“Omega. What a pisshole.” Squadmate Garrus Vakarian’s words back in Mass Effect 2 summed up Aria T’loak’s space station nicely. And if you thought the asteroid was a degenerate hellhole then, just wait until you see it under the terrorist organization Cerberus’ control. You can find all the details as to how Omega’s current situation came to be in the Mass Effect: Invasion comic book series, but the gist of it is that Aria (voiced by Carrie-Anne Moss) now intends to retake her home from General Oleg Petrovsky, one of the Illusive Man’s key personnel.
It should come as no surprise to Mass Effect 3 players that she then recruits Commander Shepard to her cause. After all, what’s the fun in taking back Omega if you don’t even get to help out? Not only will you see Aria outside her usual cool demeanor (and finally, off of a couch in a nightclub), but you will also be joined by Nyreen Kandros, a female turian who happens to lead a mercenary group called the Talons. Fortunately, both are engaging characters in their own right. However, this also means you have zero use of your Normandy squadmates, nor will you ever interact with them while playing this DLC.
The upside with Aria and Nyreen is that these two hold their own in the combat department. Whereas the former is a powerful biotic – and it shows, as her Flare ability comes in very, very handy – the latter brings in a mix of biotic and tech powers, and both characters offer abilities new to the single-player campaign. The battles are mostly standard Cerberus fare. New Rampart Mechs have been tossed in, but these really just serve as bigger, more powerful Loki Mechs (from ME2). The real “threat” lies in another new enemy: Adjutants, a Cerberus-engineered Reaper form which, for all of their menacing presence and Nyreen’s constant fear of them, can still be taken down somewhat easily on Normal difficulty. Even though you’ll be fighting much more than exploring, many areas of Omega are new, while familiar ones get a graphical improvement over the second game. Thankfully, the only bugs worth a mention on the Xbox 360 version are some unsettling issues with character models “swinging” during a couple of story scenes.
Although Shepard had not interacted with Aria very extensively in the past, working alongside her for an extended period gives players a chance to learn more about Omega’s pirate queen. Part of this neatly plays out in her many interactions with Nyreen; it’s clear that these two have a history. While Shepard at times plays mediator, at others, s/he is handed a couple of key decisions – but their impact is never truly felt ingame. Naturally, Aria’s reactions toward Shepard become more favorable if s/he tends toward a certain alignment. Sadly, Omega’s concluding scenes feel rushed, and this comes as a bit of a letdown considering the developments and important figures in the story arc.
For many, the $15 price tag is a steep one, and for good reason: Omega will not open up as a hub location in Mass Effect 3 as it was in ME2, and you won’t gain either character as a new squadmate after the content ends. On the other hand, if you’re heavily invested in this universe – especially Omega and Aria T’loak – you may well get your money’s worth here, as you can easily find 2-4 hours of solid, action-filled content. You also come away with new weapons like the N7 Valkyrie, several weapon mods, war assets and two new biotic abilities in Flare and Lash as bonus powers for Shepard. As this is the priciest DLC in the series to date, I find it difficult to recommend Omega to just any Mass Effect fan unless they’re specifically interested in the content’s subject matter.