Review by wilson336

Reviewed: 01/28/10

Outstanding fusion of shooter and lite-RPG

First off, let me say no game is perfect. Therefore, I will never give a game an overall 10. I see lots of 10 rating, and then the reviewer points out some bad things about the game...So how could it still be a 10, right? With that in mind, you will note that I gave ME2 a 9. If you liked ME1, than you will love the improvements made to this sequel.

Graphics: 9/10.
Character models, as in the first ME, and amazing. Animations are fluid, and there were a couple of times when a cut scene ended and I did not realize it, as there is no drop in animation quality coming out of a cut scene. Two little gripes are that 1) there is an occasional hiccup when a scene loads, before the high-rez textures fill in, and 2) some settings, particularly slums, seem a little too sterile, with not much refuse or other clutter details that would add a little realism.

Story: 10/10
Story was a big draw in the first game, and ME2 picks it right back up again, intertwining old story arcs and new. There are lots of nods to the first game, but not enough to confuse a player new to the ME universe. Each character in the story ahd a well-fleshed background that you will want to explore. You decisions to follow either a paragon or renegade type of existence also creates a bit of a different experience depending on how you react in thw universe.

Audio: 9/10
The sounds in the game are quite well done, and the voice acting is of very high quality, particularly a certain twitchy alien doctor who you can recruit, Martin Sheen, as the Illusive Man, also does a great job. The first time you step into the Afterlife bar, you will be amazed at how the sounds of the bar, including the music, change and react perfectly depending on where in the bar you are standing, from a muffled bass thump to music blasting in your ears while on the dance floor. One irritant is that some of the random voices on people are not so random, repeating the same one or two phrases over and over.

Gameplay: 9/10
In the first ME you were plagued by some missions in your 6-wheeled rover, which handled like a Yugo with a broken front axle. Combat has also been greatly streamlined, making the game much more of a shooter than the first game. There are far fewer weapons and armor items to find out in the world, which I feel is a negative (most RPGers) like to collect and compare items, and I am no exception). The space travel takes a little bit to get used to, but once you do, you will find it is much more fun to travel and explore than in ME1. You actively scan planets now to find distress signals and/or elements for upgrading items, as opposed to just traveling to a planet and looking at it for a second. The scanner, however, moved very slowly, even with the scanner upgrade, so don't plan on scanning in a hurry unless you want to miss a lot.

This game is a must have for sci-fi fans. Hardcore RPGers take note that the RPG elements have been pared back from the first ME, and it is more action oriented. However, this helps to keep the pace going, and is very enjoyable. All in all, it is a fantastic game that might convert a few shooter fans into RPG fans as well.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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

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