Mass Effect 2: Arrival
|Mass Effect 2: Arrival|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
|Release||March 29, 2011|
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing, third-person shooter|
"Mass Effect 2: Arrival" is a downloadable content pack developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts for the action role-playing video game Mass Effect 2. It was released on March 29, 2011 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. The pack introduces a new mission where the player assumes the role of Commander Shepard, an elite human soldier who must stop an imminent invasion of a highly advanced machine race of synthetic-organic starships. The pack also includes three in-game upgrades and three new achievements that are awarded for completing specific tasks.
"Mass Effect 2: Arrival" was formally confirmed to be in development on March 14, 2011 and acts as a bridge for Mass Effect 3. The pack received generally mixed reviews from critics, with an aggregate score of 65 out of 100 for the Xbox 360 at Metacritic. Reviewers mainly criticized its weak story and strong emphasis on linear combat sequences, though some found the atmospheric environments praiseworthy.
Mass Effect 2 is an action role-playing game where the player assumes the role of Commander Shepard. Shepard's gender, appearance, history and combat-training are determined by the player before the game begins. The game features a variety of missions that the player must complete to progress. During the missions, Shepard is usually assisted by two AI squad members that the player can indirectly control through orders. Combat takes place in real-time, but the player can pause the game at any time to calmly target enemies and select different powers for the squad members to use. Unlike most of the missions, "Arrival" introduces a new assignment that involves Shepard to fight solo almost the entire time, even though there is a short section where the player is assisted by a character. The mission also contains three in-game upgrades that the player can research to enhance aspects of the game's weapons and armor, as well as three new achievements. The first achievement requires the player to complete the first part of the mission without being detected by enemies; the second achievement involves the player to survive all the waves in a specific battle; and the third one is unlocked by completing "Arrival". Upon completing the mission, the player is awarded with experience points. If a sufficient amount of experience is obtained, the player may upgrade combat abilities.
"Mass Effect 2: Arrival" is set within the Milky Way galaxy during the 22nd century, where interstellar travel is possible through the use of mass transit devices called Mass Relays. Elite human soldier Commander Shepard is sent on a mission to rescue Dr. Amanda Kenson, an Alliance scientist being held captive by the batarians, an alien species opposing humanity. Kenson claims to have found evidence of an imminent invasion of Reapers, a highly advanced machine race of synthetic-organic starships encountered in the first Mass Effect game. Arriving in the batarian-owned Bahak system, Shepard infiltrates the prison and rescues Kenson, who explains that she discovered a Reaper artifact which gave her visions of the invasion. The Reapers plan to use the Bahak system's Mass Relay to quickly travel throughout the galaxy and conquer it, but she and her research team plan to stop it by crashing an asteroid into it. Shepard asks to see the proof and is taken to the artifact, which is located inside a complex on the surface of a large asteroid.
Upon arriving at the artifact, Shepard has a vision of the Reaper fleet approaching. Kenson and her entire team, however, turn out to have been indoctrinated from having spent too much time studying the artifact. She attacks Shepard, who is eventually overwhelmed by her soldiers. Upon awakening two days later, Shepard manages to escape and reach the control room, where he/she sets the asteroid on course to hit the Bahak system's relay. In retaliation, Kenson plans to destroy the asteroid by overloading the reactor core of the facility, but Shepard ultimately stops her. Shepard then contacts his/her starship and escapes shortly before the asteroid hits the Relay, resulting in the destruction of the entire Bahak system. Shepard is later met by Admiral Steven Hackett, their superior officer, who explains that he/she has to go to Earth and face the consequences, setting the stage for Mass Effect 3.
