Mass Effect 2 is my favourite game of 2010. Yes, I know it came out in the first month of the year, but really it set the bar too impossibly high for any other game to possibly compete. It married a solid 3rd-person cover-shooter to Bioware’s leanest RPG system yet to create an action RPG that actually delivered both Action and a solid degree of roleplaying. It wasn’t perfect; planet scanning sucked and I really found explicitly tying your morality options to your persuasion options tended to encourage you to “game” the roleplaying or miss out on the cool stuff; but it’s the best console RPG I’ve played bar none, even eclipsing Bioware’s own Knights of the Old Republic.
Kasumi – In Person
Ok, fanboy gushing out of the way, I loaded up ME2 last night out of boredom and noticed, “hey the Kasumi DLC pack’s out!”. Fifteen minutes later, I’m 560 MS points lighter and I’ve downloaded a 750 meg DLC package.
So what did I get for the price of a couple of pints? Well, if you downloaded the Zaeed DLC at launch, then the experience is uncannily similar. You get a notification to go to location “X”, make contact with a specialist who then joins your crew and immediately gives you a mission they’d like your help with. That’s it: No lengthy outerspace dungeon crawl to get their attention, no conversation with your current crew members about how they’ve always admired/hate the guts of your newest acquisition, they’re just… there. You don’t even get the ship AI telling you which corner of the ship they’ve made their home in, and when you do track their little hideyhole down, it’s the same deal as Zaeed, no dialogue, just click on the artifact and they’ll tell you a little story about it.
But hey, whatcha gonna do? Get Bioware to reunite the entire cast to record a few lines of dialogue each every time they release a new DLC pack? It’d be nice but I don’t see it happening.
Kasumi’s personality is hard to pin down. From the trailer, I was expecting an ubercompetant badass, somewhere between Jack and Miranda, but there’s a bit more whimsy and charm in there. Bioware try their best to make her as distinct from the other main female characters in the game (six if you want to count Yeoman Chambers and EDI), but the limited interactivity stunts that.
Kasumi – In Game
In game, Kasumi’s got an interesting niche. Broadly, she’s a tech/combat type similar to Garrus, but whilst Garrus was a distance specialist, Kasumi likes to get up close and personal. Sadly she really suffers in the health department, which can make these close-range forays potentially fatal without some decent fire support.
Her main defining power is Shadow Strike, which is your standard “dirtbag rogue” maneuver. She’ll vanish for a few seconds and then reappear, standing behind her target and doing massive damage. This has the unfortunate side effect of leaving her exposed, quite often near enemy lines, so you need to be careful with how she uses it. I know I’ve blown a lot of Medigel on her thusfar.
She also has Overload, which makes her a good choice for missions with lots of synthetics and/or shield-users.
I only completed her loyalty mission this morning, so I haven’t yet tried her loyalty power – Flashbang Grenades, but I’m looking forward to seeing how they work (and possibly nabbing them for my soldier). In theory, having the ability to stun a group of enemies should help her out of some of the tight spots she gets herself into.
Stolen Memory – The Mission
I have to say, the loyalty mission is a lot of fun, and at the start at least it feels different to the other ME2 missions. Shepherd and Kasumi team up in what is essentially a heist movie: infiltrating the bad guy’s swanky party and attempting to find a way into his vault. I was playing a female Shepherd (shut up!) and having her squeezed into a little black cocktail dress, scars on the face all-too-visible making smalltalk was pretty funny.
Of course creativity only goes so far and sure enough, once you make it to the vault, it’s time to suit up because the violence begins. From here, it’s a pretty standard shoot-em-up ME2 mission, with the only wrinkle being that you don’t have a third squad member. I played through this with a pretty tough Soldier, but even then it was hard going.
Your rewards for doing it are Kasumi’s loyalty, some credits and a swanky new Submachine Gun. How awesome is the Submachine gun? No clue, my Soldier couldn’t use it, but word on the web is it sacrifices damage and clip capacity for better accuracy at range. If that matters to you, go for it.
All in all, would I reccomend this? If you’re as much of a raging Bioware fanboy as I am,
well that really isn’t a question. If you’re someone who’s currently playing through ME2, then it’s worth picking it up. The mission’s fun and whilst she’s poorly integrated into the culture aboard the Normandy, I think Kasumi brings an interesting tactical toolset. I can see her and Grunt working well together as an assault team, especially with a player focussed on sniping to provide cover.
That said, I don’t know if there’s any real incentive to dusting off a completed save to go play through this, and that’s the problem Bioware’s going to find with releasing DLC expansions like this. It’s clearly pitched to be part of the game’s main campaign, but it’s release two and a half months after the game itself, and not everyone has my OCDish tendancy to play through games multiple times.