Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mass Effect 2's "Overlord" DLC is Pretty Frickin' Cool

So amid all the hullabaloo coming out of LA these past few days, it was easy to overlook the fact that on Tuesday, EA dropped the most sizeable DLC pack yet for Mass Effect 2. It's called "Overlord," and I had totally forgotten it was coming out until Brad Gallaway mentioned it on Twitter.

So as soon as I was done watching E3 videos (Pretty colors! Comedians! Want to buy!) I coughed up $7, downloaded the add-on and fired it right up. Over the course of the next 1-2 hours, the gruff-but-caring Cerberus space sniper Kayria Shepard headed to a remote facility to square off against a dangerous rogue AI. And it was super rad.

I won't say too much about the plot or the gameplay - suffice to say there are numerous occasions in which you'll be doing things you never got a chance to do during Mass Effect 2's main campaign. It's a good story, and Bioware has done a clever job of dressing up art assets, environments and enemies in ways that make them feel fresh. Interestingly, most of the story takes place outside of cutcenes, which changed the missions' feel significantly from the main game. The sound effects deserve special mention, too - actually just one sound effect in particular. Too bad about the still-buzzkilling loading screens, though.

The atmosphere also stands out, and for the most part embraces a suspenseful, tense tone that the main campaign would only get at occasionally. In fact, at times Overlord kinda feels like survival-horror. Many elements of the plot and environment are lifted straight out of System Shock 2, which in this case works pretty well.

There are also more Dead Space-esque environmental puzzles than there were in the entirety of the main game, and although they can feel a bit out of place, they also bring a welcome change to the game's pace and helped me feel more connected to the environment.

Further changing things up is the fact that the Hammerhead (the vehicle that was introduced in the Firewalker DLC) makes a reappearance in Overlord. If you haven't played Firewalker, picture a Mako that can fly and whose main cannon is aimed with the right thumbstick. It's a huge improvement. Also, if you haven't played Firewalker, you can probably safely skip it - Overlord should do a sufficient job of satisfying your (bizarre) need for vehicle segments.

But beyond those new features, it was all the little touches that made Overlord so enjoyable for me. The whole experience is graced with a multitude of inspired flourishes and has the same level of detail and polish as anything from Mass Effect 2's proper game.

Going in, I honestly wasn't sure what to expect and I came away really glad I'd checked it out. For $7, Overlord took me through a well-paced, fun adventure and let me do a ton of cool Mass Effect-y stuff I'd never done before. Hard to argue with that.


Jay said...

Well, I was looking for something to play this weekend while the wife is outta town and I think I just found it. Although, I am a little confused about the DLC. I thought the first pack was Kasumi's Stolen Memory... so what is Firewalker? I looked up the available DLC on Bioware's site and it's nowhere to found.

Granted, I haven't played ME2 since it first came out. I tend to wait until multiple DLC packs are available for a game like ME2 so I can play them all together and treat it more like one big expansion. I guess I missed out on something in the meantime.

Kirk Hamilton said...

Yeah, I totally do the same thing - wait for DLC until I do a second playthrough. There's enough now that I'd say it's worth doing, especially since I get the sense that the next DLC is gonna be quite large (hopefully even Awakening large!) and act as a bridge between ME2 and ME3.

Firewalker gives ya 5 scattered vehicle missions where you take the Hammerhead through its paces (Item collection, combat, etc). By no means bad, but nowhere near as cool as Overlord.

I have Kasumi and actually haven't played her loyalty mission yet - heard it's cool, too, though I doubt it's as substantial as Overlord is. Worth taking into consideration, since they cost the same amount.

Jay said...

I think $14 is more than reasonable for a new squad member, a vehicle and a grip of extra missions. I *LOVED* playing through the rest of the Cerberus crew's loyalty missions so I'm definitely stoked to start a new one, regardless of the lackluster reviews for Kasumi.

I'm also excited to check out this survival-horrorish tweak you mention. Some of my favorite missions from ME1 involved crawling into a seemingly benign situation, only to have hoards of creepy-ass Geth jump out of the woodwork like a swarm of zombies- something that went all but missing from ME2.

The more I think about it, the more I'm tempted to just cut out of work early, beat the Giants day-game traffic, and fire that puppy up. Thanks for the tip. I knew there was a reason I left both discs installed on the HD :/

Kirk Hamilton said...

Based on that description of what you liked in ME1, allow me to predict that you will find Overlord very much to your liking. :)

Jay said...

Just finished Overlord and it was rad! Kinda The Lawnmower Man meets Event Horizon with a sprinkling of A Clockwork Orange.
Anyway, it was a solid purchase, which is unfortunately more than I can say for Kasumi. Actually, I kept her at my side through all of Overlord so maybe I got my money's worth after all.