[This article contains end game spoilers for Sleeping Dogs and Metal Gear Solid 4. You've been warned]
I’ve never been one for DLC. I’ve downloaded a couple of bits in the past, such as a map pack for Call of Duty 4, but I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never been struck by a game that I’ve impulsively needed to get the DLC for. That is until this year, as now I’ve got two games dancing in the background going “You loved us! Come play more of us! You’ll love us even more!”.
The first is Metal Gear Rising. Being the Platinum Games and Metal Gear nut I am, I adored Revengeance for all it was. It was a little short though, but highly repayable. Want more length though? Well I can always get the DLC chapters that are now being released. The two chapters, one about Sam and the other about Blade Wolf, will add in some new gameplay and some backdrop to the overarching story. Awesome, I think. But being the non-DLC aficionado I am, I didn’t realise how expensive DLC is. Konami want £7.99 for the DLC chapters for Revengeance. I don’t know how long these new chapters are, but with them reusing assets and levels from the base game, where is the justification for such a high price? Also, if I wanted more VR missions, then that’d be about £1.99 in the pot. Then again, only masochists would want more VR missions thanks to their brutal difficulty. I love Revengeance, it will end up being one of my top of the year, but I don’t know if I want to drop £15 on two extra bits of it. There’s not even a PS+ discount to make it a bit easier to swallow.
The thing with Revengeance though is it isn’t begging me to buy the DLC. I know the extra packs exist thanks to the internet, but in-game I’m not being hounded at every point to hand over my cash. Which is something that the second title – Sleeping Dogs – can’t say it doesn’t do. I’ve been completely enthralled with the world of Wei Shen since getting the title from Games on Demand. The locale, story and graphics have made it a wonder to play and is one of the best open world games from the generation, with its closest rivals only being Just Cause 2 and Crackdown. The problem with Sleeping Dogs though is that it wants to spoil the experience for me at every turn it can.
The story goes that you – Wei Shen – are an undercover cop working for triad groups like the Sun On Yee, to break them down from inside. At the end of the game things get extremely to the bone, with Wei being kidnapped and tortured, thanks to his police superior Pendrew dobbing him in and revealing that he’s been a cop all along. It’s pretty obvious that Wei is going to survive. You don’t make an open world game with tons of side missions that can’t be accessed once the main story is finished. However, what you don’t know is what happens to Wei. Does he become the head of Sun On Yee and cast off his police background? Does he go rogue and form his own fraction? Well no. None of that happens. You don’t have to finish the game to be told that though, all you have to do is pause the game, get a car out of a garage, or hell, even boot up the main menu.
Sleeping Dogs has DLC. Lots of DLC. Some of it being superfluous, but some of it being story related. I was originally going to wait for a GOTY edition before buying it because of how much there is, but I had many Microsoft Points thanks to the Sky Go promo and the game was on sale. Sleeping Dogs decides to advertise the fact that it has DLC constantly in game. So if you pause the game in the corner it says something along the lines of ‘WEI SHEN IS BACK WITH FIVE NEW COP MISSIONS IN YEAR OF THE SNAKE’. It then goes on to describe the DLC. That also comes up when you take a car out of the parking garage and it’s also there on the main menu. Problem being is that the advert just told me that Wei is still a cop at the end of it all. Sure, the last couple of missions are tense, but I already know what the end game is going to be. There will be no repercussions in the end of it all as Wei can just jump back onto the beat after being tortured half to death and killing the head of a criminal organisation.
It’s alright! Just pause and you’ll see there’s no repercussions for this scene at all.
I understand that DLC is a big deal, especially for countering used game sales, but what you’ve essentially created are Pause Screen Spoilers. Imagine if Metal Gear Solid 4 had DLC where you saw how Big Boss tracked down Snake before he killed himself. Imagine if when you paused the game it said in the corner ‘BIG BOSS IS BACK ON THE HUNT FOR SOLID SNAKE IN THE LATEST GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS PACK’. That’d look pretty sodding stupid, wouldn’t it? I loved Sleeping Dogs and I would love to play the DLC, but this practise of trying to shove it in my face has just made me not want to hand over my MSP and just wait for a sale instead. Oh and also because people say the new missions take less than an hour to complete. What fantastic value.
DLC is something that will now never go away. It’s something now ingrained in a development cycle. I was a lucky man before to never have to deal with it all that much, but now with single player experiences being spread out over several packs, it just means I should wait longer for a completed version of the game to hit retail, rather than one with significant holes.