Thursday, 15 September 2011

Mass Effect 2: Overlord (DLC Review)

The Mass Effect 2 DLC Overlord can be described with one word: Perfection. It embraces the very best of Bioware’s flagship series and there is honestly not one single worthwhile complaint which can be made about it. In terms of immersion, cinematic style, gameplay and story it is almost impossible to find a mission which tops this DLC. The conclusion feels even more emotional than the attack on the Collector Base which served as the finale to the second game, and the weight of the moral choice made in Overlord resonates much more strongly than the one there.

The DLC has you tracking down a Cerberus base which has recently gone silent and was conducting a number of experiments involving combating the Geth. Things have gone very bad there and in a suitably epic fashion it’s quickly revealed that your failure to stop what was created there will result in an apocalyptic catastrophe. There’s really nothing more which can be said without spoiling some of the best parts of Overlord. What is worth noting is that it’s all but completely unrelated to the rest of Mass Effect 2’s storyline which allows it to focus on telling its own tale much more effectively.

While the core gameplay remains the same, there are many new mechanics added. These are small gimmicks which are introduced and abandoned in extremely quick succession and help the DLC to constantly feel very active. One good example of this is where you fight a Geth turret and are frantically forced to repeatedly trick it into blasting its own shield generators so you can take it down.
The Hammerhead makes its return from the Firewalker DLC and is used as your primary method of travel throughout Overlord and it makes very good use of it. As you traverse the grassy terrain you are constantly fighting hacked turrets so there’s plenty of combat to be found there and as with Firewalker the vehicle sections are used to include some platforming amongst the frequent gunfights.

DLC truly shines in its presentation. The cinematography of the cut scenes is some of the best seen in the Mass Effect games, with some glorious backdrops and some of the most beautiful and terrifying environments you’ll see in this series. These range from aforementioned grass covered canyons to a derelict ship which is not quite as dead as it seems. The antagonist of the DLC, the titular Overlord, is similarly extremely well presented. I’d seriously recommend that players pay attention to his appearance throughout the missions and the seemingly garbled yells he spouts as both change over time.
The fact his initial appearance so easily radiates menace and hatred makes the DLC’s big reveal all the more horrifying. This is constantly helped by the soundtrack which contains some of the most haunting themes ever to be included within any of Bioware’s games, slowly changing to match with the plot.

There is very little dialogue within the game but this actually works in its favour. Rather than feeling like you’re watching Shepard’s story it makes you feel like you’re there, adding a lot of immersion for each reveal, event and plot twist.
What little dialogue there is mostly delivered by the ever great Simon Templeman who delivers a fantastic performance as Doctor Archer, the sole survivor of his experiment gone amok. There’s also a few dark, Portal-like, moments of dark humour dotted throughout the DLC. Mostly appearing on the derelict ship section and in small quips by Shepard upon completing objectives. It is something definitely needed and helps to vary the emotions evoked by Overlord.

It’s arguable that its key flaw is its short, only a couple of hours long, but that fully works in its favour. It feels like nothing has been wasted and it has been trimmed of any unnecessary fat in terms of its gameplay and story.

I cannot stress this enough: if you own Mass Effect 2 get Overlord.
You won’t regret it and you’ll be getting one of the, if not the, best mission in the whole series.


Mass Effect and all related characters and media are owned by Bioware.

Some images have been taken from Mass Effect Wiki.

1 comment:

  1. Really a good game, but with huge mistake and that is unforgivable and a patch two months after release and still the same problem five save files and 28 hours of gameplay went with my 70 dollars.