Mass Effect 2's downloadable content to date has been a little hit-and-miss, a mix of free and paid content never really settling into the same confident stride the actual game managed. Overlord, though, is different.
Both Firewalker and Kasumi shared the same problem, in that they felt rough, raw and disjointed, never really coming together as a single, cohesive experience. Can Overlord - a tale about a rogue artificial intelligence on a killing spree - do better, and actually feel like a complete mission for Shepard and his crew?
Survival Horror - Mass Effect's storylines and combat are usually just about finding a human or an alien then shooting them in the face. Overlord changes the pace and tone of this quite nicely, creating a horror atmosphere and littering the missions with a few puzzles to break up the gunplay. Fans of System Shock 2 will be right at home.
Main Meal - Like I said, I've been disappointed with how brief and isolated previous downloadable content has been. This one is a big improvement, being both long enough to allow a story arc to be completed, and then having that story tie into the events of the overall Mass Effect plot.
Out Of Step - For all its improvements, Overlord still suffers from the same problem as Firewalker and Kasumi: that in presenting the missions the fiction is broken for many people that have already completed the game, who are surely the game's target market. Events transpire at the end of the main game that are simply forgotten or ignored in Overlord, and those who took a certain path in the main game's finale will find this either jarring or simply ridiculous.
Overlord is a step in the right direction for BioWare's DLC team, as for the first time in the Mass Effect universe it provides a satisfying series of missions that are driven by a decent story and give players a sense that they're continuing the events of the main game. Now if only they can fix the whole "these missions are stupid if you've finished the game in a certain way" thing...
Mass Effect 2: Overlord was developed by BioWare and published by EA for the Xbox 360 and PC. Released on June 15, sells for $US7. A copy of the game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Completed expansion in around two hours.
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