Remember when you could buy and download horses and a wizard’s tower for Oblivion and it all felt a little tacked on because the moment you logged on there was a pop-up saying you’d received a letter (“How the crap did I receive a letter out in the middle of the swamp!?”) and you had to go somewhere to claim your tower?
Mass Effect has a great system in place for giving you missions no matter where you are: Every time you open the galaxy map on the Normandy, I think the game checks a list of conditions and if it finds that you meet the requirements for a particular side mission, Joker will patch a call through from the admiral and you’ll get a mission. It’s pretty much perfect for giving you the Asteroid X57 mission made available to you in the newly released Bring Down the Sky downloadable content. And yet they don’t use it. Instead, a new tag just pops onto your galaxy map with the name of the asteroid. No quest is given to you, no reason for why you should travel to the Asgard system in the first place. When you land on the asteroid, you get a cutscene with a distress signal – in spite of having a perfect system for delivering such content, Bioware still managed to make it seem tacked on, and I think that’s a shame.
But the mission itself is splendid. At first I was quite disappointed because it seemed like another generic un-charted world with a few small run-of-the-mill bases dotting the landscape. But as it unfolded, I realized it was actually pretty comprehensive. There are optional objectives, cutscenes, new content (a new alien race is the biggest new thing) and it all ends in the main facility which turned out to be a unique structure with a great level design – the final combat in that facility is very memorable. It has everything you expect of Mass Effect including one of the game’s best (though not most original) moral dilemmas which earned me enough Renegade points to finally get the achievement.
Bioware say it offers about 90 minutes of gameplay, and that’s about what I spent on it. Of course it has as much replay value as the rest of the game, so multiply by two if you want to try both the Renegade and the Paragon options. In summary, it definitely feels like more bang for your buck than the pathetic Oblivion DLC.