Tag Archive: DLC


I talk about how DLC has changed the nature of buying games in a modern world for this news piece.

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It’s hard to believe it’s been about nine months already since Just Cause 3 launched, but time flies when you’re blowing up parts of an oppressed nation. Because of the episodic release schedule of the Air, Land, & Sea Expansion for the game, we’ve been causing chaos pretty consistently over that period of time. And now, with the release of the Bavarium Sea Heist DLC—the third and final chapter in that expansion—we can say there’s not much of Medici left for us to decimate at this point. Much like the previous chapters in the expansion, however, Bavarium Sea Heist just doesn’t hold a candle to the main game.

The DLC opens with Rico getting a call from Annika (his mercenary buddy from the main game) as she’s planning on putting together the heist of the century. It seems Stingray, an old eDEN research facility in the middle of the ocean that was trying to harness the power of lightning and mysteriously disappeared into a portal after their last experiment went haywire, had amazingly reappeared. Annika wants some Bavarium devices that were being developed there and calls on Rico, Tom Sheldon (Rico’s American handler), and Looch (Medici resistance member) to help her out, as the Black Hand—the evil mercenary group Rico has dealt with countless times before—has already established a base of operations there. With promises of new weapons and a new boat from Looch, Rico can’t refuse.

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That new boat just so happens to be the Loochador (named after its creator), a vessel loaded up with machine guns and rocket launchers that’s twice as fast as any other ship already existing in the game. Since release, the sea gameplay for Just Cause 3 was always lacking. I’d often forgo all the boats available to me and use helicopters instead to wreak havoc on the oil refineries that I’d need to obliterate in order to liberate certain regions of mainland Medici. The Loochador finally makes splashing around in the waters of Medici tolerable. It’s a boat that can withstand the offense of most any enemy at sea—a necessary given the DLC adds five new watery outposts along with the Stingray base. And, since you can take it back with you into the main game, I’m sure the Loochador will be a great tool in finally getting all the gears in those pesky water challenges and boat races.

Unfortunately, the Loochador doesn’t solve every problem. It’s still difficult to aim and control the ship, especially in the middle of a firefight with other vehicles or soldiers stationed on the platforms you need to destroy. Bouncing up and down on the waves is not conducive for battles. The worst of it all, however, is that when you’re stuck inside the Loochador, trying to cover the ridiculously huge distances between objectives as quickly as possible, you’re taking me away from one of the best parts of Just Cause: traversing with Rico’s grappling hook and parachute. Just like the other DLCs leading up to this, you’ll spent the majority of your time within the new super vehicle. That’s fun for a little while, but gets tedious rather quickly—which is saying something considering the DLC as a whole should only take two or three hours to beat.

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There’s also the new “eDEN Spark” lightning gun that you get at the very end of the DLC. It’s basically a Gears of War Hammer of Dawn rip-off, but with the much clearer sightlines of Just Cause 3, it’s a more viable weapon when trying to eliminate enemies from a distance—even if it does wreck the balance of the main game.

The best thing that Bavarium Sea Heist does do is it adds 18 new audio logs for Rico to discover. These audio logs fill in the backstory for not only this DLC, but the entire expansion pack, detailing the rise and fall of eDEN and fleshing out some of the characters in much the same way Di Ravello’s audio logs did in the main game. Just Cause 3 may never be known for its story, but it’s nice when a little effort is made to round out and give more depth to the characters in this insane, over-the-top universe.

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Bavarium Sea Heist looks to bring our time in Medici to an end, but does so not on the best of notes. When compared to the main game, it ran into the same problem as all the other DLC in that it weakened what were some of the game’s strengths. At the very least, though, this one makes my time in the water a bit more palatable.

