Review by InitialDluvr88
Well, to keep it short and sweet this is not the sequel I was expecting. This hold both good and bad qualities, which I will explain shortly. Mass effect 2 is an acceptable sequel to the brilliance of the first game, but it comes at a bit of a price. ME2 is a very stripped-down, more realistic version of the first game. Gone is exploration on the massive scale, tons of customization, and a hefty amount of missions.
I can't complain about the graphics. Everything is beautiful. They team at Bioware got much more in-depth on the visual presentation of the many worlds in the ME2 universe.
- Combat: Essentially, the game plays the same as the first. Unfortunately, characters can only use one power at a time before their special skills recharge, so creating powerful combos like in ME1 is much trickier if not impossible.
- Exploration/expanse: There is not nearly as much exploration in this game. The playable areas are smaller, there is no Mako (you land in a shuttle), and you get a stupid 'end of level' screen after you complete missions rather than the game moving in real-time like ME1. You don't get to do all the mundane actions and crazy planet exploration/facility raids that made ME1 so cool. In some ways, this is good because there were times when traveling was tedious, but it became too stripped in this game. The explorable ares on the Citadel and other planets don't hold up to the standards ME1 set. The good news is that you travel to very cool new planets and environments.
Character customization 5/10:
This is where the game falls on its face for me. The level of armor and weapon customization is pathetic and nearly non-existent compared to the first game. There are (I believe) only 25 weapons in the entire game, and even less armor. Rather than getting a lot of guns and cool-looking armor, you get upgrades that you have to make on the ship. In one way this is good, because it cuts down on so many damn useless guns that you'd find in the first one. However, Bioware took it too far and stripped the game to the bare bones in this department - in an effort to make it more 'realistic' in my opinion. Character level-ups are also a joke. There are only 4 or 5 areas you can upgrade characters' abilities, and you can't assign individual points, you must assign points in 'blocks'. Also, you must gain the loyalty of characters to upgrade their final skill bracket. Rubbish. The worst part of it all is that there's no heads-up to this massive system overhaul. My immediate thought when I figured it out where, "WTF? Where are the damn guns!?". The only perk is that you can fully customize the color and look of Shepherd's armor. I understand what was trying to be done here, but it was way, way, waaaay stripped and gutted, there wasn't enough substance and it almost makes ME2 lose it's RPG status. Once I got over the drastic changes, the game is still quite fun to play.
I won't give anything away, but the story is good. I don't like how some of the relationships from the first game have played out, but I can't complain. This of this game as 'The Empire Strikes Back' of the Mass Effect genre.
Overall it's still a great game and if you love Mass Effect you shouldn't miss it.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/26/10
Game Release: Mass Effect 2 (US, 01/26/10)
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