The Title: Mass Effect 2: Overlord
The Premise: Commander Shepard is tasked by Cerberus command to head to the planet Aite, home of a top-secret VI research station where things have apparently gone horribly awry. Upon arriving at the station, Shepard and his squad fight their way through VI-controlled Geth and meet scientist Gavin Archer, project lead on the “Overlord” initiative, which involves the melding of a human being’s mind with an AI program in order to communicate with the Geth and perhaps gain control over the powerful hive-mind robotic force.
Along the way, the player learns that Gavin Archer has used his own brother, David, an individual with autism who also happens to be a mathematical savant in order to interface with the Geth, and that the VI program “Overlord” is not simply a rogue intelligence, but that it’s also a human being.
Is It Good?: This is my favorite piece of DLC for Mass Effect 2. I’m fortunate enough to have spent a good deal of time with individuals who have a variety of special needs and count my time spent with them as incredibly rewarding and powerful. To see a video game tug on my heart strings in order to tell an amazing story of man’s desire to communicate with and control a sentient race through Frankenstein-like technological horror is profound.
There are so many fantastic moments in this mission, including Shepard and company exploring a destroyed Geth ship that’s been converted into a science lab dubbed Prometheus Station as well as a tremendous firefight on a retracting satellite dish. The real brilliance of BioWare’s storytelling and design comes through once the player has made their way to Atlas Station, where Shepard must confront David and his newfound near-Godhood. One of the better moral choices in the game occurs upon defeating David and confronting David’s brother, the man guilty for turning his own blood into a guinea pig for Cerberus.
There are Hammerhead portions of this DLC that work really well, unfortunately, making my way to Vulcan Station in order to gain access to Atlas Station is lengthy and somewhat tedious in that the Hammerhead can’t take much damage before starting to smoke and overheat. While there’s nothing particularly challenging about Vulcan Station, the length and almost platform-esque elements are out of place and boring. That said, once in the actual Vulcan Station, the action picks up quite nicely and there’s plenty of rogue mechs to take down.
I found this DLC had a lot of trappings of something Harlan Ellison would write, in that it has such dark human frailty juxtaposed against the concept of working toward a brighter future for all of humanity. The Geth are a threat, no doubt, but are they worth sacrificing one’s own humanity in order to stop them? If one sacrifices humanity and compassion, is humanity worth saving? These are questions that Overlord asks the player as Shepard approaches the final decision before leaving Aite and the project behind.
Length: Two hours, two and a half if you want to explore a bit.
Moment To Savor: Choosing the fate of Project Overlord is both satisfying and brutal in that Renegade Shepards can be as uncompromising as they want to be while Paragon Shepards can be the shining light of humanity for all others to follow. Tough calls, indeed.
Worth it?: Every penny. The DLC goes for 560 Microsoft Points, which translates to around $7.00. If you like your science fiction with difficult moral questions, then this DLC is for you.