Developer: Avalanche Studios • Publisher: Square Enix • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 08.18.16
5.5
Bavarium Sea Heist runs into a lot of the same problems as the previous DLC packs for Just Cause 3. It confines you to the new super vehicle you acquire, nullifying Rico’s grappling hook and parachute, and is already over by the time you start getting warmed up. At least here there’s a little more story than before, but it’s not enough when comparing this to the main game.
The Good The most fleshed-out DLC in the expansion pack in terms of narrative.
The Bad Just Cause 3’s water combat is one of the weakest aspects of its gameplay, and it only gets slightly better with a tricked-out boat.
The Ugly All that bouncing up and down on the waves made me seasick.
Just Cause 3: Bavarium Sea Heist is available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by Square Enix for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.

SkyFortressReviewHeader

Fly like an eagle, then fall like Icarus

When Just Cause 3 came out at the end of last year, it delivered all the insane, bombastic action the series is known for and then some. New tools for Rico Rodriguez coupled with another island nation to obliterate meant I ended up sinking close to 40 hours into this game over winter break and not regretting a single second of it. So, when the Sky Fortress DLC expansion—the first of three coming to the game—had finally been added, I was thrilled to have an excuse to take control of the maestro of mayhem once again and blow up a little bit more of Medici. Just how little that bit would be came as something of a shock, though.

The Sky Fortress DLC starts off like some of Rico’s other missions over the course of the game, with him getting a call from his shady friend and government handler, Tom Sheldon. Countless Medicians have been slaughtered by robotic drones that belong to the eDEN Corporation—a tech start-up that fell out of favor with many world governments decades ago—and the drones are now mining the explosive mineral Bavarium from various parts of the island. Rico will have to track the drones to their airbase located off the coast, stop eDEN from killing any more civilians, and force them to cease their mining operation.

In order for Rico to defeat an enemy that defies gravity, he’ll have to do the same. So, Tom provides him with a new Bavarium-powered wingsuit. The suit is actually more akin to a jetpack, giving Rico upwards boost that recharges when he levels out for a brief time courtesy of the actual wing part of the suit, and also straps a rocket launcher and machine gun to Rico’s back, making him more fighter jet than wingsuiter really at that point.

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Just Cause has never been known for a great story. Like french fries serving as vessels for various sauces, the loose narrative around Just Cause games is just an excuse to blow up as much stuff as possible. The Sky Fortress DLC is no different, centered on demolishing drones and the titular airship that eDEN Corporation is based out of. As epic as that may sound, unfortunately, it all falls surprisingly flat, especially in the shadow of the main game.

All told, I beat the entirety of Sky Fortress, optional side missions included, in about 90 minutes. That means if you focused solely on the narrative content, you’d probably be looking at an experience that clocks in at an hour long, if you’re lucky. Three main missions, four outposts to liberate, four Bavarium wingsuit oriented challenges, and then roll the credits again. Avalanche Studios couldn’t even be bothered to give us full cutscenes. Instead, we get what amounts to a few pieces of concept art stills of the main characters with voiceover dubbed over it.

One small saving grace for Sky Fortress at least is that you can carry over your new wingsuit and a couple of new guns over to the main game if you haven’t beaten it yet. And if you’re just getting started in Just Cause 3, the DLC missions unlock about one-third of the way through the primary campaign, meaning you’ll be even better equipped to overthrow General Di Ravello and his army. Just like the lack of content devoted to your new toys, however, there’s an unfortunate catch that comes with all of this.

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For as fun as it is to fly almost limitlessly around a hugely destructible open-world with a rocket launcher strapped to your back, the Bavarium wingsuit also makes your old tools almost null and void. Why bother with a parachute when you can air brake and come to a soft landing? Why worry about how many rockets Rico can carry when you have an unlimited supply when flying? And why even bother with a grappling hook when you can literally soar from point A to point B both vertically and horizontally now?

The Bavarium wingsuit takes away any sort of challenge for the game. There’s even a barrel roll maneuver when flying, which breaks all missile locks on you. This means it’ll be near impossible for you to ever take damage as long as you keep moving. It is basically like turning on god mode and removes the little skill it once required to get around and destroy stuff in the game. Just Cause has never been a punishing game, but a little bit of challenge can go a long way to having a good time, and this new wingsuit snuffs that out pretty swiftly.

