In Red Faction: Guerrilla, Alec Mason's Mars suffers under the cruel regime of the Earth Defense Force and simmers with revolutionary sentiment. But Mason and the reborn Red Faction aren't the first to writhe under the EDF's jack-booted heel of oppression. In Demons of the Badlands, the first downloadable content pack for Red Faction: Guerrilla, you delve into the history of the outlandish Marauders and play a key role in the events that unfolded on Mars before Alec Mason's arrival. Playing as Samanya, the see-what-a-little-salvage-can-get-you upgrade specialist, you'll wield many familiar weapons, as well as a few deadly new additions. The new weapons and vehicles are fun to use and ratchet up your destructive power significantly. However, the few story missions and assortment of Marauder actions feel a bit sparse in this context, and the condensed narrative elements and single explorable region contribute to the feeling that this prologue is more perfunctory than it could have been. Still, the action packs an explosive punch, and the few hours it takes you to complete Demons of the Badlands will be well spent.
Samanya plays almost identically to Alec Mason, so there aren't any changes in the core action. The adventure kicks off with an explosive rescue mission, and you'll be glad that you start out with powerful remote mines that rival Mason's most upgraded ordnance. The Marauders are no strangers to powerful weaponry, and the new weapons in your arsenal reflect that power. The spiker is a nasty antipersonnel rifle, while the missile pod is a launcher that shoots explosives at a prodigious rate and is excellent against buildings, vehicles, and soldiers alike. Melee fans will have a field day with the impaler, which is basically a broadsword stuck on the end of a spear. Rather than collecting salvage and purchasing new weapons, you'll unlock them with each completed mission. This gives you access to most of the weapons and upgrades from the main game, but it removes the incentive to stick around after demolishing a building or to seek out salvageable material. With all the souped-up weapons at your disposal, you'll feel a satisfying sense of power throughout Demons of the Badlands.
This isn't to say the missions are easy, however. Though there are only four story missions, each has multiple stages and is fairly dramatic. There are also 11 Marauder actions scattered around the area, but those are less engaging. All these mission types are familiar, and six of them are Demolitions Master missions (limited time to destroy target structures). On average, these missions are trickier than the ones in the main game and provide a good challenge, but because you don't earn salvage, there is no real incentive to strive for pro times. Because there is no salvage and no morale meter, the only rewards that completing a Marauder action can yield are diminished EDF control and unlocked weapons. These aren't bad rewards, but they are a bit problematic. The more weapons you unlock, the less opportunity you have to use them. And while the lack of morale meter has its benefits (no penalty for running over stupid allies that dive in front of your vehicle), these limitations contribute to the Demons of the Badlands' general lack of character.
Marauders are mostly mute or talk in gibberish, and you actually speak to only a few people. Conversations aren't exactly Red Faction: Guerrilla's strong suit, but Demons of the Badlands relies heavily on Samanya's internal monologue and distills weighty emotional struggles down to their barest essence. This narrative simplicity reinforces the feeling that this content is a bit truncated, though in actuality, you'll get a few solid hours of gameplay here. The new area has that feral Marauder feeling, with plenty of strange ruins and interesting vertical spaces to explore. The raw strength of your weapons echoes this ferocity, and the Marauder's version of the giant mining walker is especially fearsome. Despite its limitations, Demons of the Badlands is a good buy at 800 Microsoft points ($10) because it offers more of Red Faction: Guerrilla's greatest strength: the thrill of destruction.