Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mass Effect: Arrival

Reposted from my deviantArt.

So I finished Arrival last night (actually early this morning). This is the newest DLC for Mass Effect 2, and the one supposod to bridge the gap between the second and third games. I liked it a lot. It was short, and I was looking for a good place to stop so that I could finish it after I'd slept and make it feel longer. But there wasn't any part of the game where I felt I could let go; it was too combat-heavy and intense. (That's not to say that I liked the fact that there were multiple points at which you couldn't save until the three waves of enemies were over. But I comment mostly on story, not gameplay, because I know that language better.)

Mostly I came out of it with three main impressions: 1.) Intense, 2.) Too short, 3.) Shepard is a beast.

She punches a guard to death to get to Kenson, and then *spoiler?* rises off a lab bed like Frankenstein and takes out her guards with bare hands. It reminded me of the way George Lucas talked in the episode 1 commentary about turning the Jedi into the pursuers instead of the pursued so that they were scarier. I think it's gonna make me more careful about how I write my Shepard too. She's not the type to go cry in somebody's arms after she...but that's a spoiler warning and we'll get to that later.

(I use feminine pronouns because most of my PCs, including Mallory Shepard ,who I used here, are female. But whether you play a man or a woman doesn't matter at all in this DLC.)

So, onto what I liked:

1. Varren!
2. The cutscenes!
3. The vision Shepard sees at the end. It was so pretty, as was...well, everything at the end.
4. The fact that Shep's wall in the Loft turns into a screen. So that's where they watched Firefly in my first ME fanfic, "Movie Night". 
5. The way it sets up ME3. We do get hints at why we might be on Earth then.
6. The floor textures. Flagstones!

What I disliked:

1. So. Short! I wish there had been a divergence to Arcturus Station, both to see it and for more time. I would've been irritated if this had cost ~800 points, but seeing as it was a ~500 point purchase I do think it was priced properly. Just could have been a more epic introduction to ME3.

2. The way it was so obvious that they didn't hire Joker's voice actor just for this. I'm glad that he showed up (and-- *spoiler*), but who was that guy over the comm who said "Normandy incoming" anyway?

Not sure what I think about it:

1. The labyrinthine puzzle-dungeon in the first part. Very Legend of Zelda, except...simpler. But it did make my Shepard feel like McGuyver.

2. The costumes for the Project workers.

The following section contains spoilers! Read if you don't care about knowing what happens.

I love the bit where you have to fight your way away from Project Rho, but have to get knocked out to continue the game. It was very Reach. Stuff like that makes me feel like a game is playing with what it means to interact with the world.

Did we learn anything new and spectacular about the Reapers? No. But Harbinger was shiny. The writing in the whole mission wasn't quite as tight as usual, but it was fun.

Joker! Okay, so he didn't talk. But he just flew through a Mass Relay just before it exploded. Pretty awesome. He'll have something to say about that.

So....the elephant in the room. Shepard just killed three hundred thousand batarians. I think the animators did a good job of showing the conflict on her face when she pressed the button and afterward, when she was firmly talking to Hackett about it. Mallory agreed to turn herself in to the Alliance after it's all done. I reminds me of the way the plot of Fate of the Jedi was kicked off by Luke Skywalker being tried for crimes against the Republic. I imagine that Shepard's got a lot of guilt, but also...she's the kind of person who looks at a countdown that says "two days until death-by-Reaper-invasion", and asks Kenson how they did their math. She's cold. What I wish we could see is what the squadmates thought of it, and I've got that fanfic half written.

So I think it'd be interesting if Shepard was retuning to Earth to face trial in the beginning of ME3, and then the Reapers arrive and she's like "okay, I'll be back just as soon as I save y'all."

I think that's all I've got to say! The DLC certainly did what it was supposed to do and made me really eager for ME3.

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