Commander Shepard, protagonist of last year's undisputed GOTY Mass Effect 2, has a lot of favorite things. Whether it's a store on the Citadel, carrying out Pyjak genocide, or punching reporters in the face, Shepard likes a lot of things. Except Reapers.
Mass Effect 2: Arrival (PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
In Arrival, Shepard is tasked by Admiral Hackett to rescue deep cover Alliance operative Dr. Amanda Kenson, who has been captured by Batarians while on a secret mission in Batarian space. Dr. Kenson has uncovered a Reaper artifact that supposedly reveals new information about the impending Reaper invasion.
So close in fact, that drastic measures will have to be taken to prevent the Reapers from using the key Batarian system of Bahak as a staging ground for their galactic cleansing. Exploring Arrival's story is half the fun, so -- Harbinger be damned -- you will have to find out what happens for yourself.
Still, I wouldn't recommend playing Arrival straight away when starting a new career. And to be honest, it doesn't make any sense in the storyline to do so anyway. If you haven't finished Mass Effect 2 yet, play this after you complete the main storyline; you will only spoil and confuse yourself if you don't. The events are set after the main game ends, and some 'things' in the ending relate to how 'things' look in Arrival.
Arrival takes about one hour to finish on Veteran, and will probably last you a little over 1.5 hours on Insanity with an effective Shepard build. For the hardcore fan, that means you'll spend around 2.5 to 4 hours on it across multiple playthroughs.
However, Arrival is not quite as good as Lair of the Shadow Broker. It lacks that piece of DLC's emotional engagement, and nothing in Arrival comes close to the sense of discovery you got while unveiling the true identity of such an iconic character. Also, Dr. Kenson looks like a cross-eyed version of Dr. Chakwas with Kelly Chamber's hair. I mean, look at her!
Still, that doesn't mean it is by any means bad or even mediocre. As Mass Effect 2 DLC goes, Arrival is about as good as Overlord -- which I'd rate as an 8/10 -- with respect to the ground combat, and better in terms of the storyline's impact on the wider Mass Effect universe. Since the gameplay is mostly the same thing you've seen before, the final verdict relies heavily on how much you care about the Mass Effect universe. As a fan of the franchise, I have zero regrets having spent points on Arrival. It's well paced, and having an enjoyable new reason to revisit Shepard's exploits in deep space is worth the price of admission alone.
However, as this is the final piece of Mass Effect 2 DLC and because it follows the fantastic -- but higher priced -- Lair of the Shadow Broker, I can't help but feel that BioWare missed an opportunity here to create the ultimate piece of DLC to show the world just how you bridge the gap between two titles in a story-driven trilogy. Don't get me wrong, Arrival sits comfortably between Overlord and Lair of the Shadow Broker in terms of quality and I still want to play Mass Effect 3 badly, but I don't want play it that much more badly after having played Arrival.
In fact, I would've preferred Arrival to be 800 MS points/$10 and be better than Lair of the Shadow Broker. Something that would've reminded me of all the aspects that made me fall in love with the Mass Effect games in the first place, and something that would've gone beyond what anyone would've expected DLC could be capable of. Nitpicking aside, Arrival is still a competent and worthwhile piece of DLC that any Mass Effect fan will enjoy multiple times in preparation to Mass Effect 3.
Oh, and save your game somewhere when you are in front of a certain timer display. When it runs out, there's a tiny something to make it worth your while.
THE VERDICT - Mass Effect 2: Arrival
Reviewed by Maurice Tan
|12:00 PM on 05.13.2013|
New redaction-heavy The Bureau: XCOM Declassified trailer
There was a rocky period there where I wasn't so sure 2K would keep the XCOM shooter going. To hear that it's back, albeit with new branding, and still looks more or less like what I was hoping to get out of the game in its ...more
|12:45 PM on 05.10.2013|
Gears of War: Judgment gets another free map next week
While it would have been nice for Gears of War: Judgment to come out of the gate with more content, the fact that some of the post-release DLC is free helps reduce the sting. Following the Haven map and Execution mode, anothe...more
|12:00 PM on 05.09.2013|
Kick the day off with six minutes of Saints Row IV
Miss out on the pre-alpha demonstration of Saints Row IV at PAX East? Me too. We can finally stop crying in the corner together now that Volition has put together a video of exactly that walkthrough. If this is the first you...more