Game Rant's John Jacques reviews Mass Effect 3: From Ashes
Controversy has surrounded the critically acclaimed BioWare title Mass Effect 3 (read our Mass Effect 3 review here) even before the game came out, with several fans angry at the inclusion of launch day downloadable content. This added content, which only comes with the Mass Effect 3 Collectors Edition or to anyone who pays $10 for it is titled 'From Ashes' and it presents players the first ever opportunity to not only see what a Prothean looks like, but to recruit one into Commander Shepard's squad. If there's one face people have been waiting to see for ages that isn't Tali's, it would certainly be that of the Protheans - but is the $10 price tag worth it for one more squad member? As always, the answer is contextual to how big of a fan you are to the series.
Once you've installed From Ashes (or, at least, the part that wasn't already on the disc), the mission Priority: Eden Prime becomes available, where it is discovered that Cerberus has excavated a Prothean artifact of vast importance, a functional statis pod containing the last Prothean. Though the mission is labelled Priority, it should be noted that you don't have a time limit to approach the planet, unlike other Priority missions which may have consequences for not immediately going.
While the concept is exciting for fans of the series, the Eden Prime mission leaves a lot to be desired. Though it is faithful recreation of previous Eden Prime experiences from the original Mass Effect, running through crate-like buildings on what is supposed to be the penultimate garden planet of the human race is a little underwhelming compared to the potential BioWare had to craft a beautiful world. Even so, the mission itself is surprisingly short for a Priority mission, featuring waves of attacking Cerberus operatives as the player must protect a central location where the stasis pod containing Javik resides.
Flashbacks of Javik's memories happen during the mission and offer some of the most interesting cutscenes from the entire game, but it's not hard to argue that the best part of the DLC comes after completing the missing when Javik - the Prothean - becomes a part of your squad.
Javik offers great dialogue on almost every mission he's brought on, especially if they involve Prothean artifacts of any kind. He has an elitist, almost racist attitude that leads to a few confrontations or awkward silences, some of which are hilarious to watch as they play out. Voiced with an African accent, Javik's always willing to chime in with his opinion - whether it's that Aalarians used to eat flies as primitive beings, or that humans tend to be stupid. Despite his opinions, his main purpose is to fight the reapers, and he will do so no matter the cost.
Javik is no stranger to tragedy, having seen the Prothean Empire fall.
In combat, Javik's default rifle should immediately stand out - a heavy green beam weapon that deals some solid damage. Occasionally seeing green beams going everywhere however, can add to hectic scenarios when you don't want them to. The new weapon also becomes available for Shepard and other characters, which in itself is a nice bonus. The Prothean also brings some unique biotics to the game including a green biotic entitled Dark Channel that constantly damages a selected target. If said target dies, the life-sapping power will hop to the nearest enemy until it runs out of juice. Additionally, Javik has Lift Grenades in his arsenal, a life saver when a group of enemies stumble into the room when Shepard's shields are down. He can also be trained in Slam and Pull, two familiar biotic moves for Mass Effect veterans.
In essence, Javik is one of the most entertaining and effective squad members and the From Ashes content ensures that players get a deeply rooted character with plenty of dialogue, packaged disappointingly inside a mediocre recruitment mission that should have come built into a game that has few squad mates as it is. Carrying a hefty $10 price tag, Javik is there for the hardcore fans of the series who want to know the Prothean background and wish to maximize their experience, but for the casual gamer, Javik probably isn't worth the price tag he comes with.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @Makelevi. Game Rant played the Xbox 360 version for this review.