Review by Mephistofun
"A game that is unbalanced without the DLC. I wonder if EA designed it that way..? Spoilers"
Remember the Matrix game "Path of Neo?" The Warchowski Bros make a 'joke' end boss? A joke that makes fun of the lack of imagination in crappy games? Well done Bioware.
It isn't a game ruining experience though. In fact, provided you stump up for the full version of the game, and by that I mean all the DLC they pumped out since the start, this is near perfect. I did a much longer review talking about how they screwed up the exploration of Mass Effect for Mass Effect 2. The Mako isn't back but the Hammerhead missions go a long way to making up for it by adding more variety.
The thing is the actual replacement is a scanning mini game. I say game but what I actually mean is that it is a rotating picture of a planet that you point at with a slow moving cursor and when you see a little scanner peek you launch a probe. Bouncing around like a loon in the Mako was better, even if it did take longer at least there was stuff to shoot as well.
Piloting your ship is equally dull and utterly pointless. It's another cursor, this time disguised as a ship that you guide around the map. It burns off fuel, which costs money but it is so hard to see that you's always burn off a hundred credits just finding the thing. why does fuel cost you money now? The game never tells you, nor does it have any reason for doing it, aside from making the DLC more essential. You see without the extra missions you barely have enough cash to buy all the things you need, fuel your ship and feed your crew.
Your weapons are also underpowered if you decide to take on Extreme Mode but then again, the DLC balances that out. So if you bought this game cheap you need to fork out for almost the full price of the game anyway. It;s very good without the DLC but miles better with it. One would almost say it is incomplete without the DLC (I'll try not to be sarcastic from now on.)
The graphics are beautiful, the gun play much improved with the AI seemingly a lot more intelligent. The story is almost as good as the original but doesn't really expand the universe as it should. there is still lots of stuff to carry through to part 3 but most of it is actually going to come from the first game. Having said that there is more DLC in the pipeline so.... (this really does look like a game with content removed and sold to consumers later, rather than a completed game with content added.)
The acting this time around is superb once again, really driving the story home. The conversation options don't seem to work quite so well this time with the 'good' path being way too obvious and the perks for being 'evil' making you feel like a jerk and not really rewarding you enough. In fact the whole economy side of the game is plain broken at times and it looks suspiciously like EA had a hand in the sheer amount of dumbing down of all the RPG elements.
In the end the game suffers more than than it gains from all the technical improvements but this is a very good game.
At least they have somethings to improve on for the sequel. Personally I'm not going to buy the next one new if so much of the content of the main game is going to be dressed up as DLC. I'll buy it second hand and pay EA for the game as DLC.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 03/01/10, Updated 08/27/10
Game Release: Mass Effect 2 (EU, 01/29/10)
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