Review: Mass Effect – Pinnacle Station


Earlier this week, many of us Mass Effect fans that had been clamoring for more DLC for our beloved game were greeted by the release (albeit, unannounced) of Pinnacle Station. When OXM interviewed Mass Effect director Casey Hudson regarding the next piece of DLC that would be coming, he called it ‘substantial.’

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Mr Hudson, you, sir, are a liar. This content has to be some of the most unsubstantial content that I have ever seen. It was also stated that it would be ‘more combat-driven, less story-driven’. I’ve played through the entirety of the content, and there is hardly any story whatsoever. There are a few dialogue scenes between a human, turian, and yourself, but nothing really worth noting here. The only true saving grace for BioWare here is the fact that BioWare didn’t even develop Pinnacle Station. EA outsourced this to another developer called DemiUrge Studios. But enough bashing. I’ll move on to the actual content itself now.

Pinnacle Station consists of 8 ‘beginner’ simulations and 4 ‘advanced’ simulations with a bonus mission if you complete the 12 prior missions in record fashion. A level 12 character will find the simulations challenging on Casual. A level 50+ character will find them very easy (unless the difficulty is increased, obviously), almost to the point of not being fun at all. In my opinion, Pinnacle Station is best visited once you get Liara in the Artemis Tau Cluster. If you have completed each of the early Citadel sidequests, and rescued Liara, then you should be roughly level 13-15, which is adequate for completing Pinnacle Station (on Casual). The only mission I had to do a few times was the Tropical Time Trial, and one more level-up helped me get that.

There are four types of simulations: Time Trial, Hunt, Survival, and Capture. Time Trial spawns enemy groups in a certain order, which you must eliminate in order to move on to the next group. The person who eliminates all of them quickest scores the best time. Hunt is self-explanatory: eliminate as many enemies as possible in the time given. Each enemy killed adds time to the clock. Survival is also self-explanatory: stay alive for as long as possible. You don’t have to kill anyone, but it’s best that you do, obviously. Capture missions require that you reach a point on the map and hold it for a set amount of time until you move on to the next point, holding that for a certain amount of time until you have captured all points on the map. Once you have completed the first 8 missions, you are given the choice of a non-unique weapon as part of a wager. There are no unique items in this DLC, unfortunately. Completing the 4 advanced missions unlocks Ahern’s special mission, which I will not spoil for you. Let’s just say that, playing as a level 18 soldier, it was worth playing through the previous 12 simulations to unlock. I also won’t spoil the prize that you win at the end of that mission’s completion. Suffice it to say, it’s a very nice prize for completing Pinnacle Station.

With the above said, do I feel that this content is worth 400 MS Points (5 USD)? Absolutely not. This content would have been better served to be released with the original game because it is simply way too simple to blow through it with a high-level character, at least on Casual. I’ll be replaying it on the other difficulties to see what kind of a jump there is, but level 13-15 is a good starting point. A character of lower level will find them unbearable, in my opinion, even on Casual.

If I had to rate this content, I would give it a 1 out of 5, only because of the prize at the end of completing it. Charging 400 MS Points for this feels like robbery. It feels thrown together and rushed, even though it’s been 18 months since Bring Down the Sky, which I felt was fantastic.

Oh, and I would be unfair if I didn’t mention an early glitch for those of us Platinum Hits/Classics Mass Effect owners that installed Bring Down the Sky from the bonus disc rather than buying it from Xbox Live Marketplace. When you install Pinnacle Station, Bring Down the Sky (installed from the Bonus Disc, mind you) will not allow Pinnacle Station to show in the game. It will show on your HDD, but not in the game itself. You MUST delete Bring Down the Sky from your HDD in order for Pinnacle Station to be playable. However, you cannot use any characters created while Bring Down the Sky was installed. BioWare is aware of the issue and is working on it, but haven’t set a time-table to releasing a fix. This only concerns if you install Bring Down the Sky from the Bonus Disc and use the Platinum Hits copy of the game. Purchased from XBLM, it will function properly with the Platinum Hits disc. Also, those with the normal game and the Games on Demand versions will experience no problems.

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