Mass Effect 2

A simply awe-inspiring game that you'll be thinking about long after completion.

By twenty0ne, Posted 07 Feb 2010

Space has long been a place of wonder and mystery. In Mass Effect 2, little has changed. As you journey into the deeply engrossing game of Mass Effect 2, exploring and learning the mysteries of the Milky Way Galaxy elicits the same awe-inspiring emotions as looking up into the starry night sky. It's not easy to follow and improve upon a game like the first Mass Effect, but unsurprisingly, BioWare did it. Almost everything in Mass Effect 2 is top notch -- from the story, to the gameplay, to the characters -- and is a vast improvement over its predecessor, an accolade that should not be taken lightly. Whether you're a fan of role-playing games, shooters, or just a fan of video games in general, this game is well worth the 60 dollar price tag.

Mass Effect 2 opens with a shot of the seemingly invincible SSV Normandy being obliterated by an unknown spacecraft. In a flash, gone is the beloved ship, as well as Commander Shepherd, who is seen helplessly drifting away into space, his airtight suit riddled with holes. Luckily for you, someone with an immense amount of resources and capital has taken interest in you: the Illusive Man, whose name is not a misnomer. A mysterious and staunch patriot, he is the head of the pro-human interest group named Cerberus. Assembling the best scientists and doctors from around the galaxy, the Illusive Man sets in motion the Lazarus Project, whose sole goal is to revive the deceased Commander Shepherd with no physical or mental differences from the man before the crash. Whether or not you agree with the Illusive Man's seemingly harsh politics, you're indebted to him. As humanity's best hope, you're Cerberus' prodigy.

Mass Effect 2 Review

Now donning the Cerberus name, your first task is to investigate the mysterious disappearance of whole human colonies scattered across seemingly safe space. As you investigate, and the situation becomes more dire than originally predicted, it becomes clear that you'll need a top-notch team of the galaxy's finest combatants in order to succeed. This is, perhaps, Mass Effect 2's greatest strength -- the characters you meet (and subsequently recruit) are some of the best in any game to date. Characterization is spectacular in the sense that you wont simply feel like you're speaking to a shell of an NPC between missions. The characters feel alive, and much more organic than in the first game, as well as most other games to date. As in real life, the more of an effort you make to talk to and get to know your squad-mates, the more they'll open up and the more you'l l learn. Once you gain a character's trust, you're also offered to accompany that character on a loyalty quest. Not only are these missions some of the most interesting and varied in the game, but you'll gain a greater insight into your character's formerly hidden personal life, and upon the quest's completion, your character will trust you enough to unlock a powerful new move to add to their arsenal. Though you may complete these missions simply to gain more insight on the intricacies of your new crew, gaining their loyalty and respect will go a long way in the game's final levels. Whether or not you took the time to gain your squad's trust can make or break certain missions.

As well as the loyalty of your squad members, how much time and resources you allot into upgrades for your ship and squad can also affect the outcome of important missions towards the end of the game. Customization and upgrades are a mixed bag in Mass Effect 2 -- gone are the cluttered inventory screens from Mass Effect, but also gone is the same in-depth level of customization it offered. Thus, some may feel as if Mass Effect 2 is a bit more "stripped down" than its predecessor. Instead of finding hundreds of guns along your journey and sorting through your inventory to see which best suits you, there are only a couple standard deviations for each gun. Weapons are not upgraded individually through perks as was the case befo re. Instead, a few powerful upgrades can be found by scanning enemy technology on the battlefield and then researching and purchasing those upgrades back on the Normandy. The currency for upgrades is generally mineral resources found by scanning planets across the galaxy. Scanning planet after planet for resources can be tedious, but is in no way "game-breaking." However, some may find it one of Mass Effect 2's weaker points. Despite the initial "stripped down" feeling, you'll come to realize that this system works quite well. Without having to navigate, sort, and manage a huge inventory list, you can pay more attention, and thus, feel more attached to the story-line, action, and characters of the game. Though it may not feel as deep as a traditional role-playing game, you'll still find subtle role-playing elements intertwined into Mass Effect 2's streamlined level progression and inventory management system.

