Back in May of 2011 we got our hands on Steel Storm: Burning Retribution. Recently we were given the chance to try out their recent DLC, Forgotten Prison. Since this DLC represents only a single level of new material, this review will focus on the new stuff. If you want the lowdown on the main game, read the first review.
Visually, there isn’t much of a difference. Thanks to some gameplay additions, there is a bit more color to be seen, but other than that I saw little difference in the game’s appearance. That goes for the good as well as the bad, since one of the problems I had last time was stuff obscuring the screen, and sure enough the higher emphasis on multi-level geometry has provided us with bridges blocking the screen here and there. Fortunately, there are also instances of roofs becoming transparent when you pass beneath them, so this is something of an inconsistent problem.
The meat of the DLC has to do with a few major additions to the gameplay. As is standard for DLC, there are a few new weapons and power ups. A favorite weapon of mine from the original game was the Beam Cannon. It was of those hilariously overpowered weapons that made me feel like I was the end boss of the game. This game one-ups that weapon by unveiling the Advanced Beam Cannon, which spreads the devastation out over a much longer beam duration in exchange for a longer cool down, but one that allows partial discharges. The change allows for, and requires, some significant changes to strategy. Adding to the strategic improvements is a shield based weapon, which surrounds the player with circling projectiles.
One thing that I’d always felt was missing from this game, a speed booster, was added as well, though in my case it didn’t seem to do an awful lot of boosting. That would be fine, except that one of the other major additions to the game was a vast increase in the complexity of the levels and their puzzles. At one point a switch activates a ram to one of the other big additions, a color coded key. The booster would have let me soar through the air and cross the hazard keeping me from the precious key. That didn’t happen. No doubt by now that little oopsie is fixed, but I was disappointed.
As I said in the intro, this DLC is just one level (plus a new feature tutorial), but I’ve got to hand it to them, it’s much more complex than most of the main game combined. The level is a maze of crisscrossing passages and interlinked transports. It also introduces secrets to be uncovered, though since they usually appear on the map, finding them isn’t so much dependent on cleverness as observational skills. Come to think of it, that’s probably the case for all secrets, so never mind. The level has consoles to be hacked or activated, switches to be pushed, keys to be collected, the works. I also get the feel that the AI got a shot in the arm, as I definitely spotted some patrol behavior that I don’t seem to remember in the past. Heck, the booster assisted ramp jump even gives it a touch of metroidvania. And don’t forget that whatever adds to the single player adds to the multiplayer as well.
The music for the DLC put me in mind of an 80’s action movie, or the background music during a fight scene in a Saturday morning cartoon.
As before, the story is told via a screen at the beginning of the levels. Since it is just one level, that doesn’t leave much room for story, but you get a little something to send you forward. See, there’s this prison, right? And everyone forgot about it. Your job, crack it open, unlock its secrets, and release its prisoners. Will do.
The Forgotten Prison DLC plays like a complex and very encouraging demo for a full sequel. The new weapons and power-ups are fun, and the puzzle elements have great promise. I’d love to see more done with them, and a few of the rough edges could use some smoothing out, but for the price it is a fun little addition to a fun little game.
7.7 / 10: This small DLC adds some excellent complexity and some fun power-ups, though some issues still linger.