Bioware’s Mass Effect 2 is highly regarded in video gaming circles. As well as winning critical praise and multiple awards (including the coveted Newb Review Game of the Year 2010 trophy), Mass Effect 2 is loved and adored by millions of fans. Part of the reason for this is the way that Bioware have continued to support the game post release with additional downloadable chapters at reasonable prices.
With numerous exceptionally high quality expansions under their belt, and with the hotly anticipated release of Mass Effect 3 towards the end of this year, Bioware have returned to Mass Effect 2 to bring us one final expansion simply titled Arrival. Whilst this expansion is a fairly brief one, it has some very serious consequences that will doubtlessly have an effect on how the story of Mass Effect 3 plays out.Starting from the comfort of your vessel, the Normandy, Commander Shepard receives an urgent call from Admiral Hackett, a character that featured prominently in the original Mass Effect, but was oddly absent from Mass Effect 2. Hackett asks you to perform a secret mission, deep behind enemy lines, to rescue a scientist that has found concrete evidence of the impending Reaper Invasion from dark space.
As was the case with Mass Effect 1, Admiral Hackett is voiced by Lance Henriksen (Bishop from the Alien movies). Henriksen performs as well as he ever has, with a cold gravely quality to his voice that is full of character. There is only really one other substantial character in this expansion, and the actress that lends her voice to this character performs well.
One feature that will likely please many is the fact that you don’t need to have completed the game to play this DLC, which is particularly helpful for PS3 owners who only recently purchased the game. There are a number of upgrades contained in this expansion, which will make the final mission significantly easier, as well as aid those that are attempting to beat the game on Insanity difficulty.
The most appealing feature of this expansion to Mass Effect 2 fans is the way this game sets the stage for Mass Effect 3. It does not end on a cliffhanger or anything like that, but it does a good job of whetting the appetite, and will likely leave fans craving more.
Graphics: 4/5 The in game environments are well designed, ranging from a dark run-down base to a sterile space station. The character models look exactly the same as Mass Effect 2, warts and all.
Sound: 5/5 Lance Henriksen makes a welcome return to Mass Effect, along with the rest of the cast. The music has a recognisable hint of 80s sci-fi, which is unusual in videogames.
Gameplay: 5/5 There is a great deal of variety on offer in this expansion; stealthy infiltrating a base, defending yourself from wave after wave of enemies, and your usual corridor shooting are the real highlights.
Longevity: 3/5 For the price you pay you will get about an hour of gameplay. There are no real moral choices to make, so that does limit replayability a little.
Overall 4 out of 5
Arrival is (really) the final expansion for Mass Effect 2, and the game goes out in the same way it began, with a bang, setting the stage for one of this years’ biggest releases, Mass Effect 3.
Mass Effect 2: Arrival is available to download right now for 560 Microsoft points (about £4.80) on Xbox 360 and for £5.49 on the Playstation Network.