Tuesday, February 24, 2009
This week saw the release of a few very interesting pieces of downloadable content on Xbox Live. The map pack for Mirror's Edge, the Scorched Earth successor Death Tank, an interesting Alt-country pack on Rock band 2 and of course the Lost and the Damned, the first downloadable episode for GTA IV. Of these, I have snatched up all but the last, which must wait until certain funds have made their way into certain accounts.

The map pack for Mirror's Edge is a beautiful thing. Each map is an abstract playground, the core mechanics of the game laid bare. It's like being able to take a peek under the hood and see all the moving parts exactly as they are. This pack strips away all the crowded detail of city streets and rooftops and give us instead a polished, smooth, sometimes cubist interpretation of that same world. If you own Mirror's Edge already, get this map pack. If you don't have mirror's edge, now would be a good time to revitalize your interest.

When I was a young lad my parents bought a Packard Bell. My dad and I found a game called Scorched Earth on a game disc of the month club thingie. It was, for those of you that either were too young to remember or never played it, a simple tank game in which you fired across a random map at each other until one you died in a spray of pixellated debris. Between rounds you could purchase better weapons, armor, even magnetic shields to deflect incoming fire. It was glorious.

Death Tank is all those things in HD. On top of that, it's played in real time instead of turn based and you now have (at least some times) jump jets that allow you to fly drunkenly around the map. In all, it feels like a mix of Scorched Earth and Worms with all the turn based strategy removed in favor of an anarchic brawl. It's a blast. I would still prefer a turn based game, but the sheer chaos of the rounds fills me with that kind of glee you feel when your parents hand you your first fireworks.

The latest track pack for Rock Band 2 is the second of their country packs,fulfilling the first part of a promise to bring more genres of music to the series. This time around though, it's all Alternative country, a genre of country I barely knew existed until just a few years ago. The standout on the pack for me is Neko Case, who I've been listening to for a long time. While I can't say I'm a big fan of country music, there's something about the twangy sound of a steel guitar that grabs me.

It's a good week for downloading something. Next week I'll (hopefully) have had all the time I need to form some kind of coherent opinion of The Lost and the Damned. Stay tuned.