PRICE: 800 BioWare Points (PC), $9.99 (PlayStation Network), 800 Microsoft Points (Xbox LIVE)
Warning: this review contains spoilers.
No BioWare game comes without day-one DLC nowadays - neither did Mass Effect 3. Actually, this add-on was so well integrated into the main story, that people started questioning BioWare's integrity; there are many who still believe From Ashes is included on each Mass Effect 3 release, and that the purchase of the add-on is only needed to unlock it. I have no take on this debate, since the download code to From Ashes came free of charge with my purchase of the N7 Collector's Edition - which means I just don't care. I already touched From Ashes with the tip of my virtual index finger back when I wrote the review of the game, but on my second playthrough, it became obvious that I wouldn't rest well before reviewing the whole thing separately. From Ashes is Mass Effect 3's very own Stone Prisoner or Exiled Prince, and better than either one of them. If you have Mass Effect 3, you must have From Ashes as well. It's that damn good.
That's his happy face
The recent discovery of a Prothean artifact lures Shepard and Liara back to where it all began, Eden Prime. There, they find something way bigger than a simple artifact: an actual Prothean, preserved in cryosleep. Although they start off on the wrong foot, Shepard and the Prothean - who introduces himself as Javik - have a common interest in finding a way to rid the galaxy of the Reapers forever.
Everything about this DLC yells out "take me, take me now!". It's a solid, important part of the full Mass Effect 3 experience in every way, just like Lair of the Shadow Broker was before it - the main difference being that From Ashes is day-one, whereas Lair of the Shadow Broker was released months after Mass Effect 2.
|How they kicked Reaper ass in the old days.|
Since Shepard's squad has only one pure biotic by default, it's a good thing Javik was made one, especially on my second playthrough in which my Shepard was a soldier. Javik's abilities differ from those of Liara and Kaidan's, and can mesh with 'em for the sake of some very effective combos. Gameplay-wise, this Prothean bastard packs a nasty punch. Having him and his Dark Channel and Lift Grenade abilities along can turn the tables in some otherwise challenging fights.
Javik isn't like Zaeed or Kasumi in Mass Effect 2 - you can have deep conversations with him just like you'd have with any of your squad or crew members at any key point of the game. It's ideal to get him to join your crew as early as possible, as his character develops with the most volume during the course of the game, turning from a cold-hearted, sharp-tongued, arrogant son of a bitch into a respectful, trustworthy and inspiring squadmate.
If there's anything to this DLC I find somewhat "weak" is the mission on Eden Prime itself, along with the optional side mission which garners in an extra Achievement. In the end it's just another linear gunfight against Cerberus and the very same enemy avatars you're fighting over 50% of the game's duration. Beating the From Ashes mission and the sidequest takes you no longer than 30 minutes, but luckily Javik will be there for the rest of the game for you to enjoy.
From Ashes is of the exact DLC quality you'd expect from the people who gave us tons of good, even amazing downloadable content for Mass Effect 2. Even if you do have to pay for it, your money is certainly not going to waste on this Prothean artifact.
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