Mass Effect 2 DLC Roundup

Spoiler-free views on The Price of Revenge and the other one.

Everyone is safe! If you've played Mass Effect 2 for more than a quarter of an hour (behaviour we recommend), nothing you read below will spoil anything. If you still haven't started playing, you might want to get that out of the way before you read page two, but you're quite safe until then.

If you bought Mass Effect 2 new, then you already have free access to The Cerberus Network - the vessel through which downloadable content for BioWare's latest universe-spanning RPG will apparently be conveyed.

Anyone who buys the game second-hand, however, is unlikely to find the redeemable code needed to unlock the Cerberus Network still inside (unless the original owner was a prize idiot, obviously), and will need to hand over 1200 Microsoft Points (10.20!) for the privilege, or the equivalent in BioWare Points.

You could be outraged by the price of the content, but that would rather miss the point. This isn't another example of a publisher hopelessly out of touch with the public perception of DLC value. In fact it's quite the opposite.

Yes, The Cerberus Network is meant to be off-puttingly expensive. The tenner it costs is probably more than the difference in price between new and second-hand copies of Mass Effect 2, and - EA and BioWare hope - punters who realise this will choose to buy a new copy of the game as a result.

That's the theory anyway, and it's a good theory - good enough that it would be slightly irrelevant to review the first two chunks of downloadable content that came out last week and whack scores on the end.

Furthermore, it's not entirely clear whether future downloadable content (including the Hammerhead hover tank) will be sold separately or provided free as another Cerberus Network bonus, so until that's cleared up it would be even sillier to review the content in the context of its misleading 1200 MSP price-tag.

With all that said, however, there's nothing to stop us telling you whether it's worth your time and valuable hard disk space to download the first two bundles of downloadable content for Mass Effect 2, so let's get on with it.

Zaeed - The Price of Revenge

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Despite the implication, Zaeed is sadly not a romantic target.

Perhaps having learned the lessons of Bring Down The Sky - the first of two chunks of downloadable content for the original Mass Effect - once installed both The Price of Revenge and its fellow day-one DLC add-on for the sequel can be accessed at pretty much any point in the story after the initial scene-setting.

Should you reach the endgame and wish to continue rumbling around the universe, you can even see to them then, although it's better to deal with them sooner.

By far the more substantial of the two launch DLC packs, The Price of Revenge introduces a new companion with his own special ability, a new heavy weapon, a heavy weapon ammo boost and even some paladium and credits. Oh, and 15 more gamerpoints for Xbox 360 owners. Not that we care about that or anything.

With the pack downloaded, your outrageously flirtatious PA alerts you to a new message at your private terminal. It's another one of the Illusive Man's charmingly sinister emails, explaining that he has negotiated for a fearless human bounty hunter to join your party, and that you can recruit him by visiting Omega.

There you find Zaeed Massani, and discuss his terms while he busies himself subduing a batarian bounty. Unlike the other recruitment missions, which are quite elaborate (consider the length of Thane's intro, for example), this is straightforward stuff. To paraphrase: "Would you like to join my crew?" "Yes." "Do you promise to be more interesting than Jacob?" "Yes. Also, despite my facial scarring, I will attempt to look less like I have a dislocated jaw."

Without ruining anything for you, it does at least turn out that President Bartlett's deal with Zaeed involved more than monetary compensation: you've also been roped into helping him solve a bit of unfinished business with one of the game's big mercenary organisations, the Blue Suns.

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