Mass Effect 2: Arrival Review
Game: Mass Effect 2: Arrival
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Available on: Xbox LIVE Marketplace, PlayStation Network & BioWare Store (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
Mass Effect 2 has had some brilliant DLC since its release and many gamers are eagerly anticipating the next title in this epic saga. So to keep fans of the BAFTA award winning title (not to mention the most important accolade, GodisaGeek’s 2010 Game of the Year award) on tenterhooks, Bioware have released the final addition to Mass Effect 2, dubiously named Arrival.
The fact that this addon is said to bridge the gap between Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 means that it has created quite some buzz with fans of the series, not least because the previous Lair of the Shadow Broker addon was fantastic. But will Arrival give you an action packed and explosive end to Mass Effect 2, or will it implode like a dying star? Read on to find out.
The story starts with Shepard being informed that Admiral Hackett wishes to speak to him about an important task. Hackett requests his help to spring an undercover agent called Dr. Amanda Kenson from a Batarian prison, as she has valuable information about an imminent Reaper invasion. She was imprisoned under charges that she was attempting to destroy a Mass Relay and is under heavy guard. For this reason, Shepard will have to go in alone to save her, allowing the alliance plausible deniability from any attempts of a rescue and also to avoid alerting the Batarians, allowing them to kill the prisoner should Shepard and his team go in guns blazing.
The rescue attempt is situated in the Viper Nebula, which contains 5 planets. Four are flush with resources and the fifth is where Kenson is being held. This planet is a dark and dreary place with the rain thrashing down in the background. To achieve his task, Shepard will have to navigate through underground tunnels, small corridors and courtyards to reach the prisoner. For this you can either go in one man army style, or you can opt for the stealthy approach (which will earn you one achievement/trophy of the three available), but there are plenty of Varren and Batarians to kill or avoid. Once you reach Kenson and free her you have to escape the prison and have no choice but to shoot your way out, so prepare yourselves for a big gunfight, Mass Effect style!
Once you escape the prison, Kenson explains that she and her group want to blow up the Mass Relay in this sector (otherwise known as the Alpha Relay), by launching an asteroid “the size of a small planet” at it, because she claims that the Reapers are coming into our galaxy very soon and the Alpha Relay is essentially their short cut in. However, there is a catch, (as always!) as destroying the Relay will eradicate the Viper Nebula from existence, potentially murdering 300,000 Batarians in the process.
Obviously Shepard is skeptical of Kenson’s story and asks how she knows the attack is imminent, as she claims that a Reaper artifact which is named Object Rho, has shown her a vision, similar to the one Shepard had previously experienced. So for proof, Kenson takes Shepard to the asteroid to show him the artifact, and upon arrival Shepard see’s a countdown on a screen, stating that in a little over two days, the Reapers will be here! But once again, all is not as it seems! Can Shepard delay the Reapers arrival, or is it to late? You will have to purchase the DLC to find out!
VERDICT: Overall, Arrival is Bioware at their narrative best and you are genuinely hooked as you go through the twists and turns of the plot. There is a bucket load of gunfights and some epic explosions that assist the plot very well, emphasising the fact that Shepard is a one man army and savior of the universe, which is bolstered even more with some good dialog from him and the other characters.
However, if you were expecting Arrival to be as intense as the Lair of the Shadow Broker addon, then you may feel a little disappointed. Although the dialog is good, it doesn’t expand upon things as much as the rest of the main game does. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, as this DLC is purely a run up to Mass Effect 3 and there are a few choices you will have to make during play which will undoubtedly effect the way you play the next title. Obviously the team mechanic is not used in Arrival, as the story dictates that Shepard has to go in alone, and this actually makes for an enjoyable experience, though I’m sure you’ll agree, you wouldn’t want this to be a recurring theme for the future, it’s just nice to mix things up a little from time to time.
It’s great to get some more out of this title, especially with the next instalment looming on the horizon. Although Arrival will only take a few hours to finish, it definitely is worth purchasing and is an absolute must if you are a fan of this epic saga, as it will also give you an idea as to how Mass Effect 3 will begin. If you take Arrival in the context that it is supposed to be played, then it is a good addition to the Mass Effect universe. It may not be as explosive as Shadow Broker, but it does deliver some bang for your buck.