Sunday, February 07, 2010

Mass Effect 2: Normandy Crash Pack (Xbox 360) Review

It's very rare that I end up reviewing a game add-on prior to the game itself, but such is the case with Mass Effect 2's "Normandy Crash Pack." Released for free on launch day via the Cerberus Network (well, free for anyone who purchases a new copy of Mass Effect 2), the "Normandy Crash Pack" is a very short side mission which sees Shepard discover and return to the location of the ruined SSV Normandy SR-1.

Accessible as soon as you're able to explore the Galaxy, you receive a message on your private terminal from good old Admiral Hackett who knows you're alive somehow, and who asks you to place a monument at the crash site and to retrieve the dog tags of the 20 crew members who went down with the ship. Simply select the corresponding Cluster in your Galaxy Map, head on over, scan the world, and land to begin your investigation.

There is absolutely no combat in the Normandy Crash Pack what-so-ever. The ground team consists of Shepard alone, and for those of us who played through the original game, well, this DLC will mean the most to you. Through multiple playthroughs, I spent roughly 120 hours with the first Normandy and to watch it go boom in the opening of the sequel is sad to say the least. And now, well now Shepard gets to explore the resting place of his first command.

The music is sombre, the tone muted, and when you approach a recognizable piece of the ruin, an image will flash of what it originally looked like or of the crew member who used to man that station. You'll see some old faces, some old places, and one of the worst video game vehicles ever designed, the Mako. But it's ruined, the piece of junk, which brought a single tear to my eye. May whoever designed it be banned from video game vehicle design forever more.

Almost immediately you'll find the spot to place the monument, then you just need to walk around and find the 20 dog tags, which aren't too difficult to locate as you'll see them in advance since they are marked by little balls of light. You'll also come across some Refined Element Zero as well as two other unique items, one being a little trophy for your Captain's Quarters.

Overall, "Normandy Crash Pack" will take you about 10 to 15 minutes or so to go through, which is all the time you'll need to experience what the DLC is meant to offer: A reflection of what came before, and for a story-driven RPG, content like this at the price point that it's at, is an excellent little addition to an otherwise epic experience.

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