Just Cause 3’s Sky Fortress DLC sounds amazing when you look at what it entails. But from the second it begins, it comes off more as a hastily thrown together weapon pack than a fully fleshed-out expansion. It is held loosely together by minimal content, and mitigates what already exists in the main game. There’s nothing inherently broken about what Sky Fortress does, but it adds so little to the overall experience of Just Cause 3 that you’d be just as well off if you had never played it at all.

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Developer: Avalanche Studios • Publisher: Square Enix • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 03.15.16
5.0
Any excuse to return to the world of Just Cause 3 is welcome, but by the time you just start getting warmed up and comfortable with the new weapons, gear, and enemies, this new chapter is already over and you’re left asking where the rest of it is.
The Good The Bavarium wingsuit is the natural evolution for causing chaos in Just Cause.
The Bad New gear largely nullifies need for grappling hook, parachute, and conventional weapons. Largely removes all difficulty from the game.
The Ugly You can 100% the entire experience in less than two hours.
Just Cause 3: Sky Fortress is available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by Square Enix for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.

I played Just Cause 3’s Sky Fortress DLC, the first of three post-launch DLCs for Just Cause 3. In this video, I tackle the Taking Control Mission which will unlock the “Break a Leg!” achievement and show off the new Bavarium wing suit! Just Cause 3’s Sky Fortress DLC is available March 15 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC, unless you have the season pass and then it’s available March 8.

I had a chance to go hands-on with the brand new Just Cause 3 Sky Fortress DLC recently and was able to put Rico’s new Bavarium powered wingsuit through its paces. As you can see in the hands-on video above, the wingsuit is equipped with a jetpack, rocket launcher, and machine guns, basically turning Rico into a mini-fighter jet. You can also take everything you acquire in the DLC into the main game of Just Cause 3, meaning that new wingsuit can be used to take out bases on land as well as the new Eden Airship over the western skies of Medici.

The Sky Fortress DLC is the first of three DLC packs for Just Cause 3, and will be available on consoles and PC sometime in March. It will be followed by the Land and Sea DLC featuring mech-suits and a heist on the high seas—completing the Air, Land, and Sea expansion pack for the game—by the end of the summer.

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Slice and dice

Assassin’s Creed’s story-driven DLC packs have always tried to offer something different from their main story counterparts. From spiritual animal visions to freeing slaves, these post-release expansions have pushed the boundaries of what we expect from the series—especially gameplay-wise. In many ways, the newest addition to this lineage, the Jack the Ripper DLC for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, continues this trend.

Set in the fall of 1888—20 years after Syndicate and during the height of the Jack the Ripper murders—master assassin Jacob Frye has a dark secret that he’s hiding: he knows who the Ripper is. Jacob hopes to catch the madman before the police in an effort to rehabilitate Jack, but then suddenly ends up missing. A month later, Jacob’s twin sister Evie is forced to leave her home in India and return to London, in the hopes of finding her brother and putting a stop to Jack’s rampage permanently.

The most intriguing aspect of the Jack the Ripper DLC is that it tackles a subject with so many questions surrounding it. Considered the world’s first serial killer, Jack the Ripper was never caught nor his true identity revealed. Therefore, one might think it would give Ubisoft a wide berth in terms of how to work their narrative into this unsolved mystery. Unfortunately, it seemed to do the exact opposite.

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Part of the fun that stems from Assassin’s Creed is how the story finds ways to seep into the nooks and crannies of history, spinning well-defined, real-life events in a way that fits their conspiracy theory driven plot. Ubisoft took a great risk crafting their own tale to explain where Jack came from, how his methods evolved, and finally why his murder spree stopped. But because so little is known about the real-life Jack, the development of the character felt stifled, as there weren’t many ways to add depth to such a primal, one note villain to begin with without knowing something concrete about the man. Maybe part of this stems from the brevity of the DLC; a side expansion simply wasn’t enough to both introduce Jack and also turn him into a nemesis we could love to hate. Of course, the DLC alludes to Jacob and Evie having met Jack during the events of the main game, and yet there is no connecting between the two, unlike previous Assassin’s Creed DLCs. No matter the case, the result was a story that left me unsatisfied, even with its definitive ending.

