There's a right way to do DLC, and there's a really right way to do DLC.
Three recent examples span that spectrum.
"Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: Jetstream" — This new chapter in Platinum Games' stellar slice-'em-up hands you the explosive katana of lovably smug Brazilian mercenary Jetstream Sam. He comes with his own repertoire of amputating moves, namely a chargeable quick draw that unleashes red trails of sharp death on nearby enemies. And his episode clarifies, in the "Metal Gear" series' usual lengthy cut scenes, just how he found his way into Raiden's cross-hairs in "Revengeance." But Sam is really all that's new in "Jetstream." It's a 40-minute rampage through mostly recycled environments against mostly recycled enemies, including Blade Wolf, a Metal Gear RAY and the chrome-skinned Sen. Armstrong. That's fine if you loved "Revengeance," as I did, but more lukewarm players may not fancy the brief redux — especially not for $10.
"Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall" — Arkane Studios' second DLC for "Dishonored," one of my favorite games of 2012, is much like "Jetstream" in that it casts you as one of the main game's antagonists. As Daud, head of the Whalers assassins who killed Empress Kaldwin, you see behind their gas masks and into the mysterious faction. You also see into Daud's own motives, as well as those of The Outsider, the spectral-planed puppet master who imbues Daud and "Dishonored" protagonist Corvo Attano with their magical powers. The game-defining Blink teleportation skill is one they share, but as Daud, you can also summon assassins and play with fun new toys like the disintegrating arc mine. As in "Dishonored," the approach those tactics serve is up to you. You can shoot and stab your way to all corners of these three somewhat familiar parts of Dunwall, or proceed a little more silently. If you've already played "Dishonored" and sharpened your talents in the challenging "Dunwall City Trials," I suggest a no-alarms, no-kills run-through. Blink's immense power as a stealth tool — especially for Daud, whose Blink completely freezes time when he's stationary — makes anything else too much of a breeze.
"Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon" — Now this is DLC. Well, OK, it's technically not, because "Blood Dragon" is a standalone game you can download without owning "Far Cry 3." It doesn't matter — you'll be too busy belly-laughing to fuss over the semantics. This new story uses the sublime mortar of "3's" open-world mayhem to nostalgically send up the glorious '80s: neon wire-frame sci-fi, gruff one-liners, VHS, the whole hokey lot. As super-jingoistic cyborg soldier Sgt. Rex Power Colt, Michael Biehn ("The Terminator," "Aliens") is an absolute hoot, sanding off trash talk like "All that power went to his head" after blowing someone's brains out in a nuclear blue burst of cyber-blood. He's not the only source of hilarity. You'll chuckle every time you notice the hanging guitar notes of the game's spacey, super-dramatic action-movie soundtrack, or every time you read captain-obvious load screen advice like "If you are losing health, stop getting shot." When it comes to its own action, "Blood Dragon" doesn't add much to that of "Far Cry 3," aside from the fluorescently skinned giant lizard beasts in its title, who can pose some trouble to take down unscathed. But it does give you six to eight hours of new outposts to conquer, meaningless crap to find (which often prompts Colt to dryly ask, "What the f--k am I doing?") and soldiers to stealthily dispatch — this time with neon shurikens! It's still not enough time to savor one of the more inspired romps in recent video games.
(All the downloadable content in this review was played on Xbox 360 and provided to me by its publishers.)