Mass Effect; not much more can be said about the series, about the characters, the gameplay, the RPG elements, the lack of said RPG elements, thermal clips, choices, biotic gods, blue skinned babes and of course that infamous ending. While it’s not the end of the series this DLC is the end of Shepard, whoever your Shepard was: male or female, paragon of righteousness or tyrannical renegade, whether s/he started out at Eden prime, was resurrected by Cerberus or only appeared after the Reaper had invaded. We’ve fought tooth and nail with them, made some friends, overcome impossible obstacles, loved, laughed, cried, learned to call a straw an “Emergency Induction Port”, but more, much more than this, you did it your way. This is the DLC to see that character off, the final goodbye and damn, what a farewell it is.
Straight off the bat you just know this DLC is going to be worth the price tag when you notice that the DLC comes in two download packets (at least on the Xbox 360), that’s because Bioware have done this properly. It isn’t a DLC where your squad mates stand behind you silent where they would normally have some witty dialogue (Shadow Broker), it’s not a solo affair where you’re expected to go alone to avoid that issue (The Arrival) and it’s not even a mission where you’re forced to leave your team behind only to have them replaced by new characters (Omega). In this DLC your team, the people you’ve grown to love or hate are right beside you; cracking wise, egging you on and constantly making call backs to the good times. This DLC is after all just as much a send-off for them as it is for Shepard.
It’s not just present team members either; Wrex turns up and can play a big part through the story (if you want to choose him that is, perfectly fine to leave him sitting on the bench if you want to play with Edi and James) and later on you’ll get reappearances from all your surviving team mates of past games. The whole squad comes together with a knowing nod towards the player, yes this is the end and wasn’t it an amazing journey?
If you’re not interested in the character interaction (although the DLC has loads of funny bits scattered throughout if you’re interested) there is of course the mission itself. The crew are on shore leave and Shepard gets given a fancy new apartment (which you have some control over the décor to boot) and is told to relax. Of course this is Shepard we’re talking about here and mere moments after entering a sushi bar is attacked by a brand new group of mercenaries. Seems somebody is attempting to steal Shepard’s identity and the Normandy; so it’s up to Shepard and Co to fight through brand new areas of the Citadel to face the strangely familiar looking foe behind everything. In reality these “brand new” mercenaries are actually re-skinned Cerberuses troops but it’s still nice to look at something new to shoot. There is a fantastic part where everybody takes part in a mission together, nobody is left sitting on the bench as everybody rushes to help out the Commander; I think that’s unprecedented, even the with the Suicide mission we never got to see everybody fighting together apart from in a few cutscenes.
This section of the game will take around five hours, which does seem too short but the DLC is split into two distinctive sections, this action section of the game which follows a linear story (and is actually the weakest part of the DLC) and the “shore leave” Shepard is supposed to be taking. After dealing with the villain of the DLC we get to explore a brand new hub area which includes a casino with mini-games, we can meet up with characters and go on little “dates” with them and then there is a combat simulator that will probably eat up another five hours, possibly longer.
Remember the Pinnacle Station DLC for the original Mass Effect, probably the worse DLC in the history of the series, it’s a bit like that just much better. Shepard can now set up holographic fights with various enemies on several different maps; the enemies are Cerberus, Geth, Reaper, Collector and N7. If that’s sounding familiar to you it’s because it is, it’s basically single-player multiplayer where you and a squad enter a small arena, fight through three waves of enemies and then you’re scored at the end of it. Depending on how when you do you’ll get a medal, you can then cash these medals in to unlock new arenas, new enemies, harder settings or bonus modifiers (like increased enemy shields or no ammo drops).
This section is a lot of fun, you can use current team members or use those of the previous games; so want to enjoy the company of Jacob and Jack for a while well you can (provided they’re alive of course). You’ll even get fan-mail and people asking you to preform fights with set conditions to help mix things up; not that you need help because the modifiers and three difficulty settings means you can have a varied time. Also of note is the N7 section where you basically fight against a good team of multiplayer characters of several different types (Soldiers, Adepts, Vanguards, etc) which will provide a solid challenge to anybody fed up with facing the standard grouping of enemies. Then to top it all you’ve got a special mission where you have to fight against the toughest enemies of Geth, Cerberus, Reaper and Collector all at once. In short this section of the DLC more than makes up for the less than impressive main mission.
You’ve also got a two new weapons, most notable is actually an old weapon. The N-7 rifle which doesn’t require thermal-clips, yes you find the only weapon in the universe that wasn’t refitted; while this weapon is a fun call-back the cool-down animation is buggy and will be constantly interrupted for no good reason…almost like Bioware don’t want you to use it. There are also new armour sets, new mods for weapons and some minor war assets (like you needed any more of those).
This is the best DLC of the franchise, filled with humour, shout-outs, Easter Eggs and at the end you get to throw a party where you can really get to say goodbye to all these fantastic characters. This is a fantastic send off and I recommend it whole-heartedly to any fan of the franchise.