Tag Archives: DLC

What happened to mobile games?

It seems so long ago, but there was once a time when iOS and Android heralded the future of games. They were growing while the rest of the market contracted, and the buzz around open microconsoles like the Ouya, based on mobile technology, as they pushed into the traditional console market must have had Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft worried. Phones and tablets were getting exciting new experiences, classic ports, and new properties that looked like they were vying to be the iPhone’s Mario or Halo.

Now, though, I haven’t put serious time into a single mobile game since Super Hexagon. I sold my iPad. I can’t remember the last time I browsed the App Store. I’m still using an iPhone 4, which struggles with anything newer than 2012, yet I don’t feel like I’m missing out.

Maybe it’s caused by the fact that indie developers have carved a niche for themselves in the promised land of consoles and Steam – they don’t need to hamstring themselves with anaemic hardware and touch controls any more. What they’ve left is a wasteland of match three puzzlers – fun, but I used to play those on the SNES and they haven’t moved on since – and frankly depressing revivals of long-dormant franchises as “free-to-play” monstrosities.

It probably says a lot that as soon as I saw headlines for Rollercoaster Tycoon’s revival, I knew it was going to be a F2P mobile game. That mitigated the disappointment, I suppose, but while the execrable Dungeon Keeper was rightly castigated, at least that had the defence of being free. RCT4 charges you for the privilege of being made to wait around, accurately simulating the experience of visiting a theme park.

What hurts the most, though, is to see this shit succeeding, helped along by the proliferation of dreadful mobile review sites that struggle to give anything a lower score than 4/5. And that success is aiding the mechanics in seeping into retail games, with Forza 5 being one of the more egregious examples. Thankfully the backlash there seems to have been heeded somewhat.

Even as something of a gaming traditionalist, keen to preserve consoles and dedicated handhelds alongside newer, more exciting formats, I’m disappointed in what’s happened to what was a promising new gaming landscape. It wasn’t a passing fad, as the numbers playing games like Candy Crush Saga show. But the innovation that once filled the vacuum has moved on, abandoning it to the vultures with shocking rapidity.

GTA IV: The Lost and Damned

I got pretty bold a couple of weeks ago when I predicted a bright future for DLC in 2009, as it was swiftly followed by a disappointing insubstantial downloadable outing for Fable II and the divisive Operation Anchorage for Fallout 3, which I happened to like but probably didn’t live up to most people’s expectations.

I can count on Rockstar to bail me out, though, because The Lost and Damned is fantastic.

GTA IV: The Lost and Damned

For a start, I must comment on pricing. 1,600 points (£13.60) for a good 10-12 hours of GTA IV, with production values at least as high as the main game – sterling voice work, impeccable cut-scene direction, new licensed music, new things to do, etc – and some improvements of its own, not least of all the much-requested mid-mission checkpoints. It’s so far made me remember why I loved this game so much, and frankly puts the usual quick and dirty 2-3 hours that we’ve come to expect from DLC to shame.

Credit is also due for giving it a unique feel of its own, rather than being beholden to what was set out in GTA IV. It turns Liberty City, which remains a brilliant place to explore, into a platform for future expansions like this, and gives you just enough crossover to give you a kick when Niko makes a cameo or you hear about something from his misadventures on the radio. The biker culture that it revels in is also far from the immigrant experience of Niko and feels strong enough to support a full game. I’d even go as far as to say that people who disliked Niko and his friends and couldn’t deal with his frequent Anakin Skywalker moments will like this better.

Plus I didn’t hear one utterance about “American tee-tees”, which is always a bonus.

I’m making this quite a short post because I’ve written at length about how good GTA IV is (impressions, post-mortem) and this is ultimately more of the same, but I’m in love with the game all over again. Fuck the haters because they’re quite simply wrong: GTA IV rocks and so does this DLC.

The Year of the DLC?

So my last informal ‘Year of the…’ post didn’t turn out so accurate, and this one could either herald a brave new frontier for gaming as retail goes down the toilet or turn out to be a damp squib that people aren’t really interested in, but I’m pretty confident that 2009 will, either way, be a big year for downloadable content.

Fable II has just had its first DLC package, Knothole Island, and I happily bought it because I was itching to play more of the game. The same thing is likely to happen later this month when Fallout 3 receives its first downloadable quest line, Operation Anchorage, and again with the other two to come in February and March, Left 4 Dead has more campaigns on the way, and of course GTA IV’s much-ballyhooed expansion, The Lost and Damned, is planned for next month.

It’s a big line-up for a traditionally slow period, cunningly placed to keep players from trading in last year’s games, and although map packs have been a fixture of this generation since the 360 launch, with the silly money being thrown around for exclusive DLC at the moment, could this be when the idea of DLC fulfils its promise? Continue reading The Year of the DLC?

Call of Duty 4 Variety Map Pack Impressions

It’s been a while since I cared enough about a game to actually pay for DLC. Even Halo 3 had me waiting for the first map pack to be free, and before that I think the last time was Crackdown’s excellent content pack, released way back in May. I may have drifted from COD4 in recent weeks (my current poor form testifies to this fact, although I still blame the new controller/new maps/Prestige mode/lunar alignment), but that couldn’t stop me dropping 400 points (that’s £3.40 in human money) on these babies.


In fact, the last game that I bought more than one content pack for was Call of Duty 2, which probably says something about how this series grabs me. Until this game came out, COD2 was still by far my most-played 360 multiplayer game.

I came to this download knowing nothing about the maps other than the names, so imagine my surprise when I found out that the pictured map, Chinatown, is a remake of Carentan, my favourite map from both Call of Duty and COD2. I’d been waxing lyrical about how I’d love that map and another classic from the first two games, St Mère Eglise (one for the next content pack, please), and here we are; Infinity Ward heard my pleas. Continue reading Call of Duty 4 Variety Map Pack Impressions