Review by DandyQuackShot
"I'm Commander Shepard and This is My Favorite Review on the Citadel"
Highly anticipated, and a game you can truely call a sequel, Mass Effect 2 continues the legacy of the decision making RPG epics produced by Bioware. This time humanity is on the target list of the Reapers, a highly advanced sapient race of aliens that enjoy wiping out every living thing that evolves in the Milky Way. Mass Effect 2 focuses heavily on what made the first Mass Effect so great while putting what could have made this game even greater on the backburner. Improvements to the sequel are few in the long run as Mass Effect 2 gives you about the same experience you would expect from a Bioware game. What makes Mass Effect 2 so great, and why I call this game a true sequel is that you can import your progress from the first game and continue on in Mass Effect 2 with the consequences of your previous decisions in the first game coming in to play in your experience in Mass Effect 2.
If you played the first Mass Effect or are at least familiar with the way Bioware games are played you will engage in a lot of conversation with choice dialogue to choose from. What you say will determine a lot about your intimidating nature, or your idealism. The story picks up after the defeat of Sovereign and the Geth with Commander Shepard being put in charge of a crew to investigate and stop attacks on human colonies. If you carry over your game then you can try to search out your old crew from the first game while pursuing new team members and seeking their loyalty in this one. Martin Sheen is the Illusive Man who backs your mission in this game and he sends you to recruit new and old crew members for this mission. Once again you get faced with important decisions concerning your crew's lives and trying to resolve differences (or help burn bridges) between those who mistrust each other. Good, bad, you're still the Commander and get to decide how most of the story plays out. The downside is that the story gets focused too much on you and your crew and the mission rather than side step as it did often in the first game so that you could enjoy exploring more. When it comes to space the possibilities are endless, but the story limits the imagination. A lot of work went into getting you up to speed on all of the intergalactic happenings with plenty of background information supplied on the difference alien races and planets, but sometimes it's more fun to find this stuff out on your own in conversation rather than have somebody read to you from a bio.
Exploration of non-mission worlds was cut out to let you explore more planets with probes. Personally, I missed the Mako and tumbling over desolate mountains but the whole Uranus bit was worth it. Sure it is an undertaking to fit the whole galaxy onto a two disc game, but this is what separates Mass Effect from other sci-fi games like Halo and others despite the very close similarities. Once again you can do missions with just two other crew members and they will help you tear through some Collectors and space gangsters. The main enemies are the Collectors who are the ones abducting humans for the Reapers and one can become controlled spontaneously by a reaper who makes combat more aggravating than fun when dealing with the missions. For a race of aliens that have been known to wipe out all intelligent life in the galaxy they still have a ways to go in being able to do it again. The missions seem a lot shorter than from the last game and the overall pace seems to go pretty quick. It's not bad but I was definitely left after beating this game ready to take on the rest of the reapers and being able to talk more to my crew without them repeating themselves over and over. But that's what a sequel is supposed to do right?
The third person fighting style does not change much for Mass Effect 2 and that's for the best because it is a great system. There are a lot of weapon and skill upgrades to mess around with along with plenty of customization for your ship and characters. My favorite weapon definitely goes to the pistols with their great effects. Most of the game is spent building up your team while getting prepared for the suicide mission against the reapers but towards the end of the game you get to start making the fun choices.
The quality of the interactions and dialogue in Mass Effect 2 are what make this game what it is. In trying to get so close to realism they might as well start a live action game with this style of game play. It would definitely scores points in my book for such an attempt. The only issue I had with Mass Effect 2 though was with the final boss. Originality becomes a problem, especially for an old time gamer like me when you start pointing out things in the game and can easily tell if something has been copied or if they are just rehashing another game's concept. In Mass Effect 2's case the final boss was totally a copycat of a boss in Contra 3: Alien Wars. This is only thing that lost points from me. Everything else is original from the game play and story and it is Bioware's own style which works and shouldn't change, but just don't steal from a classic like Contra.
The way the story is set up you can go through it twice and have a totally different experience each time with the many different dialogue choices you make. Beating the game once will let you save over and allow you to use your upgrades and advanced weapons like last time. The side missions are limited by their totally sidelined need to even play them. They are not important to the main mission and on top of that you have to get lucky in your exploration because they are found by locating distress beacons on planets. There are side quests to gain the loyalty of your crew of course. It's all about team building. You can go for new relationships or try your luck at reigniting old ones, which is a part of this game that is always fun. The import saves from Mass Effect have an impact on your game but not as much as I thought they would have. But I kept getting a lot of messages from people I had rescued from the last game that I had totally forgotten about except for the Rachni.
Final Recommendation 9/10
I think you are totally cheating yourself of an incredible experience by getting this game first. This is probably the one time I would not recommend playing a sequel before playing the first game. Due to the ability to import your game is why and I think the person who picks up Mass Effect now and then plays through Mass Effect 2 later would get the most out of this series. Most of us played the first game months or even years ago which made us forget small details like who we allowed to be humanity's Council person (sorry Anderson!). But even so the developers cater too much to people who would pick Mass Effect 2 up first with the overall impact from your import being changes in the story scenes and not much else. I totally look forward to Mass Effect 3 and hope they take plenty of time on getting it made. Mass Effect 2 was developed with everything rounded off just right but I do wish that there either be a longer and stronger Mass Effect 3 or heck, maybe something episodic in the form of downloads for Mass Effect 2. It's still a great game, and an awesome series that leaves you staring up at the night sky and wondering about all the possibilities.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 02/11/10, Updated 03/08/10
Game Release: Mass Effect 2 (US, 01/26/10)
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