What is 800 MS Points Worth? (DLC Roundup #1)

As I’ve been buying (and playing) a lot of downloadable content recently I thought I’d do a quick blog entry writing about my experiences. Browsing the Xbox Live Marketplace, I was surprised to find that the four packs I bought all cost 800 Microsoft points each, even though the offerings were very different. I thought I’d give my opinions here on each batch of material as well as spend some time discussing whether I personally feel they’re worth the money.

Fable II – Knothole Island

The undoubted star, of the Fable II DLC pack, is the island itself. Without giving too much away, the whole arc of this expansion is based around the weather and the island’s landscape has been superbly crafted to take advantage of this in clever ways. Considering the visually impressive external location created for the download, it’s a little disappointing that the actual missions are so run of the mill. With just a couple of exceptions, you’ll spend your time encountering the same enemies and doing the same sort of tasks that you did in the main game. Traipsing through generic looking dungeons filled with scores of “flit switches” just isn’t particularly fun.

Completing the new questline gives full access to the island’s Box of Secrets store. If you take part in a little scavenger hunt around the main game world you’ll be rewarded with a nice selection of unique, fairly powerful items. The content also gives players a chance to be reunited with a fallen companion, although they’ll need to be willing to sacrifice more than just their in-game morals.

Fallout 3 – Operation: Anchorage

On downloading this, the first of at least three mission packs for Fallout 3, a new radio message comes through your Pipboy directing you towards a group of renegade Brotherhood of Steel members who are investigating some old technology.

Part of the pack takes place in the main Fallout 3 world but the majority of it is delivered through a series of Virtual Reality missions. This means that you don’t have access to all your existing kit (although your perks and skills still work) but it does take you away from the dreary landscape of the Capital Wasteland.

Not that the frozen expanses of Alaska are particularly more appealing. This pack seems to have been designed for die-hard fans of the Fallout series; those that are really into the game’s lore and actually care about key events in the history, such as the Chinese invasion of Alaska during which these VR missions are set.

Although it’s enjoyable, I personally found the content a little too “shooty” and I guess, from the comments on the interwebs, that these are also not the type of quests that other people wanted either. It’s quite interesting to be working as part of a squad, for sections of the game, rather than alone but pitching it as a shooter just further highlights the shortcomings of the combat system.

Like the Fable 2 content, the Fallout 3 pack probably gives you most value if you’re about midway through your game experience as the best thing about it is the cool kit you’ll receive as a reward. It’s a little bit ironic that the characters who will struggle the most with completing the DLC (those built to avoid conflicts where possible) will actually find one of the rewards really useful for their style of play.

Star Wars The Force Unleashed – The Jedi Temple Mission Pack

I wasn’t a huge fan of The Force Unleashed but, as I felt it was a little short and lacked replayability I thought I’d give the DLC a try. Rather appropriately this DLC pack is also really short and also completely lacking in replayability.

Consisting of a single level set in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, a location dropped from the game in pre-production according to Lucasarts, it does feature some nice puzzle elements. It is, though as I’ve said, extremely short and features the same enemies you’ve spent your time smashing in the main game. There’s no real reason to play it more than once but the developers force you to do so at least four times if you want all the additional Gamerscore on offer.

Considering Lucasarts short-changed us once already on the value front, charging 800 points for a single level is absolutely disgusting.

Burnout Paradise – Party Pack

The Burnout Party Pack is a harder piece of content to appraise. It’s actually little more than a flashy menu system that presents you with carefully selected challenges from the online game.

In many ways this, for me, has the least value of the bunch as I’m unlikely to spend much time playing offline “pass the pad” multiplayer with real-life friends or family.

I think that the Party Pack is overpriced and has been designed mostly to boost the value of the retail re-release for offline users. However, we had so much free content from Criterion last year I don’t mind paying for this first paid release. In fact, I almost feel guilty… like I should buy it. It’s amazing all the good will they generated with last year’s freebies.

But 800 Points.. It’s Too Much for Any of This Stuff, Isn’t It?

Value for money is a very personal thing. In many ways it depends how much you like each of these four games and how much you think it’s fair to pay to extend your gaming experience.

Some might say it’s too much to pay 800 points for this sort of content. Is it? What is 800 points actually worth both on Microsoft’s marketplace and in the real world?

800 Points is*…
£6.80 in real money
or
16 x old dashboard themes
8 x iTunes music tracks
5 x Rockband songs
4-8 x “standard” priced picture packs
3 x premium NXE themes
2 x XBLM video rentals (SD)
1.5 x Halo map packs
1.5 x XBLM video rentals (HD)
1 x “standard” XBLM title
1 x “real world” adult cinema ticket
1 x 7” Chicken Feast Pizza from Dominoes UK
½ of Tomb Raider Anniversary (bought as an expansion to Legend)
1/3 of Oblivion’s The Shivering Isles expansion
1/6 of a reasonably priced new retail game
*approximately the same.

So for 800 points I’m personally looking for about the same length of entertainment as I’d get by going to the cinema or for as much enjoyment as I’d get from a dial-a-pizza.

I think, for me, the Fable II and Fallout 3 packs work out as fairly good value. They give you short term entertainment, in the form of new missions that will keep you busy for several hours. But they also give you some long term value through new equipment that you can use in the main game and any further DLC expansions. Which is best value out of those two? I’d personally go for Fallout 3 as I felt the rewards were more interesting and I know that, with more content packs coming, I’m going to be getting plenty of use out of my hard earned (and paid for!) kit.

In some ways I think that people would feel they had got better value out of the Fable II and Fallout 3 content if they’d been packaged up in a bigger collection of material, like Oblivion’s The Shivering Isles. The beauty of smaller packs like this, though, is that you can pick and choose whether you buy these extra missions depending on whether the story or rewards interest you.

The Force Unleashed content feels like a complete and utter rip-off. It’s short enough that it should’ve been completed and included in the retail game, especially as the original campaign was content-light as it was. The only reason to buy this particular DLC is for the extra Gamerscore.

The Burnout Paradise Party Pack works out as being worthwhile if you regularly have friends over to play or if several of your household enjoy going head to head on the same console. It’s not really of that much interest to me but Criterion has plenty of content in the pipeline to keep me happy this year.

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3 Responses to “What is 800 MS Points Worth? (DLC Roundup #1)”

  1. I downloaded Knothole Island myself, and found myself rush through the first two weather temples. The differences to the island were impressive enough, but now I worry I’ve missed something that I won’t be able to go back and get. Not majorly impressed though.

  2. You can actually get back in to all the temples once you finish the DLC questline so it’s okay if you’ve missed any collectables.

    Had I played these new missions as part of the main game then I’d probably have enjoyed them more. Downloading the DLC, blowing the dust of the disk and popping it back in again for a couple of hours… you’re always going to feel a bit disappointed and left wanting more I suppose.

  3. Ah, but I was in the lucky position that I was still playing Fable II when it was released (attempting to finish various quests and buy the castle), so to me it did just feel like an extension of the game.

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