Mass Effect 2 ‘Arrival’ DLC Review – The Beginning of the End

With Mass Effect 2 under the “Deal of the Week” spotlight last week on Xbox Live, I took the opportunity to grab the last DLC pack for it, Arrival.  Can’t beat a sale now, can we?  Designed to set up the beginning events of Mass Effect 3, the good Commander is once again called upon by the Alliance this time to locate an undercover agent who is rumored to have proof of the imminent Reaper invasion.  Is “Arrival” the pinnacle of DLC offering for Mass Effect 2 or does it take a backseat to the others?  Read on below to see my full review!

(PSST, over here.  Obviously, with this DLC focusing on events that will have direct consequences for Mass Effect 3, there may be spoilers.  If you want to remain pure or are sensitive to any kind of spoilerish details, be careful)

Arrival will first become active after the mission on Horizon.  You’ll get a call from our old friend Admiral Hackett explaining that Dr. Amanda Kenson, an undercover operative, has been captured by the Batarians claiming she’s trying to carry out terrorist activities.  Hackett explains that she’s an old friend and she may have found evidence that the Reapers are getting ready to invade.  He wants you to go in and break her out.  What transpires throughout the course of this short DLC isn’t what you’d expect.

The biggest non-story related twist here is the fact that you don’t get to roll out with any squad members for this mission.  Fear of the Batarians killing Kenson if uncovered, Hackett wants you to go in and keep things quiet.  The first part of the mission involves you trying to sneak past guards down broken and dilapidated hallways of the prison complex.  You’re not penalized for alerting anyone but you do get a snazzy achievement for not being detected.  It is kind of a drag not being able to head into combat with Garrus, Thane, or anyone else, but it’s certainly not a deal breaker.  Once you get to Kenson (who looks and sounds a lot like Dr. Chakwas by the way), the two of you try to escape the building back to her base of operations known as “The Project”. 

If you haven’t already guessed, Arrival is mostly a big combat mission.  You’ll be moving from room to room clearing everyone out, while protecting Kenson as she hacks an elevator to even holding your ground against waves of enemies in one section.  I’m not saying it’s uninspired, but it’s not as great as Shadow Broker or even Overlord.  The locations you get to visit are fantastic with the last section of the DLC being extremely cool.  The second half is definitely the standout with the twists and turns really starting to change the course of the mission.  The overall package will run you about an hour and a half, so you certainly won’t tire of the straight combat.  I was disappointed to see not many opportunities for paragon/renegade advancement or even a new weapon or two however. 

Not overly important but worth mentioning all the same, I did run into a couple of glitches while playing.  When defending Kenson as she was hacking an elevator so we could escape, I had to run back to the door we came in through to shut it.  I used shockwave (with my Vanguard) to knock the enemies around and interestingly enough, I wasn’t able to press the button to close the doors.  The game didn’t advance either, I was just running around with nothing to do until I finally gave up and loaded the autosave.  The other one happened when my game was loading.  The load screen graphics disappeared and a weird graphics glitch took its place.  Nothing happened but thankfully (and strangely) I could still pause the game.  So I reloaded again and everything was normal.

Overall, “Arrival” doesn’t top the best 2 DLC offerings, Overlord or Shadow Broker.  Those two in my mind are the best of the best and should be the priority to play if you’re in the market for Mass Effect 2 DLC.  Arrival is better than the rest however, and while the gameplay is just alright, the story aspect is certainly worth checking out.  I’ll most likely run through it again because Bioware has you make a pretty big decision near the end and you just know it’s going to have far-reaching consequences in Mass Effect 3.  Bioware does a masterful job setting up the next game and leaving you wanting to know more.  Unfortunately for me, I now am left waiting till March to see what happens to my Commander Shepard when the Reapers finally arrive.

Arrival DLC gets 3 flying asteroids out of 5

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