Mass Effect 2 Overlord DLC Impressions

With five new worlds to explore, story-driven Overlord is Mass Effect 2's "biggest downloadable content pack yet."

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According to executive producer Casey Hudson, Overlord is the "biggest downloadable content pack yet" for Mass Effect 2. Available in June for 560 points (£4.60, $7), it adds in five new uncharted worlds, amounting to a fully voiced, self-contained episode that can be played either before or after completion of the game proper. The release of Overlord, a story-based dose of DLC, follows the Equalizer Pack (a set of armour items) released in April, as well as March's Firewalker and Stolen Memory packs. The former pack delivered the hammerhead vehicle, while the latter added new crew member Kasumi Goto, along with her loyalty quest.

Exploration and vehicle platforming with the jumping, hovering Hammerhead tank is one focus of the Overlord DLC, similar to that found in the Firewalker pack but on larger maps. Hudson calls it "a throwback to how some of the exploration worked in [the first] Mass Effect" with the all-terrain Mako tank and expansive planets to explore. As in the main Mass Effect 2 game, the planetside environments are richer and more varied than the largely barren landscapes of Mass Effect. Early on, the hammerhead zips over the surface of a scenic, verdant world, grazed on by alien cows and edged with mountains. Some side areas offer Cerberus posts with turrets to take out.

The plot of the DLC concerns a Cerberus scientist experimenting with geth technology. No surprise, the experiment goes awry, and Shepard is dispatched to clean up the mess. The task is seemingly to shut down a dangerous rogue AI that is at first personified as a giant face of green-projected computer graphics.

Getting to the AI requires visits to each of Overlord's new worlds, taking in a crashed geth ship along the way, there to find a key to unlock the final location. That location is Prometheus Station, a Cerberus base locked down and under AI control. Enemies are primarily geth--including troopers, hunters, and the bulky primes--with some infected versions of familiar mech units. The early stages of the DLC are vehicle and combat heavy, but emphasis shifts to storytelling later on, with Mass Effect 2's signature not-so-straightforward moral choices factoring in as the nature of the supposed rogue AI is revealed.

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Faced with destruction, the AI hijacks Shepard's vision, overlaying the environment with Tron-ish virtual reality grids and computerized projections of its memories. This is the most striking of the visual treats provided by the Overlord DLC, which is intended to offer something "new and different" to the main game. Overlord in general appears polished, though, with the new water surfaces on the planets and the crashed, partly flooded geth ship looking particularly good.

Loot enthusiasts may be disappointed to learn there's no new gear or weapons to unlock with this chunk of Mass Effect 2 DLC, and with the Normandy's roster full now, there'll be no new crew members. But those players itching to take Commander Shepard for a spin somewhere new should get good value out of Overlord in June.

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