|Platforms||Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows|
|Buy from Amazon|
I’m about two-thirds done with my insanity playthrough in Mass Effect 2. Insanity is the hardest difficulty in the game and beating it will also unlock my final main game achievement. The only other game I earned all the achievements on? The original Mass Effect.
So on this run I’m also playing all the downloadable content I missed the first time through (mostly because it simply wasn’t available yet). So while I’ve reviewed Normandy Crash Site, Zaeed, and Kasumi add-ons earlier, I’m now venturing into Firewalker, Overlord, Shadow Broker, and Arrival territory. General reception of these has been a mixed bag, but I’m excited to form my own opinion.
So as you can tell, Firewalker is first up. This was Mass Effect 2’s first foray back into vehicles. Mass Effect 1 heavily featured the Warthog-like Mako and built dozens of multiple square mile planets to land on and explore. The Mako was probably one of the weaker aspects of the game, but I found it pretty fun when we weren’t required to climb up 80 degree angles.
I was pretty excited to try out the M-44 Hammerhead myself, let’s see how that turned out. The Firewalker Pack is free for members of the Cerberus Network, much like the character Zaeed and his loyalty mission.
Firewalker starts off with a mission called Rosalie lost, Rosalie being a ship carrying a few Cerberus scientists using the Hammerhead vehicle for their research. You immediately hop in the craft and cruise around a lava-like area collecting some minerals to prove you know what you’re doing. The Hammerhead can fire rockets with the R trigger, boost with the L trigger, and hover with the A button.
A few notes about the Hammerhead itself, it controls pretty smoothly, being able to both boost and jump/hover gives you a ton of control. This is nothing like the Mako with its notoriously bad controls. Something else that is pretty great is that all the information about the vehicle is indicated right on it. When you collect minerals bars on the top of the craft glow green, and when you’re overheating your engines they glow red. Mass Effect 2 did a pretty good job not cluttering your HUD with unnecessary information and this is carried over to the DLC. My one complaint is that it can be hard to tell you’re taking damage visually, but aurally they blare the klaxxons very loud!
Rosalie Lost is deceptively short, after a few short minutes of hopping around you’re prompted to return to the Normandy and I thought, “what the heck, what a ripoff!” Even free things can be a ripoff! But finishing Rosalie opens up three more assignments across the Milky Way, let’s take them in the order I played them.
The first real Firewalker assignment has you facing off against the Geth to scan some Prothean artifacts. My first battle quickly ends up with me dead. Not a good start.
There was no auto-save after I started the mission so I’m back at the squad select screen. Seems dumb that I need to select my squad when we’re just sitting in the Hammerhead. Squad select... distribute squad points... weapon select... loading... okay! We’re back.
My second attempt I hang back and kite the Geth from afar, you can rapid fire the rockets by just holding down the R trigger. They kind of seem like they’re heat seeking but many of them still miss.
All right, this is getting kind of ridiculous. All of these Geth have so much health, armor, and shields that fighting them is taking FOREVER. Maybe this is a side effect of playing on insanity, but I feel like I have way too little health and they have way too much, and my only way to attack them is to just keep firing rockets. There is NO strategy!
Died on the second battle... What?! It didn’t save? I can’t even save during this mission? This is ridiculous. I have to repick my squad again!
20 minutes later I finally scanned all the artifacts, I skipped encounters when I could because they were just a waste of time. At least the Mako in Mass Effect had both rockets and a machine gun, plus you could hop out of the vehicle to snipe or whatever. Ugh. I can’t even tell you what we were doing on that planet besides scanning old stuff.
No fighting so far, just flying around the inside of a crumbling volcano. There are some neat effects going on around me with rocks falling and lava shooting out. I’m finding patches of iridium embedded in the ground, but it takes about 10 seconds to mine and you only get about 250 pieces of it. Umm... total waste of time? Yes.
Hey, I can save! Why the last mission never let me save I will never know, but if I ever find out who designed it, I might hurt that person.
Okay, I’m inside a research base on foot, the doctors from the Rosalie were here and found some seriously important Prothean ruins. I mess with their controls and set off some explosions, you know what that means: escape in a self-destructing volcano!
I have to admit, this feels a bit like that awful shovelware Wii game I played a few months ago, Emergency Heroes. This is just as easy, though I do die once when trying to hover a bit too far. Whoops. We’re back in the Normandy now, safe and sound, assignment complete.
This time, we’re on an icy planet similar to Feros in Mass Effect 1. Mmm... nostalgia. I need to scan 10... things before my engines freeze up and Shepard and gang are stranded here forever just because some lame scientists sucked and couldn’t complete their own dang research study. Yes, the savior of the galaxy might freeze to death on this worthless DLC-only planet.
Anyways, there’s huge blue shafts of light that appear over where I need to go, so finding the next location to float on for a few seconds is pretty simple... until the wind and snow really starts whipping. The environmental hazard is pretty effective, I will admit. Instead of Emergency Heroes, I feel a bit like I’m playing Crazy Taxi! Whooo!
All right, all 10 places scanned and not a moment too soon, my engines are almost totally iced over. Grunt mutters, “we done?”
Turns out this final assignment is actually unlocked after Volcano Station was completed. Yeah, the icy Geth Incursion is completely optional in the completely optional downloadable content. Weird. Also, why the heck was it called Geth Incursion? The shooting one should have been called Geth Incursion and this one Survey Sites Located. I’m confused.
Anyways, in this final assignment I need to retrieve the super Prothean artifact I’ve been casually reading about for the last hour. It’s housed within a base inside a giant blue barrier, and I need to take out four power sources to knock my way through. As I cruise around some rocket drones pop out of the ground and fire at me, I fire back. This is the lamest rocket battle ever.
I quickly realize I can safely ignore the drones and just make it a point to take out the power sources. They’re easy to find as there’s a colored line that is drawn from the barrier to the source. After a few rockets, I’m inside the Prothean artifact museum.
There’s a few journal entries in here indicating the doctors hired the Blue Suns mercenary group to erect the barrier, and that one of the doctors was indoctrinated by the Reapers for some reason. The other doctor had to kill him because he was passing their location data back to the Geth. Ouch.
The super artifact turns out to be a giant watery ball floating in the middle of the room. Shepard touches and everyone tentatively backs away, even big old Grunt! The ball vibrates a ton and then drops a smaller, heavy metal ball on the ground. My prize! What is it?
Turns out it’s a coffee table ornament, or at least that’s how Shepard is treating it by just placing it on her desk in her office. Geez, all that work for... that?
While the Firewalker assignments started off extremely obnoxiously with that Geth killing missions, things turned around a bit as we progressed. The volcano escape was pretty cool and the icy mission was intense. The final outcome is a bit ridiculous though and extremely underwhelming. I just played the last hour of missions for this? A metal ball that does nothing?
I can’t really recommend these series of linear missions, and the only worthwhile reward is a bonus Biotic Damage upgrade found in the last assignment. If you really want that, maybe you can just get away playing Volcano Station and Prothean Site missions.
Firewalker is not so hot.