I’m not sure how I feel about EA and Bioware’s new DLC strategy these days. At first, I loved the idea of incremental content which added an hour here, an hour there to games that I already enjoy but now that I’ve played it that way, I’m not sure it’s working.
To be fair, Kasumi - Stolen Memory, the first of Mass Effect 2’s premium DLC, is a fine addition to the ME2 universe. Ringing in at about $7, Stolen Memory introduces a new character, Kasumi Goto, a master thief with the ability to cloak herself to stealthily dispatch bad guys. While Kasumi can simply become a member of your crew, it’s her loyalty mission that adds new content to the game with a heist mission that plays out as one part covert op spy thriller, one part action shooter.
As a change of pace from other Mass Effect 2 missions, the idea of gathering DNA to thwart a security vault’s sensor is clever, but in execution, it boils down to running around clicking on hotspots or brief dialog trees to elicit voice password samples. Great on paper, kind of lousy in-game. To be clear, I’m totally on board for a less run-and-gun experience in these types of games, which is why I’m hopeful that Alpha Protocol comes together. I just didn’t feel like this aspect of the PDLC really met its potential. If it allowed for more strategy or multiple options in how to solve a problem, I’d have been more of a fan, but everything seemed a little too straight-forward.
Of course, not all goes to plan and eventually the mission devolves into a firefight, which really showcases Kasumi’s abilities. Her Shadow Strike cloaking ability is a great way to thin out soldiers, and combined with my Dominate skill, I was able to walk all over the Eclipse soldiers and mechs to the end scenario of the mission. It’s just Kasumi and yourself, so you may want to make sure you have the right equipment to take on shielded or barrier-infused foes. I won’t spoil what comes later, but the action was satisfying all the way through and ends on a nice note.
The story revolves around a gray box, which is a device that has stored the memories of Kasumi’s partner. It’s an interesting tale, and in typical Bioware fare, was well-written and voice acted, and potentially had some Mass Effect 3 story implications, depending on how you resolve it. At the end, I found myself the new owner of a shiny new loyalty power, the flashbang grenade. I took it for a test drive, but wasn’t terribly impressed. When it works, it’s a great way to incapacitate enemies as it knocks them down but occasionally, it didn’t seem to register. It will probably not be one I use often in the future.
The whole Stolen Memory DLC took about an hour to run through, and I suppose I was somewhat satisfied...but again, it raises a point I made when reviewing the free Firewalker DLC pack: Would this have been better played during the natural flow of the game? Probably. Remember when you need to follow that guy and his bodyguard from the rafters in the original Mass Effect 2 game? I didn’t love the gameplay but it was something different from mining and shooting, so it worked as a nice break. Now, if I had defeated the game, plunked down some cash and made a point of resuming the game just to play that segment, I’d probably not be too thrilled.
So should you pick up Stolen Memory? I’d say yes, provided you have an expectation that it’s a brief return to a game you already love or if you’ve yet to play Mass Effect 2 and want to be a completionist. The action does make up for the less-than-stellar heist elements, and Kasumi is an interesting support character for other missions. I just hope Bioware is learning a lot of lessons from this content roll-out for future games and gameplay.