The Jetstream DLC for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance released today, and I had a fair bit of fun with it. Of course, like the Awakened DLC for Dead Space 3, that may be because the core gameplay experience is incredibly satisfying, and not because it brings anything new to the table. That said, Jetstream does manage to give the gameplay a fresh spin, even if nearly everything is recycled. I suppose the question here isn't so much "is it fun" as it is, "is it worth the money".
The main draw here is the story, which involves Sam taking on Desperado at their headquarters in Denver. Fans of Metal Gear Rising will really appreciate subtle nods and backstory titbits here and there, though nothing substantial is really revealed. It does however, act as an interesting side story for Rising's most interesting character. Characters get a bit more screen time, which is great considering the brevity of the game. In the intro cutscene, we see more of Monsoon’s rambling about memes and nature, more of Sam being a badass, and more of Armstrong being... Armstrong. This DLC fleshes Sam out as an even bigger badass than you thought he was, which I didn't even know was possible, quite frankly. His animations are very cool and confident, whilst he walks with a swagger. Nearly everything this guy does is awesome, which makes taking on his persona for this downloadable episode an altogether enjoyable experience.
Sam isn't quite as fast or fluid as Raiden, but his attacks carry weight and pack a satisfying punch. He is unable to ninja free run over obstacles, but has a double jump and air dash move, which makes exploration a little different this time around. Not by much, mind you, but it's a nice change of pace. All of Sam’s animations are completely unique, giving the entire experience a feeling of freshness, at least from a purely aesthetic point-of-view. He has his own (relatively short) list of combo attacks and variations of Raiden's moves. True to Sam’s style, you can also taunt enemies, which doesn’t add a whole lot of depth, but is a neat little mechanic that makes me really feel like I'm playing as Sam. In addition, Sam actually has a dodge technique from the get-go-similar to Raiden's dodge when unarmed-taking the place of Offensive Defence. This is immensely useful in combat, and the final fight is impossible without it.
One other little detail I liked was how, when you Zandatsu multiple opponents at once, you actually see the amount of Zandatsu'd spines on Sam’s blade, which Raiden's animation lacked, since he just grabs them with his fist.
Sadly, just about everything else here is regurgitated content from the main game. You'll be fighting the same enemies in the same dull environments as you did in the original campaign. Considering how short that was, I would have loved to see a few new levels, instead of new animations in the old ones. At one point, this is even referenced by Sam (“Why do these sewers seem so familiar?”). Yes Sam, it is a bit curious how American sewers look just like the ones in Mexico. Maybe they got the same interior designer.
Aside from the reused assets, there are some new collectibles to find and challenges to unlock. New VR missions can be found and immediately jumped in to throughout the story. There are five available, and each adds a new challenge, like the ones we've seen before. This is integrated seamlessly into the campaign, meaning you take your items in with you, and take whatever you get out. This is a bit of a double-edged (high frequency) blade, as it means you can use this to stack up on nanorepair paste if you're careful, but it can also drain your resources if you're sloppy. Most of them are simple arena endurance fights, but one is a 2D platformer, which is amusing. Unfortunately, these can only be accessed from the story itself, and cannot be played from the menu, meaning you have to play through half of the content in the add-on just to get to Super Sam Bros.
Along the way, players will fight the same bosses they did in the campaign. I don't really mind this in and of itself, but couldn't we have also gotten one new boss? The same music tracks play, albeit the power vocals aren't synced at certain moments. This makes these boss battles feel more like a reprisal, which isn't a terrible thing, since the bosses in the core game were really fun. The only exception to this is the final fight with Armstrong, during which the Metal Gear EXCELSUS music plays instead of "It Has to be This Way".
Unfortunately, the final boss just a less fun version of the Senator boss fight from the main game. This boss fight is more irritating than it is epic, bordering on boring and frustrating. Instead of a straight-up fight, you are forced to dodge the entire time, because almost all of Armstrong’s attacks are unblockable. To make things worse, he corrects himself if you dodge, making him a sort of unstoppable homing missile. This didn't feel like any kind of climactic clash, because I'm just running in circles and dodging. Most of the time, I'm forced to turn around and run away, instead of parrying, which most of the game is based around. The camera and dodge button are simply too unreliable.
As soon as he’s done with half a dozen or so unblockable charge attacks, he'll use an area of effect attack followed by another unblockable charge attack. When, for a very brief moment of time, he unleashed an actual volley of punches you can parry, he’s entirely unrelenting, and gives you no time to retaliate. There isn't enough time between attack to pull off any cool combos, and you’d be lucky to get off any hit in blade mode without getting hit. The fatal flaw of this fight is that it forces you on the defensive the entire time, not giving you a chance to deal any real damage. It’s just an obtuse version of a fun boss fight, and it’s a bit of a black mark on the DLC when the anticlimactic boss fight was done much better in the actual core campaign. In many respects, it reminds me of the Arishok boss fight from Dragon Age II on Nightmare difficulty. Sure, they're unforgiving, but they aren't fun or challenging either. They're just time consuming. I'm reasonably good at the game, but it still took me about an hour to get this fight down. Even then, when I did master the boss fight, it still felt like a chore to complete. This boss fight is repetitive, tedious, unfair, and easily one of the absolute worst boss fights I've seen, which is saying a lot in a Metal Gear game.
It's a little difficult to recommend this at $10, but for such a short game with incredibly satisfying combat, more content is always welcome. Sadly, there are no customisation options for Sam, and there's a bit of missed opportunity in not being able to play as Sam throughout the main campaign, which would have done a lot to help the replay value. For someone who loves the story and characters of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, I can say it was definitely worth my time. As a huge Metal Gear geek, I don't regret buying this, I just regret that it wasn't as good as it could have been.