Review: Mass Effect 2 – Arrival (360/PS3/PC)

Return of the Shepard

An Alliance agent has been captured in Batarian space. Admiral Hackett contacts Shepard with a mission: Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the spy?

Such is the setup for Mass Effect 2‘s latest (and reportedly, last) downloadable content mission. The mission, like the other DLCs, can be accessed from whatever point you’re playing from as with the other three DLCs. So far, Mass Effect 2‘s DLC missions have ranged from great to greater than great. While Arrival is probably the least of the DLCs, lacking the style of  Stolen Memories, the scope and moral decisions of Overlord, or the…well, let’s just say the Shadow Broker DLC was awesome, and Arrival is less awesome, but by no means bad.

The DLC’s first half (I’ll take care not to spoil the story, as it’s supposed to tie into Mass Effect 3) offers a few opportunities to take different paths, allowing you to slip by guards stealthily if you so choose. While there are no Deus Ex-style sneak attacks, I enjoyed being given a fresh option to not take the Rambo approach to infiltration. In any case, it’s still the same great Mass Effect 2 gameplay it’s always been- the same game I’ve liked enough to spend 60+ hours on. The second half doesn’t involve any sneaking around (as everyone is alerted to your presence early on).

The biggest problem to me, and definitely the biggest blow to the mission is that it’s a solo mission. The best part about BioWare’s games, to me at least, is the characters. The only recurring character that appears in the mission is Joker, and he has no lines. So all your favorite characters – Garrus, Tali, Mordin and the rest of your ragtag band all sit this one out. Now, I’m sure this was probably due to the fact that it would cost quite a bit to get the cast together (although I’m sure they’ll all be together again for Mass Effect 3 anyway…) and it’s probably easier to write. But like I said, a Mass Effect mission just feels so dry without its characters. It just feels like it’s missing something without the character interaction.

However, that gripe aside, it’s not a bad deal for seven bucks. I clocked in about an hour and a half of gameplay. There are no new arms or armor, but you can pick up a couple of upgrades and some credits,ammo and resources. The main point, I think , is to thread the game with Mass Effect 3. However, we’ll have to wait a few months to find out how successful the threading is, and until then, what’s better than a fresh ME2 mission?


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