Very much like past EA releases, Mass Effect 2 needs little or no introduction because chances are you have heard of it. The first game in the series featured an epic story, interesting character interaction, but featured frustrating combat and awful vehicle segments. The second installment promises to build on what the first accomplished along with improving the gameplay and graphics. Does it succeed? Read our full review to find out.
I played through the first Mass Effect before I started with the sequel and basically what Bioware did was to completely redesign the game around its strengths. The shooting aspect of the game has become much more precise and refined, while the RPG elements have been stripped to upgrading powers and equipment instead of the much more robust system in the first. The vehicle segments have been scrapped altogether and planet exploration and resource gathering has been turned into a scanning mini-game.
Now you may think these points are criticism, but actually they are quite the opposite. Sure, a lot of fun aspects of the first game are missing like exploration and character building, but what they are replaced with makes the overall experience much more polished and enjoyable. There are very few segments of the game that are not immediately intense or enjoyable. The most noticeable improvement is the shooting gameplay that really takes the standard peek in and out of cover gameplay, and makes it interesting and fun throughout the whole experience, which took me about 17 hours to complete.
By replacing the RPG elements of the first game with more action oriented gameplay, one could think that the conversation elements would be stripped as well. This is not true because they are actually improved greatly, what you decide to do at all times has a profound effect on the character you become and the options you have later on in the story. The ending of the game, and more importantly who survives is very much up to the choices you make, and you definitely feel the consequences of your actions.
The story is incredibly compelling and interesting, and the superb character development on display is part of what makes it so great. Many of the missions are designed not to move the main story along, but instead to give you a better sense of the characters involved and their backstories, motivations, and values. Each character is very fleshed out and real, but you have the choice whether you want to complete these missions or not. The story is slightly less epic in scale than the first, but that is due to a shorter story arc, and a lot of focus on building characters rather than plot development. The story that exists outside of the characters is very well written, and compelling, but a little less so than the first.
Mass effect 2 is a beautiful game in every sense that we attribute to games. The environments that you travel through are extremely varied and interesting in their own way, and you really feel like every new world you go to is very separate from the last. Characters are extremely well designed with each of the races having significant nuances and quirks. Cut scenes are fantastic and really help draw you into the story. The effects are unique and well implemented especially in intense action segments.
The visuals have been significantly improved so the differences really feel more than just a new coat of paint which really shows the developer’s commitment to improving on the first title. Sound design has also been improved and features a superb score, and some of the best voice acting ever in a video game.
The fun factor of Mass Effect 2 depends a lot on what you look for in your games. If you are at home with intense 3rd person shooters with a focus on cover and powers then you will really enjoy Mass Effect 2. If you are more interested in character building and equipment collection, then this may not be the game for you. Most of the missions are similar in structure, and almost always involve you clearing out a lot of enemies before a final sort of boss fight with a stronger enemy than normal. This hardly changes, but subtle differences between missions keep the formula fresh. For example, one mission requires you to stay out of the sun or else your shields will fry, and leave you open for punishment. These things keep the shooting out of mundane territory, but ultimately it will be up to you if you enjoy the formula the game throws at you because it rarely changes.
Mass Effect 2 is a top notch game because of its focus on refined gameplay, a great story, and its commitment to letting the player decide what happens in the end. It is a significant improvement over the first game in many ways, but also leaves out some of the things fans may enjoy. Fantastic visuals and sound also contribute to its