Mass Effect 2's first downloadable content, Kasumi- Stolen Memory was a dud. It was by the numbers, all too brief and generally uninteresting. The low production values certainly didn't help. The second piece, Overlord, is a major step up from Kasumi. Shepard and team are sent off to investigate a rogue VI at a Cerberus facility. The premise is simple and clearly feels like a side-mission from the get-go. Overlord has no bearing on Mass Effect 2's story and no real impact to the universe at large. It is its own mission, but at almost three times the length of Kasumi, greater production values and filled with surprises all around, Overlord is a good time.
Once you land, with the Hammerhead vehicle in tow, you arrive at a station where there is only one survivor after the VI went rogue and corpses to spare. Upon entering you are quickly greeted by the green-faced virtual intelligence as it stalks your every move, and shrieks in a rather disturbing manner. Your job is to keep that rogue VI from spreading its influence off-world. And this is where Overlord succeeds. There's a sense of dread in the destroyed facilities you visit. The bodies of scientists litter each room, some in mid-escape, others caught off guard. The flickering lights and leaking gas pipes all help to build up the atmosphere of the adventure. There are four facilities in all to visit, each different from the other. One will have you traverse rivers of molten lava in an extended vehicular section, reminiscent of the first Mass Effect, although much improved. And another will keep you from firing a single shot as you slowly tread forward, the darkness and eerie atmosphere slowly moving you forward until all hell breaks loose for a daring escape. If Kasumi- Stolen Memory was about being redundant, Overlord is about variety.
It certainly helps that Overlord is a genuine looker. Each facility is distinct in its look, and it is tied together by an overworld that you drive across. The world itself is beautiful, at times evoking a Panzer Dragoon feel. That may have just as much to do with the unique wildlife flying in the distance as it does with the flowing waterfalls, beautiful views of the valley below, all juxtaposed with cutting edge technology and a rogue VI that at once references other greats including SHODAN and HAL.
It is worth mentioning that Overlord's final 20 minutes are superb. As good as the rest of the add-on is, the end-game is what makes it an all-around great package. As the rogue VI plays with you, messes with where you can and can't go, and some fantastic visual tricks await as well. Mix in some exciting, scripted sequences and a dramatic finale and Overlord's end-game holds up better than many full-fledged games.
Overlord is light on dialogue, with the only real conversations taking place at the beginning and at the very end. The rest is focused on tense atmosphere, action and exploration. Each of the four facilities should take anywhere from 30-40 minutes to complete, and exploring the overworld for its secret nooks and crannies should provide similar playtime. Overlord is decently priced for its excellent production values, game length and overall variety.