Home > Reviews > Mass Effect 2: The Arrival Review

Mass Effect 2: The Arrival Review

By Justin Arnott

 

The Reapers are coming. Anyone who’s finished Bioware’s space epic just got a tingle up their spine and their adrenaline pumping. Mass Effect 2 has seen several pieces of DLC since it’s release, and The Arrival is the last chapter we’re going to see before we finish Shepard’s adventure later this year. But how does it hold up against the lofty expectations set for it by the base game, arguably one of the best games ever made? Let’s take a look.

In The Arrival, Shephard has been tasked by his old friend Admiral Hackett to rescue an agent, Dr. Amanda Kenson, who has been captured while on her mission deep within Batarian space. It seems that Dr. Kenson has uncovered a Reaper artifact that provides proof of their imminent invasion, and now the Admiral wants you to recover both Kenson and the artifact. The kicker is this: he wants you to go alone. No squadmates, just Shephard.

That’s really where the meat of the gameplay comes from. You have to rely entirely on yourself and have no allies to provide fire support. It’s an interesting change in the gameplay mechanics that works well, especially with the slight twists and set pieces they throw at you. This does make some sections rather difficult, but never overwhelmingly so and merely serves to point out that perhaps next time you should choose different tactics. If you’re up for even more of a challenge, there’s even one sequence that throws waves of increasingly powerful enemies at you and tasks you with survival, with a tasty achievement thrown in if you succeed.

The story, always a strong point in Mass Effect, is no less interesting in The Arrival. While it may not last long (one playthrough took me only an hour and a half) it does go somewhere interesting and serves mainly to set up the plot for the impending Mass Effect 3. However, there is not a whole lot of dialogue over the course of the mission, and in some places it is conspicuously missing. Joker appears on screen several times but never utters a word, likely because BioWare couldn’t get Seth Green in for a few lines.

There’s a lot to like about The Arrival. The atmosphere takes on a decidedly bleak tone, with everything from the music to the areas you traverse designed to be as depressing as possible. This works very well within the context of the storyline, another one of The Arrival’s strong points. Yet at the same time, there are some downsides. It’s clear from the lack of dialogue options and short play time that The Arrival was at least somewhat thrown together, and the big moral choice the game presents you with has no consequences despite the magnitude of the choice you’re forced to make.

Is The Arrival worth your hard earned Microsoft points? If you’re a Mass Effect fan, then yes. Although it doesn’t quite live up to last year’s incredible Lair of the Shadow Broker, it still is worth a playthrough and helps make the wait for Mass Effect 3 just that much easier.

Copyright 2011 Justin Arnott

The
Reapers are coming.  Anyone who’s finished Bioware’s space epic just
got a tingle up their spine and their adrenaline pumping.  Mass Effect 2
has seen several pieces of DLC since it’s been released, and The
Arrival is the last piece we’re going to see before we finish Shepard’s
adventure later this year.  But how does it hold up against the lofty
expectations set for it by the base game, arguably one of the best games
ever made?  Let’s take a look.


In
The Arrival, Shephard has been tasked by his old friend Admiral Hackett
to rescue an agent, Dr. Amanda Kenson, who has been captured while on
her mission deep within Batarian space.  It seems that Dr. Kenson has
uncovered a Reaper artifact that provides proof of their imminent
invasion, and now the Admiral wants you to recover both Kenson and the
artifact.  Now the kicker is this: He wants you to go alone.  No
squadmates, just Shephard.

That’s
really where the meat of the gameplay comes from.  You have to rely
entirely on yourself and have no allies to provide fire support.  It’s
an interesting change in the gameplay mechanics that works well,
especially with the slight twists and set pieces they throw at you.
This does make some sections rather difficult, but never overwhelmingly
so and merely serves to point out that perhaps next time you should
choose different tactics.  If you’re up for even more of a challenge,
there’s even one sequence that throws waves of increasingly powerful
enemies at you and tasks you to survive, with a tasty achievement thrown
in if you manage to complete it.

The
story, always a strong point in Mass Effect, is no less interesting in
The Arrival.  While it may not last long (one playthrough took me only
an hour and a half) it does go somewhere interesting and serves mainly
to set up the plot for the impending Mass Effect 3.  However, there is
not a whole lot of dialogue over the course of the mission, and in some
places it is conspicuously missing.  Joker appears on screen several
times but never utters a word, likely because Bioware couldn’t get his
voice actor to come back just for a few lines.

There’s
a lot to like about The Arrival.  The atmosphere takes on a decidedly
bleak tone, with the everything from the music to the areas you traverse
designed to be as depressing as possible.  This works very well within
the context of the storyline, another one of The Arrival’s strong
points.  Yet at the same time, there are some downsides.  It’s clear
from the lack of dialogue options and short play time that The Arrival
was at least somewhat thrown together, and the big moral choice the game
presents you with has no consequences despite the magnitude of the
choice you’re forced to make.

Is
The Arrival worth your hard earned Microsoft points?  If you’re a Mass
Effect fan, then yes.  Although it doesn’t quite live up to last year’s
incredible Lair of the Shadow Broker, it still is worth a playthrough
and helps make the wait for Mass Effect 3 just that much easier.

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Categories: Reviews
  1. April 7, 2011 at 3:14 am

    There’s a horde mode in this ME2 DLC? That spells worth it to me!

  2. April 12, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Not quite a horde mode. Just a section that is somewhat similar. You only get one shot at it.

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