Red Faction: Guerrilla - Demons of the Badlands

Built to Marauder.

Open-world games typically needn't expand physically to accommodate downloadable content, but with an air of cynicism still lingering over the very concept of premium add-ons, it's a nice thing to see all the same. Fallout 3, for example, has alternated between changes within the Capital Wasteland and sections that take away from it - and, in the upcoming Mothership Zeta, out of its orbit completely. Red Faction: Guerrilla's Demons of the Badlands DLC sticks to the surface of Mars, but despite the vast playgrounds of Dust, the Badlands and beyond, happily transports you to a new area - and a different period in the planet's history.

The setting is Mariner Valley, which should be comparable in size to the host game's biggest existing areas. Rather than pick up with Alec Mason, developer Volition has decided he's earned his rest, and puts you back in time, and into the boots of a different, albeit familiar face: Samanya, better known to most of us as Sam, whose history as a survivor of the original EDF revolution over Ultor has her scraping a living as a Marauder, albeit one with a snazzy ponytail and red skirt and mini-cape. Sam inhabits Mars prior to widespread colonisation, and it's a rougher place as a result, with sheer cliffs, space-hulks-turned-dwellings and ongoing skirmishes between EDF and the remnants of Ultor, your freshly minted Marauders. Unlike the main game, the EDF troops will attack you on sight, but on the plus side they, like you, are limited to particular strongholds scattered around the play area.

And hey, you're well equipped. Demons of the Badlands introduces three new vehicles, and they're hardly wallflowers. The default buggy has a pair of huge, Gizmo-from-Gremlins rear spoiler ears, but these barely conceal the massive spikes attached to it, nor its machinegun or double-barrel shotgun attack capability. Suspension is wobbly, but it has speed on its side. There's also the bigger, four-seater jumbo buggy, with much wider wheels, and a mounted machinegun emplacement on the roof for one of your NPC allies to man. Slower still is the Marauder walker, which creaks along with a hunched old man's gait, but proves no slouch when it comes to windmilling enemies and buildings with its massive robotic arms, equipped with spikes and a handy-looking giant mace.

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The Marauder Walker throws shapes in the church of Mars.

On the ground, you've got eight new weapons to secure. Everyone's favourite remote-demolition charges are now spiked, and stick through walls as they attach, although this appears to be cosmetic, and you still detonate them the same way and expand your capacity for simultaneous deployment through upgrades. You do, though, have a handy melee blade to whip around freely with your other hand, or you can switch to the more familiar hammers, including a Marauder hammer (unlockable in the main game's multiplayer mode, for those who've spent time with that) and a pick-axe - the one from the game's cover, finally rendered in-game. Probably my favourite though is the Royal Sword, which resembles a broadsword on a pike.

There are guns too. The EDF Subverter is like an uzi with mean recoil, while the Spiker is a spike-firing machinegun. Sadly the projectiles don't pin people to the wall like F.E.A.R.'s nailgun (a limitation of the physics technology), but it certainly looks handy in a scrap. The Missile Pod, meanwhile, fires rockets that pack less punch than the main game's rocket launcher, but can be fired much more rapidly, and the Super Gauss Gun is like a meatier version of the Gauss Rifle. It seems a bit puny at first, but then it starts tearing down buildings with abandon, and you can also upgrade it until it has three beams, and the power to dispatch a tank in two shots.

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