After Leviathan, I was expecting more story based DLC for Mass Effect 3, and we got it. The big question is it worth the extra five bucks they tossed on top of the previous ten we expect from a DLC? Bioware touted that this was their biggest DLC yet, bigger than any other that they had done before. While I would agree that it’s as big as say, Lair of the Shadow Broker in terms of set pieces and locations, maybe even bigger than those, as Omega is freaking huge, it is certainly not longer. In fact, my play time clocked in at ten minutes shorter than my run through Leviathan, although with the ladder glitch in the other DLC, that actually put this ten minutes over that. It is pretty huge in terms of action, offers interesting mechanics as far as action goes, and brilliant set pieces, but is it worth it? That depends on what you’re looking for from your Mass Effect 3 DLC.
When we first met Aria in Mass Effect 2, she was queen of her little castle, the ruler of Omega who doled out her law from a comfy couch with a nice view of the Afterlife club. By the time we met her in Mass Effect 3, Cerberus had evicted her from her throne and she’s licking her wounds in Purgatory, a little night club she’s set-up on the Citadel. She’ll help you get some things for the war, but seemed content to sit on her couch and stew, much like Liara in Mass Effect 2 in her office, until you get the Shadow Broker DLC. In Omega, we finally get to see Aria in action and what earned her the fear and respect of Omega’s denizens. Much like the other DLC, this starts off with an e-mail, this time from Aria asking you to meet on the Citadel at a special docking bay. You show up for the meet, and are ushered into a waiting skycar with Aria inside. She’s being paranoid, as there are too many ears at her new club. She’s assembled a fleet, not big enough to take on the one Cerberus has fielded in a full on fleet battle at Omega, but one that could punch through the lines and get her inside. From there, it’ll be a ground war from the bottom of the station up to take it all back. That’s where Shepard comes in. Aria likes to work with the best, and Shepard is the best. Aria sets the terms though; Shepard goes in alone, with no one from the Normandy. She doesn’t trust people on board or the Alliance.
From just outside the Citadel you meet up with her fleet. Aria has stolen herself a Cerberus cruiser and is going to use it, alone and damaged, to get in the middle of the Cerberus fleet at Omega and wreak havoc before bringing in the rest of her fleet. The gambit pays off, but with a heavy cost, and Shepard and Aria not quite where they need to be. They meet up with a mysterious turian woman, Nyreen, who has a past relationship with Aria. You get the feeling it didn’t end well. From there, it’s even more wading through lots of troops and around obstacles as you make your way through the station to meet up with Aria’s forces and attempt to mount a resistance and take down Oleg and the Cerberus forces there. There are lots of action set pieces with a few brief moments to get to know the new female Turian, who turns out to be very bad ass, and even get a little deeper into Aria’s past a bit, but she’s always on the offensive, so don’t think you’ll get to know her all that well. From start to finish this plays out like a popcorn action flick and is big and bombastic, and as a lover of popcorn action flicks, I had a blast playing through this. My only other gripe is that Oleg feels like a shell or a placeholder. He isn’t nearly as interesting as he was in the comics and almost takes on the token villain trope, with little to no development and a few taunting scenes to keep everything moving and personal. Deep it is not, but other than that it is a lot of fun.
I mentioned set pieces earlier, and the areas they move you through feel like the big action set pieces in action films. Sure there are the usual corridors, but when it opens up and you can look out over Omega’s cityscape, the huge caverns created by the Eezo mining operation, or the extensive catwalks with an insanely long drop, you can see the labor of love put into creating more of Omega’s environments, and it really gives you a sense of awe and scale of the station. The big things here, I think, are the Adjutant’s, the Cerberus created Reaper hybrids from the comics, and Nyreen, our first female Turian. The Adjutant’s maintain their basic comic book look and movements, and are visually just as creepy in game as the comics. Nyreen looks fantastic when you get her in her armor and out of the civilian clothing. I loved the armor, while the civilian outfit was just okay. She moves and reacts like a Turian and they did a great job bringing her to life. There are a few graphics glitches here and there, but overall it was a great showing of what they can do with the game engine.
Aria does the bulk of the talking in this, although you’ll get a few good conversations with Nyreen as well. Carrie Anne-Moss does a great job with Aria, and it really makes me wish they’d actually done a lot more with her character in the rest of the game. There were only one or two deliveries that felt a little flat to me, which I can deal with, considering the amount of dialogue they put into this. You have Aria in your squad all the time during the DLC, and the one thing I think they could have worked on a little is her squad banter. Her battle call outs are frequent, which is great, but they repeat a lot. You can hear â€œI’m back, Fuckers!â€ only so many times before you’re telling your screen, â€˜Alright Aria, we got it.’ The Adjutants sound creepy as hell and the music is well done, adding well to the atmosphere of the situations you’re in. Nyreen is voiced by Sumalee Montano, who does a great job, and I recognized her a bit but couldn’t place it until I poked around a bit and found she voiced Arcee in Transformers: Prime.
