Review by Blk_Mage_Ctype

"Just how Definitive is the Definitive Version?"

Mass Effect 2 is one of my favorite games this generation and my personal Game of the Year 2010, so although I already owned both the Xbox 360 & PC Versions, I knew I had to have the PS3 Version as well. How could I resist when Bioware themselves were calling it "The Definitive Version"? But the real question here is, did it live up to that title? As previously stated, I own the PC/360 Versions as well, so I can provide a proper comparison. However, I'll only be comparing it to the Xbox 360 Version since everyone knows that PCs have more powerful hardware than consoles, there's no point in doing a comparison there. Rest assured, I love both my Xbox 360 & PS3 equally and will provide a fair and unbiased comparison between the 2 versions in a detailed and comprehensive review of the full game itself.

Story

"One month after the devastating Geth attack on the Citadel, humanity gained complete political control of the galaxy. Now the human-led counsel is forced to respond to evidence that Reapers - enormous machines that eradicate all advanced civilization every 50,000 years - have returned. To quell the rumors, the counsel has sent Commander Shepard and the Normandy to wipe out the last pockets of Geth resistance. Officially, they blame the invasion on the Geth and their leader, a rogue Spectre. But for those who know the truth, the search for answers is just beginning..." Does that make any sense to you at all? If it does, then you've likely either already played Mass Effect 1 or otherwise have read up on story of ME1. Luckily, for those of you who don't quite get what is going on in the story with that introduction and haven't played ME1 or looked up it's story, Bioware has made a downloadable Interactive Comic called "Mass Effect Genesis" to give you a summary of the story and present you with 6 of the big story-based choices that carry over to Mass Effect 2. However, this is where Bioware fell short... The Interactive Comic, while nice, doesn't tell enough of Mass Effect 1's story or offer enough of it's choices. So if you are new to the series and don't own an Xbox 360 or Gaming PC, I STRONGLY recommend that you either look up the story of ME1 online or watch a let's play on Youtube, because the Interactive Comic just doesn't do the story justice at all, and does a poor job at covering the important plot points in ME1. Otherwise, Mass Effect 2's story is excellent, thrilling, and highly enjoyable.

Graphics

Mass Effect 2 has some of the best graphics this generation, regardless of what platform you play it on. The character models and environments are highly detailed and really bring the world to life. But between the 360 & PS3 Version which has better graphics, you ask? Well, they're pretty much even. The PS3 Version has been upgraded and is running on the Mass Effect 3 Engine, but it's still using all of the assets from the 360 Version, so the only noticeable difference is that the Lighting/Colors in the PS3 Version are brighter and give everything a shinier/smoother look than the 360 Version. However, if you compare the games side by side, the PS3 Version's textures at times aren't as detailed as the 360 Version's, and the PS3 Version does have a few more jaggies around the edges than the 360 Version. So in the end, I'd say that they're about even, and which one looks better is all up to personal preference. (Personally, I prefer the brighter/more colorful look of the PS3 Version.)

Sound

Mass Effect 2 has great sound effects and music, regardless of what platform you play it on. The sound effects and music are crisp, clear, and realistic. The Voice Acting is absolutely top notch, and even features celebrity voice acting by talented actors such as Martin Sheen, Carrie Anne Moss, Seth Green, Keith David, Adam Baldwin, Yvonne Strahovski, Micheal Dorn, and many more. Some people have complained about sound issues in the PS3 Version, but I've encountered no more sound issues in the PS3 Version of ME2 than in the 360 Version or any other game for that matter. So I must be either extremely lucky, or the issue is being exaggerated.

