XBLA DLC Review Archive

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State of Decay: Lifeline Review (XBLA DLC)

State of Decay: Lifeline was developed by Undead Labs and published by Microsoft Studios. It was released May 30, 2014 on Xbox 360 for $6.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.

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Over the past two or three years, the popularity of zombies in video games has grown to the point where it is now almost impossible for many gamers to differentiate what makes any given option stand out amongst the ever-growing pack of average also-rans. Thankfully, last year’s State of Decay was certainly one of the better zombie titles and was especially impressive as (initially) a fairly modest XBLA exclusive. Undead Labs followed up its initial success with the Breakdown DLC, which, although still very good, left most fans of the series wanting more – in particular a new and expanded location. And that, in a protracted kind of way, is exactly what the Lifeline DLC is all about.

This time, the action takes place in the fictional city of Danforth and centers around a military squad known as Greyhound One, with players exploring a storyline dealing with the activities of the soldiers during the initial days of the outbreak. The structure is similar to the base game, but the fairly large home base is fixed, the missions generally feature a tighter timeline and players will need to contend with periodic zombie sieges that present a stiffer threat to NPCs (and overall success) than anything seen in previous outings. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the military setting adds a tremendous amount of firepower to the player’s arsenal, including more weapons and ammo; plus a raft of new traps, supply drops and assistance resources. Lifeline also features a number of new tweaks — like the ability to place rucksacks in trucks, effectively enabling more comprehensive supply runs — that occasionally have a material impact on the game.

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The Walking Dead Season 2: A House Divided review (XBLA DLC)

The Walking Dead Season 2 was developed and published by Telltale Games. It was released March 5, 2014 for $4.99.

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So far, The Walking Dead Season 2 has been off to a slow start. The first episode spent a lot of time separating itself from the original series, while setting the stage for the current one. It was a lot of build-up that ultimately had little immediate payoff.  Thankfully Episode 2: A House Divided picks up right where the last left off, allowing the story to kick itself into full gear. We finally see the direction the series is going, as Clementine’s new group is forced to deal with a mysterious new villain, Carver. Telltale delivers the experience we’ve come to expect from The Walking Dead - one full of tough choices, rough consequences, and a good helping of zombie slaughter.

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State of Decay: Breakdown review (XBLA DLC)

The State of Decay: Breakdown downloadable content for State of Decay was developed by Undead Labs and published by Microsoft Studios. It was released November 29, 2012, on the Xbox 360 for $6.99. A copy was provided for review purpose.

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As Undead Labs’ first dose of downloadable content for the infectious zombie-apocalypse simulator State of Decay, State of Decay: Breakdown is more companion piece than linear expansion. It sidesteps the plot progression of the original, offering instead the chance to drop into the heart of Trumbull Valley to scavenge, fortify and eventually escape, with no strings attached. Breakdown is the missing piece of Labs’ initial equation: an endless nightmarish wasteland that ramps up the difficulty with every hard-earned departure, for as long as you can take it.

To facilitate this grim cycle of survival, you’re issued a random survivor and a broken down recreational vehicle that’s lurched to a halt at one of several random locations around the valley. Your immediate concern is a defensible shelter, where you’ll foster a community while you search for a new RV and the necessary materials to get it up and running. When you accomplish this goal and take flight from the toxic gash that’s become Trumbull Valley – that’s when Breakdown really begins.

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Star Wars Pinball FX 2 review (XBLA DLC)

The first Star Wars Pinball table pack for the Pinball FX 2 platform was developed by Zen Studios.  It was released February 27, 2013 for 800 MSP. A copy was provided for review purposes.

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Zen Studios, makers of Pinball FX 2, is releasing a trio of Star Wars pinball tables this Wednesday, in what will be the first group of many tables to come, much how the studio has released multiple packs of pinball tables from the Marvel comics universe. These Star Wars tables, which include a table for Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, a table designed around the Clone Wars cartoon show, and a table in honor of infamous bounty hunter Boba Fett, are all worthy additions to the ever-expanding body of content available for Pinball FX2. It’s worth pointing out that only one of the three tables is focused on a specific film — this strategy of utilizing both iconic characters (Fett) and Expanded Universe content (Clone Wars) leaves Zen Studios with a range of choices in developing future Star Wars pinball tables.

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Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD Revert Pack review (XBLA DLC)

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD Revert Pack DLC

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is a bit of a mixed bag. For the casual player it provides nostalgia with enhanced visuals. The bugs seem minor. For the hardcore it leaves feelings of imprecision in control, and the in-game glitches become like a giant white headed pimple–no matter how much you try to look away it steals your focus. The community and media at large are torn on whether the game is amazing or abysmal. The Revert Pack DLC is more of the same. In the end it comes down to whether you enjoy the core game or hate it. That being said, let’s keep this short and not beat around the bush.