There’s no changes from the main game as far as controls go, so see my review for that particular nugget of info. Gameplay wise, there’s an actual almost boss battle and a bunch of mini ones, which I thought were well laid out and didn’t feel like, â€˜hey, let’s just throw more enemies at them!’ It felt like a natural progression, which is good. While you can’t bring anyone from your own squad along with you, Aria and Nyreen make up for it quite a bit, even if one of the two is busy or not with you. The areas and enemies are chosen to work in a way that’s complimentary to any build of Shepard, and Aria equipped with a good shotgun and her biotics are particularly devastating. There are a few side missions that work just like they would in the regular game. Listen in a little bit on conversation, get an option to interact with person, get side quest, pick-up glowy item while running around shooting bad guys. There are also a number of different paths through the areas, so you can change up tactics when you need to, which is always welcome.
While I don’t think the outcome is going to be all that different story-wise, there are a few different ways to handle key situations and dialogue from Aria that will change depending on how they’re handled. It’d be worth at least two runs just to do a Paragon and Renegade version to see both, I think. There are, of course, Achievements as well, which will probably mean more when Origin has something that can track these. Right now, they’re good if you share your N7 profile on the Mass Effect web page, but even then, most people are using that for multiplayer challenge tracking.
So does this deliver the bang for your inflated buck? The price point for this one is higher than the previous DLC by five dollars, with BioWare claiming it’s their biggest yet. I’ll give them that based on scale and number of things going on, but overall, there aren’t any more quests than in the other DLC, it’s not longer, and you get roughly the same amount of weapons, mods and war assets out of it than you did from the previous DLC. Again though, it’s not all that challenging if you’re any good at, or involved in, the multiplayer at all above Bronze level and playing on normal. The Adjutant’s provide a nice break from Cerberus and their stream of human and robotic troops. The Cerberus mechs are only slightly more deadly than their downgraded robotic counterparts. So for fifteen dollars you get about three hours of play that feels like an action film, which is okay, but for time spent over one playthrough, I wouldn’t recommend it. If you’re going to do it more than once for a bunch of characters, give it a try.
As far as being original, toss that idea out the window. It’s a semi-sane general taking over an outpost to conduct insane experiments on the populace, and our hero goes in to stop him. If you’ve watched a few action movies in the last decade or so, you’re familiar with the story line. While there is some interesting dialogue here, don’t expect any real plot twists or turns. This is all straight-forward action flick stuff. That’s not a bad thing, but if you were looking for something new, forget it. Exciting? Sure. New? No. I will say that it was really hard to break away from while I was in the middle of it to go cook dinner and feed my pets. There’s a lot going on and it gets you invested in it pretty quickly, especially since at this point in my single player game, I’m looking at the end run on the Cerberus base and then Earth, so a victory here feels really, really good. Sure, you can do it a bit earlier, but I think I’d settle for taking this one on right after Thessia just to raise my spirits a bit and kick some ass. Playing alongside Aria is a nice boon, and then there’s actually getting to meet a female Turian, so there’s that appeal. We’ve wanted to take back Omega as well, but I think people will be disappointed that there’s no squad mates option, and even with a story reason for it, other than the obvious budget concerns. So if you’re looking for more interaction with your squad this is not the DLC for you.
Bugs, bugs, bugs though. I’d say about forty percent of the cut-scenes I had with Aria in them had some kind of animation error in it. She’d either randomly change direction, jump a few feet over to just jump back when she started moving again, and so on. That was rough to look at. Nyreen had one or two as well. Shepard is also using that damned assault rifle when you’re carrying a sniper rifle and a pistol. I couldn’t find any stuck points this time around, other than having to move around an annoying ladder that didn’t reach the floor that I should have been able to move under. There’s an area I missed because I was investigating and ended up missing part of a sidequest, because once you opened a door you couldn’t go back. More my fault, but the way the game describes the door, you should be able to open the other one and get back as long as the second door closes. Then, of course, there’s the whole Achievement thing. You can earn them in the game, and it pops up to tell you earned them, but when you check later either at N7 HQ or in your game’s Achievements on the PC, they are grayed out. This happened with the Leviathan DLC as well. Considering Javik’s DLC (I had the Collector’s Edition that it came with as a download code) actually works, you’d think that the new DLC would work as well, but it doesn’t. Now, for most people it won’t matter, but for the Achievement hunter crowd, this is a big deal. Considering this is the second piece of DLC with this issue now, it doesn’t look like it’s going away, and I’m betting there won’t be a patch to fix it any time soon. So there is that.
Control and Gameplay: Great
Replayability: Above Average
Appeal Factor: Good
FINAL SCORE: GOOD GAME
Short Attention Span Summary
If you’re looking for something deep and meaningful to add to the Mass Effect 3 experience, look elsewhere. Omega is an action movie in a DLC expansion. While it has some interesting characters, we don’t get to know anyone but Aria all that much more, you’re off on your own with Shepard so don’t expect your own squadmate banter, Oleg isn’t as interesting as he was in the comics and is reduced almost to a villainous cliché, but hot damn this was fun anyway. Taking back Omega is as bombastic as you could expect, with Aria tearing back into her home with a vengeance and purpose, making good on her statements that she’s that bad ass. We finally get to see a female Turian, and not only is she as bad ass as Aria, but she sets the bar pretty high, for as little character interaction as we get with her, you feel for what she’s going through. This is definitely for fans who like the action in the Mass Effect series, as this will have no bearing on the end game like Leviathan did, but will give you War Assets, weapons and mods if that’s your thing. If you’re sick of fighting Cerberus in the game, this is also an easy pass. I thought it was money well spent for me in my game play through, but I could easily see other fans passing it by.
What Video Game Release for January 2014 are you most excited for?
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