rules created by the developers. Every Friday a new game mode is tested out and after four mutations, the players get to vote on which one is made permanent. This means, essentially, that the game gets bigger each and every week. Already players have installed the excellent ‘Realism Versus’ mode and tested out the likes of ‘Last Gnome on Earth’ (carry the gnome to the end), ‘Bleed Out’ (health depletes rapidly) and ‘Room For One (first player to get to the campaign’s exit wins). Each of these add a thrilling new layer onto what was already a phenomenal game.

If Left 4 Dead 2 is the definitive co-op game then ‘The Passing’ is the definitive add-on. New chapters, new weapons, new maps and a game that has the potential to expand endlessly, all for just 800 MS points. An absolute must have.

98%