Gameplay, on the other hand, added some surprising new wrinkles to the series—the foremost of which was actually playing as Jack the Ripper in several instances. Symbolic of the cat and mouse game Jack played with the actual police 125 years ago, the DLC sees Jack do the same with Evie, and there are several sequences where players can act out the brutality of Jack the Ripper as he leaves a trail of clues for our heroine. While these moments could’ve been used to better show Jack’s motivations—we see what he does, but never really get a clear sense as to why—they did offer a unique sense of freedom to how you would normally play an Assassin’s Creed game, now given the chance to step into the shoes of the villain as well as the hero.

Playing as Jack also introduced two new mechanics to the game (which then become available to Evie in non-lethal adaptations). The primary addition is a fear factor that allows you to instill terror in your enemies, so much so that they’ll run away instead of facing you. Building off of this is an supplement to melee combat called the Brutal Takedown, which—when pulled off successfully—can add to your ominous presence.

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The idea of using fear as a weapon is something that I didn’t realize had been lacking from Assassin’s Creed until now. Being able to double assassinate a couple of thugs, then do a Brutal Takedown on another that scares away a half-dozen other guards, is the most empowering tool in your repertoire yet. It also makes a lot of sense. If you were a lowly guard patrolling a manor, and just saw your buddy’s throat ripped out, would you stay and fight, or turn and run the other way? Of course, as you might expect, some enemies do stay and fight, but others quickly beat a hasty retreat. It also allows for more enemies per conflict, as you’re now not expecting to fight all of them. You can—and you can win—but it wouldn’t be very efficient nor Assassin-like.

The major issue with the fear system, however, is that it’s not limited to just Brutal Takedowns. Evie and Jack both carry tools such as fear grenades and spikes. While Evie uses her spikes to pin enemies to the ground, so that their screams inspire terror in fellow thugs, Jack impales them as grim examples of the carnage to come. Meanwhile, fear grenades allow you to strike terror from behind cover without being seen. While great for clearing an area, they also felt overpowered, as a fully-stocked assassin never even has to unsheathe their blade, as they simply had to chuck a couple of grenades into the crowd.

These new elements come courtesy of a foundation built on the main game of Syndicate, though. Jack the Ripper takes place entirely in the two most northern districts of the main game’s map—Whitechapel and City of London—which unfortunately gives you a much smaller piece of land to cover, expediting much of the experience. Thanksfully, there are some new side missions to complete from associates both new and old, and three new Black Box missions to partake in. All told, though, Jack the Ripper might feel a tad repetitive for anyone who immersed themselves in the main game when it comes down to helping Evie track down Jack.

Although a little light on the content side, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate: Jack the Ripper is still a fun side excursion in the Assassin’s Creed universe. New mechanics and characters meshing with familiar ones from the main game make this DLC a fun experience overall—one that won’t disappoint most fans, all while filling in more gaps along the ever more convoluted timeline of Assassin’s Creed.

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Developer: Ubisoft Quebec • Publisher: Ubisoft • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 12.17.15
7.5
Striking fear into Evie’s enemies may be a bit overpowered, and Jack may not be the formidable bad guy we hoped he would be, but this DLC is still a fun adventure that serves as a nice excuse to return to Assassin’s Creed’s take on Victorian-Era London.
The Good New fear mechanic provides a fresh take on familiar gameplay…
The Bad …that is also overpowered and too heavily relied on.
The Ugly Jack the Ripper would make the easiest Dickens Fair cosplay.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate: Jack the Ripper is available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by Ubisoft for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.

Assassin’s Creed Unity owners will get the Dead Kings DLC for free to help smooth over the game’s dreadful launch, Ubisoft Montreal and Toronto CEO Yannis Mallat announced today.

