One of the major differences between Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 is the elimination of the Mako, the ground transport vehicle you used to get to mineral deposits and enemy bases on the various worlds of the original game. But the clunky, gravity-defying Mako seems to have a considerable fan base among the players, so BioWare has thrown them a bone in the new ME2 mission pack, Firewalker, available as a free download for those who have joined the Cerberus Network.
Your mission is to locate two scientists who are searching for a mysterious Prothean artifact. Also missing is the Hammerhead, a combination hovertank and drop ship fitted with a guided missile launcher. Once you recover the Hammerhead, you’ll be in it for most of the five missions included in the pack. Most of these missions involve piloting the vehicle to a series of marked locations and picking up objects, including mineral caches and items to be researched, although you do leave the Hammerhead briefly to explore abandoned bases in search of clues to the whereabouts of the two missing scientists.
Firewalker has all the earmarks of a mission pack that was released in a hurry. The Hammerhead controls have not been added to the key bindings found on the options page of the main game menu. This is a problem because the Hammerhead’s scanner and lift controls are not part of the generic vehicle key bindings. The tool tips that appear when you drive the vehicle indicate that the right mouse button activates the scanner, but it’s actually the “V” button that performs this task. The Hammerhead handles not that much better than the Mako did. It’s much more maneuverable, but its lift distance is very limited, forcing you to find gradual ways to get to a highly placed objective, and the vehicle jitters wildly while the scanner is engaged, so you have to continually compensate for the drift. And in the brief moments that you spend outside of the Hammerhead, you never find a single enemy to engage, but the game still forces you to select two teammates to take with you before the missions begin.
Keep in mind: this is a mission pack, not a full-blown expansion such as Dragon Age Origins: Awakening. Each of the five missions takes place on a different planet in a previously unexplored solar system, so you get another bunch of planets to plunder for resources. But if you finish the campaign before you play Firewalker, there’s not much point in spending the time required to scan each planet and launch collector probes, and without resource-gathering the pack takes less than an hour to finish. If the intent of Firewalker is to introduce you to a vehicle that might be an important part of Mass Effect 3, then it does it’s job. But hopefully BioWare will take some time to fix the glitches before the final game of the trilogy is released.