Alice: Madness Returns is the much anticipated follow up (by me, anyway) to 2000’s PC/Mac game American McGee’s Alice – the dark and gritty telling of Alice’s post-Looking Glassadventures in what has now become a twisted version of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. The original game had Alice following an anorexic, pierced Cheshire Cat around a grotesque Wonderland, presumably due to Alice’s inclement insanity, slashing her way through the Red Queen’s guards amongst other familiar faces from Carroll’s universe with a bloody knife, and the sequel delivers more of the same.
Mass Effect 2 is one of my favorite games of all time. When I got married last year I gave copies of it to my groomsmen. I’ve beaten the game five times, and have completed a fresh “Insanity Run”. I would probably get an N7 tramp stamp and not give a shit what people thought about me. Needless to say any new bit of Mass Effect content is going to make me a very, very happy man.
“Mark my words.. Earth, trial, invasion, Miranda butt.”
Mass Effect: The Arrival was released today 3/29 for 560 MS points. It took me about 90 minutes to complete and was actually quite enjoyable. Let me break it down for you.
The Story – Your old pal Admiral Hackett, (voiced by Lance Henriksen) makes his gravel voiced return to the Mass Effect universe and plays a major role in The Arrival. You see, one of his close friends has been kidnapped and he needs you to mount a rescue. Why you and not not someone in the Alliance? Well she’s been captured by the Batarians who are just itching to go to War with the Alliance over the first thing that pisses them off. Hackett needs you to go in solo, so that the Alliance has total denyability. Also, she apparently has important information about when that Reaper armada is going to show up and exterminate all life on earth. You had me at “exterminate”. What follows is a 90 minute solo adventure with a handfull of twists and turns and some major plot revelations. You also get to see Harbinger back in full effect. I’ll dive into the Spoilers below for those that want a full synopsis.
The Mission – While brief, the mission is rather unique as you are totally alone. Being alone forces you to switch up your tactics and use your brain a little bit. My main (fem-shep) is an Infiltrator sporting concussion grenades and the Widow Antimaterial rifle. I made short work of almost everything in my path and rarely had to fight more than 4 enemies at a time. I also opted to use the Blackstorm because I hadn’t whipped it out in several playthroughs, and wouldn’t you know it was perfect for the lightly armored goons they sent in my direction. Some very solid fire fights, and a good ol’ time.
Not Nerd Appropriate
No Allies? – While it was different to be on a solo mission, the crew was highly missed. With the crew staying on board the Normandy, not even Joker and EDI get lines. Perhaps they didn’t feel like paying Seth Green for an hour’s work? There is a moment when you get a message from the Normandy and its just the voice of some random crew member “who the hell was that?” I pondered. .
Worth the cash? – 90 minutes isn’t a lot of content. When you add in the fact that you don’t get to control your squad, and don’t get any new guns of gear, the community could very well be crying foul. Personally, I think it was a lot of fun.
The “real” Story – The mission ends with you sacrificing about 300,000 Batarains in order to destroy a special mass relay. The destruction of the mass relay stalls the Reapers for a few months, as this particular relay gave them a Disney “fast pass” to Earth. The destruction of the Batarains as well as the relay is NOT OPTIONAL, it is canon. The final conversation you have with Admiral Hackett aboard the Normady pretty much sums up how Mass Effect 3 will open. Shep promises Hacket to go on trial when the time comes in order to keep Alliance relations smooth with the Batarians. Admiral Hacket now totally believes the Reapers are on their way, and if Hacket believes the Alliance believes.
So how does ME3 begin? Because Shepard made the promise to go to Earth and face the court for his/her crimes, this is where the game will begin. Shepard will be on Earth in his/her “dress blues” (or in prison) when the Reaper invasion finally reaches Earth. The crew of the Normandy will more than likely have to be rediscovered over time, as they scattered into the winds after Shepard’s trial/incarceration began. Mark my words.. Earth, trial, invasion, Miranda butt.