This Rogue AI has its Head on Straight
HIGH The reveal at the end of the mission.
LOW Not being able to freely search for missing data logs.
WTF I never expected to see "platforming" in this game.
After my now-infamous review of Mass Effect 2, I'm sure there are people out there convinced that I'm a hateful detractor of the series bent on its destruction, but really, that couldn't be further from the truth. The simple fact is that I felt the sequel strayed too far from what made the first so amazing. Much to my surprise, the Overlord DLC actually makes a return to what I see as the original formula, and because of that, I can say with confidence that this latest addition is the best yet.
The mission begins with a message from Cerberus. Apparently, an experimental AI has gone rogue on a faraway planet, and it's up to Commander Shepard to restore order to the research facility. Things seem relatively straightforward at first, but the story ramps up to a satisfying level of detail over the course of the 90 or so minutes it will take most players to reach the end. Even better (and without spoiling anything) the closing scenes manage to deliver more emotional punch than expected.
While Overlord's plot is certainly good enough to warrant its existence as DLC, the thing that really won me over was how BioWare managed to incorporate all of the various aspects of Mass Effect together in a way I felt was largely lacking in the core adventure and the previous add-ons. It's just more well-rounded.
To illustrate my point, being able to go from the bridge of the Normandy to the planet's surface to speak with a scientist before the mission was expected. The surprise was then entering the Hammerhead hover vehicle and actually flying it to new destinations before exiting to engage in on-foot combat. This sort of cognitive continuity was par for the course in the original Mass Effect, and something I sorely missed in Mass Effect 2. It may seem like a minor point, but it does wonders for enhancing a player's level of immersion.
Besides this mostly-holistic approach, Overlord sports a great mix of content. There's the plot along with several dialogue scenes and choices to be made by the player, the speedy vehicle action featuring a small bit of platforming, a good amount of weapons combat, multiple opportunities to change teammates, and even a few quieter moments meant to heighten the mood. There was even a puzzle—yes, a real puzzle—to freshen things up even more. It may have been a simplistic puzzle, but I absolutely appreciated its inclusion.
Overlord may not be seamless and it doesn't erase all of the issues I had with the main game, but that's to be expected. After all, this is add-on DLC and not a reworking of the game's basic structure. With that in mind, I can say that I very much enjoyed the thought and balance that obviously went into the creation of this new mission, and as a true Mass Effect fan, this attempt to return to form is probably the most welcome thing I could possibly imagine.
The latest DLC expansion for BioWare's space-based magnum opus, Overlord, was released on June 15th and is available for 560 Microsoft Points. ($7.00) This DLC pack contains a story split into five "missions," two new Achievements and at least one new piece of researchable equipment.
Disclosures: This game was obtained via paid download and reviewed on the Xbox 360. Approximately 90 minutes of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the content was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game contains: blood, drug references, sexual content, strong language, and violence. Parents, let's make a long story short—This is a mature game aimed at mature players, full stop. Nothing else needs to be said.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing: You should be just fine with this new mission. Dialogue is accompanied by subtitles, and there are no new additions to the gameplay formula that employ significant auditory cues. If hearing impaired gamers are fine playing through the rest of the adventure, this DLC won't pose any problems.
Currently, he's got about 42 minutes a night to play because adulting is a timesuck, but despite that, he's a happily married guy with two kids who both have better K/D ratios than he does.
Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody at the office is looking, and his favorite game of all time is the first Mass Effect -- and he thought the trilogy's ending was Just Fine, Thanks.
Follow Brad on Twitter at @BradGallaway