Review by redsoxfanx8

"A Sequel That Surpasses its Predecessor in Every Way"

By now you may have heard many gamers proclaim Mass Effect 2 as one of the greatest games ever made. I came “late to the party” on this game (getting it more than two years after its release) and couldn't be more happy that I finally decided to pick it up. For all gamers who haven't yet been able to play this masterpiece, it's better late than never.

Story 10/10
Summary of prior events
The main character's name is Commander Shepard. Since the game is an action-RPG, you are able to choose your character's gender, image, background, class, etc. to how you see fit. To summarize the events of the first game (which is not necessary to play but can be beneficial to your play through and understanding), Commander Shepard is a space marine in the future that fights for the Human System's Alliance government. He is designated with a N7 which is the highest rank a human Special Forces fighter can receive. In the story you recruit various other humans and aliens into your ship crew in order to track down a rouge Spectre named Saren. A Spectre works for the council of the galaxy and Shepard later becomes one based on his heroic deeds. At the end of the first game, Shepard discovers that ancient advanced alien machines called Reapers seek to destroy all organic life in the galaxy and that they will soon arrive.

Mass Effect 2 Story
There are many critics of Mass Effect 2's story for it being “too cliche” or “not having enough depth” but let me assure you that none of these criticisms prove valid. As someone who isn't too into the science fiction genre, I still loved its plot. At the start of the game Shepard is killed after his ship, The Normandy, is destroyed. Two years later, a shady pro-human organization named Cerberus scientifically resurrects him to perfect condition to investigate why many human colonies have been disappearing. Cerberus rebuilds and improves the Normandy and recruits its old pilot, Joker. After investigating, Shepard discovers that the only way to prevent more human abductions is to launch a suicide mission. For this mission he needs to recruit some of the best or toughest of the galaxy including a deadly assassin, and biotic convict, and synthetic machine. Each of these characters that you recruit has a deep back-story that you can discover by gaining their loyalty. The character depth is amazing and by the end of the game you might grow attached to a couple of them. Once you launch the suicide mission, these squad members (and Shepard himself) could die based on your negligence of not gaining their loyalty or based on your bad decision making during the final missions of the game. There is also a karma system in the game where you can become either a paragon of a renegade. What makes this system unique is that it's not just the black and white “good vs. evil” scale, it has much more depth. Paragons make the right, moral decisions that might come back to haunt you or harm the galaxy as a whole while renegades make the tough choices in order to ensure the galaxies security. The choices you make throughout the game will influence your Mass Effect 3 play-through just as the choices you made in the original effect your ME2 play-through. Mass Effect 2's complex and interesting story makes you want to replay the game to try things differently and get different outcomes.

Game play 9/10
The game play was greatly improved from the original game making it a truly complex and innovative system. In the game standard futuristic military weapons are used in addition to biotic powers. Biotic powers are special moves that each have a certain function. To balance these moves out you have to wait a certain amount of time specific to each power for it to recharge. Another improvement is Shepard's movements are now much more fluid and the aiming system was almost completely overhauled. Some of the areas of improvement are his ability to take cover more easily, hot-keys for your biotic powers, more precise aiming sights, ability to run faster, better camera sensitivity speed, and being able to switch from one weapon to another much more quickly. The squad system has also been vastly improved. You can now use the d-pad to direct a squad-mate to cover or use the quick menu to use their powers. When Shepard levels up, you get to assign skill points to certain powers of your choosing in his skill branch as well as each of your squad member's skill branches. This allows you to customize your characters to suit your needs.

Graphics/Visuals 10/10
This game's visuals are magnificent, especially considering that they could still be compared to some games today even though it was made over two years ago. The new feature of the camera zooming in and out on different characters as they speak creates a whole new level of interaction and details. Each location you visit throughout the game has a unique setting with a variety of geographical features that adds to the beauty of the game. The graphics are one of the things that held the first game back from greatness but Bioware did an outstanding job of addressing the problem with ME2's toned up visuals.

Sound/Music 10/10
The score made by composer Jack Wall is one of my favorites of all time. At times it could be intense and bombastic but at others it could be calm and tranquil. The music corresponds with each section and setting of the game perfectly and greatly adds to the mood. The other great thing about this game is the high level voice acting. The cast includes many famous voice actors and they all play their part with so much emotion that it makes the game seem much more realistic. These two things combined give this section the merit of a perfect score.

Pros
-Intense third person shooter game play
-Increased maneuverability
-Complex and interesting story
-Past choices affect how you play through the game
- Stellar score by Jack Wall
-Emotion-driver voice acting
-Characters with depth
-Many Side missions
-High replayabilty
-Not a “black and white” karma system
-Weapon System improved
-Many available side quests
-Innovative loyalty based storyline

Cons
-Cover system can still be a bit awkward
- Mining system is a completely boring
-Some levels could be pretty short
-Needs more powers and skill points

The verdict
Overall Mass effect 2 is near perfect games with very few flaws. It is worth trying out even if you have not played through the original game in the series. If you find that you enjoy the game, try the first one or buy the downloadable content (It's named Genesis) that allows you to make all the important decisions. This will give you a much more enjoyable and customized version of the game. You will find yourself immersed in the trilogy's story because the choices that you make can either help or harm you later on. In the end I would have a hard time not recommending this game to any gamer. There is no way I can possibly give this game less than a perfect score of 10/10.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/05/12, Updated 02/19/13

Game Release: Mass Effect 2 (US, 01/26/10)


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