Review by cronos603

"Amazing yet I feel nostalgic for the first game"

I have completed Mass Effect 1 many times and love the game and have eagerly awaited the sequel. Upon spending some quality time with it I feel like calling it the hybrid child of Star Trek and Gears of War.

Story: 9/10
The story in mass effect 2 takes place shortly after the first game and has a very cool and explosive opening. The story this time around deals with a new type of enemy while still seeing return enemies from the first game. The characters in this game and the interaction with them and your teammates (of which there are a lot). You will be seeing new team members and many of them are blast to talk to and this is a good thing as there is an emphasis on gaining a team member's loyalty.. The game story it self is not as great as the first game. You will be seeing many familiar faces from the first depending on whether they lived or not. A very cool aspect about mass effect 2 is the import character feature which allows you to bring your character from the first game. This not only allows you to gain a bonus at the start of the game but it also brings with it the decisions made in the first game. It can make you want to go back to the first game and play it in a completely different manner just to see how it will affect the second game. One thing that felt disconnecting is for the fact that after the opening events happen some of the characters talk to Shepard as if he just left for a few days.

The graphics in this game have been much improved over the first game from characters to environments. Characters even have an expanded set of facial animations this go round. A big plus is that the texture pop-in from the first game is gone. This game is definitely a looker.

Audio: 9.5/10
Everything from the game sounds great from the music to the the voice acting its all well done. There are a lot of returning voice actors from the first game. Weapons in the game also have a very different sound about them, at times when I was firing a weapon gears of war 2 kept popping in my head(take it as you will). A minor gripe is that there were a few times during the game where I experienced a delay in text from 2 to 5 seconds though it didn't happen enough to make it a major gripe.All in all the game sounds great.

Exploration: 8/10
this is where the game starts to make me scratch my head. In mass effect 2 exploration has become streamlined. gone is the mako and instead of traversing unexplored world you just scan for the mission and plop right down to start the mission(minerals will be explained shortly). Its this is a well implemented and saves time from having to drive boring landscapes to get to the mission. in cities, well its mixed. There really aren't any big cities like the citadel in the first game. What they have in place of it are just like hub worlds. the cities look big at first but once you start exploring you will see that the places are just smaller points of bigger cites, even the citadel is only a small fraction of its size in this game. This streamlined approach to exploration works well though at times I wish I had some bigger cities to see.

Gameplay: 8.5/10
This part of the game is where I really had sit back and soak in and it may cause a divide between fans of the first.
The shooting has been tightens to feel more in line with games like uncharted and gears of war. The cover system is more fluid this time around making getting to cover a breeze. Weapons in this game abandons the heating system in favor of "heat sinks" which act like ammo like a third person shooter but can be used on any weapon. this works well though running out of ammo for your favorite gun is never pleasant. Biotic powers have been improved for the better except for the fact that some biotics can only be used if the enemy is not shielded but by then they are usually dead. There is a greater focus on action and most every mission consists of shooting through waves of enemies like a shooting gallery. The game has also streamlined its RPG elements such as leveling, loot, exp, weapons. Leveling has been tweaked as there are no longer weapon or armor stats, what there is is about 4+ skills that you can purchase that become more expensive as you go up. You no longer gain exp from enemies or any method in the first game. The only way to gain exp is to complete missions to the end at which you are then awarded exp. You no longer purchase weapons, armor(not completely) or licenses, the inventory screen is gone. You find weapons during your missions and if it is a better weapon its equipped, there are no weapon or armor stats just bonus from the armor. there is an upgrade system in place where you buy or research weapon, armor, and other upgrades. ammo customizing is down to using a tech skill to change your ammo, though there are only a few types. This game still has glitches, in my first 9 hours with the game I had to restart 3 or 4 times for not just getting stuck in cover glitches but weapons glitches too. Some of these changes feel more at home than others and at time it feels as if the RPG elements have been stripped as opposed to streamlined.

Overall: 9/10
Mass effect 2 to is an amazing game that is worth a try and a great addition to the franchise, with that being said one can wonder about whether some of the changes made were necessary as in making the game more streamlined and action oriented. The overall feel of the game is more in tune with a third person shooter with some RPG elements Incorporated. None the elements of the game are bad and I have a blast playing it but I just cant help but all the oodles of loot or watching the exp pile up from all my kills. One thing to the space hamster.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/28/10

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

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