XBOX360: Mass Effect 2 Arrival DLC Review

This is Commander Shepard and this is NOT my favourite DLC on the Citadel…

It is truly a bittersweet moment for me to review the Final piece of Downloadable Content for one of my all-time favourite RPGs of all time. On one hand, there is nothing left for the Bioware epic but that also means that Mass Effect 3 is now ever so close. While the previous DLC “Lair of The Shadow Broker” has provided us with both a cinematic experience while also providing an excellent narrative into the titular “Shadow Broker”, has brought the bar to an astronomical level, this final swan song carries massive expectations from fans to end with on a bang.

While Arrival isn’t the highest note that Bioware could have ended ME2 on but I can see why they put this piece of DLC as their cork in the bottle. Arrival is all about Shepard and the Reapers which would be the central theme of Mass Effect 3. Arrival actually gives abit of context to what we have seen of Mass Effect 3 from trailers and the recent “GAME INFORMER” spread. One of the more prominent features of Arrival is the ability for the decisions you make here to make an impact in Mass Effect 3 and by the looks of the premise, a big difference would be seen.

The Mission is only available after Horizon which is slightly after the 2nd disc, it begins with a message from Admiral Hackett who now has a face instead of an disembodied voice asking for a favour.To rescue a deep cover operative from a Batarian prison. The person you are asked to seek, Dr Amada Kenson, has stumbled upon a Reaper Artifact with proof of an impending Reaper invasion. The narrative here is disappointingly linear, with no branching Paragon/Renegade pathways, though there are Paragon/Renegade conversation options in the few conversations scattered along the way. I was really disappointed with the linearity of this game, I loved conducting conversations in Mass Effect and taking out such a crucial part of the game really lowers its appeal.

Now the weird twist in Arrival is its combat, you are flying solo for majority of the missions. This actually radically change the way you play the game depending on your class. A soldier would find himself easily overwhelmed by heavy mechs without their tech and biotic squad mates, a more support orientation class such as Engineers would have to tweak their play style to relegate to a more combat orientated role. Fighting through waves of enemies was slightly difficult without the additional Firepower of your squad mates but it never got frustrating. There are some nice set pieces that you would blast your way through and they tend to keep things interesting. Arrival is on the shorter side and took me only a couple of hours to complete, so I did not tire from shooting Batarians in the face. But I felt that is was too short for a 7 dollar purchase.

While this DLC does not technically have any big flaws, I did not walk away amazed like I had with the contents like Kasumi and Shadow Broker. It is still fun for a 560 MS points download but I believe it could have been done better with a branching storyline. Arrival is still a worthy add-on with cool moments, but you shouldn't expect to feel butterflies of excitement in your tummy.

I had fun with Arrival, but I am concerned that people who don't buy it will be at a disadvantage in Mass Effect 3. Casey Hudson, executive producer of the Mass Effect  fanchise, said that although Arrival will create differences in the player's Mass Effect 3 playthroughs, they would never "punish" players for not purchasing DLC. I guess we'll have to wait and see when Mass Effect 3 comes out later this year.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Chen Kangyi is a contributing writer for POPCulture Online.

POPCulture Online May 2011 All Rights Reserved

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