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Mass Effect 2: Arrival Review

Brad Gallaway's picture

What arrived? My Seven Dollars into EA's account?

Mass Effect 2: Arrival Screenshot

HIGH I can finally pack my copy of Mass Effect 2 away.

LOW The mission feels superfluous.

WTF No teammates during the entire DLC? Really?

The latest DLC expansion for BioWare’s space-based magnum opus, Mass Effect 2: Arrival, was released on March 29th and is available for 560 Microsoft Points. ($7.00) This DLC includes a single story-based mission, three Achievements, and at least two researchable pieces of equipment.

So, the extended saga of Mass Effect 2 has finally come to a close thanks to the release of the final DLC, Arrival. Unfortunately, it can't really be said that BioWare has saved the best for last. Out of the myriad extra things to be purchased for the game, top honors must surely go to the preceding add-on, Lair of the Shadow Broker. However, completists (like myself) will likely pony up the price of admission regardless, but the fact remains that Arrival is definitely a lightweight—perhaps even superfluous.

Arrival’s mission begins with a request for Shepard to enter a hostile region of the universe controlled by the Batarian race. Apparently, a deep-cover human scientist has discovered a piece of evidence suggesting that the horrific Reapers are much closer to making an appearance than anyone realizes, and the information must be recovered.

To reveal any more about the story would cross over into spoiler territory, although I will say that there are no surprises here. In fact, there's really only one "big" story event that occurs, and it seems as though it won't pay off until Mass Effect 3. This particular event was not portrayed in any real dramatic sense, and I felt no hesitation when asked to make what appears to be the DLC’s only major choice. I personally have doubts as to whether this choice will be an important factor in the trilogy’s conclusion, but that remains to be seen.

In terms of what Arrival delivers apart from this lukewarm plot point isn't much. Essentially, the entire mission is one long corridor shoot-out that will take players no longer than two hours to complete, at the most. The combat is as solid as it ever was, but for players who want more to do than shoot things, I'm sad to say that there is no interaction with the team on the Normandy whatsoever—in an unexpected move, Shepard goes solo. I was a bit surprised to see that the cast of characters BioWare has spent so much time on don't play a role here whatsoever, and found it disappointing to say the least.

After spending an hour and a half going through Mass Effect 2: Arrival from start to finish, I'm a little puzzled as to why BioWare felt like this was a good way to close the books on Commander Shepard’s second game. Corridor shooting is not something I think a lot of players were hungry for more of, and the story elements in this mission carry little significance or emotion. For a piece of DLC that offers so little, $7.00 seems steep. Save some hard-earned money and watch the videos of it on YouTube instead… the most relevant bits can be seen in a minute or two, and those Microsoft points can instead be spent on something more substantial. Rating: 4.0 out of 10.

Disclosures: This game was obtained via paid download and reviewed on the Xbox 360. Approximately 1.5 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the content was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game contains blood, drug references, sexual content, strong language, and violence. Parents, let’s make a long story short—this is a mature game aimed at mature players, full stop. Nothing else needs to be said.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing: You should be just fine with this new mission. Dialogue is accompanied by subtitles, and there are no new additions to the gameplay formula that employ significant auditory cues. If hearing impaired gamers are fine playing through the rest of the adventure, this DLC won't pose any problems.

Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   PS3   PC  
Developer(s): BioWare  
Publisher: Electronic Arts  
Series: Mass Effect  
Genre(s): Role-Playing  
ESRB Rating: Mature (17+)  
Articles: Game Reviews  

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Arrival characters

" I was a bit surprised to see that the cast of characters BioWare has spent so much time on don't play a role here whatsoever, and found it disappointing to say the least."

As with most things BioWare these days, this is likely to reduce costs; having to bring back the voice-cast for a 2-hour DLC probably didn't appeal to them. If people will buy it regardless of quality -- as DA2 has proven -- then why bother making the effort?

Damn You, Gallaway!!!!!!!!!!

There you go again, slandering the sterling reputation of the greatest game design studio of all time again, out of some childish need for attention, no doubt egged on by site administrators who are hellbent on destabilizing the foundations of the aggregate review score system. We see now only too clearly the true nature of the Gallaway AGENDA...

