The Title: Mass Effect 2: Project Firewalker

The Premise: A Cerberus survey team specializing in Prothean and Geth research has vanished. Shepard and Co. must discover the whereabouts of the missing researchers involved, with the help of a prototype exploration craft.

Is It Good?: Not really. Matter of fact, when it comes down to it, it’s fairly shitty. It’s this game’s Pinnacle Station, without even the shootouts to pass the time.

Positive things first: The Hammerhead is an ENORMOUS improvement on ME1‘s Mako. Half tank, half hovercraft, the thing just feels and plays right. Even if we were dealing with the atrocious terrains of the random planets from the first game, the Hammerhead would’ve made those things a cakewalk, maybe even enjoyable. The heat-seeking missiles sometimes have some minor targeting issues, but rest assured, if there’s a red target on your screen, something is dying when you fire it. The platforming, and mid-air maneuverability, on the other hand, fixes every problem from the first game.

The fundamental issue here is the actual Firewalker missions do NOTHING with it. I know a lot of people who were excited for vehicle sections to return–really, if not for the terrain issue, I’d be right along with them. As an aside: Goddamn I miss Blaster Master–but if those same people had issue with how little actual gaming there was to do in ME1 once you were in a vehicle, then Firewalker makes those sections look like Skyrim. The progression is this: Cerberus tells you the last known location of the scientists, you go to a planet, mine the crap out of it for resources, pick up a datapad or two with a cryptic message, Mission Complete. No fate of the galaxy on the line. No new weaponry for use outside of these missions. There’s two planets that involve actual firefights, and they’re over in 2 minutes. All the new dialogue takes place in the contexts of Cerberus emails. Your reward? A fancy Prothean disco ball for your troubles (which ends up sitting in Shepard’s quarters on a table, for fuck’s sake), and all the wonderful minerals you mined which could easily be gotten in greater quantities by scanning a planet for a minute.

The bottom line is this one’s just lazy, a bone thrown to sate the people who were really, really expecting more hot vehicular action. Even as free content, it’s just an unsatisfying collection of table scraps, the kind of thing you’d expect Bioware to use when actually DEVELOPING the Hammerhead mechanics instead of actual gameplay. And, again, considering how much fun the Hammerhead could conceivably be, its just so very disappointing.

Length: Less than an hour

Moment To Savor: The escape from Volcano Station is sorta neat. Sorta.

Worth it?: Well, it *is* absolutely free if you’ve got the Cerberus Network or the PS3 version. So there’s that.