It is no secret that I am a fan of Mass Effect 2. During Game of the Year season I awarded Mass Effect 2 the coveted “top spot” on my personal Games of the Year list. The rest of That Gamer Hub agreed with my evaluation of ME2 as GOTY material, and the game was awarded Best Xbox 360 Game of 2010. Thanks to my love of the series, BioWare has managed to take hold of my wallet and strangle out enough cash to purchase many of the DLC packs released for the game. While I did not write a review for the last major DLC, Lair of the Shadow Broker, I enjoyed the opportunity to bring Commander Shepard back in to the fight once more. The simply named Arrival is the final piece of DLC for Mass Effect 2 and bridges the gap between Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3.
Arrival begins with Admiral Steven Hackett contacting Commander Shepard with a secret mission that can only be carried out by the legend. Shepard is sent to locate Amanda Kenson who has been working undercover for the Alliance in a remote system in one of the galactic arms. Kenson has located proof of an impending Reaper invasion in the form of an ancient Reaper artifact. Unfortunately, the Alliance has lost contact with Kenson, and Shepard is sent in alone to rescue her. Shepard does what any awesome science fiction heroes would do, he/she breaks Kenson out of prison. After their escape, Shepard and Kenson return to the asteroid housing the artifact. Upon arriving Shepard learns that in two days the Reapers will arrive in the system (hence the name of the DLC) and use the nearby Alpha Relay to quickly reach the rest of the galaxy. Being the no-nonsense soldier that Shepard is, he/she claims that the relay must be destroyed no matter what the cost. I will not spoil anymore of the story, but let us say that complications arise with Shepard’s visit, and the DLC really takes off.
All in all, the story is well executed and fits within the overall story BioWare is building for the trilogy. Additionally, the DLC clearly sets up a fairly important plotline for Mass Effect 3. Besides that tidbit, there is not much else here other than another opportunity to put your Shepard through his/her paces one last time before the final showdown at the end of this year. Having beaten it in two hours, I can safely say that the DLC is not very long either. No need to bring a lunch to a play-through of Arrival. Something that I did not like was the lack of squad mates through the entire DLC. I had grown quite fond of my collected band of misfits and would have liked to have brought two of them along on this mission as well. The lack of two other members means that you must play a little more tactically. If you are not careful, you will find yourself perforated by a flanking soldier during an intense fight. Even with that being the case, I had no problems beating the DLC on normal with my level twenty-nine soldier Shepard. That small handicap does not make the DLC insanely hard, and it is still enjoyable.
The big question is whether or not this game worth your hard earned $6.99. If you are coming at this DLC in hopes that you will see all manner of new things and pick up new weapons, you will be disappointed. There are no new gadgets this time around and there are only two new environments for you play in. That being said, the new locations are quite well designed and contrast each other nicely. Aratoht is a very dark, run-down hole of a planet that is not the place you would want to take grandma on vacation. “The Project” base contrasts Aratoht with a bright, clean, very sci-fi look and feel. You will also pick up some resources and credits for use in the main game if you are playing this DLC before the final mission. If you, like I was, are considering the DLC to get one more fix of Mass Effect 2 before the holidays, then you will be pleased with what you find. The DLC clearly opens a door for a quest in ME3, and is worth a play-through if you desire to get the most out of the Mass Effect story. If you only played ME2 casually, and are not a huge fan of the series, you can go ahead and skip this outing. Either way, the Reapers are coming, and you better be ready.
Screenshots and Logos (C) BioWare and are used here for the purposes of review.