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2010’s best DLC and downloadable games

Alan Wake: Episodes Seven and Eight

Given the episodic style of Alan Wake’s storytelling, it’s only natural that the story would continue on in DLC. Now I’m not sure I feel about the concept of paying extra for an ending, and the Verizon product placement in Episode Seven: The Signal was a bit much. Still, it gave the developers a chance to realize some of Wake’s better gameplay and story ideas to their fullest. It was a noble experiment and worked so well as a download, it makes you think maybe the full game would’ve been better suited to episodic content than a disc release.

BioShock 2: Minerva’s Den

BioShock 2 was a great game on its own, but most of the add-ons were either simple additions to the online multiplayer, or shallow single player challenges. When Minerva’s Den hit servers in late 2010, you finally got a taste of BioShock 2’s real DLC potential and a reason to at last take it back off your shelf. A brief but gripping side story set in a previously unseen part of Rapture, the new Plasmids and weapons were great, as were the battles with returning Big Sisters, but the poignant plot and characters were what really got you, making it a very welcome addition to the series.

Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker and Overlord

BioWare was one of the first companies to recognize the importance of DLC for enriching their titles, and the dev proved really committed to adding to the already great Mass Effect 2. Overlord was an action-packed new adventure for Shepard and his crew, while Lair of the Shadow Broker filled in some story gaps and had some of best writing the series has ever seen. Perhaps they were a little short, but gaming would be a better place if everyone supported their games like BioWare does.

Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare

When I first heard of a zombies-based expansion to Red Dead Redemption, I scoffed. “What an empty cash grab,” I said to whoever would listen. But it takes a strong person to admit they were wrong, and I was really, really wrong. Zombies were just the beginning in Undead Nightmare, as the fairly real world of Red Dead became populated with sasquatches, chubacabras, and horses of the apocalypse. The enhanced gameplay and alternate economy were welcome additions too, but the best part was easily getting to spend just a little more time with John Marston and his eclectic cast of characters as they dealt with the situation in their own special way.

The biggest downloadable disappointments

Sonic the Hedgehog 4

While some Sonic fans were satisfied with Sonic the Hedgehog 4, many, many more were let down by what should’ve been a return to Sonics of old. The unasked for graphical update instead of more traditional graphics was bad enough, but when you screw around with the physics and add a spotty homing jump while repeating a bunch of old bosses, that’s just too far. It wasn’t as good as New Super Mario Bros Wii, let alone Mega Man 9, and its Episode 1 distinction and relatively small amount of substance despite costing $15 screams of greed. It wasn’t Sonic Unleashed level bad, but it certainly failed to meet the admittedly high expectations.

Sonic Adventure

I don’t want to gang up on Sonic, but the download rerelease of Dreamcast launch game Sonic Adventure was another botched offering of something many wanted to play. Again it came down to Sega charging way too much for something; the original game is untouched and is as good (or not) as you remember, it’s the DLC that’s the problem. $10 for the main game is a fair price, but charging $5 for all the Sonic Adventure DX additions is pretty underhanded Sega. Why try so hard to rip-off your most devoted fans?

Dead Space Ignition

Once EA said it was putting out a downloadable game to act as preview for Dead Space 2, maybe we were in the wrong to assume it’d be something like Dead Rising 2: Act Zero. What we got was a collection of shallow minigames connected by a boring motion comic. Instead of ramping up excitement for the remarkable looking Dead Space 2, we felt a little cheated, even if it was free with our pre-order.

Comic Jumper

After The Maw and ‘Splosion Man, it seemed like developer Twisted Pixel could do no wrong. The dev produced interesting games with a wry sense of humor, which we assumed we’d get from Comic Jumper. Admittedly the humor was still great, but the bland, repetitive shooting and annoying level design were a real let down. Still, Twisted Pixel will probably get back on track for next year’s Ms. ‘Splosion Man.

Doritos games

Genuinely I never saw much potential in free advergames like Doritos Crash Course and Harm’s Way. Crash Course was slippery platforming garbage just like I expected, while Harm’s Way was an inoffensive racing game. What did disappoint me was that these crummy games didn’t have the common courtesy to have incredibly easy Achievements like the last Doritos offering, Dash of Destruction. If you’re going to bribe gamers to sell Doritos chips, at least do it right.

Dec 22, 2010

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Henry moved from the suburbs of northern Florida to work at GR+, and hasn't looked back once in seven years. When not collecting Mario toys, you can find him constantly checking his Twitter.