I enjoyed Mass Effect 2 quite a lot playing through it for my review. I would probably go so far as to say it is probably one of my favorite games this generation. Yes, I know it isn’t a JRPG, what’s your point? I’ve been quite impressed with the rollout of little bits and pieces of free content for the game from Bioware, even so much as free missions. But, when it comes to paid DLC, this new character and mission is where it is at, since it is a first for Mass Effect 2. Is it worth the $7 price tag? How does it integrate into the game overall?
What I find most interesting about this content is two-fold, really. First off, you put Shepherd in an awkward situation during the mission, one that she isn’t used to being in. Secondly, the mission itself is a departure from the typical combat-heavy missions of the core game. Not that those missions are bad or aren’t varied, but this mission you go on after recruiting Kasumi Goto feels fresh and interesting.
You fly to your old stomping grounds, The Citadel, to meet up with Kasumi for the first time and, after a brief conversation as soon as you step off the shuttle, she joins your band of crazy people. However, she does have one request. Her former partner and lover lost what she is calling a “grey box”, which contains some very important information, encrypted through using one’s memories. Kasumi wants you to help her get it back. The lead-up to the mission happens just like any other loyalty mission you’ve taken part in during the course of the main game and it is integrated smoothly, so much so that, if you didn’t download the content yourself, you wouldn’t automatically guess it wasn’t on the disc itself.
There is a bit of disappointment for me because, much like the launch-day DLC of Zaeed, another “extra” party member, Kasumi has no conversation trees while sitting in her standard area on board the Normandy. There are a few objects scattered throughout her room that you can interact with and she will inform you as to their purpose or their connection to her, but that is about it. I really wish these additional characters were fleshed out more in how they integrate into and interact with the crew. All that being said, her mission is actually one of the most interesting loyalty missions in the entire game, to me at least.
You must infiltrate a collector’s gallery room, which is locked behind some imposing security measures. Kasumi believes this “grey box” is in the gallery room, along with many other things this collector has acquired (the head of the Statue of Liberty, for example). He is holding a gathering at his mansion where Shepherd and Kasumi are going to pose as guests. The first half of the mission is “stealth-based”, for lack of a better term. You can wander around freely, talk with people, including the host of the party, and just generally try to figure out where the safe is, and then how to get through security. Once Kasumi informs you how to get through each security measure, you go about doing that and, slowly but surely, the mission shifts to more combat-oriented fanfare, especially after you re-acquire your soldier’s uniform and heavy weaponry, which you sneak inside the building in a statue that you’ve gifted to the host.
During this first half of the mission, Shepherd feels so out of place, and I believe that was done intentionally. She’s in an exquisite gown, mingling with party-goers, it is very un-Shepherd-like. Unfortunately, for some reason here it seemed like in that dress, the flaws in her character model managed to shine through, and you can see how stiff the model’s arms are compared to when she is wearing her on- or off-duty military outfits. This actually bothered me a bit, and I don’t know why. Needless to say, you get to see another side of Shepherd that you possibly never got to see during the course of the core game. [Note: It may be different using a male Shepherd, this is just my experience with my Shepherd.]
There is some serious combat in the latter half, which will make you – and her – feel right at home. It culminates with a showdown against a gunship, which includes a unique twist, putting Kasumi’s unusual skill-set to good use.
Afterward you’re treated to some rather emotional cut scenes. I wasn’t quite expecting this, but it was definitely welcome. This is why I enjoyed all the loyalty missions. Not only do they have gameplay significance, but they also take you deeper into your companions’ lives where you get to know them better and are able to connect with them better. That ultimately creates the awesome dynamic which you experience throughout the majority of the game. It connects you to every person you work with and the reasons behind why they are the way they are. Kasumi’s mission in this DLC is no different.
Ultimately, it is a great addition to the universe that Bioware has built and nurtured here, integrating itself into the story flawlessly, and sharing aspects of even our heroic Commander Shepherd that we may not have seen at any other point in time. There was only about an hour’s worth of play in this content, however that will carry through to the rest of the game, because you get Kasumi, which can be used as a party member as much as you wish. It isn’t just a mission, it is another character to learn about, become attached to and use to your benefit. Plus, at the end of it all, you get that snazzy formal attire to wear around the ship if you so choose. Is it worth the 560 Microsoft spacebuck cost ($7)? Probably, if you’re as interested in the character development in Mass Effect 2 as I am. There is enough bang for your buck here that I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.