Are downloadable prequels like Dead Space Ignition and Dead Rising: Case Zero hugely cynical exercises, or a smart, forward-thinking piece of business? Personally, I'm torn. On the one hand, publishers get a chance to service the fan community with exclusive content, and extend games beyond their traditional scope, but on the other hand, why not just release a free demo and include this content in the box?
It's a practice I'm pretty sure most of you won't be too happy with if – as seems certain – other publishers get in on the act. Given how well Case Zero sold, many will be looking on in envy. When it comes to Ignition, though, it was a throwaway bit of puzzle-based filler, and a bit of a missed opportunity as it happens.
The key thing will be how publishers manage it, and how well they can dress up this pre-release teaser content as something worth owning. As a pre-order incentive, it's a complete no-brainer, and if it gets gamers into the habit of downloading games a bit more, maybe they'll try out some of the other things that otherwise fall by the wayside. Here's hoping.
- PSN (PS3) / £7.99
The battle to depose grizzled media mogul Rupert Murdoch continues in Creat Studio's politically charged PSN exclusive. We can but dream. Actually, it's an exciting side-scrolling tale of dogfighting shenanigans set in the second world war, where men fearlessly blast the living crap out of each other in the name of patriotic glory, cheeseburgers and getting the girl. Probably.
The scenarios don't matter, but what does shine through is Creat's knack of crafting an intuitive, instantly engaging blaster that very quickly gets its hooks into you. Set over 22 brutally challenging stages, Sky Fighter has you whizzing through blue skies and cotton wool clouds, taking out the designated number of bogies while bombing enemy positions and runaway trains, and trying not to take too much flak in the process.
Despite its deceptively simple appearance, it's a visually charming little game, packed with detail and subtle touches that shine through. And thanks to its deft control system and refreshingly simple premise, you can just get on with taking on enemies and dodging incoming fire.
There's plenty to enjoy, too. Playable multiple difficulty levels (each with an online leaderboard), Sky Fighter also let you take on a bunch of challenge levels or duke it out in multiplayer - assuming you can find someone. While it's maybe a couple of quid pricier than you might hope, Sky Fighter is another fine addition to PSN - and exclusive, too.