Mass Effect 2 Review
(Taking a break between play throughs so excuse the brevity)
Ever since it was first announced i have been waiting for this game with a most euphoric anticipation. After playing the first Mass Effect (ME) i was totally psyched about this game and what direction Shepard's story would take. This space opera takes everything that made the first game awesome and added alot of new stuff, but more on that later.
The story begins not long after the events of Mass Effect take place. While on patrol the Normandy, and its commanding officer, Commander Shepard, comes under attack by an unknown assailant. The ship is destroyed in the assault and Shepard's lifeless body floats on through space.
Commander Shepard's body is located and retrieved by Cerberus who implement what they call the "lazarus" project bringing the once dead commander back to life and active duty. The process has taken two years and a new threat has emerged in the galaxy. The Collectors are attacking human colonies and harvesting the colonists for what ever reason and it is up to you as the protagonist to find out what they are up to.
[N.B. for spoiler reasons and the fact that the experience is subtly unique for each individual i will not elaborate on this]
Mass Effect has recieved a gameplay overhaul in this installment. Since this is an RPG your character will level up after attaining enough skill points. Each level you attain gives you more health, improved shields and access to new and more efficient weapons (Special mention for the the new M-920 Cain It's awesome). A big part of leveling up is the use of your skill points which you use to upgrade your character's particular skill and add new abilities to the already existing ones. While this is all standard fair in RPGs, Bioware has stripped away the cluttered inventory system used in the first game, opting for a more streamlined approach which is easy to access and never clutters. Your ammunition and powers are all available for use at the touch of a button whilst in battle and removes the previous cumbersome duty of opening the inventory screen to adapt yopur weapons and ammo. Hardcore RPG fans may feel a little disappointed by the amount of items removed from the skills and leveling up portions.
Battles in ME2 are a joy to play and can sometimes turn into brutal firefights. Shooting in ME2 is notably more exhilarating than before and squad commands are given on the fly for immediate tactical changes and precision. A cover system has been implemented into the game as well as rebounding health and you no longer have limitless amounts of ammunition which is now strewn across battle set pieces for you to pick up and utilize. Aside from that a few new powers have been added to the game which will make some people squirm with glee as they pummel their enemies into oblivion. The onscreen HUD is notably less distracting with only essential information such as your squad and quick slots for abilities showing their faces here.
The conversation system is pretty much the same with only one new feature to talk about. The interrupt. This enables you to interrupt someone who is speaking, not speaking, in action, about to do an action etc. with interesting results. It is especially useful for prying information out of reluctant witnesses. The system works with both the paragon and renegade values enabling good and bad interrupts.
Exploration in ME2 has changed too. No more will you rove around worlds in the physics challenged Mako, instead you will spend a great deal of time scanning planets for resources to implement upgrades. It must be noted though that this task is excessively boring and time consuming, slowing down the pace of the game considerably. It is a necessary evil because no resources=no upgrades.
A few other things; for those that played the first ME you can import your character's saves and start off with a bonus in a number of areas as well as enjoying the reactions of your decisions of the first game. Character creation is pretty much the same with few new changes that will stun you. Load screens have become much faster with some segments even showing you where you're going and how long before you re-enter the game.
ME2 immediately feels better and the looking part is up to the standard. One can immediately see the darker colour palette used for this game and understand that this is a darker storyline where alot of bad things could happen. Texture popping is a rarity and there has been massive improvements for character models with the somewhat incomplete removal of the putty textures all humans seem to have. A big revelation is the actual animations and how smoothly they seem to come about. Your character will experience an array of emotions throughout the game which are adequately and sometimes shockingly portrayed with lovely realism. Overall the game looks and plays much better than it's predecessor.
Bioware have delivered a game that is no doubt entertaining and worth the $60 and the 20-35 hours invested in each play through. You will be surprised, shocked, angered and sadned by the impact your Shepard will make in this game. The varied endings will have you on your seat till the last moment of triumph or in the case of ME2, Commander Shepard's death which would be reflected in the following installment. If you get the chance to buy this game i highly recommend it.
Souji's Score: 9.5\10
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