Here’s what we liked:

More to love – For fans of the game the Revert Pack is a must buy. The three greatest levels from Pro Skater 3 (Canada, L.A., and Airport) along with one new music track, Metallica’s “All Nightmare Long”. Also included are four new skaters: pros Steve Caballero and Geoff Rawley and Metallica members James Hetfield and Robert Trujillo. The four new skaters provide decent balance in the game’s starting selection, and the levels are faithfully recreated. The Metallica track is, well, Metallica. You’ll either love it or hate it.

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Pinball FX2 Marvel Civil War review

The Civil War table for the Pinball FX 2 platform was developed by Zen Studios.  It was released November 20, 2012 for 240 MSP. A copy was provided for review purposes.

The Civil War table for Pinball FX2 is the latest in what is now a large string of Marvel-themed pinball tables. Zen Studios continues to innovate with each new release — the improvements they have made since earlier pinball tables are evident here. Civil War is oozing with nods to fans of the comic books — this might be the best-themed Marvel pinball table yet, and it shows through in the very polished presentation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Serious Sam 3: BFE – Jewel of the Nile review (XBLA DLC)

The Jewel of the Nile downloadable content for Serious Sam 3: BFE was developed by Croteam and published by Devolver Digital. It was released on October 17, 2012, for 1200 MSP. A copy was provided for review purpose.

Jewel of the Nile is an interesting approach to how digital games could be published in the future. It’s really a companion piece to Serious Sam 3: BFE, a small portion of the game that was deemed valuable enough to sell on its own for the price of the original. The “downloadable content” adds a few additional campaign levels and the online competitive multiplayer suite.

The idea of selling digital games in a piecemeal fashion certainly has its merits. By allowing players the option to purchase a title in discounted portions, they could potentially tailor their experience and save money by avoiding elements that don’t apply to their interests. Unfortunately, the Jewel of the Nile downloadable content originated in the opposite school of thought. Where dicing up a complete game and selling it in chunks seems like a good opportunity to cash in at the expense of eager fans. You could argue that the content contained within Jewel of the Nile is enough to warrant the price, but compared to what’s offered in Serious Sam 3: BFE, you’d be wrong.

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Serious Sam 3: BFE review (XBLA)

Serious Sam 3: BFE was developed by Croteam and published by Devolver Digital. It was released on October 17, 2012, for 1200 MSP. A copy was provided for review purpose.

It’s been a long road for “Serious” Sam Stone. Over a decade ago, he dove into the past to prevent a present-day alien invasion by confronting the extraterrestrial menace throughout ancient Egypt and Mesoamerica. Serious Sam 3: BFE (Before First Encounter) picks up that story before it began, following Sam as he battles through modern Egypt on a mission to activate the time travel device and begin that inevitable journey.

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Trials Evolution: Origin of Pain review (XBLA DLC)

The Origin of Pain downloadable content for Trials Evolution was developed by RedLynx and co-published by Microsoft Studios and Ubisoft. It was released on October 5, 2012 for 400 MSP. A copy was provided for review purposes.

Fall is upon us. The Summer of Arcade promotion is over, and while the five games released all did fairly well the real heroes this year are two Spring games: Minecraft and Trials Evolution. Both have been a beacon of hope in what has been a relatively disappointing year for Xbox Live Arcade thus far. Trials Evo is one of only a few of this year’s games we’re still playing are likely to still be this time next year.

That interest is compounded with the newly released Origin of Pain downloadable content. RedLynx delivered in a big way with their Trials HD DLC, and are upping the ante this time around. It’s arguably the most ambitious DLC offered for any XBLA game, and certainly one of the best bargains on the marketplace. While it does have a few weak points, Origin of Pain brings thrills in a way that only the RedLynx gang knows how to deliver.

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Sonic Adventure 2 and Battle Mode review (XBLA and XBLA DLC)

Sonic Adventure 2 and the Battle Mode downloadable content were developed and published by Sega. They were released on October 5, 2012 for 800 MSP and 240 MSP, respectively. Copies were provided for review purposes.
Sonic Adventure was a bit of a mixed bag. The original release was lauded by fans of the franchise, but the overworld aspects were confusing, as was its what-the-heck-is-going-on plot. When it was re-released in 2010 via Xbox Live Arcade it was met with much of the same. While the 3D platforming was almost enjoyable everything else weighed down the game. Sonic Adventure 2 was released a few years later and seemed to, at least initially, address player concerns. Gone was the overworld and much of the complicated plot. But while it was an improvement it still had minor flaws.

Now Sonic Adventure 2 joins its older brother on the Xbox 360. It brings the same sense of speed as it did 11 years ago. There are several over-the-top moments that bring a measure of enjoyment to the game. Unfortunately it still suffers from the same issues it did in 2001. This is a straight-up port aside from the fact that the GameCube-exclusive Battle Mode is available for purchase separately.

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