DLC: You either love it, or you hate it. Here are seven games that will clearly steer you towards the latter camp.
Castlevania: Harmony of Despair - Music Packs
Castlevania: Harmony of Despair is a game for masochists. It takes half an hour to plough through any one of its levels, and when you're invariably crushed by the hard-as-nails boss at the end you're sent straight back to the start. On a similar note, only self-abusers would shell out 160 MS Points for the Music Pack 1 DLC, which adds a whopping five tracks to the game. While the tunes themselves are fairly decent, being culled from Symphony of the Night and other classics, it's hard not to see this as Konami attempting to milk their most ardent fans - especially as another five tracks were lumped into the originally-titled Music Pack 2.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Horse Armour
Bethesda's Horse Armour has become a notorious symbol for pointless DLC. As most of us will remember, it caused a fairly big outcry at the time, charging Oblivion fans 200 MS Points / £2 for a shiny set of equine plating. Five years on, it's still one of the better (or worse) examples of a developer charging hard cash for a near-pointless item - something that should have been included in the initial release, if at all. Happily, Bethesda has largely shifted its emphasis towards larger, more substantial DLC releases. But the publisher still makes the odd mistake, as we'll soon see...
Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta
Fallout 3 was notable for its quality approach to DLC. Operation Anchorage wasn't particularly good, but Bethesda's next three efforts - The Pit, Broken Steel and Point Lookout - were excellent expansions for the main game. Unfortunately, the publisher then let the side down with Mothership Zeta - an alien abduction scenario set aboard a giant UFO. Fallout 3's strongest suits were always its carefully-crafted atmosphere, its sense of exploration, and its quest design; Zeta ditched all that in favour of wearisome corridor shooting. To cap it all, the core game already featured a crashed UFO - a nod to an Easter egg in the original Fallout, and arguably one that didn't need to be there in the first place.
Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition - Colours!
At the end of August, Capcom announced new DLC for Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition. Specifically, it revealed that it was to offer seven new alternative colours for each of the game's fighters... for the princely sum of 240 MS points. In real money, that's about £2 for a set of palette swaps, the exact same kind of palette swaps that you get for free in Street Fighter IV or Marvel vs Capcom 3. And just to really take the piss, Capcom then added the wrong files to the initial download. Good job.
Dragon Age: Origins - Return to Ostegar and Darkspawn Chronicles
Among the all-round disappointing splatter of DLC that BioWare coughed up for Dragon Age: Origins, these two packs stand out as thundering wastes of your money. Never mind the fact that they both cost 400 MS Points / £4 and can be polished off in well under and hour; the real crime here is that both "adventures" are deadly dull. The former offers a linear jaunt back to somewhere you've already been before for a bout of extended hacking and slashing; the latter casts you as a pointy-headed (and decidedly evil) Hurlock Vanguard, but again squanders this promise with an emphasis on combat and precious little else. There's none of the social tension or moral ambiguity that defines the main experience, and as such both expansions feel utterly superfluous.
Beautiful Katamari - Extra levels
When you're introducing DLC to your series for the first time, it's a good idea not to piss off your entire fanbase. Having been criticised for making a game that was too short, POW Production revealed a quartet of new levels for Beautiful Katamari, each with a price tag of 200 MS Points. Gamers weren't happy about the fact that since the levels were already on the disc, they were more or less paying for unlocks - something that was still a novelty, back in 2007. And to make things worse, certain Achievements in the main game could only be won if you'd stumped up for the extra stages. A poor show all round.
RailWorks 2 - The Mega DLC Pack
In December 2010 it was announced that the Mega DLC Pack for Rail Simulator Developments' RailWorks 2 was to be made available on Steam for £149.99. That might not sound like much of a bargain, until you consider the fact that it would normally set you back roughly £600. It's easy to sneer at this concept... so I will:
"Eeeeh! What kind of idiot would spent £600 on a virtual trainset? How sad is that?! Think of all the better stuff you could buy with that kind of money!"
Now that's out of the way, it's still hard to swallow the idea that anyone would spend that much on DLC for one game. But someone must be buying this stuff, otherwise the packs wouldn't exist. At least the trains and stations got a free upgrade when RailWorks 3 came out; imagine buying all that stuff twice.