It’s strange to think that if I knocked up my girlfriend right now, Mass Effect 3 would come out before it’s even born. That may be a good thing, as I could assume that if my child was born before the release, the child would be a victim of neglect. Still, in the meantime, I’ve got to keep myself busy. It’s good to see that BioWare felt that yet another Mass Effect 2 DLC would do the trick. Now we’ve got Arrival. As a major Mass Effect fan, I’m quite satisfied with my purchase. Though, the awesome set-up to Mass Effect 3 that Arrival provides isn’t quite an A+ effort.
Mass Effect’s Arrival DLC brings back Admiral Hackett. It seems he’s had better days, but he’s more concerned about getting Shepherd’s help one last time. There’s a doctor by the name of Kenson being held up by Batarians in some sort of prison, and it’s up to Shepherd to bounce her out of there. Though, it’s never that simple. Things end up getting a bit dicey as the story progresses. Suffice it to say, I would have been more comfortable given the mission by Adirmal Ackbar. At least he knows what’s up.
Arrival doesn’t make any drastic gestures at changing things up, gameplay-wise. It’s far more about the story. There are some neat little nuances, though. There are some needless puzzles, a cool scene where the player controls a mech, and some fancy elevators. The biggest change, though, is that Shepherd starts this mission alone — like he would an N7 mission. However, just because he’s solo, it doesn’t mean there isn’t any action. There is a brief part where Shep is assisted by a peripheral character, but other than that, it’s lone wolf mercenary killing time. Things start pretty easy, but taking on some of the intense shooting galleries alone proves to be quite the challenge.
Even so, as stated, the DLC is far more about story. Unfortunately, there isn’t much there. I was able to do my first run through on the Insanity difficulty in about two hours. Granted, a lot happens in that short amount of time. Without giving too much away, Dr. Kenson is arrested as a terrorist because of her radical solution to an impending problem. There’s a lot of grey in the morality of it – especially when things become a bit more complicated. Shepherd must make some tough choices and plan on seeing consequences in the future.
As BioWare has been touting, this is the introduction to Mass Effect 3’s story. Some heavy cause and effect comes into play, without yet getting to see the effect. The outcome of the DLC is always the same – which was a bit disappointing – but the way Shepherd handles the conclusion it is up to the player. With some real epic stuff going down, it’s very apparent that there will have to be some questions answered in the proceeding title. To be honest, though, it makes for a DLC that doesn’t really stand too well on its own legs. The DLC is essentially serving the next game and does very little for the Mass Effect 2 experience.
When it’s all said in done, in that very short amount of time, it’s clear that the value of this DLC is largely dependent on the player’s unbridled anticipation of Mass Effect 3. For those looking for more reasons to import their saves when they inevitably play Mass Effect 3, this is quite the epic tease. Though, players looking to get their hands on a satisfying DLC that stands alone will likely be disappointed. Even in my anxious anticipation, I found myself a bit underwhelmed by what this was and what it could have been. BioWare claims that this will be the last Mass Effect 2 DLC, but let’s hope they’re just messing with our heads again.
3.5 out of 5