The Title: Mass Effect 2: Arrival

The Premise: Commander Shepard, ever loyal to the Alliance’s Admiral Hackett (voiced by Lance Henriksen) is tasked with investigating the abduction of Dr. Amanda Kenson by (surprise) Batarian “extremists”. Along the way, Shepard learns a horrifying truth about the upcoming Reaper invasion.

As players, we typically get Commander Shepard with his squad in tow, taking down the enemies of the galaxy. This time around, Shepard is on his own in full James Bond mode, taking down Batarians and indoctrinated humans along the way. Once the mission is near completion, Shepard has to make a decision that may result in the annihilation of an entire colony.

Is It Good?: Shepard on his own is a force to be reckoned with, which is something I’ve always felt as a player, however; over all, I miss his crew when they’re not around. This DLC is meant to bridge the gap between Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 in that its directly related to the inbound Reaper fleet glimpsed briefly in the final moments of Mass Effect 2. A fleet that may or may not end up glassing Earth before Shepard has time to stop them.

It’s nice to see Admiral Hackett return, as he was a fairly prominent character in the original Mass Effect. In Mass Effect 2, he emails Shepard from time to time with missions that are outside the Alliance’s jurisdiction, but other than that, the gravelly tones of Lance Henriksen were nowhere to be found. Thankfully, Arrival rectifies that.

The mission is exciting and can be performed two different ways, via stealth or through all-out gunplay. Going the stealth route is far more satisfying as Shepard infiltrates the Batarian facility like a ninja and then evacuates Dr. Kenson in a series of glorious firefights. The facility is reminiscent of Jack’s loyalty mission, so it almost seems like BioWare may have re-used some assets, overall, it works.

Not only that, but there are some light hints, performance and animation-wise that Hackett was perhaps once involved with Dr. Kenson, showing his dismay at her demise during the close of Arrival. In fact, this DLC is loaded with solid performances by the cast all around, with Shepard emoting strongly (male or female, it doesn’t matter) about the potential destruction of a Batarian colony and how that might impact galactic relations.

This DLC was touted as being a glimpse at what awaits players in Mass Effect 3. Interestingly, it delivers in providing the player with a good idea of exactly the kind of intergalactic incident that may see Shepard, as humanity’s brightest hope taken down a few pegs in the eyes of other alien races. In “allowing” the destruction of a Batarian colony at the close of Arrival’s mission, does that not mean that Shepard is just another ruthless human putting a human agenda before others?

Mass Effect 3 will open with Shepard facing what are basically charges for war crimes. To see a hero go from savior to dead, back to hero, then to war criminal is an interesting progression of character not often seen in gaming. Hopefully, all pans out for the galaxy in Mass Effect 3, but then again, we’ll have to wait and see.

Length: About two hours.

Moment To Savor: Using the Renegade quick-time event to take down Dr. Kenson when she’s spouting craziness about how it’s fine that the Reapers are going to arrive and begin the cleansing of the galaxy, starting with Earth.

Worth it?: There’s a great interaction right before Shepard leaves Kenson’s lab that makes the DLC worth playing, however; getting there is somewhat tedious. The moral decisions Shepard has to make are interesting, though, and will bridge the gap to the final installment nicely. At 560 Microsoft points (around $7), I’d say just pull the trigger and prepare for the Arrival.