Is saving Omega worth the money jangling in your virtual wallet?
Reviewed on the Xbox 360 by Aaron Ogles
The Mass Effect galaxy has been in a perpetual war with the Reapers since March and Bioware have delivered us with another chunk of single-player DLC to help us beat these seemingly omnipotent, omnipresent evil robots from Hell in the form of Omega – which sees players revisiting the titular space station from Mass Effect 2 to take it back from the greedy hands of Cerberus.
The DLC starts with Shepard receiving a message from his pertinaciously bitchy acquaintance Aria T’Loak; the self proclaimed Queen of Omega, who will stop at nothing to reclaim her property from the enemy. After a hasty hovercar meeting, Shepard is thrust into a space battle with Cerberus forces and crashes his escape pod into Omega. Thus beginning the mission proper.
The immediate drawback that becomes apparent is that Shepard isn’t permitted to bring the Normandy or any of his squadmates along for the ride because Aria simply doesn’t like them. For someone who seems to need as much help as she can get, this presumptuous Asari doesn’t do a good job of making players actually want to help her. However, this does provide an opportunity to take advantage of two new squad members.
As you can probably assume, Aria will be with Shepard for the duration of the content and she has a number of unique attributes to bring to battle. Along with Aria, players will also be periodically joined by Nyreen, a female Turian (who looks a lot like a male Turian with mascara). While Nyreen doesn’t have much in the way of personality, aside from the novelty of being the first female Turian featured in the games, her do-gooder attitude offers a nice contrast with Aria’s abrasive demeanor and Bioware do a good job of taking advantage of this conflict of temperaments.[pullquote]her do-gooder attitude offers a nice contrast with Aria’s abrasive demeanor and Bioware do a good job of taking advantage of this conflict of temperaments[/pullquote]
Hints of a deeper backstory between the two garners a little interest but it’s never enough to make players properly care, and both never seem to amount to more than opposite, one dimensional embodiments of different moral angles. And it all seems a little disposable given the fact that you don’t get to keep either of them as permanent squad members after the mission ends – which would’ve been a nice bonus.
The gameplay generally consists of get from point A to point B while shooting at stuff, but it still remains as fun as ever and there are a couple of curveballs thrown in to keep players on their toes. Two new emeny types are included – the Cerberus Rampant Mechs whose corpses deplete your shields and a new Reaper mutant, The Adjutant, which is like a less scary, more annoying cross between the Banshees and the Ravagers. Although one sequence that has you stalked through a pitch black environment by one of the creatures is a highlight.
Along with the new enemies are a few new weapons and mods to add variety to the combat, and there is a lot of Omega for players to explore. While the content is strictly linear, there is a lot of it (about 3 hours worth) and so it’s important for the environments not to be repetitive. Omega is essentially the dark, gritty antithesis of the Citadel and this is evident from the get go. While none of the areas stray too far from the dirty, red and brown aesthetic of the station, there is enough variation and detail to keep it from being mundane – graffiti adorns the claustrophobic walls of the secret tunnels while the dull, red Omega skyline offers a pleasantly noir view to enjoy while you fight your way to the station’s eezo mine.
For a game that places a lot of focus on moral choice, there is little to be found in Omega. While you can express your enthusiasm or distaste for a particular topic or course of action it never directly affects the outcome of the story. This wouldn’t be much of an issue if the story was a bit more fleshed out – my main motivation for completing the mission wasn’t to learn the outcome of the tale, but to give Aria back her station so she would stop bitching and going on about how much of a badass she is. It also didn’t help that the villain was nothing more than a walking cliche with no character depth at all.
While the story and characters aren’t all that great, the action and gameplay remain as fun as you would expect from Mass Effect, and saving Omega is a decent excuse to jump back in and get involved with fighting Cerberus and the Reapers again. Although the promise of war assets upon completion of the mission would’ve been more meaningful had I not already saved the galaxy nine months ago. Whether or not Omega is worth its 1200 MSP pricetag depends entirely on the capacity of your wallet and your enthusiasm for the game – it will provide a decent excuse to get back into the game, but ultimately won’t add anything significant to the gameplay and as always is probably better suited to those who have yet to save the galaxy from certain doom.