Mass Effect 2 - Overlord

Overlord Cover
Platforms Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows
Recommended? Yes
Buy from Amazon

If there’s anything we’ve learned from science fiction, it is that artificial intelligence cannot be trusted. Isaac Asimov’s 1950 collection of short stories, I, Robot, was all about robots, A.I., and Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, which above all is about the protection of humans. 2001: A Space Odyssey famously featured the not-so-friendly HAL, and recent movies such as The Matrix and Moon both star some nasty intelligences. In gaming history, GLaDOS and SHODAN are two of the medium’s most popular villains.

So it was only a matter of time before Mass Effect featured a big bad A.I. story, and that arrives in Overlord. It was the first paid Mass Effect 2 DLC that didn’t include a new character or weapon, so at 560 MS Points ($7), the story would have to be well worth it.

This isn’t Mass Effect’s first foray into evil A.I. with the Geth and Reapers featuring so prominent in the story along with the Rogue V.I. mission in the original, but this is its first take on the traditional human menace we all so know and love.

For a bit of context before we begin, in the Mass Effect universe, most artificial intelligence research has been strictly outlawed by the Citadel Council. A few hundred years ago, the Quarians created the robotic Geth to essentially act as their servants and slaves, but as in most similar stories, they became sentient and rebelled against the Quarians. In a nice twist, the Geth actually won the ensuing war and forced the Quarians off their home planet and into space to become wandering nomads. Because of this, A.I.s are strictly regulated and the nomenclature of V.I. (virtual intelligence) arose to serve as supposedly really dumb A.I. Though I personally think the difference is negligible, at best.

Let’s get to Overlord though, I’ll break up the review into the different assignments that make up the mission.

Investigate Project Overlord

The mission begins as a pretty typical distress call, and upon landing you’re immediately contacted by a Dr. Archer asking you for help in stopping an artificial intelligence that has got out of hand from uploading itself as a virus into the galaxy’s main communication network. The game emphasises a few times that that would be a very bad thing, so it’s Shepard’s job to take out the giant satellite dish on the research station.

Because this is a video game, the rogue A.I. needs some on-the-ground firepower to get in your way, so in the Mass Effect universe, the most convenient way to do this is throw Geth at you. While this isn’t that much of a surprise, it’s a little disappointing that we’re not getting a whole new breed of bad guy. But there are really not that many Geth encounters throughout Mass Effect 2, so it’s enjoyable to take them on in droves, especially on insanity difficulty.

The research base has a few big rooms giving the battles an epic feel. I am currently playing an infiltrator and one of their skills is A.I. Hacking. This allows you to temporarily turn a mech or Geth against its friends, drawing the other enemies’ attention. Even though I only have one point into the power, I found it incredibly useful as it removed two baddies from battle: one to turncoat and another to fire on him. It also proved rather hilarious as a lot of the Geth were carrying rockets and seeing them fire at their brethren and watching the ensuing chaos was awesome.

Of course, the team eventually finds itself on the giant satellite dish itself, needing to take out the three struts that prop up the antenna. In a fun battle which features many Geth flanking you from both sides on a rather open battlefield, Shepard destroys the antenna and takes out the dish. But in a rather surprise turn from BioWare, the dish comes crashing down upon Shepard while she mutters, “you have got to be kidding.” Love this cutscene.

After meeting with Dr. Archer face to face, we learn that the A.I. is actually what’s left of the doctor’s brother’s mind. His brother has autism so they thought he might be a suitable test subject to mind meld with the Geth. Of course, things went wrong, so we’re off to stop him, but before we can even get into the part of the research station he’s in, we have to head to two other parts of the base and shut down the project. This opens up the overworld between the stations.

Mass Effect 2 Overlord Satellite Dish Destroyed

The Hub Area

Remember the Hammerhead ship from the Firewalker DLC? Well, it’s back! While I think it controls pretty well, whenever you’re forced to shoot things it become rubbish. Thankfully, the hub area is pretty light on bad guys, featuring only a few turrets protecting some data banks.

Speaking of the data, one of the DLC’s two achievements/trophies is called Data Hound and requires you to collect six pieces of data from around the overworld area. This is more obnoxious than it sounds for a number of reasons.

First off, most of the pieces of data are protected by turrets, and as we know nothing is fun to fight in the Hammerhead. This vehicle seems to be destroyed very quickly on the higher difficulties, and it feels like it would be more useful just to hop out of it and fight things on foot. The second problem, once again, is that you can’t save in the ship, so while you don’t have to collect all six pieces of data in one go, you might as well, so this means fighting off multiple groups of turrets and hoping you don’t die. I did this just for the achievement and to say I did it once, but it doesn’t add to the story at all.

I should mention that the hub area is absolutely gorgeous. It’s a lush foresty area with mountains in the background and beautiful streams and ponds to fly over. Whoever the artists were behind this did a stellar job. Even the Hammerhead’s computer can’t help but point out that organic creatures would appreciate the view.

Can’t forget to mention that there are a few herbivore cows to run over too that also illicit a funny comment from the ship’s computer. Heh.

Mass Effect 2 Overlord Aite Geth Ship

Prometheus Station

Though the arrow originally pointed me to Vulcan station while cruising around on the Hammerhead, I like to ignore friendly advice and headed towards Prometheus Station instead. After loading a new zone, I found myself still driving the Hammerhead, not a great sign.

As I approached the station (which, by the way seems pretty far from the satellite dish, couldn’t they have built them closer?), Archer comms in and tells me I’ll be exploring the crashed Geth ship the scientists are harvesting dormant Geth from. Yeah, this is going to go well. Archer is cut off before he can give me his final warning (note, this is his first time being cut off).

