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DLC Review: Arrival for Mass Effect 2
by Andrew Whipple III

The story surrounding the Mass Effect universe has always been compelling, of that there is no doubt. With the latest DLC, entitled Arrival, the narrative somehow manages to creep deeper into unparalleled territory while still maintaining BioWare’s diverse set of combat scenarios. It isn't the longest add-on in the history of the medium, but it does its job well and should warrant your undivided attention if you’re deeply involved in preventing intergalactic extermination.

Arrival is a different beast when it comes to situations in Mass Effect 2. As most may know, for practically the entirety of the game you’re always rolling with your crew, issuing orders, utilising powers, reviving dead dudes... you get the idea. This, however, isn't the case in Arrival. Shepard is going in solo and, while it may seem a little bizarre, it’s a refreshing bizarre that puts you in a very interesting scenario.

Remember that Admiral Hackett guy from the first game, a.k.a. Lance Henriksen? Good, because he’ll be playing the role of catalyst in Arrival's situation. You see, Mr. Hackett has an issue with an undercover female operative going missing in a Batarian colony. Presumably, she's confirmed an ancient Reaper artifact that proves they are coming, and soon. While Hackett isn’t so sure on the whole Reaper shindig, the lady is a friend of his, and he wants her back unharmed. Since you’re no longer affiliated with the Alliance, Hackett trusts you to do this small favour for him, in return for the opportunity to obtain information you’ve been looking for on the Reapers. Go in alone so as to prevent any backtracking to the Alliance, get out, everybody wins. Sounds simple right?

Playing without a crew has its benefits, but also contains drawbacks. You have no-one to back you up if your biotics are on cooldown, or if some dude with a flamer tries to give you a hug. It means you’ll have to play very conservatively, as one wrong move will lead you to the lovely loading screen and minor frustration. If you’re like me, it really shouldn’t phase you too much since the biotics are quite powerful, lack ammunition, and recharge with great speed. That’s not to say I didn’t have trouble, though, because there were plenty of situations where I really could have used a more meaty character with extra survivability (besides, you know, Barrier).

However, the good thing about playing solo is the atmosphere and gameplay change. You can even take a small stealth approach that just wouldn’t seem feasible with Grunt running around. Your surroundings are extremely tense, and with no extra Overloads or Concussive Blasts to save your ass, that extra awareness to stay alive is a completely different feeling. Depending on who you are, you might find being unable to take someone along for the ride a bit of a nuisance. The characters you’ve been riding with are all incredibly fleshed out, and have some of the best designs in the business, but take it from me: this mission was designed just for Shepard, and just to be different.

Though it’ll take you around an hour or so to complete it, Arrival contains an incredible story that Mass Effect junkies should devour whole. At just about $7 USD, this is an absolute steal. While it may be the last bit of extra content we get before Mass Effect 3 hits, Arrival should sate most die-hards' thirst for more, and maybe even rekindle the urge to play through the game just one more time before (dare I say) it arrives.

9/10 [?]

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- Andrew Whipple III

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