Development and release
"Mass Effect 2: Arrival" was developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts. During development of Mass Effect 2, Bioware stated that downloadable content was becoming a fundamental part of the company's overall philosophy. The pack was accidentally revealed on February 21, 2011 by the addition of three new achievements in a patch for the PlayStation 3 version of Mass Effect 2. BioWare later stated that the addition of the achievements was intentional, but assumed they would be "invisible". On March 14, 2011, the pack was formally confirmed to be in development via a brand new screenshot. BioWare explained that its purpose is to act as a bridge for Mass Effect 3. Although the base where most of the pack's events take place is located on an asteroid, early plans suggested that it would be set on an ocean planet. The base would be underwater and Shepard would reach the main level by submarine. Each section of the base would be in different "containers", and would have a similar sense to James Cameron's 1989 film The Abyss. The pack was released on March 29, 2011 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. The soundtrack was composed by Sonic Mayhem duo Sascha Dikiciyan and Cris Velasco, the same composers that penned the music from Mass Effect 2's earlier downloadable content "Kasumi - Stolen Memory".
"Mass Effect 2: Arrival" received generally mixed reviews from critics. GameSpot Senior Editor Kevin VanOrd called "Arrival" "a disappointing conclusion to a beloved series' second chapter." He stated that the pack lacks elements of choice and character development, which are core features of the Mass Effect series. He nonetheless found the atmospheric environments still praiseworthy, especially the final battleground, which "seems to break the laws of physics but nonetheless gives the shooting excellent visual context." Kristine Steimer of IGN enjoyed the challenge of fighting alone, as it "never bordered on frustrating", but also admitted the pack fundamentally consisted of linear combat sequences.
Game Revolution's Eduardo Reboucas mainly criticized the story, stating that "characters don't offer a lot of explanation and the little that is given seems more like a hastily put-together excuse to shoot up some fools and push some buttons on the way." He also said that none of the conversation paths influence the game, giving no sense of closure or importance. Similarly, Maurice Tan of Destructoid criticized the ending sacrifice for lacking "a good reason to really care about it", but still considered "Arrival" a worthwhile purchase due to its potential impact on Mass Effect 3. Despite the general criticism about the story, the pack's intense atmosphere has been highlighted, with Game Revolution noting that "you'll never be bored by the visuals".
Dan Whitehead of Eurogamer highlighted positively the first part of the mission. He remarked the game "[does] a decent job of allowing you to feel like you're being stealthy as you negotiate your way past guards, usually by looking around for not-very-hidden alternate routes." However, he criticized the final two thirds for being very linear and repetitive, and also reacted negatively to the game's insistence on having to fight solo almost the entire time. He explained that Mass Effect 2 is a squad game, where players "[use] fluid team strategy to cope with different situations", but fighting solo means that players "have to deal with every encounter in the exact same way." Brad Gallaway, reviewer of GameCritics, concluded that the relatively short mission and included extras were not enough to justify the pack's price tag. "Mass Effect 2: Arrival" was nominated for Best DLC (downloadable content) at the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards, but lost to Portal 2: Peer Review.
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- BioWare. Mass Effect 2: Arrival. Scene: Intro. Level/area: Arrival.
Admiral Hackett: We have a deep-cover operative out in batarian space. Name's Doctor Amanda Kenson. Dr. Kenson recently reported that she found evidence of an imminent Reaper invasion.
- BioWare. Mass Effect 2: Arrival. Scene: Space shuttle conversation. Level/area: Arrival.
Dr. Kenson: The evidence came from what we call Object Rho, a Reaper artifact we discovered among the asteroids near the relay itself.
- BioWare. Mass Effect 2: Arrival. Scene: Reactor core conversation. Level/area: Arrival.
Shepard: Step away from the reactor / Dr. Kenson: You've ruined everything! I can't hear the whispers anymore.
- BioWare. Mass Effect 2: Arrival. Scene: Control room scene. Level/area: Arrival.
Project VI: Project activation in progress. Warning: Collision with mass relay is imminent. Begin evacuation procedures.
- BioWare. Mass Effect 2: Arrival. Scene: Ending. Level/area: Arrival.
Shepard: So what do you suggest? / Admiral Hackett: Evidence against you is shoddy, at best. But at some point, you'll have to Earth and face the music. I can't stop it... but I can and will make them fight for it.
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