Sunday, 29 July 2012

DLC What I Did There - By Edmund Colley

I recently bought a trio of pre-owned games in a “3 for 2” offer from Gamestation to fill a void over the summer. The games I bought were Infamous 2, L.A. Noire and The Saboteur; which each turned out to be an example of a different type of Downloadable Content (DLC) that resulted in my pleasant surprise, outrage and acknowledgment of the existence of jiggle physics in games, respectively. Each type added a different after game completion experience which is something I’ve seen game developers are doing more often either for additional profit or good-will fan service.

I’m a big fan of the game developer Sucker Punch for both the Sly Raccoon series and Infamous; I got Infamous 2 so that I could conclude the series. The sequel is set in a vibrant New-Orleans-style backdrop in which super powered Cole Macgrath (aka; “The Electric Man”) continues his series of moral dilemmas while maintaining his world title of world’s gravelliest voice. Infamous 2 employs one of the more interesting yet infrequently used forms of DLC, User Generated Content (UGC). 

Pale skin and varicose veins are the tell-tale signs that someone is evil. I’m watching you Nan…
The player gets to build their own side missions and share them online with other players thus promising “infinite content”. Having played a few, there is a surprising amount of variety for a game console interface UGC. The agility courses are quite entertaining as you can grind seamlessly from wire to wire for once without the need for Tony Hawks face to be shoe horned in there. However the regular internet trope of one good idea, hundreds of imitations is present and does make it hard to find any gems. The limitations of UGC obviously being what the developers will allow the players to change. You can’t let the player have too much control as that’ll probably just overwhelm them and the more you restrict the less variety you can get. Infamous 2 probably only has a few hours of UGC to experience before you start to get the feeling of Déjà vu with each new level. Dare I say, it’s not up to the complexity of level design Little Big planet has, which is a sentence I never thought I’d say.

Every night when I close my eyes, he’s staring. Why won’t he blink?
L.A. Noire was another game I’ve also been anticipating for a while. I love a good detective story and was thinking this would be a gritty, dramatic, mystery through the streets of Los Angeles. Though the game is gritty and dramatic, it wasn’t the head scratching, Sherlock Holmes style CSI I was hoping for. Regardless it was engaging and had fantastic use of motion capture acting. It played out more like a post-WWII American detective TV show with a short mystery each episode. The DLC for this was the general; buy more levels/cases which the developers use to get a bit more cash out of the players. I was hoping for some DLC to give some closure to the game’s rather abrupt ending and the reviews of the DLC were positive. However it was £7 for what I found out to be 6 hours of gameplay, a gun and some gaudy looking suits. Admittedly, not having bought a lot of DLC, this may be fairly standard but I thought it was a rip off. I’m sure this can’t be said for all paid for DLC but I suppose this was made by Team Bondi, a production team which in its 7 year production had reports of inhumane work conditions and 60 hour weeks, and shut down shortly after the games release. Paid for DLC is what it is really, a cash cow for developers and means of making Skyrim an even bigger time sink.

Not a solution to Team Bondi’s problem but a step forward. Mandatory happiness booth for all!
Finally, the third type of DLC is the bonus content for games mods made by the developers or additional content that they didn’t have time to put in the game before release (free but it doesn’t really add much story wise). This can be simply game items, patches for bugs or perks for the players that add something to the replay value of the game. And in the case of The Saboteur, it’s boobs. Yes, put in the code that comes with the game and you can see the women at the secret headquarters for the French resistance (conveniently located in a burlesque house) dance topless. In all honesty, the people who made the game clearly put in a lot of effort to perfect the jiggle physics and put the content out for free so good on them I suppose. Also since I bought the game pre-owned it meant the code had already been used so no boobs for me*. Quel domage.

(*That’s how I felt about the Catwoman DLC playing a pre-owned copy of Arkham City - Jak)

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