The Title: Mass Effect 2: Kasumi’s Stolen Memory

The Premise: In return for helping with the mission to take down the Collectors, master thief Kasumi Goto asks for Shepard’s help with some unfinished business: stealing back the last memories of her murdered partner-in-crime from arms dealer Donovan Hock.

Is It Good?: Yup. As per usual with Mass Effect DLC, short and sweet. The first half of the mission is also a fun little departure from the typical hit-the-ground-running-and-gunning of the DLC, due to a slow start, and a laser focus on just Kasumi and Shepard.

Actually, backtrack there for a second to focus on that word. Fun. Specifically, the fact that unlike all the other downloadable missions and characters, Kasumi is actually a lighthearted character. From the first minute or so you land on the Citadel to talk to her, she’s a joy. She gets recruited, and actually seems kinda excited to be there on this death march towards an unknown enemy in a system no human has ever returned from and whatnot. I never realized how much the main lineup was missing that sort of counterbalance until after this.

The other surprise in the first part is that the swanky party Shepard and Kasumi have come to crash is, well, swanky, and Kasumi is not invited, leaving Shepard to do all the talking in formalwear. It’s all fairly standard Bondian schmooze time for both Shepards in terms of character interaction. The funny part is in the clothes. Male Shepard seems right at home in a simple suit, but FemShep is in an evening gown, which would be hot in a classy sort of way if FemShep didn’t seem about as comfortable as a squid in a straitjacket in the thing. I don’t know whether it was a conscious choice on Bioware’s part or not, but FemShep seems so ridiculously out of sorts in her dress it adds a whole other layer of humor to the situation. The relief in Hale’s voice once she gets to slip back in armor is thick enough to spread and serve on toast. One of the rewards for completing the mission is keeping the formalwear as a casual outfit to wear onboard the Normandy, and good Lord, it never gets old seeing her barking orders or sitting man-style in this thing.

Anywho, the mission. The first half is entirely Shepard slinking his/her way through the party, Kasumi in stealth mode at all times, surrounded by the galaxy’s asshole elite (none of whom recognize Shepard somehow), and doing simple sabotage to get access to the vault beneath Donovan Hock’s house. The second half, after finding the greybox, is a pretty spectacular shootout, some of the best gunplay in the game, in fact. Walls are blown up, tanks fire, there’s jeeps full of troops pulling up, all while Hock himself (whose accent synthesizer seems to be stuck on shop demonstration) taunts Kasumi over a loudspeaker. The mission culminates in Hock himself in a highly armored gunship that Kasumi herself takes a huge chunk out of with the most kickass gymnastics routine ever. For your troubles, you get the Locust SMG, which, too, kicks ass.

The fun kinda stops there though, as the mission also has one of the saddest endings, where¬† the truth about Keiji becomes very clear, and a rather heartbreaking choice has to be made. It’s extremely well done, but then, fish swim, birds fly, Bioware tells great stories. How much weight it really carries depends entirely on whether the scandalous data about the Alliance at the core of the decision comes into play during ME3. I’m hoping it’s as mindblowing as it’s made out to be by Keiji. What I’m expecting is a throwaway line of dialogue somewhere. We’ll see.

Length: 1-1 1/2 hours

Moment To Savor: Donovan Hock’s vault. The alien art and Kasumi’s comments on them are great enough, but there’s a whopper of an Earth landmark in there, and the codex entry it unlocks is some brilliant writing and extrapolation on the part of Bioware.

Worth it?: Hard to say. The content’s good, and Kasumi’s a great addition to the character roster (and goddammit, Shadow Strike, and Kasumi’s spiteful little giggle afterward just never gets old), but $7 is kinda on the steep side for this one. YMMV.