Serviceable, if still disappointingly unremarkable.
With the release of the Arrival, the long and enduring tale within Mass Effect 2 is now finally over. Naturally there exist plenty of threads lingering towards the upcoming Mass Effect 3, but that's a whole other chapter for this arc, for when the Reapers actually arrive (SPOILERS?!?).
Unfortunately, Arrival, despite being labelled as the final DLC to bridge the gap between the two games (Lair of the Shadow Broker being the other) doesn't really push much of the impeding invasion plot forward, and more or less keeps it to where you left of. There is a new political issue introduced between Shepard and the Batarians and it does also reference Shepard needing to head to our very own Earth for this very issue, but as far as the Reapers go it's still pretty much at a stand still.
So, Arrival first off brings us back the ageing loins of an Admiral Hackett (supporting character from the original Mass Effect), who has come to you on the basis of a friend, more than a representative of the Alliance. A scientist by the name of Amanda Kenson has been taken by Batarian Extremists, for her apparently tampering with their systems Mass Relay. Hackett is to believe, though, that the reasoning behind this is revolved around the impeding Reaper invasion, with Shepard thus being the obvious choice to call upon for aid. Right off the bat, the DLC gives a pretty good first impression, with more Reaper talk, more Batarians to kill and, of course, Lance Henriksen reprising his role as the aforementioned Alliance Admiral. Sadly, it all quickly spirals downward from there. To start off, Shepard heads into the mission solo this time around, and, for the most part, must rely on his/her own skills and weapons to battle through the fire fights. It's a neat twist, but one that wasn't fully developed, and made evident through the likes of Shepard still responding as if s/he's part of a team with such dialogue ad-libs as ''they've seen us'' whenever an enemy spots you. It also naturally narrows down your own combat tactics, as well as your own assortment of abilities. It maybe wouldn't have mattered if this pack didn't focus so much on the combat, but unfortunately that's all there really is.
One of the main drawbacks for Arrival is how little story progression--and choices to make at that--populate this one hour mission. It's all pretty much fire fight after fire fight and while ME2's gunplay was fine during 2010, it quickly aged through the months and by March 2011 it's downright dull to play. Most of the battlegrounds consist of nothing but long hallways with you one side, and the enemy on the other, taking pot shots. There are some more open areas, to which also usually have flame-thrower mobs on the hunt to force you to make use of the space. It brakes up the pace somewhat, and actually forces you to make use of your environment, but it's still the same gameplay you may have invested 60 hours into. No new weapons, armour pieces or even enemies (there are a few research projects like increased heavy weapon ammo capacity, however). One such room that quite literally just pours enemies one after another through the same door proves how quickly ME2's combat is becoming a monotonous bore to play. There was a surprising section that had you take control of a MECH, but that also only revolved around shooting stuff.
The story that breaks it up is made up of very few characters, with only Amanda, you and Hackett separated from a number of nameless enemy NPCs. Admiral Hackett is made to be a great character with a strong presence, despite his limited appearance, just for how well Lance voices him. Amanda isn't anything spectacular and even the twist surrounding her doesn't make her any more interesting. No large scale decisions to make here, either, and the couple that allude to choice are quickly shot down with another playthrough giving you the very same result.
The environments you'll fight through are at least really great to look at, with plenty more beautiful views of the outside galaxy. The soundtrack is also made up of a lot of new tracks orchestrated solely for this DLC - all of them being excellent and made for some of my favourite tracks out of the entire Mass Effect franchise.
Because of no real influence available towards the proceedings, Arrival has close to zero replay value. There are three achievements, two of which may require another playthrough, but the download is still pretty dry. My own first playthrough took an hour and 10 minutes, but that was also on hardcore mode to which could have no doubt contributed to the length. Still, it wouldn't be entirely fair to call Arrival a waste of your cash, as it does allure to one of the potentially bigger story strands in the upcoming Mass Effect 3, and the hardest of hardcore Mass Effect 2 fans will buy this regardless simply out of respect for their favourite franchise. Speaking for the people who are in it hoping for a direct link to Mass Effect 3, with more of the series interesting characters, dialogue and some new gameplay flare, it's best you just watch the proceedings via youtube instead and stick with The Lair of the Shadow Broker for your own climatic end to this act.