LOLZ, just echoing Tims awesome readings from podcast 52..

but srsly

Im almost done with it, pyro guys are a flaming OHK nuisance, and otherwise I agree with you. I think 4.99 wouldve been a better price. 3.99 would've been an excellent price. A waste of Lance Henrikssen. And you just know something's up with Bioware when they try to attract attention for DLC by naming it after one of the best Charlie Sheen movies of all time.

Honestly, I think it was a

Honestly, I think it was a good summary of everything Bioware concentrated on most in ME2: boring, linear TPS combat.

I spent 90% of my time in ME2 hiding behind boxes trekking through linear shooting galleries. Why is everyone so surprising this DLC would embrace that?

It is a little disappointing that after Lair of the Shadow Broker, which was a massive step towards how Mass Effect should be done (even if still a little too heavy on the TPS gameplay based enemy spam). I mean, they added in an effective new power that wasnt second fiddle to shooter combat. Returned a treasured teammate who got spot on in ME2 (and who IMO needs to be back as a team member in ME3, along with whoever survived the Virmire mission in ME1, as they also got shafted in ME2) and introduced that brief but cool carchase.

Honestly though, Im a little surprised. I remember reading Brads excellent review of ME2 itself, and while I dont agree that the Suicide Mission was a saving grace (I thought it was a pathetic anti-climax to hours of buildup), so game critics not with standing in that surprise. Its just curious as to why only now ME2 is being called out for being little more than shallow corridor shooting, when thats what ME2 was essentially all about.

Okay, it a A FEW more conversations that only slightly went in more non-linear directions, but Arrival simply was not that much different to the vanilla ME2 game.

Dear Bioware,

Since youve spent now almost the entire second chapter of the Mass Effect trilogy wasting my time demonstrating how you can craft basic shooter combat that matches every other banal shooter game that saturates the video games market, it is naturally the last thing I want to be bombarded with in ME3.

Heres to hoping Arrival was the swan song to Bioware using Mass Effect as nothing more than a vehicle for banal shooter combat.

Time to let the story, characters and RPG elements breath a little. The ones you crafted in ME1 were bloated and out of shape, but instead of improving them, youve spent most of the time with ME2 suffocating them in favour of focusing on shooter combat.

Jergal wrote: Dear

Jergal wrote:

Dear Bioware,

Since youve spent now almost the entire second chapter of the Mass Effect trilogy wasting my time demonstrating how you can craft basic shooter combat that matches every other banal shooter game that saturates the video games market, it is naturally the last thing I want to be bombarded with in ME3.

Actually it doesn't even achieve that -- compared to Gears of War, or Uncharted, the combat isn't exactly great; it's just acceptable since it's part of the overall RPG. Then again, like you point out, the game isn't exactly buffed-up with RPG elements either, so what you essentially end up with is a semi-competent shooter with mixed in RPG elements. =P

While I still fundamentally

While I still fundamentally disagree with your position on ME2, I find myself agreeing with this review.

This is by far the weakest DLC out of the lot. Rather than re-engaging interest in the ME universe, the shallow experience leaves you feeling empty, and angry at what seems like a cynical attempt to squeeze the remaining life out of the product. And our wallets.

ME2 was never an RPG, nor an out-and-out shooter, and to have judged it on the basis of it's forerunner, rather than on its own merits, was a critical mistake on the part of this site.

However, if, as most felt, the grandeur of scope and the impressively cinematic production values of ME2 greatly overshadowed the tendency for it to devolve into 'corridor-shooter' action, the same absolutely cannot be said for Arrival. The set-pieces are poorly conceived, voice-acting is lifeless, storyline is weak and fails to engage the player, environment design is wholly uninspired, and it is far too short.

Most criminally however, the solo nature of the experience left me wondering why they decided to omit that thread common to all Bioware experiences, and what made the company great once upon a time - squad based adventuring. ME2 deliberately went out of its way to paint rich and memorable characters, perhaps to the point of compromising the impact of the main story in some eyes. Indeed, seasoned players will have developed strong attachments to certain squad members and it therefore seems an entirely illogical turn-around to betray expectations by not providing an opportunity to set forth and synergise party skills one final time before the 3rd installment.

This disappointment has the hand of EA written all over it and on the whole, Arrival is cheap, forgettable and feels tacked on. Along with DAO:II it's a damned shame to see Bioware in such decline. But hey-ho, that leaves a gap in the market for the clever and capable to exploit.

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