The Trouble With Clones

Lost amid the usual furor surrounding downloadable content, it tends to be forgotten that DLC doesn’t actually have to be toss. Developers have demonstrated the ability to not only bolt fleeting mini-campaigns and recycled map-packs to their games, but to positively enhance them as well.

Crackdown’s Gettin’ Busy and Keys to the City packs are great examples. Both honed in on and accentuated the game’s strengths (primarily jumping really high and making things go kaboom) and by providing fresh means to cause a ruckus, Realtime gave players new reason to stick around in Pacific City. Fallout 3’s Broken Steel retroactively fixed the game’s ending while The Pitt breathed new life into its melee combat and Mothership Zeta proved without a shadow of a doubt my point. DLC can be a good thing, but it’s easy to forget that in the face of this or this or this or this or this or this or this or this or this or this. Or even The Trouble With Clones.

The trouble with Volition’s DLC for Saints Row: The Third is they’ve yet to offer a good reason to stick around in Steelport after each pithy slice of content. And it’s not as though there hasn’t been opportunities but by refusing to let the player keep hold of things like the alien blaster and instead doling out money, respect and AI companions, Volition have repeatedly squandered the chance to improve Steelport. With pistols that spit explosive rounds at the speed of light and an infinite supply of mind-controlling octopi, companions, money and respect are worthless.

But you get all that anyway and you get it in place of superhero-juice that lets you run about the city at 80mph. Superhero juice that lets you leap over cars. That lets you punch people into mincemeat. That lets you spit fireballs from your palms.

If that sound like fun it’s because – ghee who’d have thought? – it is! But you’re not allowed to have fun outside of a harsh ten-minute window. Once it shuts, it’s back to all things normal. Something novel and exciting arrives and, inexplicably, Voilition snuff it out long before its appeal has begun to wane. But hey, at least there’s a new companion!

Everything that was wrong with Gangstas in Space and Genkibowl VII is wrong here. Clones comes with just three missions and that amounts to roughly 30-minutes of game, most of which is spent zipping between spaced out objectives in place to artificially lengthen the DLC. There’s not much dialogue, few cutscenes, no heart. You fire RPGs out of car windows for ten minutes at a time and defend AI buddies. Yep, defend the AI missions. Voilition extract the odd giggle through its nerdy-star who narrates with a lisp like the whole ordeal were some kitsch comic book adaptation, but it’s all so superficial and predictable; thinly veiled rehashes of missions lifted from the core game. The return of Johnny Gat might be enough to please some old fans, but it’s hardly a rousing comeback.

For a game that flaunted such heart and such soul, to see it all reduced to a callous fleecing-act is sad, although at this stage not much of a surprise. The trouble with DLC is epitomised in The Trouble With Clones. 


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