Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mass Effect 1's Downloadable Content

When I did my Fallout 3 DLC rant, I thought at the time that the next game I would be giving a similar review of would be Dragon Age Origins. But as it turns out, Bioware just keeps releasing one thing for it after another, and supposedly has no intention to stop for a while. So whilst I wait for that to end so I can answer the question I ended with in the Fallout 3 DLC rant (whether or not other RPGs would be able to follow Fallout 3's example with as much, less, or more integrity), let's take a look at semi-old school RPG Downloadable Content with Mass Effect 1.

Bring Down the Sky: This is a very good DLC. First of all, it's free (to PC users, at least; X-Box gamers might have to pay for it, but I can only speak from a PC gamer's perspective here). That's always good. More importantly, though, it adds a new mission to the game that's about an hour long, and has a small but reasonably exciting plot and premise while introducing a villain and species that further expand and flesh out the Mass Effect universe interestingly, giving you a glimpse at certain aspects of galactic society and humanity's private inter-species concerns that the game proper doesn't explore. It also gives another couple opportunities for the player to further develop Shepard's personality. A solid add-on, to be sure.

Pinnacle Station: After Bring Down the Sky, Pinnacle Station is a disappointment. It's basically just a combat simulator for you to test how long you can survive a constant stream of enemies, with a few different locations and objectives to very slightly mix things up. The story to go along with the station is tiny and utterly meaningless; just calling the events of Pinnacle Station a "story" at all is an exaggeration. Bland, meaningless, not worth the cost, and disappointing. Still, I HAVE seen considerably blander, less meaningful, less monetarily worthwhile, and more disappointing DLCs by far, so I can't be too terribly harsh, I suppose. At least it wasn't outright stupid, the way Fallout 3's Mothership Zeta DLC was.

Actually, those 2 are the only add-ons released for Mass Effect 1. ME1's DLC seemed to be an experiment for Bioware in large part, testing out their ability to do DLC packages, and both gamers' immediate (Bring Down the Sky) and long-term (Pinnacle Station) interest in continuing the game. I'd say the experiment was positive on the whole--Bring Down the Sky outweighs Pinnacle Station, in my opinion, so the overall feeling I take from this game's add-ons is a good one. But once I can do a complete rant on Dragon Age Origins's add-ons, we'll see whether Bioware took this experiment's results and went in the right or wrong direction with them.

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