Review by Raganork10
Yes... this game is amazing. It is not perfect, but it is damn good. It is, without a doubt in my mind, the best RPG in existence. This game defines what it means to be an RPG, and what it means to have engaging combat. There are a few hiccups here and there, but in the end, this game just leaves you wanting more.
Every single model in this game is beautifully rendered. Character models are realistic and they show many different types of expression on their faces depending on the situation they're in. Environments are varied and extremely detailed. The main planets that you travel to are all diverse and unique in their own way. It's very entertaining to explore each planet you find just to discover what kinds of interesting things lie within it. In combat, you'll find amazing graphics as well. Particle effects from explosions to biotic attacks are amazing. Every gun is designed uniquely, unlike the first game, and they each have unique features to them. Some fire in bursts, some fire in full auto, some do more damage, some hold more ammo, etc. Bioware tried really hard to improve everything that was wrong from the first game, and their hard work paid off.
The voice acting is phenomenal. The male and female voices of Commander Shepard do an amazing job, and Martin Sheen does an excellent job voicing the Illusive Man. But great voice acting was expected of this game because of one key feature: The Conversation Wheel.
In every single conversation you partake in, you get to make the decision of how the conversation turns out. This is the crown jewel of this game. The Conversation Wheel is an example of how all RPG's should be: being able to alter the outcome of events based on what you say in conversations. You can choose from up to 6 statements to say during your conversations, each one conjuring up a unique response from the people participating in the conversation. Sometimes, you can even avoid a battle with an enemy based on what you say in a conversation. The inverse can happen as well, but you may opt for that latter option if you choose to be a Renegade Player.
This game's form of karma comes in 2 forms: Renegade and Paragon. If you want to be a renegade player you can make people cry, piss people off, start fights, assassinate people, or blackmail people. If you want to be a paragon player you can assist people with their problems, avoid confrontations, make allies, make people respect you, and you can even get people to help you out during a tough situation. You can also be a hybrid of both personalities, though it's better to stick to only one personality for the most part.
Combat takes place in a third person shooter style. Depending on your character class, you can wield any combination of assault rifles, sniper rifles, submachine guns, heavy pistols, and shotguns. There are also heavy weapons like missile launchers. In addition to just shooting guns, you can also use abilities like biotic powers. Biotic powers range from attacks that can lift the enemy off the ground and pull them towards you, to slamming an enemy against a wall. You can also use abilities to add elements to your guns, such as fire. When in the heat of combat, you can take cover behind nearly any structure, you can melee enemies, and you can tell your allies to take cover at designated points. And this is all done with very fluid controls that are easy to memorize.
During your adventures, you might come across a locked safe, or a locked door. You can hack these objects to either get credits (the game's currency) or to gain access to another area. Hacking is done via one of two minigames, both of which are very easy to do and become monotonous as the game progresses. Hacking your 116th datapad isn't exactly fun. Thankfully, these minigames are optional and do not need to be completed to beat the game. A third minigame takes place on the Galaxy Map (the section of your space ship where you choose which planets to dock on). This minigame requires you to send probes to mineral rich areas of any planet that you choose. These minerals that you harvest can be used to acquire upgrades for your guns, powers, health, or even the ship in general. Again, this is completely optional for those that dislike minigames.
I could go on about the gameplay forever, but I'll leave it at that. I'll talk about the story mode now. You play as Commander Shepard: Captain of the SSD Normandy (your space ship). At the beginning of the game, you die in a tragic accident. After 2 years, you are revived with the most advanced technology in the universe by Cerberus, an organization led by the Illusive Man. The Illusive Man revives you because he believes that you are the only one that can save the universe from the threat of the Reapers. Throughout the story, you assemble a diverse team of people (and aliens) that will assist you in your suicide mission to destroy the Reaper threat. I don't want to spoil too much, but the game is very captivating and intense throughout, and each character you recruit is likable in his/her own unique way. You can even pursue a relationship with some of these people (or aliens) if you impress them. Aside from the main story, there are a good amount of sidequests to partake in. The best of which are the loyalty missions for your squad members. These missions usually take place on a planet you haven't been to before to complete a specific task. Each one is vastly different and have multiple endings which can either make a character hate you or love you.
When I beat the game, I started a new file immediately. I created a new character from scratch and customized their physical traits to my liking. Then, I started going through the story as a Renegade this time, as opposed to a Paragon, and when I beat the game, I started yet another file. This game is addicting. It contains so much content and is so captivating. The presentation is amazing, the cutscenes are fantastic, the musical score is appropriate throughout, the voice acting is phenomenal, and the gameplay is awesome. Bioware really put forth hard work to improve on everything they did wrong in the first game. Annoying vehicle sections are gone, guns don't have unlimited ammo any more (which made the previous game rather easy), and the combat powers have been vastly improved. There are a few problems in the game like repetitive minigames, spending most of your time recruiting members to join your cause, and the occasional glitch here and there like people's mouths not moving and enemies flying off the map upon death, but none of these are game breakers. This game really shines in its presentation and storytelling. No other game out there has mastered the art of choosing the way you want actions to play out like Mass Effect 2. The ability to import your character from the first game makes your choices open up even further. It's going to be amazing to be able to import my character to Mass Effect 3 since I've used my character from the first game. Being able to have your actions from the first game persist until the end of the 3rd game is amazing. It's an experience unlike any other, and one that I'm going to repeat over and over until I've experienced every type of playthrough possible. This game hooks you and will not let you go. Not even at the ending. This is the definitive RPG experience that any RPG fans out there will enjoy. Mass Effect 2 is a game that will be remember for many years to come.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/05/10
Game Release: Mass Effect 2 (US, 01/26/10)
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