Reviewed by Jason D'Aprile
Mass Effect 2: Arrival DLC Review
- More Mass Effect is always a good thing
- Lots of combat
- Narrates a major plot point for the third game
- Not much new here for $7
- Very straightforward action
- No real character interactions or even major decisions to make
Its one last hurrah for Mass Effect 2. Bioware’s final downloadable mission is a solo mission for Commander Shepard and dramatically bridges the gap between this game and the upcoming finale of the trilogy.
Downloadable content is always a hit or miss proposition, but Bioware has a great track record for the Mass Effect games. The last two downloadable missions for Mass Effect 2—Lair of the Shadow Broker and Overlord—were terrific additions to the epic sci-fi adventure and well worth buying. So, with the bar set so high, it makes the latest add-on, Arrival, seem downright disappointing.
In Arrival, Shepard is tasked with a covertly rescuing a scientist named Dr. Kenson from a Batarian prison. Since a full-on strike team would be perceived as an act of war between the Alliance and the Batarians, Shepard must go in alone. It’s a questionable rationale for going solo, and seems more like a cheap excuse for not adding new team dialogue and dynamics. The lack of much dialogue at all further drives the point home. Dr. Kenson is a pretty bare-bones character, and there are no other characters to interact with (beyond shooting them) during the mission.
The mission ends with a nearly cataclysmic event that should have enunciated how Mass Effect’s choice-based gameplay can ratchet up the level of drama in the game. Arrival builds up to the idea that Shepard will have to make a terrible choice in order to delay the coming of the system-annihilating Reapers. Yet, when it comes down to the actual event, it plays out like a non-interactive movie. The climax of the mission is dramatic and even exciting, but it strips away one of the core concepts of the entire series by making the choice for you.
Fire and Forget
Arrival offers a couple new environments. The first is a grungy Batarian prison. It’s mostly a run-down concrete bunker mixed with some high-tech locations. The second area is an asteroid research base. The base offers some beautiful views and the overall level design is decent, but the structure of both levels is all based around cover-based fire fights. Indeed, the whole of the mission is essentially combat. The action is intense at times, since it’s just Shepard against multiple opponents, but there’s little else to do but shoot things.
Epilogue to an Epilogue
It’s clear that Bioware simply wanted to provide a narrated set up for the third game. Unfortunately, charging seven dollars for the privilege of about two hours of added action and little else seems like a high price. Mass Effect fans will still find something to like in just being able to spend a couple more hours in this compelling universe, but Arrival is definitely one of the weakest add-ons for the game.