Mass Effect 2 Review

What Mass Effect 2 lacks in the role-playing category it more than makes up in the action and gameplay aspect. Combat feels fluid and refined fro the first game, and the third-person shooting elements feel subsequently tuned as well; the game feels solid as a third person shooter alone should you decide to play in that way. The cover system is ad equate in a Gears of War-esque style, allowing you to slide or duck behind cover with the touch of a button. However, the beauty of Mass Effect 2 is that you don't have to approach combat solely from a shooter perspective. The same stop-motion click wheel from Mass Effect can be brought up with the click of a button, displaying all your biotic and tech powers ready for use. Simply open the click wheel menu, choose a target, and select which power you wish to use. Mass Effect 2 also makes it easy to use your biotic or tech powers on pesky enemies hiding behind cover or around a corner. Just position your reticle a bit to the side of the standard lock-on position of your enemy, and when placed correctly, the power will curve around the obstacle, scoring an otherwise impossible hit. And believe me, you'll need to use this mechanic quite frequently, as Mass Effect 2's enemy AI knows what it's doing. Weak enemies will take cover, strong and powerful enemies will rush you, others will attempt to flank you, and for the most part, enemies will spread out, therefore not allowing you to take them all out with one quick biotic swipe.

You'll spend a lot of time in Mass Effect 2 exploring heavily populated urban outposts, such as the Citadel, which is quite a treat, as Mass Effect 2's graphics are some of the best this generation, and so are the worlds in which you'll explore. Graphics are more crisp and refined than the original Mass Effect, and like its predecessor, voice-acting and facial animations are done with the utmost quality. Characters will look genuinely scared, happy, sad, or angry depending on the present dialogue, which is also done very well. Returning is the paragon/renegade meter and all its accompanying dialogue choices, but new is the ability to interrupt a conversation with a paragon or renegade action that can sometimes have drastic consequences. These paragon/renegade moments are entertaining, and shake-up the normalcy of long dialogue sequences in the game.

Mass Effect 2 Review

Another of Mass Effect 2's strong points is a sense of humor in an otherwise dark game, thus making the places in which you visit actually feel "alive" as opposed to the settings in the first game. For example, when exploring the Citadel, you can watch advertisements for the "14 hour Elcor rendition of Shakespeare's Hamlet," or hear a group of co-workers chat at a reluctant Salarian's bachelor party. You'll no doubt chuckle over some of the game's one-liners, funny inter-crew conversations, or your Salarian squad-mates rendition of Gilbert and Sullivan. It's the little things like these that show how carefully and intricately BioWare developed this game -- in no way does it feel rushed or the humor feel forced.

It might not have been easy to top 2007's Mass Effect, but Mass Effect 2 did it, and passed with flying colors. Though it may be tedious to scan planets for minerals to purchase upgrades, and though at first it may seem like Mass Effect 2 may not be as deep as the first game due to the new inventory management system, these petty annoyances are far overshadowed by Mass Effect 2's strong points. With a refined combat mechanic, stunning visuals and dialogue, and a rare sense of humor in an otherwise dark game, Mass Effect 2 emerges as a legitimate Game of the Year competitor in January.

Tim Kroninger, Noobfeed

comments powered by Disqus

  • I want this game. Even though I didn't play the previous release.

    Posted Feb 07, 2010

  • Very good review Tim. It's a fantastic game and I really need to put my hands on it soon.

    Posted Feb 07, 2010

  • An earlier release could well place this game in the GOTY nominees :)

    Posted Feb 08, 2010
  • avatar 313

    I don't know if I would like this game. I feel like it might get boring after a little while. Not a bad review but it might have been a little easier to read if you broke up the paragraphs more evenly. Some are average size but some are HUGE.

    Posted Feb 21, 2010

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General Information

Mass Effect 2


Platform(s): PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Publisher(s): Electronic Arts
Developer(s): BioWare
Genres: First-Person Shooter
Themes: Role-Playing
Release Date: 2010-01-26

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