The Dead Kings DLC is the first major single player expansion for Unity and picks up shortly after the end of the main game. It follows Arno as he explores the catacombs of Saint-Denis, a suburb of Paris, as he attempts to unravel a new set of mysteries there and deal with greedy tomb raiders in the process.

Because the game’s season pass or Gold Edition owners would have gotten the DLC as part of that package anyway, Ubisoft will make it up to those early adopters by giving them a free game. Season Pass and Gold Edition owners will be able to choose from The Crew, Far Cry 4, Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Rayman Legends, or Just Dance 2015.

Ubisoft will release details soon on how to claim the free game once they work out a distribution system. When set up, Season Pass and Gold Edition owners will have until March 15, 2015, to claim their free game.

As much as we all took shots at Ubisoft with how they handled the launch of Assassin’s Creed Unity, from the review embargo to the state of the game itself, it’s nice to see they’re at least trying to make things up to their fanbase somehow. Maybe next time they’ll just save everyone the headache and not ship a game that wasn’t ready for store shelves, though. Assassin’s Creed Unity currently sits as the worst reviewed game in the series’ history, and you can find out some of the reasons why from my own review.

The Dead Kings DLC does not currently have a release date, but is expected to come soon.

Let freedom ring

Editor’s Note: Due to Freedom Cry taking place after the events of the main game, this review contains spoilers for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Consider yourself warned.

It’s unusual for Assassin’s Creed story DLC to feature someone who wasn’t the lead character of the main game. Since Assassin’s Creed IV’s story led Edward back to England, though, in order to maintain the Caribbean setting (and not drive the developers mad in trying to create entirely new assets), Freedom Cry tells a tale of Edward’s charismatic quartermaster, Adéwalé, instead.

It’s been over a decade since Edward, Adéwalé, and the rest of the Caribbean Order of Assassins sealed up the Observatory. Adéwalé is captain of his own ship now, and he’s a high-ranking member of the Brotherhood as he continues to fight the war against the Templars. Freedom Cry begins with Adéwalé out sailing with his crew, tasked with the relatively simple mission of stealing some Templar documents before they reach Port-au-Prince in Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti). Things quickly go awry when Adéwalé’s ship is ambushed, and the only way for him to escape is to head straight into the heart of a storm. Although our hero escapes the enemy ships, the storm destroys his vessel, sending him overboard and into the angry sea below.

When he comes to, Adéwalé finds himself washed up on Port-au-Prince’s shores. He’s now stranded and must find a way to make some allies and procure a new ship. Easier said than done, though, for a black man now wandering in the Caribbean’s largest slave colony.

Freedom Cry is, quite honestly, the most powerful tale the franchise has told. The Assassin-Templar war is nothing but set dressing that’s promptly shoved into the background to make way for a story about human perseverance, all while cleverly tying the Assassin’s Creed universe into the start of a movement that led to the largest slave revolt in history.

The evils of racism and slavery are prevalent throughout and handled far better here than they were in Liberation or their all-too-brief mention in Assassin’s Creed III (mind you, that’s not what that game was about, but it was still a bit shocking that the subject was limited to just a couple of lines of dialogue between Achilles and Connor). Nearly everyone who isn’t a slave sees Adéwalé as an enemy, making even a casual walk through Port-au-Prince a nightmareand quickly forcing him into combat should he attempt anything suspicious.

This makes Freedom Cry surprisingly difficult at times, since almost the entire city is against you. It makes sense, however, because while Adéwalé has all the training he should ever need from the Assassins, he’s constantly at a disadvantage. This is what would really happen if a black man of Adéwalé’s size and stature were to walk around that breeding ground of suffering. The game subtly makes you aware that you’re having a harder time of things simply because of the color of your skin, and it feels wrong on so many levels. It’s a risky venture for the developers, but I think the message is clear without being ham-handed—and, for that, Freedom Cry should be commended.

