Mass Effect 2 ‘Arrival’ DLC Review
This review contains light spoilers, but nothing that isn’t in the launch trailer.
Arrival is Mass Effect 2 in microcosm. It has a jarring, completely out-of-the-blue threat to the galaxy (“The Reapers are coming! Like, in five minutes!”) like the Collectors, and the whole thing is just a bit unsatisfying because it’s all just setup for something that will happen in Mass Effect 3.
Mass Effect 2 ‘Arrival’ (PC [Reviewed], PS3, XBox360)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: June 13, 2011
The whole thing starts off with a message from good ole Admiral Hackett, whose face we see for the very first time. He tells Shepard that a Dr. Amanda Kenson has been captured by Batarians in a solar system at the edge of the galaxy after having discovered evidence of “an imminent Reaper invasion.” He wants Shepard to go in alone — for greater deniability — and get her ass out of there and figure out what to do about the artifact.
The mission starts off with a stealth segment, believe it or not. You don’t have to go the stealth route, though, as the run-and-gun works as well as it always does, but there’s an achievement for getting in without being detected. Then, about ten minutes int the mission, we learn that this particular system is the Reapers’ entry point to the galaxy, and that they can use the mass relay there to link up with most every other mass relay in the galaxy. And the artifact seem to indicate they’re going to show up within days. Never without a backup plan, those evil robots.
The threat is legit, as far as I can tell — Harbinger even shows up in hologram form for more of his “your species is doomed” talk. But it’s really strange to me that this scenario shows up at DLC, considering the things that happen in it are more immediately important to the plot of the series than anything that happened in the original, retail version of the game. In that context, it just feels wrong, and it’s not nearly long enough to carry the appropriate weight.
It really feels as if BioWare threw this out as DLC because they didn’t want to shoehorn this scenario into the beginning of the next game. Mac Walters and Drew Karpyshyn and co. wrote ME3 and had to put out this DLC to make all the pieces fit.
When I said this DLC is all setup for ME3, I was probably selling short just how much setup this is. Arrival has a full arc, but at the end Hackett explicitly states that what just happened will have massive ramifications later, and he even goes as far as to say exactly what the ramifications will be. And so when it was all done, that ridiculous tease left me feeling a bit unhappy.
Arrival is a good enough pack. It’s not as good as Overlord or Lair of the Shadow Broker, but it’s pretty much an essential purchase for anybody who’s planning to get Mass Effect 3. I can’t help but grudgingly respect BioWare for this.