DLC for a game with an ending as final as Mass Effect 3’s was always going to be somewhat awkward. Considering most players will have already beaten the game by the time they play it, any effect it has on the game at large seems almost pointless. “From Ashes” came at launch, so it was able to be neatly inserted into the story. “Leviathan” had the benefit of containing information that shook the series’ mythos to its core. The newest entry into this lineage is “Omega,” which follows Shepard as he attempts to help Aria T’loak take back the titular space station. Developed by Bioware Montreal, the same studio that worked on the multiplayer from ME3, Omega doesn’t have the benefit of either launching with the game or having an earth shattering story. Because of this, it feels a bit hollow.
Aria has been a somewhat popular addition to the series since her debut in ME2 as the hard-nosed Asari who ruled over Omega’s bloodthirsty population with an iron fist. Her character is given ample time to shine here, but I can’t help but feel like she was better served with limited focus. The glimpses we get into Aria’s personality during our somewhat brief encounters with her during ME2 and ME3’s main campaign serve as a believable portrait that allows the player to extrapolate nicely what she’s probably like to be around full time. Unfortunately, having this entire DLC built around her forces Bioware to keep offering glances into that portrait. By the end of the content, it has become pretty heavy handed. Every f-bomb, every line of hard a** dialogue only reinforces the fact that she is ultimately a pretty one dimensional character.
Even their attempt at a deeper glimpse into her life, a window into her relationship with a female turian named Nyreen, quickly devolves into the cliché. While Nyreen herself is at first a somewhat interesting addition to the mythos, it becomes clear pretty quickly that her only purpose is to provide the Yin to Aria’s Yang. Nyreen is the bleeding heart who would sacrifice anything to protect the people; Aria the tough as nails take no prisoners dictator who would just as soon let 1000 civilians die if it means she gets her station back. These battling archetypes wear thin quickly and don’t offer the same type of nuanced storytelling that the series has done quite well in the past. The primary villain is probably the most interesting of the characters here, and his holographic version functioning as the devil on Shepard’s shoulder during a particularly intense scene was the highpoint of the DLC.
If you enjoyed the combat in ME3, you’ll love this DLC pack. There isn’t much in the way of dialogue here. Most of the 3-4 hour runtime is spent gunning down Cerberus troops through the various halls and tunnels of Omega’s underbelly. There are some really great set pieces here, including a spooky trek lit only by the flashlight at the end of your gun while an unknown creature stalks your team. This creature turns out to be a pretty interesting enemy, if only in design. Functionally, it isn’t that much different from some of the other enemies you’ve faced before. Still, its presence (combined with that of another new enemy) and the high quality of set piece design goes a long way towards making the action here enjoyable.
Omega lacks the polish of the main game, with occasional visual glitches marring several of the cutscenes. A particularly egregious example of this occurs during Aria’s big speech to rally the citizens of Omega. Any impact the moment might have had was completely stripped away by awkward lapses in animation and floating characters.
In the end, the biggest problem that Omega struggles with is the fact that nothing about it seems worthwhile in the overall scope of the game’s narrative. This is particularly true if you’ve already completed the game. Your team is banned from participating in the mission, and thus has no comment or input on the events therein. Unlike Leviathan, there is no great secret lurking in the shadows here. It’s a very straightforward combat pack that gives a little bit more focus to a character that doesn’t necessarily need it. If you are a huge fan of the combat of ME3, and don’t mind the fact the story taking a back seat from time to time, you’ll still be able to have fun with this bundle of content thanks to the solid environments and new enemy types. For those seeking to expand the Mass Effect universe, you’ll want to take a different path.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.