Mass Effect 2: Arrival DLC review

Mass Effect 2 has put out some damn good DLC to back up what’s an already stellar game. Overlord effectively utilized the fun Hammerhead vehicle, Kasumi’s Stolen Memory gave us a new party member, and Lair of the Shadow Broker let us reconnect with an old ally (or an old squeeze in our case). Then there’s Arrival, the latest and final DLC chapter. Instead of ending the ME2 legacy on a high with Shadow Broker, BioWare chose to squeeze out one last disappointing mission that feels insubstantial despite providing a narrative bridge leading to Mass Effect 3. And our hopes were so high...

Arrival begins with Admiral Hackett asking Shepard to go on a stealthy solo mission to rescue Dr. Kenson, an Alliance operative who’s been arrested on terrorism charges by Batarians out in deep space. The doctor’s last report before losing contact suggested she’d found vital information about an imminent Reaper invasion. It’s a great setup, but BioWare fails to fully capitalize on the premise.

You’ll begin to notice fairly quickly that this space adventure is painfully lacking. For one, the settings aren’t anything special, comparatively speaking. In the previous DLC missions, there’s a particular portion that seems to stick with you, whether it be the beautiful planet of Aite, fighting across the top of a massive starship, or playing 007 at a cocktail party. There’s just nothing like that to take away from Arrival, and the story is equally forgettable.

Now we expect some linearity from these fairly short DLC missions, but BioWare always seems to compensate with compelling drama and great setpieces. That’s not the case here. The plot of Arrival is predictable and unexciting, and you only run into one main character - Dr. Kenson. In the few conversations you have, your dialogue choices have very little impact on how things plays out. That means your enjoyment will depend heavily on combat and action.

Thankfully, BioWare made some attempt to shake things up with a few varied action sequences. There’s a small portion at the beginning that has a slight Resident Evil feel, with Shepard creeping through stone corridors as Varrens lurk just around the corners. It’s a good way to reinforce the fact that you won’t be getting any help from your squad members (assuming you ignore the fact that Shepard still yells “We’ve been spotted!”), and serves as a good transition into the prison stealth section.

Above: Guard 1: “What was that noise?” Guard 2: “Who cares? We’re only getting paid to look in this direction”

This is where your experience can vary wildly. Should you set off the alarm and go in guns blazing, or should you remain inconspicuous as per the orders of Admiral Hackett? In order to get the best out of this experience, we definitely recommend the latter.  Whether you care about achievements/trophies or not, going after them here makes the hour and a half of gameplay a lot more interesting. The Covert Action achievement requires you remain undetected before you reach Dr. Kenson, and you’ll have to last through the mid-mission horde battle to earn the Last Stand achievement. If you play without these goals in mind, Arrival loses most of the small amount of charm it has, and devolves into the same old duck and cover shooty shoot.

Above: “Shepard, you’re the only one I trust with this delicate mission. Also, I can’t afford to bring back your crew’s voice actors...”

The whole point of Arrival is to whet our appetites for Mass Effect 3, but incredibly, this fully fledged $7 add-on is less impactful than the simple, single shot that brought the main ME2 game to a close. That above all else is why Arrival breaks our hearts.

Apr 4, 2011


  • Darkhawk - January 3, 2012 9:45 a.m.

    On sale right now for 260MSP. Buy?
  • lincoln6echo - April 10, 2011 5:23 p.m.

    Boring or not the DLC did provide a some useful upgrades. Namely: increased heavy weapon ammo and Medi-Gel capacity, and heavy skin weave(+10 health). Extra stuff that it it can't hurt to have when you're doing an insanity playthrough.
  • WtfInternetguy87 - April 8, 2011 12:06 a.m.

    DLC like this makes me hope DLC in general dies off. Paying for snippets of game play is getting pretty redundant. I don't mind trilogies and the like but these little pieces of the story should of occurred when I got the game at launch.
  • Zepaw - April 6, 2011 1:08 a.m.

    "Good the last DLC now i can finally get my Game Of The Year Edition" This. Not buying the DLC separately. Waiting for GOTY ME2 and FO:NV. Obviously gonna be a while for Fallout, but I imagine ME2 GOTY would happen before ME3.
  • Spybreak8 - April 5, 2011 8:07 p.m.

