Post-launch dlc has to be handled very carefully to succeed. Not only does every piece need to identify the strengths and weaknesses of its core game, but needs to be created in relation to the pieces that have already been released. In the two story additions to Mass Effect 3, we were given missions that were designed for very specific purposes- they expanded the universe fiction. Problem is, even though they do so in different ways, they’re both filling in gaps to a story that is already closed. The third piece is Bioware’s opportunity to get away from Mass Effect 3’s controversial ending and flex its creative muscle on something different. ‘Omega’ reminds us why Bioware are among the best storytellers in the industry.
The mission starts with a call to arms. Aria T’Loak declares that it’s time take back Omega, the station she ruled until seized by Cerberus General Oleg Petrovski. For those who have kept up with the series, Shepard’s return to one of Mass Effect 2’s primary hubs is welcome; Mass Effect 3 found the Asari crime boss seeking refuge on the Citadel, biding her time for the right opportunity to strike back. Her exile was a plot thread that always felt unnatural as Aria and Omega have always seemed inextricably linked. In a way, her fight for her home is Shepard’s fight for the galaxy in microcosm. The opening scene ends with their forces infiltrating the heart of the station.
At this point, any Mass Effect fan should know what to expect from the gameplay and at least as far as that’s concerned, ‘Omega’ [damn naming conventions!] is more Mass Effect 3. At roughly three hours, the mission has Shepard bolting between cover, aiming for headshots and using her powers to defeat the battalion of Cerberus soldiers, including a few new enemies that, though mixing up the combat, aren’t really that different from what you’re used to. It’s smart, then, that Bioware decided to strictly control your squad and make Aria a party member. She comes with a few new biotic abilities and while those too aren’t different mechanically, at least have some flair to ‘em. More than practically, Aria reinforces the implicit gameplay story- she is fighting on the front lines, rather than in the safety of the control room.
And since you’ll be fighting through so many as-yet unseen places including its mining facilities and central power core freeing the station feels like an overwhelming and important task. Aria’s mission to free Omega is nicely complemented by scenes that depict the citizens as prisoners within its walls and since this is a story about revolution, the action gameplay feels as if you’re leading an uprising and squeezing Cerberus out. ‘Omega’ also contains one of the best dilemmas of the series, a somewhat simple and straightforward choice that effortlessly manages to compound its own tension. The story’s only letdown comes from the resolution of one of its characters, a moment that deserved more weight than it was given. If nothing else, ‘Omega’ deserves credit for showing us a different side of both the facility and the Asari who runs it- there’s more to the two than we’d seen before.
It’s interesting to wonder if Bioware would have released ‘Omega’ [second to last time for quotes, promise] earlier if it hadn’t felt compelled to spend so much time addressing its ending. Regardless of how you feel about the quality of the additional Mass Effect 3 content, it’s hard to argue that they weren’t all attempting to do something different with their respective narratives and structures. Where ‘From Ashes’ gave us a new perspective on the galaxy’s history and ‘Leviathan’ revealed the last of its secrets, ‘Omega’ is able to provide closure and justice to some of the people that live in it now.
PLATFORMS: PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360