Game: Mass Effect 3: From Ashes
Available on: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
Perhaps the only thing more controversial than the fan outcry over the ending of Mass Effect 3 is the day one DLC. From Ashes allows players to explore the past in a completely unexpected, exciting way, introducing an entirely new character to your ranks, but can this possibly be worth coughing up the 800 Microsoft Points asking price?
Please note: If you’ve not yet completed Mass Effect 3, this review contains some minor spoilers.
Shepard receives word that Cerberus troops are heading towards Eden Prime in the hopes of finding some ancient Prothean technology. Considering Cerberus’s actions throughout the course of the game, and considering how desperate the rest of the galaxy is for any sort of advantage in the fight against the Reapers, the Normandy goes to investigate.
Eden Prime will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played the Mass Effect series. It’s changed quite a bit since we first met the Husks and Geth, emblazoned with broken colonies, scorched earth and craters, yet it still remains memorable territory.
What initially starts out as a mission for technology, however, turns out to be something much bigger. Held on Eden Prime are not just memories of a brutal war, and footholds of a Cerberus empire, but the galaxy’s last surviving Prothean, Javik.
The initial retrieval mission is quite short, and more of a prompting point for you and your allies to stare in awe at the Prothean in stasis, but there are some interesting flashback sequences; which only Shepard can see having been exposed to the Prothean beacon in Mass Effect 1. These sequences tell us a lot more about the relationship between the Protheans and the Reapers, and give us an exciting first look into the history of this enigmatic race.
In terms of length and quality, this isn’t a patch on Kasumi’s Stolen Memory. The bare-bones of From Ashes give us a straight extraction mission, fighting against Cerberus and eventually bringing the Prothean aboard. The interesting element of From Ashes, however, is when Javik finally reaches the Normandy and interacts with your crew.
Liara’s continued fascination with Javik, only for her feelings to change as she gets to know him, produce a fascinating rollercoaster of emotion. Javik’s banter with Shepard ignites some very interesting debates. Equally, learning about Javik’s 50,000 year old perceptions of what is wrong/right completely expose the Prothean race in new, unexpected ways, but also challenge our own ideals.
Hands down, Javik is Mass Effect 3’s most interesting character. While some may pass him off as a simple soldier, he injects new life into the series. Surprisingly, some of my favourite scenes in Mass Effect 3 feature him. One, in particular, is based on the Citadel, and sees several species approach him with a fresh curiosity. Moments like this will mean a lot to Mass Effect fans.
Naturally, it’s better to buy From Ashes at the very beginning of your adventure. If you’re over two thirds of the way through Mass Effect 3, you’re going to be missing out on a lot. I’m not saying it’s note entirely worth your time, but considering the price tag, you’ll want to take as much away from From Ashes as possible.
In addition to a new character, the pack also provides each character with one new clothing set, and two achievements. However, with the achievements easily claimed, and the costume sets bordering on the ugly, they’re both very easily forgotten.
VERDICT: For completionists, and series enthusiasts, this is a no-brainer. Complete with two achievements, some fascinating historical insight, and the most interesting character in the whole game, From Ashes is a success. That said, it’s short, expensive, and should have shipped with the game. Maybe that’s an aging argument, but it doesn’t make it any less significant.
From Ashes is a greedy venture, and at 800 points, I’ve had much better value for money, however, that being said, I don’t regret meeting this character for a moment, and I would find it hard to imagine a Mass Effect universe without him.