Version tested: Xbox 360
Volition appears to be getting the hang of this DLC lark. After enduring something of a critical backlash for its rather apologetic Saints Row 2 DLC, the first portion of downloadable Red Faction Guerrilla takes an altogether more appealing approach.
Set eight years before Red Faction Guerrilla in 2117, Demons of the Badlands focuses on an entirely different part of the war with the Earth Defence Force. Built around female lead character Samanya - you remember Sam - the game's action also takes place in an entirely new environment, known as Mariner Valley. As it's entirely unconnected to the parent game this is more akin to a mini-expansion, rather than an extension of what went before.
You're fighting alongside the ragtag band of resistance fighters called the Marauders. The gameplay otherwise treads familiar ground in terms of mission structure and the type of objectives you face. There are three excitingly explosive new story missions in a discrete mini-campaign and your first task is to help save your sister, Vasha, from a public execution at the hands of the ever-charming EDF.
Heading into a heavily fortified EDF base involves a short drive, followed by the kind of extreme destruction that made the parent game such an enjoyably chaotic experience. With soldiers manning plasma turrets in guard towers and monstrous stompy chrome robot death machines dishing out frazzled arcs, the task at hand is about as subtle as Simon Cowell's putdowns.
Fortunately, Demons of the Badlands offers something of a shortcut to the kind of extreme levels of destruction that took many patient hours of toil to earn in the parent game. Exceptionally useful bits of weaponry such as the rocket launcher are available from the start, so there's no need to worry about tediously harvesting salvage before you get hold of the beefier gear like the Super Gauss, Arc Welder, Spiker or Missile Pod.
Likewise, the number of remote charges you can carry has been ramped up dramatically. This allows you to dive into the missions and have an immense amount of destructive fun, rather than have to worry about going through the punishing rigmarole of upgrading all over again. Volition must have realised that most of us had quite enough of that in the main game, and reward basically every single bit of progress (side mission included) with something immensely useful - be it a new weapon or a significant upgrade.