Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mass Effect 2: Kasumi - Stolen Memory (Xbox 360) Review

Mass Effect 2: Kasumi - Stolen Memory was the first premium DLC to be released for the game, and with it being part of this week's Xbox LIVE Deal of the Week, I decided to bite to see if BioWare could turn out a decent add-on.

Very similar to the previous free DLC, "Zaeed - The Price of Revenge," this premium add-on introduces the twelfth and final member to Shepard's crew. Kasumi Goto, an exceptional Japanese thief, has been contracted by Cerberus to assist Shepard for a large sum. Once the DLC is downloaded and installed, players can travel to the Citadel to recruit Kasumi's services.

Just like with Zaeed, you will be able to recruit her right from your disembarkment point, and the way you go about doing it is rather quite amusing. Suffice it to say, recruitment is guaranteed and the real additional content, aside from the character of Kasumi herself of course, comes in the form of her loyalty mission; accessible at any point after you recruit her.

This loyalty mission is a rather unique departure from the rest of the Mass Effect 2 norm. A wealthy criminal named Donovan Hock, who has a rather interesting Scottish accent, has stolen something very precious to Kasumi, and her and Shepard aim to take it back. The unique twist of this mission? You get to go to a party!

Shepard and Kasumi travel to Hock's mansion as he's hosting a rather lavish party, and Shepard gets to wear a dashing suit or dress, depending on the player's gender, to blend in with the crowd as he/she tries to gain access to Hock's vault.

Without giving too much away, Kasumi's loyalty mission is well designed, visually appealing, and adds some nice changes of pace to the gameplay, but it's quite short. I didn't rush, took my time exploring, and I completed the DLC on Normal difficulty in about two hours.

Kasumi herself is an interesting character. She uses Submachine Guns and Pistols, and her abilities include a Shadow Strike (a cloaked attack), Overload, Master Thief, and once her loyalty is gained, Flashbang Grenade. She's essentially a tech specialist, and your only squad mate focusing on stealth, making her handy if you already have a strong combat or biotic character in your current squad.

The greatest disappointment with Kasumi herself, like with Zaeed, is the lack of a true conversation wheel. On the Normandy, she resides in the previously inaccessible Port Observation deck, and clicking on her will have her comment on various things, but there's no way for Shepard to properly converse with her outside of her recruitment and loyalty mission. Very sad, as she actually has some interesting things to say and takes note of the details of your crew.

When all is said and done, I did enjoy "Kasumi - Stolen Memory" and I really liked Kasumi Goto herself. She's a strong addition to Shepard's crew, but honestly, I can't see any reason why this DLC wasn't released for free via the Cerberus Network (save for EA and BioWare wanting to make a profit). Due to its short length, I find it hard to recommend at full asking price, as there are certainly enough crew members for Shepard to choose from. Kasumi is a fun diversion, but far from an essential experience, and here's hoping that Kasumi has a full and proper role in Mass Effect 3.

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