Review by Lerei
"Mass Effect 2 - More like an expansion than a sequel. :("
The first few hours of this game captivated me just as the first had. I was mesmerized by the flourishing environments, great voice acting, and incredible detail. A few more hours into the game, however, I was feeling extremely let down by Bioware.
I am pleased with the upgrade in AI for my teammates, as I rarely have to issue commands in normal battle unless I want to finish a particular enemy off with their abilities, which may even be on cooldown because they use them so often, which is what I would expect. Enemy AI is also good; I played through on veteran difficulty (I am starting a new game now on insanity) and the enemies definitely packed a punch and I could not live for more than a few seconds without taking cover. Even when behind cover. That being said, the game unfortunately feels like Gears of War with the obscene amount of ducking and sprinting to slide into cover behind a barrel or crate that seems to have been perfectly mirrored from Gears of War -- no uniqueness provided. Combat is also redundant and obvious. Shepard will be running through an open part of whatever place you are in and then you will see boxes and crates all over as if you are entering a paintball field and you know that a battle will ensue, and sure enough, it does with you on one side of the field and the enemy on the other -- classic paintball death match. Also, it seems that in the two year period between Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2, weapon developers lost all technology and weapons had to revert back to ammo... yes AMMO. Your weapons will no longer overheat, instead they "require thermal clips to prevent them from overheating" -- A sad way to justify the change in weapon technology, seeing as how it takes many steps backwards instead of forwards. I'd much rather way a second or two for my machine gun to cool down and never running out of ammo instead of having to wait a second to reload quite often and running out of ammo eventually. That being said, it gave the game a nice taste of variety, forcing you to switch between weapons constantly.
There was customization? You get to customize your character and make him/her look however pretty or ugly you want and you get to choose their class, but you barely get any skills to choose from. A Biotic character does not have access to all biotic abilities and as a soldier (whom I played) I found myself maxing out each ability on my first playthrough without doing that many side quests -- I'll get to why I didn't later in my story review. If you wanted to play as a soldier and choose what skills to use differently next time, you won't because there are no new skills. On my first playthrough I found two better machine guns, one better pistol, one better sniper rifle, one better shotgun. That's it. I like that you can't find armor and weapons in crates, but really? A single upgrade over the course of the game is pretty sad, even if the game is surprisingly and almost infuriatingly short. Armor upgrades are also sparse and I found maybe two for each slot.
Here is where the biggest let down occurs. Mass Effect 1 was incredible in its story telling and was unbelievably captivating. Mass Effect 2 captivates for a short while, then you finish the game in confusion because you reach the end of the game with the mindset of "Oh, this must be where the story starts to pick up" and then its over. The majority of strictly storyline gameplay is taken up by finding comrades and the tasks to find them are more like some kind of everyday activity like picking up milk from 7-Eleven. Whats great is, its not even necessary to pick up every character to pull into your party and you could just proceed with the storyline and be done with the game in a few hours. On occasion you'll get some orders to go to a planet and find out something about your enemy, but I think this happens three times and then its off to save the galaxy, which by the way, no one knows or cares about except for Shepard and your crew. Its not like Mass Effect 1 where the Citadel was waiting for reports and the Alliance was proud to have a Spectre and wanted to hear about your achievements and you were a big shot. In Mass Effect 2 the Citadel doesn't want you, the Alliance could care less, and I'm quite certain that outside of your crew, not a single soul in the universe has any idea what you are doing. There is no epic ending with the Alliance coming to save the Citadel from Sovereign. Its just you, and your crew, and your ship. No one knows what you accomplished.
I only experienced one glitch, but holy ******* it happened all the time. When next to an object (by object I mean absolutely anything, be it a door, person, guard rail, destroyed car, or even a 1000 foot tower) you will be seemingly teleported to the top of it and are stuck. This happened to me almost all the time and I had to consider it as readily as I was considering the Geth shooting at me. It was really frustrating.
My review may sound harsh, because it is. I was expecting much more and was severely let down. Don't get me wrong, the game is fun to play and definitely worth owning, just maybe not at a 60$ price tag. Like I said in my title, it feels more like a 40$ expansion than a 60$ game. I enjoyed the game, and texted my friends "Mass Effect 2 is awesome" frequently. When I beat it though, I called them and was like "um, I just beat the game and I thought it was the middle of the game. WTF?"
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 01/29/10
Game Release: Mass Effect 2 (US, 01/26/10)
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