Published on March 29th, 2011 | by Kole Ross, Editor
Mass Effect 2: Arrival DLC Review
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3
Price: 460 MSP, $7
It’s been over a year since Mass Effect 2 arrived on the scene and completely changed the way I viewed narrative in video games. Mass Effect 3 is right around the corner, and there are a few loose ends we must tie up before saving Earth like the Big Damn Heroes™ we are.
The Arrival does its best to provide some context for the events of ME3, but ultimately it feels inessential. Throughout the game, you’re working toward a foregone conclusion and there’s a distinct feeling that Shepard is merely marking time.
Shepard is tasked with rescuing a scientist being held prisoner by Batarian colonists on terrorism charges. Apparently, this scientist has discovered a Reaper artifact that’s heralding the arriving horde, and her team is taking drastic measures to stop them.
Of course, Things Go Wrong™ and Shepard has to shoot his/her way out.
The Arrival‘s biggest failing is that it’s a solo mission, and a damn lonely one at that. Almost all of Mass Effect 2‘s charm comes from its supporting cast … All of whom are sidelined on the Normandy. Consequently, all of the dialogue is painfully expository. I understand that they didn’t want to bring in all of the voice actors again … But laziness isn’t an excuse when the bar is set this high.
You spend 60 minutes walking down corridors and shooting dudes, with brief narrative breaks. This might sound an awful lot like ME2, but there’s no suspense or tension. The Big Moral Choice™ that’s teased throughout the mission is stolen from you at the last minute, which feels like a huge cheat. ME2’s shooting is solid, but it can’t sustain an entire product without a squad to command.
Let’s talk about how high the bar is set. Lair of the Shadow Broker was a superb piece of content with a high HSQ, or “Holy Shit Quotient.”
HSQ = Amount of Times the Player Says “Holy Shit” out loud, divided by the total playing time. A high HSQ was the trademark strength of ME2. Within the first five minutes, ME2 demonstrated in no uncertain terms that nothing was sacred, and that we should prepare to be shocked.
Shadow Broker was well paced, had great boss fights and set pieces, and its events will have a tremendous impact on Mass Effect 3. It was a must-play in that it’s inconceivable that the next game could exist without it. The Arrival doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know, and it suffers for that.
In a way, it feels really similar to the Witch Hunt DLC for Dragon Age: Origins, in that both are meant to be the game’s conclusions, and both just kind of peter out.
From a technical standpoint, The Arrival is more ME2 for you to play. It has the same highlights and flaws as the retail game… With the exception of some horrendously low-resolution textures peppered throughout. BioWare, you can cheat on texture resolution occasionally, just remember not to do an extreme closeup on your blurry props.
The Final Truth:
I really wanted to like The Arrival. I’m a big fan of Mass Effect, and The Arrival seemed like a promising conclusion to ME2’s arc. Instead, it’s linear and lonely, the exact opposite of everything Mass Effect has come to represent. Play it if you have to … But you probably won’t be able to shake the feeling that BioWare should have stopped with Shadow Broker.
[xrr label=”Rating: 5/10″ rating=5/10]
+ More Mass Effect 2 is never a bad thing.
+ Mercifully brief.
– Poor design decisions and pacing.
– No Mordin or Garrus (or any of the other squadmates, for that matter)
– Adds very little to the Mass Effect universe.