Five minutes spent with Kasumi and it’s clear that this is Bioware’s endeavor to shake things up a bit. Not that she’s a radically distinctive character, just Thane with Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak and a dash of sex appeal in place of his endearing personality. It’s more a case of masking the familiarity of the loyalty quests with a new recipe.
For starter’s Shepherd’s spruced up and dapper like he’s going on a date with the captain’s daughter. Far from a romantic meal and casual after-dinner play however, once Kasumi has been recruited the pair set about surreptitiously raiding the exclusive party of Donovan Hock, one of the wealthiest humans in the galaxy and with South African accents in vogue this time around, more proof that the future isn’t all American. Secondly, the first fifteen minutes or so are spent playing Sherlock Holmes in Hock’s luxurious mansion, sneaking (so to speak) through the modest crowd and in and out of rooms sniffing out clearly labeled clues – kind of takes the fun out of it but after Zaeed’s combat-heavy outing and the dreary Cerberus DLC, it’s a welcome change.
Much like Thane, while there are no shoot-outs to be involved with, Kasumi trails Shepherd in the shadows (and it’s just the two of you on the mission this time). Shepherd sets about infiltrating Hock’s vault, which, despite being pathetically guarded, holds some of the most iconic souvenirs of human history from Lady Liberty’s head to Michael Angelo’s David. But Kasumi is here for a personal item, as well as a sultry new SMG that as a soldier, I can’t possibly use. Where’s the trigger? Which way do I point it? Can I take it on international flights?
Hock’s palace is decorated lavishly, whole corridors are dedicated to his art collection and vacant swimming pools lace a balcony that gazes out toward a distant city. The set up is perfect for a heist.
So it’s fairly disappointing that after all the sneaking and Ocean’s 11-esque foreplay the core of the mission follows a blow-by-blow account of just about any Mass Effect 2 battle that comes to mind. Blue Suns Mercenaries, those big mech units and a brief boss battle provide the padding and rub out what could have been a sharp and unusual experience in contrast to the proverbial Mass Effect formula.
But it’s neither sharp nor unusual and if you’ve already seen Mass Effect 2 out then Kasumi holds little significance. With her, Bioware dare to reinvent the wheel and while they flirt with change Kasumi is a worthy slice of Mass Effect lore. But they all too comfortably revert back to the blueprints, and just as things start to get tasty. Far from an enthralling heist this is Mass Effect 2 painted by numbers.