27th June 2010 - Whether it is flying through space in the future, beating up the City in the present or working for Dragons in the past, All Age Gaming has you covered as we evaluate 3 sets of DLC to sink your teeth into on those rainy afternoons. None of them take more than a few hours to complete and they all try something new while pushing their respective stories ever forward. Happy hunting, and enjoy!
MASS EFFECT 2: OVERLORD
I have started to lose track of just how much DLC Bioware has put out for Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age, but each time I keep going back for more. The developers are smart as they actually use the DLC to progress the game ever forward and at the same time try new things while addressing old issues. In this case, the Overlord DLC is pretty straight forward. Your company CERBERUS has been recruited to mop up a botched mission involving 2 brothers and a rouge VI (virtual intelligence). Of course you can never trust the people you work for and more often than not it turns out they were the puppet masters all along. Set only on one planet this time, the mission is big and sprawling between around 5 bases. The new Hammerhead hovercraft is put to good use here and the whole affair better integrated rather than having to leave the planet and jump somewhere else. What develops is some more information on the sentient alien robot Geth, who more and more are looking like an ally in Mass Effect 3.
Having a rouge computer person in your network also makes for some interesting level design as doors close, you 'become possessed' and thrown into the matrix, and generally the evil green face yells at you from computers when you least expect it.
Bioware have tried something different to the rest of Mass Effect 2 here, by using genuine horror and gore tactics. There is a lot of blood and dismemberment in the small bases and people missing heads bent at odd angles and generally massacred. The inevitable boss battle is rather easy though with Bioware's trademark, good/bad choices.
The game still looks gorgeous, with the first area being the best. When you see a massive satellite dish off in the distance, then travel there and realise you are standing under it, then you can blow it up! And watch as the whole thing crumples and explodes, you know Bioware are trying their hardest.
Sadly, controlling the floaty Hammerhead vehicle is both boring and annoying as it has no shields, explodes well too easily and apparently requires a lot of platforming over lava beds and jumping in steam vents. It breaks up the fighting as does collecting minerals with the ship, but trying to make your vehicle a “character” still needs some work.
VALUE & CONCLUSION
The idea from here on out is that any future DLC will further bridge the gap between ME2 and 3. The story if you look closer of a rouge AI is actually excellent in that it fleshes out more about the Geth and their intelligence and sentience directly from the end of ME2. Bringing back the Hammerhead was necessary but at least this time the whole affair is integrated across one beautiful looking planet. What isn't so good is the Hammerhead controls which will need to be refined for the next game. Bioware should take a note from Halo on how to refine floating space vehicle mechanics. Forcing you to jump and play platform games...with your ship! Is just not fun, which also forced them to make part of the planet lava, ruining the nice aesthetics. For a couple of extra hours, the game has a lot of cut scene movies; still, if they can find a way to integrate hopping out of the Hammerhead and actually walking into your location, rather than always cutting to load screens and movies, Bioware might be onto something.
AAG SCORE: 6/10
- BRIDGES THE GAP BETWEEN MASS EFFECT 2 and 3
- LOOKS EXCELLENT STILL
- INTERGRATES THE DIFFERNENT ELEMENTS WELL
- HAMMERHEAD DRIVING IS STILL FLOATY AND 'ARCADY'
- HAMMERHEAD PLATFORMING SECTIONS ARE ODD AND UNNECCESSARY
- NOT LONG ENOUGH
DRAGON AGE ORIGINS: The Darkspawn Chronicles
It seems, bad is the new good and DLC provides the perfect example to flesh out and try the 'what if?' scenario of playing for the other team. But just because they can make these DLC, does it mean they should?
Cast as a 2nd tier Darkspawn general dude, your first order of business is to 'recruit' some new units. If you played Dragon Age just is aware that everything here is automated and streamlined well too much. You have 2 basic abilities cast like magic. “enthrall” (to create not surprisingly, Thralls) and execute, where you can kill any party member and try again. It is a fast and neat effect allowing you to try multiple party members in the short time you have. Beyond that though, there is no squad commands or RTS style moving. In fact apart from the Ogre, who has a limited number of new special abilities, the units are the same: Archers, heavies, Mages and stealth, all familiar and all using recycled 'human' abilities. They can wield human weapons and generally level up. What is both interesting and unique though is the party 'respect-o-metre'. Each evil act you do of killing burning plunder ECT, gains respect and loyalty from your party. As they gain more respect they gain new abilities and moves – although automatically. Compared to other DLC and the 2 main games, you can pretty much switch off your brain and just fight. No micromanaging and a minimal amount of magic and spell casting.
If you missed it, the story takes place right at the end of Dragon Age (set before Origins). The uber Archdeamon dragon is on the verge of taking over the city and the tide could turn either way. As you plough through the city, you will encounter all the heroes from the first game, which leads to mini boss battles; welcome considering the small DLC. Reusing all the assets and areas means the DLC is also very small in download, but longer in length that you might first think. There are roughly 5 areas across one map, inside the city with no world map to explore.
