Review by smuc90

"Mass Effect 2: Systems not Engaging"

For a game that utilises facial animations to high acclaim and implements a conversation system that looks to engender a sense of emotional engagement surely the aim of this game was to make me feel? This is ME2's major flaw, it doesn't do what Bioware had truly intended it for. Further to this it's not a groundbreaker, it doesn't push the boundaries, it doesn't do what we haven't seen before, it merely tweaks a few battle system elements and makes it more accessible. What's left is a game with a fairly generic gameplay experience and high production values.

The basic and rather short plot is as follows: a race known as the Collectors are kidnapping humans. A pro-human organisation known as Cerberus, led by the Elusive Man, want you to investigate and ultimately destroy this Collector threat. In order to do this you must enter a star system where none have ever returned. The main point of the game is to recruit a specialist crew for what is considered a 'suicide mission.'

When you recruit these new members you then have to earn their loyalty by going on a personal mission for each. The process of recruiting one member, getting another etc eventually becomes very formulaic and somewhat tiresome. Although each character has a story to tell this gets progressively tedious over time and you begin to think - what about me!?! What are they doing for me? Don't they have to prove their loyalty to me too? Also, at no stage during my gaming experience did I see any higher value in each of them except as armed support.

Space - there's not much of it in ME2 (except the Normandy, I'll come to that later) the filler being a mute NPC. I doubt I'm the only person who felt the homeworld of the Krogans and of the Quarians was more than just a little underwhelming. There are various different locales to visit just not much to see or explore once you get there. As briefly mentioned there are a number of extras ie. NPCs who just stand around and say nothing and places just seem, on the whole, static. So, yes, if you visit the same place again NPCs are saying the same thing standing in the exact same spot - there are no real-time mechanics at play which I think is a shame.

Now, the Normandy - I call it Ghost Ship. You get your own captain's cabin in this one - why? I have no idea, the most you can do is buy a few fish, a hamster and some model ships. However, from what I can tell the new recruits, the ones you've been asked to ‘get onboard', were clearly not expected or well planned for - they just make do with standing by a monitor or sitting on the floor. I call it Ghost Ship because the Normandy is large but the amount of interaction you have with it, with the amount of characters in it, and the length of time it takes to get around it just feels bloated.

However, there are a couple of domestic scuffs that you have to sort out and this is where the game touches on but fails to develop a very neat dynamic. You see, the Normandy would appear to me to be the best place to generate a sense of team and of self - the ship should by all accords come to be your personal pride and joy. Wouldn't it have been great if you could have designed your own Normandy? Wouldn't it be great if you could have appointed your own personnel? Wouldn't you have liked to have sorted out more arguments and debates? I think this game missed a trick here.

The battle system is good, I did enjoyed it, and the presentation is top notch. I also felt that the choices I made in this game had more impact more often than ME1. I will also buy ME3 when it comes out because I do want to know how my choices in this game will effect future events and relationships. I think everyone who has played this game and completed it will feel the same. I'm not emotionally attached just curious how this will work.

Overall, for a game that is essentially suppose to be, or was meant to been, about building relationships it should have, in my opinion, taken a different tact and implemented a few new game mechanics. It streamlined the original for ease but added no additional meat or innovation to the new.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 02/12/10

Game Release: Mass Effect 2 (EU, 01/29/10)

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