Mass Effect 2 (2010), video game review.

Mass Effect 2 changes everything that the original did wrong. Where as the first games combat was bogged down by bad mechanics and lackluster gunplay, the sequel move the gameplay forward and finally makes it feel more like a shooter RPG hybrid, instead of an RPG with some not so great shooting attached.  While they didn’t drastically change-up the way players can manipulate the story, the ability to import your character, along with all of their choices and achievements, from the first game, it gives the player a stronger emotionally attachment to the story…

If you’ve seen my list of Top Ten Favorite Video Games, you might remember that Mass Effect 2 grab the top spot. And you wouldn’t be out of line in thinking that, “Oh, its his favorite game. I don’t need to read this review; he’s gonna say its flawless and stick a 10 on it and call it a day.” Again, I wouldn’t blame you for saying so…but you would be wrong. Mass Effect 2 is not a perfect game (it has its flaws), it is simply my favorite game.

For a lot of games gameplay come first and story second. If it’s a choice between cutting some story, or cutting some gameplay, unsurprisingly the story goes first. But the story in Mass Effect has always seemed to have come first and for most, as evidenced by the gameplay of the original. Without spoiling it, I can say that the beginning and ending sequences for Mass Effect 2 are two of my favorite story moments in a game. As great as those to points in the game are, you might think that the middle parts of the game would be much less exciting. And while the might not pack as emotionally of a punch, there are moments in the middle of the game that are just as exciting the beginning and end.

At its core the conversation system has stayed the same, but a few tweaks here and there go a long way to strengthen it.

In the first game there were two skills (Intimidate and Persuade I think they were called), that went along with the players Renegade and Paragon meters; meters that tracked, basically, the goodness or evilness of the player. By putting points into either of those skills it increase your ability to access special marked conversation options. Those marked dialogue paths are still there, but the skills Intimidate and Persuade and gone. Now instead your ability to access this paths directly coincides with the players Renegade and Paragon meters. By doing this it made it so the player/characters actions decided if they were able to access those paths.

A completely new addition to the game are the interrupts. This come in two forms, Renegade, and Paragon. They both appear on the screen during certain conversations. When they appear you can choose to active them by pulling the trigger that they are keyed to. If you do choose to do this it will change the way part of the dialogue plays out. Some examples are: a Paragon interrupts could be that you comfort somebody who is crying, or save someone from being shot. Renegade interrupts are usually more harsh, such as threatening or even killing people. Sometimes if you choose not to do one interrupts the opposite one might even appear immediately following. And you can always choose not to do them at all.

The one thing that I think that the game still struggles with storytelling-wise is how the events of the game flow. It never really seems organic. After the opening events you tasked with recruiting people for a mission. And so the vast majority of the story missions are missions were you go some place, you fight some dudes, and then recruit a new teammate. It doesn’t feel like the characters or story flow naturally and are instead, a little disjointed. Also, for a game that centers some much around plot, character, and story there seemed to me to be a lot more than necessary fights in some missions. With that said, the game is still really fun. Even though I felt that the characters could have come into the game more naturally, I still had loads of fun recruiting them.

Unlike the subtle changes that were made to the conversation mechanics the combat is almost 100% different then it was in the first game. Now it feels good and is actually a joy instead of a hassle.

The combat in Mass Effect 2 feels a bit like the combat of Gears of War. But where as Gears is more focused on the moving from cover to cover aspect, Mass Effect instead is more focused around controlling the battlefield. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have a cover system; it does, but it isn’t nearly as deep or simple as it is Gears of War. And little things, such as if you start to reload than move out of cover you stop reloading, make you realize that as fun as the combat is, the game is still an RPG, and not a full-on shooter.

But to make up for the few minor flaws in the combat they give you an impressive, and very fun to use arsenal of powers to play around with. And along side that there are a few squad controls too. The powers this time around are much more accessible than they were in the first Mass Effect. You can either map them to the left and right bumpers along with your class power button, or you can pause the fight a pull up a power wheel. From the wheel you can select a power, of your own or of a teammates, and then aim it where you will. Both of these options were fun and easy to use. The squad commands aren’t as refined though. While you can order one, or both of the two teammates you’ll have in every combat, to move to specific spot, regroup, or attack a targeted enemy, the teammate AI wasn’t always fit to pull your command off. Frequently my allies would take the most roundabout routes to where I wanted them to go, and more often than not they ended up died.

The graphics in the second Mass Effect are constantly bouncing around. You might see one really really great character model for one character, but then the next might be significantly worse. And the same goes for environments. I noticed that lot of times the human character models looked much worse than the aliens did.

Also, and this happened in the first game, my dialogue options would be obscured by a bright object behind the text. This would sometimes result in my have to randomly choose which dialogue path to go down.

Despite the flaws that this game has, it is still one of the best game out there. The level of control that you have over the story become even more apparent in this second game, and now with fairly solid combat mechanics to back the story up, there is little reason not to play this game.

Visuals:
They can be amazing, and then in the next shot below average. Luckily most of the time the land closer to being amazing.

Sound:
The Mass Effect score was amazing and so is its sequel. Oh, and also it has some damn fine voice acting.

Gameplay:
Mix in a lot of RPG, a little Gears of War, and that is what you get. It’s a combination that can’t really go wrong.

Worth the Money?:
100%  With an average campaign lasting about fifteen hours on the low-end, the game isn’t short. Plus, there are loads of side missions, tons of replay in the form of different classes and in-game decisions, and also the game is just plain fun.

Console:
I reviewed the Xbox 360 version which released along side the PC version. They have since ported the game to PS3 but that version contains bonus content and use a newer engine (I’m not a 100% on that last one).

Developer:
Bioware.

Parental Rating:
M/17+

Final Score:
9.75/10

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Posted on October 18, 2011, in 2010, PC, PS3, Review, Video Game, Xbox 360 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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