Toys would be no good without things to use them on, of course, so there are three main story missions, the last of which alone THQ is confident will take 45 minutes to complete. One mission I get to play starts off with a brutal fight through EDF defences to rescue Vasha, Sam's sister with a robot head, who then reveals somewhat scornfully that she was bait, at which point the EDF storms in and you get to use Gauss turrets and new energy turrets to repel the ambush. The final mission is not only a multi-part assault, but it includes a prison break that re-introduces a few familiar members of the main game's cast at different stages in their lives.
Beyond these there are three house arrest/assault missions, two delivery missions and five demolition master levels, and Volition appears to have taken great pride in compiling the latter. Mariner Valley itself is host to more verticality than the main game, so that you can enjoy watching things crash down further and harder, and the DM levels bind the increased scale to greater delicacy and the need for lateral thinking - can you use one Gauss round to take down two buildings with just a few barrels, for instance, and how do you take out two steam stacks on opposite sides of a ravine when your Marauder Walker is unable to cross the divide?
You're still doing familiar things, like whittling down the EDF's influence to mount an effective resistance charge, but other things have changed. Upgrades are provided automatically at the conclusion of story missions, for instance, rather than having to be purchased, and there are also 75 collectable power cells and four hidden Marauder artefacts. Along with traditional targets like completing the missions, destroying EDF targets and vehicles, and pro times, these make up 250 gamerpoints' worth of Achievements on the Xbox 360 version we're playing.
All told, THQ reckons a competent player with a lot of RFG experience should be able to complete Demons of the Badlands in between four and five hours, assuming they don't go after all the collectables. Less experienced players, or those who want to mine Mars' newest playground for all its secrets, can hope to spend considerably longer in its company. The difficulty has also be adjusted subtly upwards, so while there are still four skill settings, each is proportionally more difficult than the main game. The idea is that if you finished RFG, you'll be up for the challenge, and if you didn't, you can still adjust for your needs. The story's separation in time neatly allows either group to understand it in or out of context.
At a fairly standard 800 Microsoft Points or the equivalent of USD 9.99 on PSN, it sounds and looks like a compelling slab of extra content. We've all been fooled by DLC promises before, of course, and would advise anyone to hang around for our review closer to the 13th August release date, but THQ appears to have learned the lessons of its Saints Row 2 DLC adventures and wants to make the most of Red Faction's continuing popularity with more of a best-of in a new setting than a simple bolt-on vignette. Downloadable content hasn't always done well by looking backwards - Operation: Anchorage, anyone? - but on this evidence Demons of the Badlands is a healthy slice of old and new.
Red Faction: Guerrilla - Demons of the Badlands is due out for PS3 and Xbox 360 on 13th August.