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It's bittersweet to review the final piece of downloadable content for Mass Effect 2. On one hand, there's nothing left for our favorite game of 2010, but that also means Mass Effect 3 is ever-closer. While Arrival isn't the highest note that BioWare could have ended Mass Effect 2 on, I understand why they chose this piece as the cork in the bottle. Arrival is all about Shepard and the Reapers and it does give some (but not a lot of) context to what we've seen of Mass Effect 3 so far.

Picking up after the Horizon mission, Arrival begins as a rescue initiative that you perform as a favor for your old friend Admiral Hackett. The woman you need to find, Dr. Amanda Kenson, has located a Reaper artifact with proof of their imminent invasion. The story is linear with no branching Paragon/Renegade pathways, though you can garner a handful of those points through scattered conversations along the way. I didn't mind the linearity here -- after all, most of the extra content has been presented the same way.


Arrival's twist comes in its combat -- you'll fight solo almost the entire time. Though you're down two squad mates, I didn't feel like it changed the game that much. Fighting through waves of enemies was slightly more difficult without others, but it never bordered on frustrating. There are some nice set pieces that you'll blast your way through (I won't spoil the locations) and it's still fun toying with your enemies by overloading a pyro and watching him explode or freezing someone then shattering him with bullets.

As fun as killing people is, the majority of Arrival consists of combat sequences and that's what I found disappointing. I love conducting conversations in Mass Effect, so the fact that most of this is running and gunning isn't bad, it's just not what I was hoping for. Arrival is on the shorter side and took me a couple of hours to complete, so I didn't have time to tire of shooting enemies with ammo and my biotic/tech powers.

While the new content doesn't technically have a lot of problems I can pinpoint, I didn't walk away "wowed" like I had with other content like Lair of the Shadow Broker. Arrival is still a worthy add-on with cool moments, but you shouldn't expect to feel butterflies of excitement in your tummy.

I had fun with Arrival, but I am concerned that people who don't buy it will be at a disadvantage in Mass Effect 3. Casey Hudson, executive producer of the franchise, assured me that that although Arrival will create differences in the player's Mass Effect 3 playthroughs, they would never "punish" players for not purchasing DLC. I guess we'll have to wait and see when Mass Effect 3 comes out this holiday.

Closing Comments
Purchasing Arrival means there’s more to do in Mass Effect 2, and that’s always a good thing. It sets up the tone of urgency that’s prevalent in the Mass Effect 3 trailer, but don’t expect it to explain a lot. If you don’t mind combat-focused, linear missions, it’s worth the $7 or 560 Microsoft points.
IGN Ratings for Mass Effect 2: Arrival (X360)
Rating Description
out of 10 Click here for ratings guide
7.0
OVERALL
Good
(out of 10)
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