Review by Vincentsdream
One step forward, and another step back.
Mass Effect since the day it was first mentioned is a game series that always grabbed my attention. The fact that it was made by bioware was a great boon, not only have they always made great games where choices play critical roles, they are prone to making some of the best RPG's out there, and the thought of them making their own space opera was something I couldn't turn down. After playing the first game I just absorbed into the world of Mass Effect, however there were some flaws to the game, as there always are. The choices = consequence concept wasn't new, but the way it was done was amazing. And then they said there would be another Mass Effect and another after that. And not only would it continue the story but all choices from the first game would carry over. It blew my mind. The thought of this was amazing, and in my minds something that assured replay value for not just the first game, but all three games to come. As it got closer to release Mass Effect 2 was looking like it would be everything Mass Effect 1 wasn't. In part this is true. Mass Effect 2 does compliment and fix allot of what Mass Effect 1 didn't get right. However, it also doesn't carry over some of what they did do right. It's a give and take balance that can disappoint you, but no matter what in the end Mass Effect 2 is still a great game! They delivered on the "everything carries over aspect" it really does. Everything, even the small minor minute things you do in the first game are brought up in this game. However, the new games central theme was "anything can happen" stating that no one was immortal in this game, and that the events in Mass Effect 2 could drastically alter how Mass Effect 3 plays, or what characters are present. It is true, but how it is delivered is not done well. I will go into detail now.
I had to group these two topics simply because Bioware is known for their glitches. The Graphics in both games have always been great, they definitely brought it up a notch in ME 2 however by fixing allot of the small minute graphic errors that were present in the first game, the texture of clothing suddenly going from detailed to bland is no longer present, and the random fluxes are also gone. On top of that they once again provide a beautiful world full of life, and in some cases lacking life. The character design is great as usual, and each character has a unique and life like look to them. The only major Graphic flaw in this game is that at times the flow of "cut-scenes" especially in the end can get a bit edgy and the audio can de-sync for a few seconds. On top of that, there was a point in the game where the Audio vanished entirely and I missed out on a whole cut-scene of dialogue. Very disappointing.
The Gameplay is changed greatly. Don't let anyone say different. From the perspective of the first game it was RPG/Third person shooter, this game has become a Third person shooter/RPG. Like the first game you use a variety of weapons, and depending on your class special abilities. If you choose to be a biotic (basically like using magic or the force) you have special biotic abilities. A soldier is a straight up soldier, great with weapons and such. A tech can hack AI's or go invisible to pull off a great head shot. The combat, in the long run is much better. It is face passed, and keeps the game very entertaining and different. However there are several small things that didn't quite carry over like I personally would have wished. For instance the biggest difference is that skill/abilities are lacking. You had several abilities in the first game; they cut the number down significantly. They do more, but in the long run I could this being an issue as a Biotic, but not so much an issue as a soldier. Some of the loss of skills are a welcome change, in the first game you had to spend points in "intimidate" or its paragon opposite "charm". They removed this simply letting your points in "paragon" or "renegade" decide how you interacted with npcs. On top of that they added ammo. This is more realistic, and I can't complain as it does make you watch it much more closely. No more shooting blindly.
More so, the actual combat is more strategic, and they finally introduced the interrupt (sort of) that was promised in the first game. At times in the game you can interrupt the flow and perform and heroic paragon or renegade act. From punching someone, to, well more dire things, or nice. The customization of armor is also available in this game, instead of purchasing weapons or armor you simply upgrade them throughout the game. This is an added welcome. That being said however...the game lacking in side quests compared to the first one. Each main quest involves either a story event, or a requirement event. For each squad member you have they have a loyalty quest, in my opinion these are not side quests, but main story quests. Yes they can be skipped. But regardless, even if they are side quests it is still lacking severely. The first game had a lot going for it in quests; in fact the main complaint was if you only did the main story it was too short. It is reversed in this game. The main story is still short, but much longer then the first, but they pulled out almost all the intriguing side quests from the first. They removed the intricate dialogue quests, talking people out of a hostage situation, and simply replaced them with a "land on planet kill people leave" quest feel. This is a major disappointment.
But overall the game play is still wonderful.
Audio - 10/10
The music in this game is, like the first, wonderful, it is very emotional at times and fits the galaxy created perfectly. From the sound of a raunchy bar on Omega, to the action packed music played during a mission. It does a very good job of fitting the story. On top of that the voice acting in this game is amazing as well. There are some complaints about Shepard voice, both male and female, but the main reason for this is that Shepard is a custom character; most people design their character and imagine a voice for him that is not like the one provided. The voice acting for all other characters is spot on, each one providing a unique dialogue and feel the galaxy, for once not everyone has either a British or American accent.
Some people will complain about the story in this game, but the fail to take into account that it is the "middle" story. It is the bridge of the trilogy. The game does an excellent job doing just that. Not only is the dark story, like most sequels are, it shows a more opaque side of the galaxy that wasn't present in the first one. I won't go into the details of the game but the main gist is this, you are asked to go on a possible suicide mission for the greater good of the galaxy; however it is not seen that way by most. You'll be hated and even make decisions that rightly make you hated. The characters are all unique and at times excel those of the first game. And if you happen to have played the first one you'll see the story of this game even more with the interaction of events you caused in the first game. The carry-over is however critical, so much that after beating this game unlike most where I started a new one, I went and played the first game through, and then played Mass Effect 2 with that character. That's not a bad thing though. However, the story itself is a bit of a letdown near the end. The advertisement for this game stated, anyone can die, and this is true...but you would have to rush through this game and do almost nothing it seems to even have one person die.
Replay value: 10/10
The replay value in this game is immense, so much that this game not only makes it more likely that you'll play ME2 over and over, but you'll be playing ME1 as well. I can only imagine when the third comes out it'll be even greater. Everything can affect the outcome of this game, and there are so many small options that you would be hard pressed to run out of ways to do things differently.
To sum it up, the game is a wonderful entertaining piece of technology. But there are some small things that are missing or that should have been brought over from the first game. However, I still rate this game as a must buy for any Science fiction, or Role playing game fan!
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Mass Effect 2 (US, 01/26/10)
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