Downloadable content is a useful tool which can be used to extend a gamer’s favourite experience for a small monetary fee. It’s a great tool for developers who are looking to continually add post-release episodes to their titles, though it’s also become somewhat maligned for being relied upon too heavily. While some downloadable content has been commended for its large scale adventures for affordable prices, other digital extenders haven’t been received as well.
When it comes to post-release DLC, it’s all about good content at the right price. Release that and you’ll certainly do well, being fully in the clear while watching people download and enjoy your product. This is an area where the Crimson Alliance: Vengeance Pack does a commendable job. Since it only provides about an hour of content from start to finish, it’s nice to see that Microsoft and Certain Affinity thought about the consumer when deciding upon an official retail price. Three dollars is relatively reasonable, despite its brevity and odd discovered hiccup.
The Crimson Alliance: Vengeance Pack adds a new section of missions to your adventure map, providing a visual detour from the main campaign arc. Selecting its icon brings forth a brief loading screen, which brings up a brand new section of the land-based drawing. On this piece of digital paper are icons representing two new pieces of content, with one hidden from view until it’s unlocked. That would be the second of two campaign-esque dungeon crawling, hack n’ slash missions.
Your first icon is representative of a new challenge: One which happens to feel a lot like horde mode from Gears of War, done in a top-down, hack n’ slash world. Up to four players must eliminate wave upon wave of enemies, seeing how long they can survive with limited resources and a lack of healing urns.
The digital dungeon crawling heroes are dropped into an arena, with explosive barrels spread intermittently throughout. The choice is there to move them around in order to prepare for the chaos which is about to ensue, but that’s a choice as opposed to a need. You see; there’s unlimited time to get things right if you’d really like to, considering that the first wave of foes doesn’t come until a switch is hit by the player(s).
As is the case in other like-minded modes, each progressive wave becomes more challenging, with the seventh becoming impossibly difficult for any lone challenger. In order to complete this option by surviving until the end, I recommend playing with friends. It’ll make things easier and less hectic, with the ability for each different warrior, magic man or shadow-lurker to share his or her items amongst the group. Getting to the end of the seventh round is a bit of a bragging right, unlocking an achievement for your trouble.
This wave-based challenge mode is pretty fun, albeit nothing revolutionary. It’s an enjoyable and varied way to let some stress out on tons of different enemies, who seem bent on rushing towards you without a care in their ugly skulls. Every time you play, things are a bit different. Friends will enjoy this one together and should get some replay value out of it, but I wish there were more maps or options to add in extra variety and a fun reason to come back. Once you’ve bested the lot, it just becomes a way to make gold, considering you can leave after any round in order to keep your spoils of war.
Once players have had some fun challenging devious opponents, it’s off to complete the two separate mission options found inside of the Crimson Alliance: Vengeance Pack. What you’ll find are two different quests, each rounding out to about fifteen minutes in length. Fight your way through oncoming threats in each, aiming to get to the final boss battles. No story elements are added, which is a notable downside.
Although there is a complete lack of dialogue content or cutscenes, there is a billboard which tells players of their goal. On the newly created map, a wooden board appears, showing dead or alive bounties for two different ninjas. One is blue and the other is red, which is all we really know, although we soon learn that blue relates to shadow magic whereas red refers to fire. Each of the two bosses’ levels is based on their powers, though it’s much more noticeable in the second mission than in the first. The latter quest takes place in what must be Byzan’s Hellish underbelly, with rocky landmasses situated above restless and rising waves of molten lava.
The above descriptors describe what you’ll expect here, along with battles through many different groups of enemies on the way to each final boss battle. This same quest itinerary is duplicated over two brief missions. They’re pretty fun and challenging quests, which are best played with up to three others. The game’s class-based secrets and hidden areas return in full force, adding extra incentive to search every nook and cranny along your way. Like in the game’s core campaign however, it’s easy to find things without looking very hard.
Standing out from the crowd is this downloadable content’s first boss battle against the shadow ninja. She has some pretty interesting tricks up her sleeve, which makes this battle feel different from what we normally see in these types of games. The originality is a plus; I just wish there was more of it spread throughout. Your second boss battle is also decent, though it takes on more of a reminiscent and previously utilized set of mechanics.
If you enjoyed the campaign which Certain Affinity crafted for Crimson Alliance and its core experience, then you’ll certainly enjoy what’s here. It’s of pretty good quality with a couple new, fire-based enemies to battle, with those being fire beasts and golems. Though, other than a couple of new twists such as rising lava engulfing your travel space, the majority of the content found in these two missions is nothing new. They play almost exactly the same as what you’ve played already, forcing you to fight tons of enemies and then move on to the next battle. Puzzles are also seemingly eliminated, which is a downside.
The new Crimson Alliance: Vengeance Pack content looks quite good. It retains the colourful and detailed look of the core downloadable experience, with some nice hints of colour through creative attack effects. Its two mission areas look completely different which is a plus, though they use elements found in the title’s campaign. There are some nice elemental effects, especially when it comes to the lava, so the level designers should be commended for their efforts. Though, large groups of enemies, or the use of special effects, seemed to bog the game down at certain points.
A major downside here is a lack of any story-related content. When new quests are introduced, you’d think that there’d be reasoning given or some sort of an explanation. There’s nothing there, other than the billboard, which is quite disappointing. The included audio is well-crafted and noteworthy, however. Taking a look at what is there, it’s easy to note that a good amount of effort was put into the sound effects in both the core Crimson Alliance campaign and its Vengeance Pack DLC. The experience also benefits from some great ambience and quality music.
At an affordable price of three dollars, fans of Crimson Alliance can expand their digital quest with a few new missions, by downloading its Vengeance Pack. What’s there may be brief but, at only 240 Microsoft Points, it’s not a bad deal. There’s some pretty solid and polished content to be found, despite the odd noticeable hiccup. Those who can’t wait to re-enter Byzan’s dusty interiors and violent exteriors need apply to this decent and affordable expanded job board quest. Make sure you bring along friends for the best experience possible and for some help in its challenging arena.
This review is based on a copy of the content which we received for review purposes.
There's only an hour of content here at the most, and it lacks creativity and originality. But, it isn't at all expensive and if you're a fan of the game, it might be worth checking out.