19th April 2011 - Well, the final DLC pack for Mass Effect 2 is here! Arrival is a shorter, more gunplay-focused mission set to tie Mass Effect 2 to Mass Effect 3. It sees Commander Sheppard sent to investigate clues suggesting an impending Reaper invasion in an outer system of the Galaxy. It also sees legendary Sci-Fi actor Lance Henriksen lending his talents to play Admiral Hackett.
Adding three new achievements and a few small gameplay additions, Arrival has a lot to live up to after great add-ons such as Lair of the Shadow Broker and Overlord. So, can it live up to the previous DLC add-ons and the main game's quality and fun quantity, or does it leave you cold?
What's new and why should I get it? (Minor spoilers)
Mass Effect 2: Arrival is meant to take place somewhere mid-late into the main game. It was described as a mid-game mission, but really you can access it any time after the Horizon mission. This mission starts with Commander Sheppard being contacted directly by Admiral Hackett, who asks you to locate and rescue a friend of his; Dr. Amanda Kenson.
Dr. Kenson is being held in a Batarian prison in a system at the edge of the galaxy. The hard part? You have to do this alone - apparently a fully armed squad could alert the Batarians and potentially trigger a war. What could be worth this trouble, you ask? Well, apparently Dr. Kenson has uncovered something that indicates the Reapers' arrival.
Now then, to the gameplay...
The good thing about Sheppard going in alone is, while hardly equipped to take on all the Batarian guards on his own on the higher difficulties, you can turn the game into a stealth-'em-up, for the first part of the mission anyway. Doing this requires a small amount of tactical assessment before moving, as alerting the guards will rob you of a nice, juicy achievement. You can, of course, run in all guns Blazing - but it's nice to be able to choose to sneak through. The downside to being alone is that all that creativity of chaining attacks with your squad-mates' weapons and powers is gone, and instead (depending on the class you're playing) you really are just a man with a gun and a gadget. This doesn't ruin the whole mission, but fans of the Mass Effect style of mixing powers and weapons to vanquish your foes may be disappointed. The other new addition to the gameplay mix is controlling a LOKI mech, but this only takes place once and lasts just a minute or so. It wasn't that interesting anyway, so its length can be excused.
On to the story then...
It's gratifying that the story feels like it works, despite the length of the whole mission being only about an hour and a half to two hours (depending on individual ham-handedness), despite not having all that much substance in and of itself. You always do feel like you're moving forwards and making progress, apart from one room that just throws enemies at you while you wait in Half Life tradition for a very slow elevator - but the story's lack of anything truly new did show through. Not enough to really mar the experience, but enough to notice. On the other hand it does have its good moments, such as a fire fight in open space while hurtling towards certain death! I don't want to ruin any surprises though, so I won't say much more about it.
The price for Arrival?
560 Microsoft points for the 360 and AU$11.95 on PSN. For that you get about one and a half to two hours of gameplay, as I mentioned earlier, along with plenty of loot to collect and sights to see. No new items, though. It is worth two playthroughs, maybe even more just to try out a few of the early mission paths.
Conclusion - Is it worth it?
It's tough to say - although it's certainly competent, it definitely doesn't live up to the previous Mass Effect 2 DLC packs, although we always knew it would be no Lair of the Shadow Broker. To me, AU$11.95 or 560MSP seems steep for a pack that doesn't do much more than attempt to add to the hype of upcoming Mass Effect 3.
Ultimately, it doesn't come down to whether or not you're a fervent fan of Mass Effect - more to if you need something new to get you back into playing Mass Effect 2 before its sequel arrives later this year.
If you enjoyed Mass Effect 2 and you've played all the DLC so far, Arrival isn't going to blow you away. It's essentially the Mass Effect 2 DLC experience but shorter with less of a story and more opportunities to use your guns on their own. That's not to say it's bad, it's just not as strong as the other offerings we've
AAG SCORE: 6.5/10
+ Keeps you interested until the end
+ Multiple approaches to start of mission
+ Creates excitement for Mass Effect 3
- Very short
- Linear second half
- Very little user creativity to combat (due to only being able to use one power at a time)
- New gameplay additions not prominent enough
Reviewed and Written By Frankie Main