Mass Effect - Bring down the Sky

Last week, Bioware released the first in a series of downloadable episodes for Mass Effect on the Xbox 360. Being an adoring fan of Mass Effect I quickly purchased this new $5 episode and finally finished the 3 hour episode a week and a half later.

Bring down the Sky is a pluggable episode that squeezes itself into the middle of Mass Effect. It takes place on Asteroid X57 near Terra Nova in the something cluster, which you can reach once you get free rein to explore the Milky Way Galaxy. You can not access this once you've completed the game, which could be considered a pain in the ass to some players. It took me about 3 or 4 hours to run through Eden Prime and all the required crap on the Citadel to finally start flying around.

That's the main reason why I didn't finish Bring down the Sky in one sitting. All my free time that night was spent getting to the point where I could start it. Also, I was playing on the insane difficulty, so some things took a little longer than usual.

In Bring down the Sky, you are faced with a Batarian regime who have taken over the science facilities on Asteroid X57 and have changed the trajectory to collide with Terra Nova, whose colonies consist of some 6 million inhabitants. Once landed on the asteroid, you can see the brilliant Terra Nova as you loom closer to doom. It reminds me a lot of Armageddon, actually. Luckily, you don't need to drill through the surface and destroy the asteroid. You just need to shut of the thrusters and regain control of the science facilities to fix everything.

This expansion does feature a couple new Assets to Mass Effect. The large thrusters bored into the asteroid are new from the download, as well as the Batarians themselves. We never did get to see the Batarians in the main game, but this expansion does offer reasons why they were left out.

Overall, Bring down the sky is more robust than the other side quests already in the game. The experience is tighter and self-contained with actual cutscenes throughout the experience leading you on to the next station. It has a more theatrical introduction and conclusion, but still keeps a sandbox approach to how you handle the outcome.

Spoilers

The only complaint I have about Bring down the Sky is the ending. It really annoys me that you are given 2 choices at the end and you can only do one or the other. You cannot defeat the extremist leader AND save the hostages he's acquired. You can do this in all other scenarios throughout the game, but you cannot in this one. AND, to make matters worse, during the epilogue to the episode, everyone keeps second guessing your choices.

So, not only can't you do both, but the game judges either decision you make as the wrong one. I even went back and saved the hostages the second time rather than killing the leader and they STILL are ungrateful. ARHghaghghgh

You pay $5 for a few hours of entertainment and there's no scenario where the game won't complain about what you've done. Maybe I'll go back and kill the hostages again just to shut them up. At least I get Renegade points for that.. I don't get Paragon points for saving the hostages.
/Spoilers

Anyways, I'd definitely recommend this if you like Mass Effect and have already completed one play through. You don't need to beat the game to play this, but if you haven't finished Mass Effect, you should probably do that before you add more content to extend the game.

Also, Bring down the sky gives you another 50 achievement points ^_^

Coming back to Mass Effect

Coming back into Mass Effect from playing World of Warcraft these past few months was a much needed breath of fresh air. WOW is so completed void of emotion, it almost completely numbs me to play. It has tremendous back story and all that, but that's not the point of WOW at all. WOW is all about the end game level of play, reaching 70 and then actually building your character. and continuing to build your character.

There's really no aspect of playing the game how you want because the point is to "be good" at it, and if you don't do little things how you're supposed, everyone starts complaining to you about it. "You're in the wrong zone", "You're doing worthless quests", "Abandon all those crappy quests", "Put out your buffs", "Why do you have one point in another skill tree".

I feel no freedom in the game. I'm really just a slave to how the game is played well. Which is absolutely the opposite of what I want from an MMO.

Maybe it's just because I hang out with people who've played the game for the past 4 years its been in the market though, but I constantly miss the type of freedom I felt when playing Ultima Online. I felt no pressure to do anything in Ultima Online. I could just run off into the woods and be a hermit if I wanted. I could build a shack in the woods, outfit it with fencer training stuff and buff my character that way. I could actually explore the world where no one had ever been, and monsters were very sparse.

I really can't play World of Warcraft that much anymore.. It's too annoying and gives me a headache whenever I think about it.

Anyways, about Mass Effect

Anywho, I started a new game in Mass Effect to be able to play Bring down the Sky. This is my third play through and I started off on my level 59 character, which was still 100,000 experience away from the game's level cap. Through the first areas of the game I got up to 792,000, still 68,000 short of the cap. After finishing the new episode I'm at 820,000, still 40,000 from the cap. Sigh...

Also, my game is now on the Insane difficulty which is actually challenging! It's actually pretty fun to actual use parts of the environment for cover and not being able to run in the middle of battle and kill everyone. Each skirmish takes a little tact to fish out the enemies into the open to beat them down. Moving around your party members is actually helpful! Sweet. Too bad is takes 50 hours into the game to unlock it.

I don't see why you have to unlock the more difficult difficulties when the options you have are pretty easy in the first place.




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