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Mass Effect 2 DLC Firewalker Review Ian's avatar
 
Dalaran
Let's get this out of the way, the Firewalker DLC is free so the only thing you are spending on it is your time, therefore this review will be more of a summary of the pack's content that you can use to judge if it's a worthwhile way to spend the hour or so of your time it takes to play through. Firewalker is broadly speaking five side-missions all focused around a vehicle called the Hammerhead. Upon returning to your command deck, Kelly will inform you that there is unread mail which usually means she is just confused or lying, but there is actually new mail this time. I was able to start the mission using a save made after finishing the main story which is an improvement over the original Mass Effect's DLC.

The first mission has you landing on a planet and immediately finding the Hammerhead, and also acts as a training mission for the controls. For those of you wondering if the Hammerhead is broken and crappy like the Mako was, don't worry it's controls just fine. I guess it's much harder to get a floating vehicle caught up on geometry. You'll also be pleased to hear that your weapons can also shoot downwards. There are only four controls beyond movement you have with the hammerhead: you can shoot homing missiles, you can jump/float quite high into the air, you can boost forward, and you can collect things. Collecting things involves holding down Y button while inside a circle which makes the Hammerhead start jerking around randomly and you have to correct your position to stay inside the circle while a meter fills up.

After your finishing the first mission, three more open up. All of the new missions occur in new star systems, and all have a bunch of new planets for you OCD miners types to strip-mine if you somehow think you need more minerals (you don't). Each of these three missions focuses on one of the three things the Hammerhead can do. So there's a mission mostly based around shooting missile at things, one about quickly boosting around the landscape, and one about jumping between rocky platforms.

Right, before I start railing against how half arsed this entire pack is, I should reiterate that it's free and it all works completely fine, I just don't think anything here is particularly good especially compared to the rest of the game. I feel like given a bit more thought and development, it could have been quite interesting. Okay, with that out of the way...

Before each mission you have to pick your two party members, but there is absolutely no on-foot combat in any of the missions, and you don't even exit the Hammerhead at any point in three of them so why does it matter who you pick? The vehicle combat is broken by the fact that the enemies don't attack you at all if you are more than a certain distance away from them. The areas the combat takes place in are pretty large, so if you shoot at the enemies from the distance you first spot them they will neither move nor fight back. You actually have to get almost on top of them before they will start trying to fight you. Your rockets will also home onto enemies, but usually enemies other than the one you have targeted. The homing itself is dodgy as well, and the rockets won't hit the target they are trying to hit. You have to work out which enemy the rockets are fixated on hitting, and fire them directly at that one instead.

All of the missions are all varying degrees of really short. The mission that involves zooming quickly between nodes is over in all of three minutes by design. Spending time exploring in the other missions will only lead you to find a few extra minerals that you still don't need. There is no new voice acting from anyone apart from the Hammerhead's computer which is itself fine but not particularly noteworthy. The final mission leads to an oddly anti-climactic finale involving a giant ball-bearing, and an upgrade to my combat abilities that I can't use anywhere because there is absolutely no-one left to shoot in the entire game. Finally, while they've made a new landing animation for landing with the Hammerhead, they've somehow managed to break the frame-rate on it.

Ultimately none of the concepts introduced with the Hammerhead are well developed enough to make them challenging. The combat is broken, and not hard even if you purposefully get close enough to the enemies to make them fight back. You'll also probably do all the boosting and jumping sequences on your first attempt. I feel like they need to release another set of missions for the Hammerhead that are actually somewhat challenging in order to justify it's existence. Maybe they will, but I'd personally prefer they just stick to making packs which stick to the game's core strengths though.

I guess what I am trying to say is that if you have finished Mass Effect 2 and are looking for another taste of what made the game good, there is none of that here. No plot, no conversations, no shooting, no characters, nothing. If you are still in the middle of playing through the main game, I can see how this could be enjoyed more as a passable side activity. What is here though is so half-baked that you feel like they were just fulfilling a weird obligation to get their 10 dollars of free content out as efficiently as possible.

Score of 2

Tags: bioware, mass-effect-2