Thief of All Ways: Mass Effect 2 Kasumi DLC Review

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According to Bioware exec and Project Lead Director for Mass Effect 2 Casey Hudson, there’s a lot of downloadable content coming for Mass Effect 2. That brings up a question: how do you evaluate DLC for a game like it? I’m not talking about whether it’s objectively good or bad. When I reviewed the free Firewalker pack, I found it to be a fun vehicular addition to the ME2 experience. But that’s not what I’m getting at here. In Mass Effect 2, you already have an experience you either like or don’t like. Anything that comes after is meant to feed the larger whole.

So, unless the DLC outright breaks the game, not a lot will change how you feel. The Mass Effect games stand out for their approach to story and character, so the new Kasumi – Stolen Memory pack has a different set of expectations. Of course, those expectations are also different because the Kasumi DLC costs about seven bucks where the Firewalker pack was free. Usually, with DLC, you’re paying for new maps, weapons, vehicles or abilities. Here, you get similar things: a new weapon, new research to improve existing attributes and a new achievement. In this instance, you’re essentially paying for a new personality to interact with.

So, one way of evaluating the new content is looking at the character of Kasumi herself. She’s a master thief recruited to join Shepard’s universe-saving mission but players will need to gain her loyalty first. Mass Effect’s had a human problem that goes back the first game. The natives of Terra came off as the most boring species you’d encounter in ME1 and ME2 didn’t do a whole lot to change that. Kasumi’s a sign that things might be getting slightly better. Her impish delight in her profession draws you in, but there’s a streak of sentimentality in her, too. She reads old, printed books and mourns for her slain partner. In fact, her mission is part memorial and part revenge. The criminal she wants your help stealing from acquired her old partner’s graybox–a neural interface that stores secrets and memories.

She carries some mystery, or more mystery than the other characters, just by the nature of her backstory. At first, given her appearance, you might think that Kasumi’s just around to generate more sex appeal (not that ME2 needed any more of that). But, there isn’t a whole lot of flirty-flirty with her. Maybe it’s because she’s avenging the loss of someone close to her. The heist structure of the first part of the Kasumi mission provides a nice change of pace from the frantic gun battles that dominate ME2.  (Don’t worry; those do show up later.) At points, Stolen Memory riffs on James Bond movies and holds a few in-jokes–like a statue of the Rachni Queen–for folks who played Mass Effect 1. As a bad guy, Hock gives players a look at what douchebags in the Mass Effect universe look like. He’s a profiteer voiced with what sounds like an intentionally bad Sean Connery impression and the end of the mission left me wanting to see him again.

Kasumi’s not a character who I’m going to let sit on the shelf, the way Jacob and Zaeed–other Mass Effect 2 characters who also happen to be human–have languished on the Normandy. She’s an example of good character design from a writing and gameplay standpoint. It’s fun to watch her pop in and out of sight, killing enemies in the background. When new ME2 DLC comes around, I’m planning on taking her out alongside my Shepard. She’s proven to be a personality worth paying for.

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