|Platform:||Xbox 360, PC|
|Released:|| 06/15/10 (OL)
Some of the most memorable moments of the original Mass Effect were found in the side missions. Often, Shepard and his crew would find empty starships floating in the black vacuum of space or abandoned settlements on barren planets or moons. More often than not these areas were host to a variety of cosmic horrors or sentient beings repurposed into hideous creatures. As a result, the side missions often had a horror styled flavor to their narratives and executions, and this unique approach was sadly missing from the side quests in the sequel. Obviously, Bioware realized its mistake because Overlord returns this style of play to the series, in spades.
Set on a remote world, Overlord takes place when the eponymous project goes awry. The project lead quickly reveals to Shepard that a human mind was fused with a virtual intelligence interface in an attempt to gain dominance over the synthetic Geth. The results were predictably disastrous, causing all the equipment to rampage throughout the project settlement, killing most everyone who was assigned there. To make matters worse, the malevolent amalgam of human and machine is attempting to transmit itself off-world, threatening a technological apocalypse. As always, Shepard is the last line of defense between galactic stability and cosmic Armageddon.
As mentioned before, the Overlord mission pack is enjoyable for the mere injection of horror-type gameplay into Mass Effect 2, a game whose side missions already involve a variety of gameplay elements divergent from the acton-oriented main story, such as light puzzles and platforming. Exploring the deadly quiet facilities while a computerized human voice randomly communicates in unintelligible screams and terrifying sounds is reminiscent of early Silent Hill games where sound, or the lack thereof, is horrifying in its own right.
Of course, that doesn't mean that Overlord is a slouch in the action department. There are a great number of enemies standing between Shepard and the human-VI, and exploration sections with the Hammerhead hovertank are mixed into Shepard's forays into the Overlord facilities. These sections return yet another feature sorely missed from the first Mass Effect, exploration of a foreign planet. There are quite a few areas to explore on the Hammerhead, and Bioware seems to have wasted no effort in making the environment sufficiently breathtaking, visually, going so far as to have the in-game computer tell the player when there is an 'aesthetically pleasing view nearby.' Being able to run over alien space bovines while the computerized voice admonishes you makes these sections all the sweeter.
Unfortunately, Overlord suffers from the same problems as previous the DLC, Stolen Memories: if the player finishes the game with certain choices made, the missions don't mesh well with the narrative, causing some rather unfortunate continuity problems for players who went down a certain path. If played in the middle of the game there's no real problem, as post-game content, however, these discrepancies can be rather noticeable. While not a huge issue, this can break suspension of disbelief, which is all too important for a game like Mass Effect.
Overlord clocks in at around 2 hours of playtime, and of course, if you weren't a fan of Mass Effect 2 the first time through this is probably not an intelligent purchase. However, for those who crave something new to tackle in the game, $7 is a modest price to pay for such a high quality DLC release.
Overlord was played with two characters, one following the path of the paragon, the other enacting cruel renegade logic.
Lair of the Shadow Broker
When Mass Effect 2 was released, Bioware promised DLC that would bridge the time between Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, to resolve loose ends and mysteries that have been present since the original game. Lair of the Shadow Broker, the latest addition and first actual post-game DLC, sets out to answer the question players have had since the first game: who is the elusive Shadow Broker? Is he an individual or a group of operatives running a seamless network of information espionage? As a bonus, Liara T'Soni, one of the main characters in the first game, takes a much more active role in this story, allowing players to fight alongside her once more and perhaps continue the relationship between her and Shepard.
When players last met Liara in Mass Effect 2, she was working to track down the Shadow Broker. Shepard now has the information she needs, and Liara eagerly takes Shepard up on the offer to end the existence of her hated enemy. What follows is a journey of betrayal, revenge, and renewal, as she and Shepard track down the most infamous information trafficker in the galaxy. The story in Lair of the Shadow Broker offers significant closure for one of the biggest mysteries in the Mass Effect universe, but the final revelation of the Shadow Broker's identity is a rather disappointing anticlimax. The shock of finding out the true face of the Shadow Broker is tempered by the knowledge that it came completely out of left field. Those who are hoping for a chance to choose a paragon or renegade path will also be let down, as the main story in the DLC offers no story branches for the player.
True to form, Lair of the Shadow Broker features a variety of gameplay types, from detective work such as data gathering to a high speed car chase through busy traffic areas. As such, the action in the game involves far more than just running and gunning. That's not to say that there aren't any memorable fights added to the mix, though; Lair of the Shadow Broker adds some incredible battles to the game, two of which are unforgettable encounters with powerful enemies that will give even veteran players a run for their money. After the end of the mission, players also gain a safehouse that offers opportunities for lucrative planet mining and credit investments, as well as the ability to gain further insight on the Normandy's crew and respec every character's abilities.
As post-game DLC, much of the dialogue and messages are geared towards players who have already finished the game. As a result, it meshes incredibly well with characters who have braved the final suicide mission in Mass Effect 2. The main mission runs an average of two to three hours depending on difficulty and Shepard's class, and the ancillary content of five achievements, a variety of post-mission distractions, and a number of upgrades scattered throughout the storyline makes this the largest DLC for Mass Effect 2 yet.
As far as the main story of Lair of the Shadow Broker goes, it's anticlimactic at best and disappointing at worst. While the book is closed on one of the larger story threads of the Mass Effect universe, the conclusion leaves much to be desired. As an addition to the overarching story of the series, however, the DLC is an unqualified success, offering players a satisfying beginning to Shepard's struggles after the events of Mass Effect 2, and a fulfilling scenario that reunites Shepard with an old friend. Those who have had a relationship with Liara previously can opt to continue it again, with some special scenes for doing so. If we can expect the same quality in the DLC to come, then the next DLC for Mass Effect 2 can't come soon enough.
Lair of the Shadow Broker was played with two characters, one with a relationship with Liara and one without.