• Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Farewell 2 Mass Effect 2

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With Mass Effect 2: Arrival the story told in Mass Effect 2 is finally complete. The latest downloadable content for ME2 from Bioware is the last for the game, and ties the story into the forthcoming Mass Effect 3 in a subtle manner.

I love Mass Effect 2. It's one of my favourite ever single-player games, and I just can't get enough of it. So, it was with mixed feelings that I started up the game to play the final content. I was pleased to get a new dose of ME2 action, and sad that there would now be a 7 month wait until the sequel arrives.

So, how did the final dlc for ME2 turn out?

First a few story spoilers. I won't give away the twists and turns, but the basic plot is as follows.

Admiral Hackett (voiced by the great Lance Henrikson) returns from the first game to ask for Shepard's help. Seems an Alliance undercover operative has been working in deep Batarian space on the edge of the galaxy and has located a Reaper relic.

Researching the relic has lead the agent, Doctor Amanda Kenson, to believe that the Reapers are going to use the local mass effect relay to enter the system in two days time, and from there they will be able to reach any other system in the galaxy almost immediately. In other words, the galaxy has less only two days before it is invaded by thousands of sentient machine gods intent on destroying all organic life.

Two days? What can we do in two days?!
Doctor Kenson was about to put a daring and audacious plan into place to try and stop this happening when she was found and captured by the Batarians, and at the time that the adventure starts, is being tortured as a spy. Cue Hackett's plea for help from Shepard.

The difference between Arrival and previous missions (either in Mass Effect 2 or any of the dlc) is that Shepard must run this mission solo for once. He cannot take any of his crew (even if they did manage to survive the events at the end of ME2).

I quickly found out that this makes the combat in Arrival much tougher than I found in the rest of ME2. I died much more often than I normally would, and some parts of the adventure found me trying to hold off enemies on several flanks, something made much more difficult than if I had Tali or Garrus to back me up. I did end up finding myself having to try different tactics during fights, and whilst never frustrating, the increased difficulty was a surprise (I never realised what a difference the companions made before now!).

Most of this pack is focused on combat, with less conversation and investigation options than previous dlc. Not a problem necessarily, but it did not absolutely blow me away like the Lair of the Shadow Broker dlc pack did.

There are some nice twists in the story, and a reappearance from an old adversary, along with a suitably epic and stirring denouement. In story terms the cost to Shepard for successfully completing the mission is massive, and could have huge consequences for the sequel. That remains to be seen.

Is this a mass effect relay I see before me?
The dlc took me about 90 minutes to play through, so it doesn't offer such good value as previous content packs.

Mass Effect 2 is one of the franchises that has generally done downloadable content right. Some of the add-ons have been absolutely superb, offering a good deal of new and original content and great value (such as Kasumi, Overlord, and Lair of the Shadowbroker). Whilst not reaching the heights of the best of those, Arrival is still a decent send off for the crew of the Normandy. Not essential, but recommended for fans of ME2.

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