I recently dusted off my Mass Effect 2 disk and suited up once again with Commander Shepard, this time to pick up the latest and final downloadable content (DLC) called Arrival, which sets the stage for the third Mass Effect game.
In this DLC, Shepard is sent by Admiral Hackett from the Human Alliance on a jailbreak of a human spy from a secret Batarian prison. With the state of the galaxy being what it is, the Batarians aren’t super friendly towards humanity (in the Bring Down the Sky DLC for the first Mass Effect, for example, they were looking to ram an asteroid into a human colony). The Batarians are going to hold the spy on terrorism charges unless Commander Shepard can save the day.
It turns out your spy, Dr. Kenson, has a plan just crazy enough to work in buying the galaxy a few years to gear up for the confirmed and ever-looming Reaper threat. The plan comes at a pretty heavy cost, and requires you to do the impossible and the unthinkable to reach your ultimate goal of stopping the Reapers.
For this mission, you go in alone to liberate the good doctor. The mission does tailor itself to the solo experience, but the game does nothing aside from asking you nicely if you’ll leave your overqualified and painstakingly assembled team on the bench for this one. Storyline-wise, the writers explain why you’re alone, but I would’ve appreciated a little back and forth or at least some conversation with your crew. I do miss my crew, especially my scientist Salarian and his show-tunes.
Bioware does what it does best: it creates a world and it sinks its hooks in deep. I hadn’t touched the game since just after playing through Lair of the Shadow Broker, but I was immediately sucked back in and found myself moved as I fell back into its wonderful, terrible grip.
As I played through the mission, I felt a lump in my throat when I had to push the button while, on the screen, casualty figures are displayed that would result from my course of action. I gritted my teeth once again when taking fire from three different angles to reach the last escape shuttle, and cringed while being debriefed and finding out the new state of the galaxy after my commando raid. This is why I play Mass Effect; the writers at Bioware put together a gripping plot and a believable universe, while voice delivery of the characters remains on the top shelf, even if the character animations are a little stiff.
At a price of 560 Microsoft Points, or $7.50, it’s a little much to ask for a DLC that you wrap up in just under two hours. However, much like the textbook for that really important class, it’s required reading. This will help you bridge the story and get excited for more Shepard. If you’re anything like me, you’re pining after every minute detail leaking about the finale of the Mass Effect trilogy, and this is hopefully this is the high that will carry me forward, short of just playing the game again.
Between the kick-in-the-door action and the excellence that’s already been established from Mass Effect 2, this is a perfect flourish to wrap up this amazing game and leave you wanting to wrap up the story. The price is a bit prohibitive, but in my opinion, it’s well worth the investment.