The station proper is being guarded by a giant cannon that has been taken over by Daniel, the rogue A.I. In what is actually a pretty fun battle (so I lied earlier when I said nothing was fun to fight in the Hammerhead), I have to avoid the cannon’s huge blast radius while drawing its fire to nail its own shield generators. Whenever the cannon gets a lock-on, about 500 square meters of ground is lit up and you gotta get the hell out of its way. I loved playing this pretty simple cat and mouse game, made the Hammerhead fun when I didn’t actually have to shoot it!

Once inside Prometheus Station, you immediately see a Geth Prime (the biggest humanoid Geth) in frozen suspension in the middle of the first room. This is obvious video game foreshadowing that you will be fighting him at some point, either right now or at the end as you backtrack... and as I leave the room peacefully it’s apparent every section I traverse now I’ll have to fight my way through on the return trip.

But this gives me time to explore every nook and cranny, especially as hanging out on Geth ships is a rare event. The music is sufficiently creepy.

The final room is a bit of a puzzle, as you have to maneuver a floating floor around to create a path from the entry to the research computer. It is not by any means difficult at all, but a simple diversion from what’s obviously to come. As you shut down the computer, the A.I.’s face appears on the monitor and performs an out of this world scream, and then the Geth are unleashed.

Rather traditional Mass Effect 2 battles ensue, but as I mentioned earlier, I enjoy fighting the Geth for their excessive use of rockets along with the challenge of taking out the Primes on insanity. Escaping the station finishes off the Prometheus assignment.

Mass Effect 2 Overlord Geth Prime

Vulcan Station

The trip to Vulcan Station is arguably more interesting than the station itself. Surrounded by lava flows, Archer tells us that Vulcan Station is a geothermal plant that powers the other stations (and then he gets cut off, again, for the second time). Lava will quickly destroy the Hammerhead (much like the Mako before it), so Frogger experience is nice to have when approaching Vulcan.

A couple sets of lava flows need to be navigated with rocks floating along them, driving the Hammerhead around isn’t too difficult, but I did die a few times when I was feeling reckless. The trip to Vulcan is broken up into three sections, the first and third are Hammerhead lava drives with a short on-foot mission in between to enable some geothermal blasts. These air lifts combined with the Hammerhead’s thrusters allow us to reach much higher places. How the normal scientists managed to get around I really have no idea.

Vulcan Station itself is pretty short, and instead of Geth we’re facing off against Cerberus’ remaining robotic security staff. Fighting off LOKI mechs is too easy, but the YMIR heavy mech battle at the end is at least a bit entertaining, albeit repetitive with his massive amount of armor and shields. Still wonder why Cerberus felt the need for a battalion of mechs to defend their powr plant.

In front of the final computer, a cutscene plays of Shepard’s squad blowing away the arms of a LOKI mech and then renegade Shepard can blow its head off. An odd finish to an odd assignment. This portion was really more about the Hammerhead than the gun fighting.

Mass Effect 2 Overlord Hammerhead Lava

Atlas Station

The final battle takes place at Atlas Station, and the game doesn’t even bother with a Hammerhead portion this time around. Of course, Archer is cut off from finishing his message (three times!), so we’re left wondering what we’ll really encounter inside.

Since they were hooking humans up to Geth, guess who we get to fight? No, not a Geth/human hybrid, that would be too awesome, but a couple of troopers and a Geth Prime. The developers crank up the intensity of the short fight by placing it in a really tight room with minimal cover, and since the Prime is about 14 feet tall, cover doesn’t help much in close quarters. After the battle, head down the non-trustworthy elevator...

And then everything is taken to 11!

The A.I. zaps Shepard and somehow takes her over, turning the whole world into some kind of Tron/Matrix-like Virtual Reality world. It’s an awesome effect in-game. Unfortunately, Shepard is alone now and must take on a few sets of Geth while heading for David the A.I. Along the way, David apparently projects some of his memories of the experiments casting his brother Dr. Archer in a pretty bad light.

The final battle of Overlord is frantic and challenging, and provides a solid climax to the action-packed DLC. Before the battle begins, David is able to hack into the Normandy and begins uploading himself to begin spreading across the galaxy. Drones representing David and the data must be taken out before a meter fills up, all while taking out small packs of Geth. The arena is rather open so the battle can be particularly difficult if you’re not fast with your fingers, plus you’re fighting totally on your own.

As you take out the data packets, the core of the A.I. becomes unshielded and you can begin blasting away at that, after about four or five rounds of back and forth, the A.I. is defeated.

With the dust settled, Archer approaches and begs you to leave David with him. The victim himself does not look good, his eyes being held open reminds me of A Clockwork Orange. The renegade option is to allow David to stay and continue the experiments, while the Paragon option has you removing David to bring him to the Jon Grissom biotic academy (heavily featured in the book Mass Effect: Ascension).

Being a renegade, I left the brothers together, but only because this research may stop a war with the Geth. The Illusive Man later sends me a note appreciating my decision.


I had a lot of fun with Overlord, the mission can be completed in an afternoon, but it’s chock full of action and even the Hammerhead portions are relatively fun. My only problem is that the story is inessential to the broader plot, unless your final decision regarding the experiment is going to feed into something related to the Geth in Mass Effect 3, but until then, play this if you love Mass Effect 2 and simply want more action and more Geth.

Once again, I’d like to give special props to the art team who handled the vistas and backgrounds we see in the hub area, truly impressive pieces of work. The Virtual Reality mode was also well integrated into the game.

Mass Effect 2 Overlord Female Shepard Virtual Reality