Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Mass Effect 2: Arrival

Review: Mass Effect 2: 'Arrival' DLC

2:00 PM on 03.29.2011 // Maurice Tan

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.

Then again, Reapers are to Shepard like the Batman is to the Joker; life just doesn't have much meaning without their existence. In the last piece of Mass Effect 2 DLC before we get to have a collective nerdgasm over Mass Effect 3, Arrival does not only bridge the storyline but forces Shepard to take actions that may have severe consequences.

Whether or not that makes it a worthwhile purchase depends on a number of things, and it's mostly something you'll have to find out for yourself. But if you are a Mass Effect fan, Arrival will satisfy your hunger in a number of ways. Let's find out how it does this without delving into spoiler terrority too much, shall we?

Mass Effect 2: Arrival (PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
Developer: BioWare
Publisher: EA
Release date: March 29th, 2011
Price: 560 MS points, $7

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.

The problem is, Batarian-Human relations have been far from warm ever since Humanity entered the galactic playground. Any official rescue mission by the Alliance would put a serious strain on the already poor relationship between the two races, and Humanity can ill afford any further headaches with a potential Reaper invasion on the horizon.

What better way to resolve this issue than by sending the Normandy SR-2 (with its cloaking abilities) and a Spectre on a covert mission? Because the Batarians will likely kill Dr. Kenson if they see an armed squad making a mess of things like Asari teenagers enjoying spring break on Omega, Shepard will have to act alone without any backup from his or her squad members this time around.

Without spoiling too much about the actual storyline and happenings -- which the trailer already does if you haven't seen it yet -- suffice it to say that the rescue mission itself threads familiar ground. You can choose to take a stealthy approach for an achievement or trophy, which just means you run around the two or three encounters with Batarians on the way to Dr. Kenson. As I was playing my Renegade female redhead Vanguard Shepard, of course these dirty slaver Batarians had to die; that achievement would have to wait.

Making your way towards Dr. Kenson's location in the Batarian prison compound on planet Aratoht in the Viper Nebula, you encounter logs that provide both insight into the Batarians' paranoia about Human aggression and details on how they found and captured the good doctor. As you traverse the mostly linear series of grim corridors, occasionally finding alcoves splattered with the blood of 'retired' prisoners, it becomes clear that the Batarians both fear and hate humans. But do they have a good reason to fear us?

While the rescue mission itself is pretty straightforward and sees you thread at a good pace on Veteran difficulty, it's the events that follow the rescue mission -- leaving the dark locale of Aratoht for a brighter environment -- that makes things more interesting for Mass Effect fans. Dr. Kenson has been working on a top secret project involving Reapers, asteroids, and mass relays. And as it turns out, the Reapers are far closer to invading our galaxy than was previously thought.

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.

As far as the gameplay is concerned, Arrival only sees you traversing corridors, rooms, and a (brief) open segment reminiscent of Mass Effect's finale. Although it's mostly centered on corridor-based combat, the level design appears to keep your Shepard's class in mind. Being a Vanguard definitely helped, because you can easily spam the hell out of enemies with the Shockwave ability.

But Infiltrators will not be at a disadvantage either, as there is plenty of room to take cover and snipe your foes. Most of your foes are organic, with some shielded engineers and 'Pyro' soldiers here and there. Whatever skills you chose when building your Shepard, you shouldn't have any severe problems with the combat. Opening doors and running in blind might lead to a couple of instant deaths on Insanity, but it's nothing you won't be able to handle.

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.

Interestingly enough, a YMIR Model 34-A heavy mech stops walking straight into you this time around. If you had any headaches dealing with their unrelenting approach in the past, which usually destroyed any hope of survival if you ran out of terrain or cover to escape to on Insanity, you'll be happy to know that they are a bit more fun -- if slightly less frantic -- to dispatch. A gameplay diversion involving another familiar type of foe makes for a nice distraction in what is generally a typical Mass Effect 2 gameplay affair.

One of the selling points of the DLC, other than the obvious bridge to Mass Effect 3, is the existence of a "sacrifice." While this sacrifice is indeed a costly one, the game unfortunately never gives you a good reason to really care about it. Your inescapable actions have severe consequences, regardless of Paragon or Renegade choices, and may actually explain a few seconds of Mass Effect 3's trailer. But the feeling of a paying a heavy price, which you are supposed to relate to on an emotional level, is just not there. Instead, the sacrifice's effect is mostly political and distant.

