It's starts with a message just like so many times before. In the Arrival, Admiral Hackett is back to ask for Shepard's help. His friend Doctor Amanda Kenson has been kidnapped by a band of Batarians and is held prisoner on a planet called Aratoth. Apparently she is also in possession of some valuable information regarding the impending Reaper invasion. You know, the one that threatens the lives of all sentient beings in the galaxy. Added pressure.
As our shuttle touches down on the Batarian colony the rain is pouring down. Not long ago this planet was claimed by both Batarians and humans. Low levels of oxygen in the atmosphere made the old alliance hero Jon Grissom (read more of him in Mass Effect Revelation) describe the conditions on the planet as "a Mount Everest inside an oven", something that eventually lead to mankind leaving the planet. As a matter of fact there has barely be any human presence on the planet since we left. Well, until now that is.
The pouring rain washes against Shepard's body and runs off his armour and I'm reminded of the visual delights of Bioware's space saga. The games rank among the finest this generation has to offer, both in graphical terms and in terms of gameplay. Mass Effect 2: Arrival may not offer views on par with Illium or Bekenstein from previous missions - it's mostly made up corridors and modest facilities. But the environment is brilliantly designed in a way that really paints the picture of the darkness that is about to descend on the galaxy.
Combat doesn't offer us any major surprises, both enemies and weapons are recycled from content we've seen before. It matters little as it's as much of a delight to fire your guns and release your biotic powers as before. Unlike other expansions there isn't a distinctive boss fight in Arrival, something that would have put a welcome exclamation mark to its conclusion. On the other hand, it doesn't matter much when the end still provides you with an explosive scene that qualifies as one of the best the series has had to offer so far.
The mission also contains an interesting twist and forms a complete bridge to the plot of Mass Effect 3. It takes about 2-3 hours depending on your difficulty level to complete, on par with other expansions. It could surely have stretch on for a bit longer, but the hours you get are of the same high quality you have come to expect.
With Arrival Bioware are finished with Mass Effect 2 and they have delivered on their promise to support the game with new material until the very end, something you can't really say they succeeded in with the first game. We've previously gotten three very well crafted expansions that each delivered something relevant and exciting to an already awesome experience. Mass Effect 2: Arrival is no exception.
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