Release date: Out now
A thought occurred when we played through BioWare’s Mass Effect 2 for a second time, recently – of the nearly 50 hours it takes to accomplish everything in the game, a lot of that time is spent shooting things. We’re absolutely fine with that, since this is a videogame standard and Mass Effect 2’s combat is pretty decent, but those moments never grip us in the way that the multi-stranded narrative does.
Unfortunately, Arrival – a downloadable add-on pack that connects the story of the second game to its coming third installment – is so heavy on combat that the narrative takes a backseat. It sees Commander Shepard being dispatched by old colleague Admiral Hackett (Lance Henriksen) to help one Dr Kenson, who claims that an invasion from the Reapers (Mass Effect 2’s big bad) is imminent.
This amounts to little more than a stretch of survival horror-style play followed by a non-stop, one-man assault on a facility containing a Reaper artifact. Oh, it’s mostly boring stuff – essentially challenge rooms for the seasoned Mass Effect player who prefer combat to storytelling (who?).
There is one mildly interesting twist and a prison escape, while the ending is pretty decent, too, but we’re talking about 5% of the whole experience. You can live without it; but another go at Mass Effect 2, experimenting with different options, is very much recommended.