    Respectably disagree sir, I thought it was great. Sure not as great as Shadow Broker but def in the top 3 DLC to download next to Overlord.
  • Agent79 - April 5, 2011 6:18 p.m.

    5? I'll definitely play it but this is the last dlc for ME2 and it didn't get that great of a score, I remember reading a review for Dragon Age's last dlc Witch Hunt that said it kinda sucked. So, Bioware is running out of steam at the end which sucks.
  • soren7550 - April 5, 2011 6:16 p.m.

    Could have been better with one simple addition - your Virmire Survivor! Alas, it doesn't, but I still recomend getting it. Adds plot for ME2/3, and it helps ease the wait for ME3 - if only a little bit.
  • mothbanquet - April 5, 2011 2:37 p.m.

    I found myself thoroughly underwhelmed by this. Maybe my hopes were set too high by repeatedly awesome additions to an awesome game but I was expected at least SOMETHING to blow me away. As such, all I got was a competent, if unremarkable, set of corridors. No mentionable extras for the rest of the game either, such a few unexciting upgrades, and the storyline (while posing an interesting dilemma at the end) just feels empty next to the interesting ones laid out in the other DLC missions. Thing is, it is arguably worth the relatively low price if you're a completionist but if you're watching the pennies then I'd skip it - you ain't missing too much.
  • Bloodstorm - April 5, 2011 2:06 p.m.

    Agree with this review. It really seemed so inconsequential all while it was supposed to move the overall narrative. Suck a shame that they ended ME2 on a low note.
  • Ilyere - April 5, 2011 1:55 p.m.

    I love Mass Effect 2, but it does seem like the price is high. I hope it goes on sale? I got the three other DLC missions during the Christmas sale, best thing ever!
  • philipshaw - April 5, 2011 1:50 p.m.

    I just recently finished ME2 on PS3 and was interested in this DLC but it seems like I should just wait until it goes on sale
  • SpaceCowboy - April 5, 2011 12:05 p.m.

    I think Bioware limited themselves by only requiring a half done playthrough. It basically makes the DLC pointless and unimportant. They should have made it so that a finished playthrough was required so they could properly lead into ME3.
  • JohnDagger - April 5, 2011 9:22 a.m.

    At least Shepard gets to call Sovereign a bitch at the end of the DLC. God I can't wait for ME3...
  • system1988 - April 5, 2011 8:14 a.m.

    They should cut the dlc cr_p and focus on the main game, ME3. I never really got the whole philosophy of DLC's anyway. I just hope that this does not affect in any way the release a ME3 gameplay trailer.
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - April 5, 2011 5:37 a.m.

    Love Mass Effect, loved Shadow Broker, thought this was weak. Solo Shepard shooting bad guys until the end, and even the ending is lackluster. One important thing does happen, but it could easily be glossed over in ME3. Maybe it matters, maybe not? Compare that to Shadow Broker, which shakes up the story up quite a bit and introduced a new enemy type, car chase, dossiers on the team, cool new planet etc etc
  • remakedforblackpeople - April 5, 2011 1:52 a.m.

    I was very disappointed no new gear and you were solo as a clever disguise so no new lines of dialogue had to be used for the other teammates. They still don't mention the fact that some teammates died after the Collector ship. It really bugs me that Garrus doesn't comment on Tali's death and Miranda doesn't say something like "Sorry we lost Jacob" or something like that.
  • KolbitosFruitJuice - April 5, 2011 1:49 a.m.

    I'm gettin it. I highly doubt its as disappointing as this review states, only short, which I can live with. Sounds like a case of someone getting their hopes up way too high for DLC. All I care about is having an hour and a half of fun, and a nice little bridge for Mass Effect 3.
  • Jared117 - April 5, 2011 1:33 a.m.

    Do not buy this DLC until it goes on sale. I just finished it and it is not worth the price. It is a boring story that was confusing and extremely short. I was hoping for another epic, awesome mission like shadow broker but i was extremely disapointed. The only good thing about it is the easy achievements.
  • IndignantCactus - April 5, 2011 1:21 a.m.

    And to think, Bioware could have used the dev team that worked on Arrival to get ME3 here faster. >:(
  • Yeager1122 - April 5, 2011 12:56 a.m.

    Good the last DLC now i can finally get my Game Of The Year Edition.

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