Having said that, the consequences of Shepard's actions could play a huge role in the Mass Effect 3 storyline, but it's too early to tell for sure. With less than 9 months on the calendar, and little indication of how much creative control the DLC creators have had with respect to affecting the storyline of the upcoming chapter in the sci-fi epic, it might only have side-quest levels of consequences in the end. (Mass Effect 3 designer Manveer Heir has since told me that Arrival's story "was driven/approved by the head writer so it's all canon & relevant.")

What Mass Effect 2 fans will want to know of course, is whether or not they should buy Arrival. Do you really need it if you are a fan? Yes. Is it worth 560 points or $7? I think so. Overlord was the same price, and while Arrival doesn't feature the M-44 Hammerhead, the potential storyline impact on the wider Mass Effect universe makes it better than the already good Overlord DLC.

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.



Mass Effect 2: Arrival - Reviewed by Maurice Tan
Charming - Not perfect, but it's easy to ignore the rough spots when faced with so many engaging design decisions and entertaining moments. A memorable game that's hard not to like and recommend to others.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Maurice Tan,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Mass Effect 2: Arrival

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

I Haz Kickstarter!

Cblogs of 11/27/15 - Life is Strange, and Sad

Top 5 Reasons Star Wars Battlefront KICKS ASS!

Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Little Slice of Childhood

Top 5 Reasons Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 IS AWESOME!

Cblogs of 11/26/15 + Combat Heropon-isms

Video games go mainstream

I’m Not a SJW, I’m an Anthropologist: Making the Case for Diversity in Games

Insidia REVIEW - A whole dark, gloomy, and kinda creepy world to explore

DS REVIEWS: Trace Memory

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Parismio avatarParismio
Went snowboarding for the first time in years. Crashed a lot, many times into trees. All that training in FF7 didnt do squat!
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
If I were to get Age of Empires II HD to play with you all, do you all have the DLC?
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
I am relieved to know Creed is a Rocky spin-off and not a feature-length documentary about the band.
Steven Hansen avatarSteven Hansen
the worst thing about that jesssica jones program is i keep getting "basketball jones" stuck in my head
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Been playing Gears of War 3's campaign on Xbox One. Looks great on there, and Sam's voice actor is Chloe's voice actor in Uncharted 2/3. Hell yeah!
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: With all the controversy surrounding review scores, what do you personally consider a "bad" score versus a "good" score? Is there a game in particular that was panned by critics that you nevertheless enjoyed? Or vice versa?
TheVeganGamer avatarTheVeganGamer
Finally got around to playing Diablo 3 with some friends, holy smokes! That game is rad!
SpielerDad avatarSpielerDad
Public service announcement: Marry an orphan. It makes the holidays so much easier when you don't have to deal with pain in the ass in-laws.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
So... how long is it until we get the inevitable Colonial Marines or Ride to Hell: Retribution PS4/Xbox One re-releases?
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Screw Bloodborne. I finally managed to overcome not tearing up while listening to the entirety of Never More. Git gud! [youtube][/youtube]
NYCpunk avatarNYCpunk
you know what's not okay? scalpers with 10 copies of fire emblem fates SE on ebay for $200+. and no one is saying anything.
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Fallout 4 wouldn't be Fallout with ridiculous glitches and shenanigans. Here are a few I've run into - [youtube][/youtube]
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I've never earnestly went drinking before so it's cool to know I'm the slow, sleepy, impaired type.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Got to admit I didn't expect to find a mewtwo amiibo at my bookstore of all places...
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
My cousin found out I slept with his girlfriend and is pissed. Understandable. I am totally sick of the angry phone calls though. It reminds me so much of playing Call of Duty online. The screaming 11 year olds suck on there too.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Huh. Apparently even Japan has a Black Friday sale going on on PSN right now.
Lawman avatarLawman
Yes, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I know that somebody has 2,625 more medallions than me. No, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I don't really care.
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
This fucking Bloodborne DLC, jesus. I'm on new game+, about level 90, and shit just tears my dick off. I don't know if I want to start another guy just to avoid NG+ and level him up, etc. sigh....
Shinta avatarShinta
Wii U, top selling black friday item on Take that you anti-Wii U people.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I am pretty hyped for when I get a laptop because I'll be able to have a good enough connection to stream XbOne/soon PS4 games to it along with natively rendered Steam games. Hype!
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -