We currently stand a little over a month and change from the end of Mass Effect as we know it. The Reapers are coming, our Shepards will fight, and our Shepards will win….maybe. But again, that’s a godforsaken month away. Short of cryogenic experimentation that will probably end with waking up in a Demolition Man-type of situation, we figure the best way to get us over this month-long hump is to go back to the beginning, and get swept up in the Mass Effect universe one last time.
Many of you will be playing the first two games again, and far be it from us to infringe on that experience again. What we’re hoping to tackle in the excruciating month that follows is the periphery experience of these games, the questions we asked while we were playing that hopefully Bioware answers in the last game, Bioware’s successes and failures, and review the DLC, which may be optional, but is just as vital and amazing as the main game for where ME3 intends to take us. Think of it as Mass Effect Book Club, and we are your Oprah. Minus the money and God complex. So, for starters….
The Title: Mass Effect: Bring Down The Sky
The Premise: In retaliation for humanity’s role in diminishing Batarian influence in the galaxy, a terrorist group hijacks a remote station on an asteroid and sends it on a direct collision course with a human colony.
Is It Good?: Good, though short. I remember a LOT of hype around this one on release, hype that went kinda quiet maybe a week later. I get that. It didn’t have that much import on the main quest for the money at the time. Now, though, it’s free on PC and a buck to download off Live. It’s a steal for that.
From a purely gameplay standpoint, yes, it’s yet another Mako stage with the game floaty go-cart physics, though the landscape on the asteroid is a lot more even and easy to navigate than some of the planets. I still owe the programmer who decided to hide shit like minerals and Salarian IDs in craggy, jagged mountains a bat to the knees. Also, moreso than the rogue VI mission on Earth’s moon, the imagery of a giant planet just hanging silently in the background never gets old. Either way, the mission mostly involves the same old cycle of reach a location, blast the shit out of the ground troops with the tank, go inside, slaughter some motherfuckers, loot the bodies, move on. That part of the vehicle combat was always fun (which is undoubtedly why Bioware based the Hammerhead pack in ME2 strictly around that), and the motivation for doing so feels big here. And that’s before one of the survivors lays out the post-collision worst-parts-of-the-Bible timeline for you. On top of that, there’s a twist with one of the last fusion torches, where the Batarians have surrounded it with proximity explosives that you HAVE to navigate on foot down a specific path. This is the kind of thing they should’ve been aiming for with the Mako stages the whole time, but, better late than never, I guess.
What really stuck with me from Bring Down The Sky is that, depending on a single decision you make right out the gate when creating your character, the actual motivation for the terrorist hijacking is heavy as hell. Shepard ends up confronting the leader in the final stages, and the guy brings up Torfan as a motivation. Depending on your character’s background, the dialogue to press him on this and ultimately execute this fucker with extreme, satisfying prejudice is all the greater if you go the path that your character was one of the only survivors of a major human slaughterhouse all in the name of this asshole’s precious commerce.
It’s the real strength of the mission as a whole really. It’s Shepard and crew attempting to prevent an epic, galactic 9/11. Maybe it’s easy territory to mine, but it still feels more like a project worthy of a SPECTRE’s efforts than whatever collection of VI/space pirate assholes Admiral Hackett sends you to face. It’s a trifle in the long run of the ME universe, but for its playtime, it’s a sweet little indulgence.
Length: 1-1 1/2 hours
Moment To Savor: Yep. The last moment. Shepard at his/her most cold-blooded, especially if, like me, you let the hostages go kaboom.
Worth it?: It’s a buck, or less. Go for it.