Missing the point
Pinnacle Station, the second DLC package for Mass Effect, is special. I say special, because I have never seen a game developer so spectacularly miss the point of their own game in a follow-up to that very game. Bioware delivered a fantastic product with the first Mass Effect; epic story, compelling characters, and a good balance between role-playing and combat drove the title to success. Pinnacle Station takes a sledgehammer to this mixture.
Pinnacle Station's gameplay eliminates everything except combat, hardly even bothering with the RPG trappings- no story to speak of and only a minuscule amount of dialogue. The 400 Microsoft Point download will net you a new space station to land on- the titular Pinnacle Station. Unfortunately, there's not much to do on Pinnacle Station but fight. The station is home to an advanced combat simulator which has a total of 13 scenarios the player can run through. Tragically, these scenarios do not improve in any way on the combat from the base game, and don't even provide any new environments to fight in or enemies to fight. You are essentially being charged $5 for the ability to experience more of Mass Effect's wonky combat.
- Hunt, where you have a set time limit which killing enemies will increase. The enemies spawn in such a way so that you have to keep moving or time will run out.
- Time Trial, which is fairly self-explanatory. You're given a set period of time to wipe out all the enemies on the course. Similar to Hunt, this mode is designed to make you move.
- Survival is probably the most interesting mode- your team has to survive for a set period of time against waves of increasingly difficult enemies. A bit like Gears of War's Horde Mode, except not nearly as fun, because Mass Effect's combat wasn't designed for situations like this.
- Capture plays exactly like Battlefield- fight through enemies to reach a control point, stay in the vicinity of the control point for long enough to capture it, then move to the next control point. You need to capture all control points on the map within a given time.
Put quite simply, Pinnacle Station totally missed the point of a download pack, which is to give more of what made the original game so entertaining. In fact, Pinnacle Station takes the least entertaining part of the base game, removes any sort of context, and simply expects the player to shoot things. The combat in Mass Effect is fine as part of a larger whole, but presented on it's own, as it is on Pinnacle Station, it falls flat on it's face.