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Mass Effect 2 DLC
Platform: Xbox 360, PC
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: BioWare
Genre: Action RPG
Format: Download
Released: US 04/06/10 (K-SM)



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No horrendous inventory menu!
 
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Husks return in a more powerful version that will likely kill you.
 
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Ooo, Mordin.
 
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"Mess Hall" indeed.
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Dave Yeager
Mass Effect 2 DLC
05/19/10
Dave Yeager

Kasumi - Stolen Memory

Kasumi - Stolen Memory is the latest DLC offering for Bioware’s smash hit, Mass Effect 2. If you haven’t played Mass Effect 2, you’ll want to read Ashton Liu’s excellent review first for some context. You’ll probably also want to consider moving out from under that rock in the near future.

This review won’t discuss the merits of Mass Effect 2 at large, but rather how the DLC fits into the game. Nothing has changed about the graphics, the gameplay, or the controls. The most important thing you get with this DLC is a brand new NPC with loyalty mission. Small bonuses include a new weapon, research upgrade, and casual outfit to add to Shepherd's wardrobe. In the interest of full disclosure I played this DLC on the PC, but I see no reason the experience wouldn’t translate to the Xbox 360.

The NPC for whom the DLC is named is a super slick female thief named Kasumi whom Cerberus is able to recruit in exchange for a sizable signing bonus and the promise that you will help recover a "greybox" that belonged to her former partner, Keiji Okuda. The "greybox" is a sci-fi conceit that slides into the Mass Effect universe nicely: it is essentially a neural implant that allows one to store and retrieve memories. A suitably nefarious villain, Donovan Hock, has naturally obtained Keiji’s greybox, which also happens to contain some information that Kasumi says could lead to interstellar war if certain parties got their hands on it. Kasumi needs your help to get into Donovan Hock’s vault and get back the greybox.

Minor spoilers will follow for the discussion of the mission itself. Compared to other loyalty missions, I suggest this is one of the better ones in the game, nicely divided into two distinct parts.

The first part consists of some fun espionage as you go undercover for a party of ne’er do wells hosted by Donovan Hock himself. You need to do a number of things during the party to break through Hock’s complex security system, and it all feels very James Bond-esque as Kasumi accompanies you via her cloaking device (appearing during opportune moments and during sections where you are out of sight from the rest of the party guests). You definitely get the feeling that Kasumi has done this sort of thing before, and that Shepherd is truly an integral part of pulling off the greybox heist. In addition a number of fun references to other Bioware games can be found in Hock’s vault. I had a tremendous time taking in all of the statues and curios that Hock had collected.

The second part begins once you obtain the greybox and the shooting starts. You only have Kasumi with you on this mission (no 3rd crew member can accompany you), but Kasumi certainly knows how to handle herself as an infiltrator-type NPC. For me it was the amped up combat that made Mass Effect 2 so great and this mission is no exception. The battlefields are carefully constructed with plenty of opportunities for tactical maneuvering between cover points, all while Hock yells suitably villainous things at you. Level design for the combat areas was a real strength in ME2 that made the encounters interesting, and this DLC measures up very well in that area.

At the end of the mission you will be given an interesting choice regarding the greybox, and it is one that makes me wonder whether the DLC characters will have any impact on Mass Effect 3. Even though Zaeed clearly seemed like a non essential character, if Kasumi had been included in the original game the choice presented at the end of her loyalty mission would have been an obvious flag for consequences in ME3.

The biggest flaw for the DLC is that this mission seems like it belongs in the original game. Portions of the script, particularly Cerberus involvement in recruiting Kasumi, require this to take place before Shepherd goes through the Omega Relay for the endgame mission. This is particularly noticeable if you chose the Paragon path on your playthrough. These inconsistencies break the plot continuity and make the DLC problematic at times; however, if one was playing this as part of the original game, it would all fit in perfectly.

This is the first piece of "Premium DLC" content Bioware is offering for ME2 so the real question here has to be whether this DLC is worth the $7 price tag. Consider that the original, pre-DLC Mass Effect 2 includes more than 20 missions - there are 10 NPC based missions (2 each per NPC), as well as a number of other side quests and plot advancement missions. When you look at this DLC from this perspective, $7 seems very steep since you only get ONE mission which can probably be finished in less than an hour unless you play at a leisurely pace.

If you didn’t like Mass Effect 2, obviously Kasumi - Stolen Memory won’t change your mind, and I can’t help but feel more effort should have been made to allow the continuity to work for a Shepherd PC that had already completed the game. For example, there are no dialogue trees for Kasumi like the other NPCs, which not only means she can't be romanced but also that her character lacks the depth of the other NPCs. However, taken on its own merits independent of the pricing structure, I found the mission itself to be a total blast.

For that reason, $7 is probably too much and I can't recommend this if you are on the fence. But for die hard fans of ME2 like myself, I'd suck it up and purchase it despite the too steep price, particularly if you are the sort who will probably play ME2 again in its entirety before the release of ME3. It is certainly a better bargain than the NPC alternate outfit DLC - at least you’ll get an hour or so of memorable gameplay out of it.



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