This week, Microsoft have knocked 200 points off of Crash Course: the DLC pack that bolts a new campaign level, achievements and multiplayer streamlining onto Valve's Left 4 Dead. Whilst this expansion is free on the PC, this still represents a significant saving for interested Xbox Live Gold Members.
- Click here to download Crash Course for 320 MSP (Gold Members Only)
Whilst the world is currently focused on Left 4 Dead 2, the original still stands proud as a moodier and less OTT horror experience. The Crash Course pack inserts a short yet extremely focused campaign level between No Mercy and Death Toll that explains how the awesome foursome managed to travel between them. Whilst it's nowhere near as long as the rest of the levels, this Crash Course mission makes up for it by being incredibly intense.
There isn't a single wasted moment between enormous hordes and tense witch-hunts, and the finale is probably the most ridiculous in the game. A few matchmaking improvements also chunter along behind the scenes and 10 extra achievements sweeten the pot for gamerscore hunters. If you're already getting stuck into L4D2 then there isn't much point dropping the points, but fans of the original will find a lot to like here.
Final Fight: Double Impact [Micro Review]
Platforms: PSN, XBLA (reviewed)
Final Fight: Double Impact includes the full versions of coin-op classics Final Fight and Magic Sword, and gives both games a subtle HD makeover. The graphics still aren't much to look at (and exhibit occasional tearing issues), but they hold up well enough. The soundtrack has been given a full revamp, however, with some seriously impressive remixes of the original bleeps and bloops. An attractive arcade cabinet-style presentation (complete with a convex screen effect) serves to remind the player that they're in the presence of serious arcade royalty. But how have these two games held up after all these years? Let's find out.
What's there to say about Final Fight that you won't already know? Mayor Haggar's brutal search for his kidnapped daughter has been faithfully recreated in its entirety- for better or for worse. The throw-heavy button-mashing gameplay is back in all its glory and provides a fantastic multiplayer diversion, but the combat is still as finnicky and unforgiving as it always was. Fans will fall in love with Final Fight all over again, but newcomers will find it a sluggish and cumbersome slog without the benefit of rose-tinted nostalgic spectacles.
Magic Sword, on the other hand, is a Castlevania clone that has aged surprisingly well. Whilst your stereotypical barechested hero is limited to a normal, jump and magic attack, you can recruit a selection of followers that add their own unique ranged attack into the mix. These support characters can be levelled up by collecting special items and bring a surprising element of strategy to the table. For example: the white mage can bring the rain on undead creatures, but requires you to hold off attacking until he's charged up his spell... whereas the thief can only throw a weak dagger but can see hidden traps. The combat is still refreshingly fast and responsive, and the massive number of stages (including secret levels) offer a decent amount of gameplay. Final Fight may be the headline act, but Magic Sword is the surprise hit of the package.
The main problem, as usual for XBLA titles, is that of value. Either of these titles would've been perfect additions to the Game Room service, but even when bundled together they only provide a handful of hours' worth of gameplay. A collection of challenges, achievements and unlockable artwork strings things out for diehard Capcom fans and scorewhores, but I can't help wishing that these two games had been sold separately for 400 points or included as part of a larger collection.
The other major beef is that infinite credits are unlocked from the very beginning, which defies the entire point of the coin-op experience. This is a personal gripe, but most classic HD remixes (e.g. Ikaruga) reward players with extra continues and modes for completing challenges and logging a certain amount of play time. This would've increased the value for money considerably as well as providing a more staggered experience- rather than allowing players to blow through the entire game on their first playthrough.
- Authentic arcade visuals
- Fantastic Remixed Soundtrack
- Hardcore, unforgiving fun. Just how you remember it.
- Occasional graphical issues
- Infinite credits from the get-go? No thanks.
- Not quite enough content to warrant 800 Points
The Very Short Version: Double Impact is an impressive little package that delivers a heap of classic side-scrolling action. Converted retro fans should start downloading it straight away, but newcomers should be mindful that it's a throwback to a different age of gaming with different standards. Try the demo first!