Long read: Who is qualified to make a world?

In search of the magic of maps.

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PlayStation 3 DLC Roundup

Folklore, Resistance, Warhawk, Riiiiidge Racer.

We recently cast our rheumy gaze over the state of MotorStorm's downloads, but what of the other flagship games of the PlayStation 3's early life? Have they bravely grasped the angry cobra of downloadable content and wrestled it into a sack, or has it sunk its poisonous fangs into their quivering meaty rump, leaving them to thrash and foam in a bush? Let's find out...


It might seem strange to start with this curious Gaelic-themed RPG, since it's hardly been the most visible or rabidly popular of the PS3 brood. Maybe people are just wary of games about fairies, even when they use the posh grown-up "faerie" spelling to make them seem less silly. Despite this, Game Republic has been quietly keeping its fanbase happy with regular - and well thought out - expansion packs.

Six have been released in all, in sets of two, with each boasting a new mission or storyline that spins off from, or plays back into, the main narrative of the game. The first two packs offered kidnap plots and undersea exploration, the third and fourth maternal intrigue and alchemy. The last two packs offered nightmares and mysterious towers. All have featured overlapping stories, tantalising cliffhangers and enticing hints to a larger story waiting to be told. As a way of enriching an RPG storyline, it's been a very interesting experiment. Certainly, anyone who enjoyed the standalone game would enjoy the option to delve deeper into the characters and the Netherworld.

Tom secretly rather likes Folklore.

Praise is also due for the way the different content elements - particularly the new character skins and creatures - have all been packaged together, rather than separated out into more lucrative chunks. It makes each expansion pack a sort of virtual Lucky Bag, with a little bit of everything for a set price each time.

Sadly, that's it for Folklore add-ons. Game Republic has said "no more". Obviously there must come a point when development resources are directed towards new projects, rather than producing low-priced content for existing titles, but Folklore is a good argument for allowing console gamers some of the same modification options that PC players take for granted. I suspect there's enough of a community invested in this game to keep it ticking over for another few years. For now, let's toast an unsung example of how to do the download thing right.

Resistance: Fall of Man

One of Sony's most popular online games, Resistance hasn't exactly dived headlong into the world of downloadable content - a couple of software updates and a pair of map packs are all that players have received. Okay, that's still more than most first-person shooters bother with but compared to the output of other games on the PS3 it's a surprisingly muted showing.

With 40-player support at launch, Resistance was a good advert for PS3's burgeoning online service.

The first software update finally arrived at the end of June 2007, after some rather public delays, and was mostly concerned with tweaking and balancing the multiplayer modes. It also allowed everyone in the world to play together, in a "hands across the ocean" kind of way - if the hands were holding automatic weapons and shooting at each other, that is. November saw another software update, which included DualShock 3 support, password-protected multiplayer sessions and the option to take snapshots using a USB keyboard. Huzzah.

Camborne and Westmoreland were the maps that debuted alongside the first patch, both with a strong Chimeran theme. Camborne's multi-levelled tunnels made it a popular choice for old-fashioned Quake-style fragging, while Westmoreland's open, snow-covered territory seemed designed for team games and sniper action. The November map pack added the hell of Bracknell railway station and the claustrophobic human encampment of Axbridge to the line-up. All four new maps are certainly a cut above the usual FPS fare, and Insomniac clearly put a lot of thought into offering environments geared towards every style of play. And, at just GBP 2.99 a pair, they're pretty good value.

Will we see any more Resistance content? With the sequel due later this year, it's unlikely that the game will be receiving much in the way of long term support from here on. It's possible that another map pack may appear to tide gamers over, but beyond that it seems fair to say that this is your lot.