After a good chunk of free DLC, Bioware is now ready to expand to “premium” DLC, which is a fancy way of saying no more free stuff. Mass Effect 2’s first DLC episode looks to be a big improvement over the premium DLC which was offered in the original Mass Effect, but its final worth depends a lot on the price.
The Bioware representative demoing the game for me told me that the DLC clocks in at about 1.5 hours of brand new content plus a new character and a new room in the Normandy. Kasumi, your new crew member, functions similarly to Zaeed. She has a loyalty mission built into her recruitment mission, but no dialog tree options after it. That said, her personality is much more interesting than Zaeed, which sort of makes it more disappointing that we don’t get to see more of her integrated into the rest of the game.
Of course with a new character comes some new skills, an Kasumi brings two. The flash grenade will let Kasumi (and Shepard if he picks it up as a loyalty power) stun enemies. Kasumi has one more power which allows her to cloak and come up behind enemies and sort of “backstab” them for huge damage. Only she can use this power. There is also one new weapon added to the game, a sub-machine gun.
The mission itself is pretty interesting. Bioware was looking to give players a different experience from those they can already find in the main game. The mission puts Shepard deep undercover as a guest at the party of a rich smuggler, all dressed up in a formal suit infiltrating the occasion James Bond style. The first part of the mission involves sneaking around and trying to find the vault and the way in. Upon entering the vault you’ll find fanservice and callback’s to Bioware’s other games, followed by the more standard Mass Effect 2 gunfights. The amount of enemies shown for these fights was more than almost any other fight in ME2, and it made for a challenging and entertaining experience.
The pricing on this new DLC has yet to be determined, but it looks like a very enjoyable package. Assuming the price isn’t exorbitantly high for this relatively short experience, this first DLC package will be a welcome addition to Mass Effect 2.