Besides the stellar storytelling, the game features the same great action for which the series is known, as well as twists on some Black Flag side missions that now revolve around the slavery theme. Instead of recruiting pirates for your crew, you free runaways, liberate slaves from the auction block, or break others out of prison cages. And instead of pillaging warehouses or capturing other ships at sea, you now unshackle slaves from plantations and board slave ships in the hopes of saving your brothers before they even have to suffer a single lash on Port-au-Prince’s shores.

Freedom Cry does have some limitations that put a crimp on its value, though. The exploration and sheer scope of the world seen in the main game are completely gone, leaving you to race through the nine story missions with little incentive to wander from the predetermined path. Because of this, the DLC is also very short. It would surprise me if this took anyone more than five hours to complete.

And, sure, you can still go out to sea, but there’s really no point beyond a couple of mission parameters, since 90 percent of the action takes place within Port-au-Prince. While this is a location completely unique from any of the other islands you saw in Black Flag, it’s also small and repetitive, lacking the intricacy of Havana, Kingston, or Nassau. Plus, with many of Adéwalé’s upgrades being tied to how many slaves he frees and not other resources, there’s no reason to take part in any of the side activities like hunting or wreck diving should you decide to sail out of Port-au-Prince’s harbor.

Freedom Cry clearly takes a technical step backward from the accomplishment that was the world of Black Flag. Adéwalé steps brilliantly into the lead role, though. His story, short as it is, helps make up for the smaller world, and it’s enough for Assassin’s Creed fans to check out Freedom Cry if they’re even remotely interested.

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal • Publisher: Ubisoft • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 12.17.2013
8.0

In terms of size and scope, Freedom Cry is paltry compared to the main adventure of Black Flag. But its story is easily the most powerful, poignant tale we’ve seen from the Assassin’s Creed universe, and that alone makes this story DLC worth checking out.

The Good Adéwalé steps into the lead-character role well while the great Assassin’s Creed gameplay remains intact.
The Bad The scale of this adventure is far smaller than the main game.
The Ugly The uneasiness that comes with feeling constantly persecuted.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Freedom Cry is available for Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.

In anticipation of next week’s release of DuckTales: Remastered on PSN, Nintendo eShop, and Steam, and next month’s release on XBLA, Capcom sent a special package out to remind some of us of those great childhood memories we might’ve had playing the game.

At first we here at the EGM office thought it was just a lunchbox with the sweet art for DuckTales: Remastered plastered on the front. A fine piece of swag in and of itself. But, as I am wont to do with most packages that come into the EGM office, I gave it a good hearty shake before placing it down and realized there was something inside the tin bin.

Upon opening it, to our joyful surprise, we found the contents of the box were possibly as valuable as the whole of Scrooge’s moneybin. The lunchbox had been holding a limited edition golden NES cartridge for DuckTales (ours was numbered 107 of 150). Now, we don’t know if the cartridge is actually a legitimate, playable cartridge, but it has contacts and is well put together enough that we at least vow to bring an NES into the office tomorrow to try it out.

Along with the cartridge came a certificate of authenticity, several Duckburg themed coupons similar to those that you might find in an old school NES box, and advertisements from Capcom to check out some of their other classic games like MegaMan, Bionic Commando, and Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins.

You can check out the fully laid out contents of the box in the pictures below. Woo-oo!

UPDATE:

The NES cartridge does indeed work after some tests (and several NES’s) and is the 1989 version of the game.

Rise and shine

WARNING: This review contains spoilers in regards to Dead Space 3. If you haven’t finished Dead Space 3, you shouldn’t read this DLC review.

After destroying the Marker signal at the end of Dead Space 3, Isaac Clarke and Sgt. John Carver’s fates were unknown. All we knew was that, somehow, they’d survived after Isaac’s voice came across the radio calling out for Ellie conveniently after she rocketed off into slip space. Dead Space 3: Awakened is downloadable content intended to explain just what happened after the Necromoon fell from the sky and crashed back into Tau Volantis—and how Isaac’s still kicking around on that iceball.

