Deja Vu All Over Again
First things first; Bring Down the Sky
is a side mission within Mass Effect
. That means that you'll need to have a saved game with access to the Galactic Map on the Normandy.
This alone might cause problems for some players as Mass Effect
only allows ten saved games at one time and end-game saves don’t count. If, like me, you spent most of the finale saving as often as you could, chances are that your save game list will consist entirely of saves from the last half hour of the game. The means that you'll be nowhere near the Normandy, nor have any way of getting to the galactic map.
You are, in other words, not just paddle-less, but boatless too.
The only way round this obstacle is to start the game again from scratch, either with your existing level 40-ish Shepard or a brand new character. The choice is yours: Mass Effect
scales enemy levels to match your own, so you'll have the same experience in Bring Down the Sky
whether you use a new or existing character.
Bring Down the Sky
plays like any other side mission in Mass Effect
: you drive the Mako around, enter some buildings, shoot some bad guys and move onto the next building.
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Other than the introduction of the Batarians as a new race, there's nothing new here that we haven't seen in other side missions. There are no enhancements to the game itself – the Mako still bounces around like a balloon on a bungee cord and textures still pop up half way through a cut-scene.
The episode itself will only take about ninety minutes to complete, but you can add another hour onto that if you need to start again to get access to the galactic map on the Normandy.
It's really difficult to judge Bring Down the Sky
as a standalone game, because we know that it isn't one. It's a small part of a much bigger story, and at the moment we don't know where that story is going to take us.
We’re introduced to the Batarians and their plight, but we don't know if they're going to be playing a larger part in further DLC episodes or in either of the two sequels. In this sense, BioWare still has us wanting more, but you can't help but think that it should have felt more than yet another side mission.
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There's also a slight anticlimactic feeling at the end of the episode. There's no great sense of accomplishment, no great fanfare, not even a cut-scene when it's all over. You call up the Normandy and carry on as normal.
There are good moments in Bring Down the Sky
though: the Batarian hell dog things will have you whimpering in fear as they charge towards you, fangs gleaming in the light. There are also a couple of very interesting choices to be made throughout the episode which are not as clear cut as some choices in the main game. Whether or not these choices come back to haunt you remains to be seen.
I'm giving this one the benefit of the doubt. There are flaws, least of not allowing you to just
jump in and play the episode if you've already completed the main game, but it does do what BioWare set out to do: it adds new characters and new conflicts to the whole story arc, and I hope that we'll be seeing more of the Batarians in future episodes.
Whether or not you think 400 points is too much to spend on 90 minutes of additional gameplay depends on how much you're interested in the Mass Effect
story. If you want to immerse yourself in everything the Mass Effect
universe has to offer you, including the novel
, then you should definitely be downloading this episode.
If, however, you're dithering and you're not sure, ask yourself this: did you enjoy completing the side missions of the original game? If you did, then you'll enjoy Bring Down the Sky
. If you thought they were an extra chore best left alone, then you'd probably be better off leaving this episode alone too.
You don't know what you'd be missing though, and when the Batarians come back wanting reparation, don't say I didn't warn you. Because I did...