Omega is a new DLC (downloadable content) for Mass Effect 3 -- a game that combines role-playing and first-person action in a science-fiction world. Released on Nov. 27, Omega offers a new quest featuring a popular character from Mass Effect 2: Aria T'Loak.
Aria is a ruthless crime boss and one of the Asari -- a blue-skinned and all-female race. Aria enlists your help to retake her former space station, Omega, which has been overrun by the ultra-evil criminal organization Cerberus.
Previous Mass Effect 3 DLC releases included Leviathan (800 Microsoft points or $11.60) and From Ashes (800 Microsoft points or $11.60). Leviathan included a major quest and a new location: Dr. Bryson's X-files inspired laboratory. From Ashes included a minor quest and a new squad member: the haughty and bigoted Javik -- last survivor of the Prothean race.
Both of these releases were controversial. Mass Effect fans claimed that the storylines were too essential to the main plot to be considered add-on or bonus story material. Outraged fans accused BioWare, the game's creators, of holding back previously completed material and releasing it as DLC simply to make more money.
But Omega is different. It is a standalone quest where your hero, Commander Shepard, goes off to adventure without her (or his) crew and without Normandy -- Shepard's ship. The outcome of Omega does not have much impact on the main storyline so fans can safely play it after completing Mass Effect 3 -- without feeling that they have missed any in-game advantages.
Omega takes about four hours to complete. Or more, if you have to replay the boss fights several times. The gameplay is not very difficult. But the introduction of a tough new alien enemy -- the Adjutants -- adds some real challenge to the later battles. You'll also have the chance to rack up lots of credits and morality points -- either Paragon or Renegade.
The best part of Omega is the additional game time with Aria. She is a well-written character and is perfectly brought to life by the voice of talented Canadian actor Carrie-Anne Moss. I really enjoyed Aria's sarcastic zingers and deadpan humour. She's blood-thirsty, foul-mouthed and a powerful teammate in battle. But, if you are hoping that Omega will allow Aria to join your crew, then you will be disappointed. And, no, sorry Asari fans, but you cannot have sex with Aria either. She does not become a romance option in Omega.
The price for Omega may seem a bit high for a game that only lasts four hours. Especially when considering that Mass Effect 3 contains over 30 hours of game play and is now on sale everywhere for about $30. Omega may appeal to Mass Effect fans who just don't want the story to end. However, [SPOILER ALERT], because Commander Shepard dies at the end of Mass Effect 3, this story does take place before the end of the main game. Omega is not a sequel or a resurrection for Shepard - as much as fans might wish for a happier ending to this well-loved game.
Danishka Esterhazy is a screenwriter, film director and self-confessed video game addict. She prefers games with a story but will settle for a good sword fight.
Mass Effect 3: Omega
System: Xbox 360
Price: 1200 Microsoft points (about $18)
Score: 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö stars out of 5