The primary problem with Awakened is that it fails to explain anything, is full of loopholes, and asks players to suspend belief far too many times. The story begins with Isaac waking up in an ice cavern on Tau Volantis. When he and Carver realize they’re not dead, they try to figure out how they survived riding a moon into a planet like a cowboy straddling a bull at the rodeo. Isaac’s answer? Aliens. Something on Tau Volantis didn’t want them to die. Even Carver recoils at the idea and calls Isaac crazy, speaking for everyone who’ll play this mess of a tale.

Once our heroes come to their senses a bit, they realize that many of Danik’s men who were stationed on the planet at the end of Dead Space 3 are still around. So, Isaac and John decide if they can steal one of Danik’s ships, they can get back to Earth, and if they need spare parts, they can grab some from the ghost flotilla still orbiting Tau Volantis. Of course, at this point, I’m still trying to figure out how anything survived on the planet so perfectly AFTER A MOON DROPPED FROM ORBIT ONTO EVERYTHING. The ship graveyard, the men still stationed on the planet, all the ships—they should all have been wiped out. Maybe because the moon was made of flesh, it cushioned the blow? Maybe because Isaac is crazy, he’s still just floating in space on life support, and it’s all a dream? I don’t know the answer, because Awakened asks you to just take everything at face value with no explanation whatsoever.

The technical reason why nothing was destroyed is a lot more depressing than poor storytelling—it’s just plain laziness. Instead of creating new levels, the three chapters of Awakened simply reuse sites that Isaac and John have already visited, culminating back on the Terra Nova. At least the locations look a little different at certain points, especially the Terra Nova itself. Danik’s men who survived (but shouldn’t have) have a rift form in their ranks, which leads to some forming their own cultlike church aboard the Terra Nova and deforming their bodies to look like Necromorphs, even though they’re not quite dead—and causing Clarke and Carver all kinds of trouble.

Beyond the story, Awakened‘s other major flaw is that it’s short, even for DLC. If it takes you more than 90 minutes to beat this, hang up your headset because you have to admit you’re just not that good at games. Heck, the end credits are nearly as long as Awakened itself. For $10 (800 Microsoft Points), there’s just not enough value here for that inflated price tag.

Now, my review has been resoundingly negative thus far, but I’d be remiss if I failed to mention some aspects of Awakened that I thoroughly enjoyed once I ignored the flawed logic the story beat me over the head with. Unlike in Dead Space 3, there’s actually a lot of tension here. The hallucinations that plagued Isaac in the first two games return in full force; you’ll be walking along, when suddenly, the screen will flash red and enemies will appear out of nowhere, making the action far less predictable than in the main game.

The red tint may signify that the enemies are only hallucinations—but to Isaac, they’re all too real, so you have to fight them as you would actual enemies, consuming ammo and losing health along the way. Of course, if they’re not real in the physical plane, they shouldn’t drop ammo, health, and items! But the idea that Isaac’s mind is being torn through like wet toilet paper is a theme that the main game sorely lacked, and it’s a welcome addition.

For its faults, Dead Space 3 was certainly a polished experience, and that’s also the case with Awakened. The non-story-related banter between Clarke and Carver is witty and entertaining, and the idea of a crazed space cult onboard a dead ship gives the game an old-school Dead Space feel that most fans of the series have missed—and will appreciate seeing again. I loved the boss battles, new enemies, and the general feeling of not knowing what was around every corner. If Visceral could’ve somehow combined the gameplay found here with the story of Dead Space 3, I think a vast majority of fans would’ve been a lot more satisfied with the final product.

Developer: Visceral Games • Publisher: Electronic Arts • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 03.12.2013
6.5 Dead Space 3 would have been well served to include some of the thrilling gameplay featured here, but Awakened‘s convoluted narrative has far too many absurd plot holes—and is far too short—to be worth anything to anyone but the most die-hard Dead Space fans.
The Good Provides the kind of psychological horror we expected from the main game.
The Bad Very short; backtracking through old levels; too many plot holes.
The Ugly Trying to play with a solid grip on science and logic.
Dead Space 3: Awakened is available on PS3 (PSN), Xbox 360 (XBLA), and PC. Primary version reviewed was for XBLA.