Gameplay

The Gameplay in Mass Effect 2 is a hybrid between a Third Person Shooter and RPG. When you first start the game you will be able to customize your own unique version of the game's protagonist, Commander Shepard. You can customize your Shepard's physical appearance, sex, class, first name, and back story. Mass Effect 2 gives you 6 different classes to choose from, each with their own unique strengths, weaknesses, skills, and weapons choices. Classes include the Soldier, Adept, Vanguard, Sentinel, Infiltrator, and Engineer. Skills in Mass Effect 2 come in 3 basic varieties, Combat, Tech, and Biotic. Combat powers are basic skills for weapon based combat including moves such as Adrenaline Rush, Concussive Shot, and Armor-Piercing Ammo. Tech powers are skills that effect machinery and Armor such as A.I. Hacking, Overload, and Tech Armor. Biotic powers are Telekinetic skills such as Throw, Barrier, and Warp. As you level up, you will gain Squad Points to spend on upgrading your class' skills and abilities. However, Saving the galaxy isn't something that Commander Shepard can do all by his/herself, so throughout the game Shepard will recruit other characters to assist him/her on his/her mission. The squad mates you recruit, just like Shepard have their own classes, weapon choices, skills, strengths, and weaknesses, but unlike Shepard you cannot customize your squad mate's physical appearance, (save for clothes) sex, class, etc. You can choose what weapons they equip and level them up the way you like, but everything else about them is not customizable. The combat in the game is mostly just your standard cover-based TPS combat similar to Gears of War, however, you can also bring up a radial menu that allows you to make use of your Shepard & squad mate's special skills similar to Real Time Tactical RPGs. Outside of combat the game is strictly RPG, you travel from place to place on the Galaxy Map (which is similar to the overworld maps in old school RPGs like Final Fantasy) and traverse futuristic cities and environments on foot. There are also a few side missions in which you take control of a hovering tank known as the Hammer Head and explore planets to uncover hidden artifacts or make your way to an enemy stronghold. Mass Effect 2's real meat comes in the form of the choices you make in-game. You can have conversations with NPCs, squad mates, and even enemies. The way you interact with other characters effects your reputation and can alter the flow of the story. Mass Effect 2 has a dedicated Karma System, and based on the choices you make in the game you will earn Paragon (Good) & Renegade (Bad) points which effect your Shepard's physical appearance and open up new dialog options in conversation. There are also split-second Karma choices you'll have the option to make in certain situations that can either be Paragon or Renegade in nature. For example, you may come across a wounded/dying person and will be given a Paragon option to heal that character, or you may be given a Renegade option in another situation to stab an unsuspecting enemy in the back. The Paragon/Renegade option will usually take place during a conversation and is marked by a blinking icon in the bottom right or left corner of the screen. A blinking blue icon in the bottom left corner of the screen indicates a Paragon option, and a blinking red icon in the bottom right corner indicates a Renegade option. Initiating a Paragon or Renegade option will cause your Shepard to react accordingly and take action, which will alter the flow/outcome of the conversation and earn you Paragon/Renegade points in accordance with the option's nature. The choices you make throughout the course of the game will alter the story, and gives the game a lot of Replay Value. Like most great RPGs, Mass Effect 2 also has a New Game+ option that allows you to start a new file upon completion of the previous file with your current level/stats/skills carried over to the new save file. I myself am currently on my 4th playthrough, and intend on doing even more.

PS3 Version vs Xbox 360 Version

We've already covered the graphical differences between the PS3 & Xbox 360 Versions of the game, but lets go a little more in-depth, shall we? As previously stated, I'm disappointed by the downloadable Interactive Comic because I feel it doesn't adequately cover the story/choices of Mass Effect 1. However, there's more to it than that... As a result of the scantness of story-related details and choices from Mass Effect 1, PS3 Players end up with a somewhat lesser experience. Certain events/cameos never happen in the PS3 Version because the Interactive Comic lacks the story arc/choices that tie into said events/characters. These events/cameos don't have a huge impact on the story, and based on the choices you made in ME1 may never appear in ME2 anyway, but they're still a part of the story, so it's disappointing that PS3 owners don't get to experience them. I don't think it really matters whether or not you play ME1 because in my opinion ME1 as a game was flawed and less enjoyable than ME2. However, the story of ME1 was excellent and the way your choices carried over to ME2 was very enjoyable. So if you want a more complete experience and own a Gaming PC or Xbox 360, then I'm going to recommend that you play Mass Effect 1 & 2 on those platforms. Mass Effect 2 is cheaper on PC/360, (even after you download the DLC) and offers the more complete experience, so if you have a choice, go for that. However, if PS3 is your only means of playing Mass Effect 2, then by all means get it, but I recommend that you watch a let's play on Youtube or read up on Mass Effect 1's story online to familiarize yourself with the universe and appreciate the whole story. Don't get me wrong, the PS3 Version is still the same outstanding AAA game as the PC/360 Versions, and one that I feel everyone should play. However, the lack of the ME1 experience and the cool events/cameos that happen in the PC/360 Versions if you carry over your ME1 Save File along with the cheaper price make the PC/360 Version the preferable alternative.

Overall

I'm giving the PS3 Version of Mass Effect 2 an 8/10. It's still the same excellent game as the PC/360 Version, and definitely worth playing. I would like to give it a higher score, but I feel that Bioware should have put more effort into the Interactive Comic and made more improvements to the game based on feedback they received from earlier editions. Three improvements that should have been made to the game is the ability to Toggle helmets on and off during a mission, freedom to recruit squad mates in any order, and dialog wheels for the DLC squad mates. Furthermore, the PS3 Version only includes the 3 main story based DLC, (Kasumi: Stolen Memories, Project Overlord, and Lair of the Shadow Broker) and I feel that more should have been included. A full priced straight port of Mass Effect 2 with slight visual changes, only 3 of the DLC missions, and a brief Interactive Comic does not equal "Definitive Version" by any stretch of the imagination.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/26/11, Updated 02/07/11

Game Release: Mass Effect 2 (US, 01/18/11)


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