Where the game falls down is in some technical and balancing issues. It looks rushed, and the graphics really do not hold up. Much more care could have been taken and they did not pick the 'most epic' area for the battle. On top of that Ogres have now been balanced with dwarf 'Golems' changing the story rather in that there were not quite so many Golems in the final battle (originally). It all becomes a tad to easy until your Ogres bottle neck in the stairs with a couple of Golems and everyone dies due to the magic casters doing their thing. Basically, your party is a bit thick. The enemy models are nice enough to play with and you will pick up extra units throughout the battle who tag along.
It is almost impossible to loot bodies though as hanging around after battle for any length of time just invites more guards or screaming people to spawn, which can mean you could stay in town a lot longer than you really need to. Loot drops are kid of irrelevant to your Darkspawn party anyway so mostly it is just health you will find yourself collecting. Further any and all dialogue has been removed for obvious reasons and there is no talking or chatting to anyone, about anything.
VALUE & CONCLUSION
At first it seems dubious that the idea of playing the bad guys will ever work. Similar to Dead to Rights the DSChronicles is more of a 'what if' scenario and not cannon.
A lot of corners have been cut here. Using the Archdaemon Dragon to communicate is a smart idea, but for obvious reasons direction the story is presented as text and 'flashes'. It also doesn't make a lot of sense from the first game why the uber dragon is communicating along the lines of 'go here, break the gate, and free the ogre'! I am quite sure he was busy killing people!
Still, there is something gleefully wrong about seeing your favourite troupe from the first game and cutting them down dead. Ogres and other units are well balanced, even if many things are recycled poorly like abilities and magic. If the previous DLC threw strategy out the window this DLC becomes a slog of just fighting and pushing ever forward. Lends itself to a wave mode type though, but much better integrated.
AAG SCORE: 7/10
- HAVE THE CHANCE TO TURN THE TABLES AS DARKSPAWN
- PLAY AS 'BOSS CHARACTERS' LIKE OGRES
- SOME BASIC SQUAD COMMAND AND TACTICS BEING INTRODUCED
- LOOKS PRETTY AVERAGE (RECYCLES ASSESSETS POORLY
- YOUR FAVOURITE HEROES ALL DIE!
- BUGGY RESPONSE FROM AI AND ATTACKING
DEAD TO RIGHTS G.A.C PACK
Dead to rights was never a perfect game to begin with, but fun enough that adding more missions and a 'wave' challenge mode, could not a bad thing. Although technically not a Role Playing game, it's mixed elements of melee, cover and shooting with your dog Shadow were crying out for some XP love. Unfortunately though, you will be charged for content that was otherwise in the game as 'exclusive content' and left wanting as the challenge mode is redundant and the extra mission, well too short. Playing as the bad-ass Razor (stealth sniper), Kodiak (melee brawler) and Tank (heavy weapons) the aptly named “Assault on the 47th precinct” takes place at the 11th hour when at the end of Dead to Rights, Grant city Police are holding the fort against invading GAC. First off the bat, you will not fight or even the see the original character and Shadow in this level.
It plays like a TAG team as one character drop out during the story and another drop in depending on the 'mission'. In short, it seems fun, having some slick talking racial minorities (a black guy and a Mexican) take on wave after wave of cops but the execution is sloppy and makes little sense. 'Stealth' now stun guns instead of bullets, because “cops can't be killed” and although Kodiak has 'electric fists' and razor can 'see through walls' there is just not enough level to use them. For a tank, Tank doesn't do so well against RPG rockets and snipers and he moves slowly and shoots even slower. Using him is chore in trying to kill anyone; unless they are dead in front of you (rockets do nothing against a wall or piece of cover). In the end there is actually a nice twist as the bad guys realise they might be on the wrong side, the whole thing is set up for a boss battle against one of your own- and then nothing! Poorly, poorly done.
Extra skins in the GAC pack include making your Dog Shadow permanently invisible, which is horrible or adding extra armour to your main character Jack (which was already part of the game). New “Flaming fists” and “Exploding ammo” are fun but completely useless in the face of a wave mode or replaying the game (again). The so called wave mode, involves one level only and about 10 waves of varying bad guys in which with a combination of shooting cover, dog and melee you need to stand your ground. It does have leader boards and a plethora of arcade combos, but it feels like this should be throughout the whole game rather than just one mode. The combos are actually fun for about five minuets, until you realise that you can turn on flaming fists and exploding ammo and just nail the lot. Oh and you get a 'Noir mode' in the GAC Pack as well, which is nothing but a black and white filter.
VALUE & CONCLUSION
Dead to Rights was a fun enough game when it came out. A complete short romp through Grant City, it at least tried to do something different; mixing the combination of your dog with cover shooting and brawling. The GAC pack does nothing to extend that experience or make you want to go back for more. The 'noire' mode is nothing more than a grey filter which is horrible all the time for trying to locate things. At the very least some care, like red blood would have added a more comic book feel. Flaming fists and exploding ammo are cool, but only highlight that the game was already over the top. Wave mode is ruined if you turn them on and messy if you don't as you try to micromanage the dog, melee and shooting/cover all at once. To top it off we shouldn't have to be paying for any of this as most of it was 'exclusive' with the game at launch.
AAG SCORE: 5/10
- CAN PLAY AS THE BAD GUYS
- 'WAVE MODE'
- PAYING FOR WHAT SHOULD HAVE COME WITH THE GAME
- EXTRA SKINS ARE USELESS
- NO CO-OP STILL
DLC evaluated By Ian Crane