Review by Flare_Dragon123

Reviewed: 06/14/10

Longer. Stronger. More Simple. More Tedious.

Mass Effect 2 is the long awaited sequel of the original Mass Effect. Both games put you in the role of Commander Shepard, a human space marine that has ascended the ranks of the Human Alliance, and in the previous game worked to save the entire galaxy from a threat of sentient machine overlords known as the Reapers. In the sequel, your original ship gets blown up, you get redesigned after being blasted into space, and you join forces with a human nationalist group known as Cerberus. And all of that is just the first half hour of the game.

Mass Effect has several improvement from the original game, it also has some downgrades. Let’s break them down.

Story 8/10

Mass Effect 2 is awesome. That’s the simple way to put it, everyone should play this game. When it comes to crafting a story Mass Effect is able to do it and do it very damn good. Compared to the original game this story takes a step to further everything that was done right. Old character come back with new characterization, new characters change up the pace a little bit, you actually get a nice mix of good characters and bad characters and that helps keep the variety going.

Specifically, Mass Effect takes its storyline of intergalactic war and race relations as well as individual politics and expands on them one hundred percent. In the original Mass Effect it felt like some of this was rushed, so its nice to see that in Mass Effect 2 the development team was able to work the story smoother. You can still react in Paragon (Good Guy) and Renegade (Bad Guy) ways as the story goes and that can change your outlook on the game quite a bit.

Unfortunately, this game is far from perfect. Some of the things that had charm in Mass Effect and that you hoped you would see in this game either don’t get mentioned or get swept under the carpet. If you import a character from Mass Effect then you will see the impact of all your choices, but the majority come in the form of a letter from the quest giver in the last one and has next to no impact on anything.

The other bad thing is that this is the Dragon Age story stuck in Outer Space. You’re a hero, no one respects you, no one believes you… which was all true in the first Mass Effect too. Unfortunately what they did to fill in the story is make you go through a whole bunch of essentially fetch quests to pick up allies and gain their loyalty, and while the individual quests are all written very well, it seems like intergalactic chaos should be squeezing in around you while you busy yourself with solving all the little things your party wants you to do for you.

Overall, the story is still damn good, even if it feels like a space version of Dragon Age.

Gameplay 7/10

Now I have to address this in two ways, there are improvements in this installment and there are some downgrades, and it probably just comes down to personal preference.

The Good: Now, Mass Effect one was an RPG/Shooter, one of the first that actually did it pretty good, it managed to keep a nice flow of action while involving a few psychic abilities and some technology that helped out in combat. But none of it was very fast, the action had a repetitive tendency to it, shoot here, use ability now, hide now… blah blah blah. In Mass Effect 2, it plays much more like most shooters, you can now crouch behind boxes and walls, you aim manually, you can get head shots, all sorts of things. What you get is a much faster experience, there’s less team management needed to get through the game, and its much more open and accessible for RPG fans and non-fans.

The Bad: Now, this may be just me, but they made Mass Effect 2 WAY too simple. In the previous game you had levels with experience that grew with each level and you get XP and gold from every enemy. You had skill points you powered up and you had a lot of them… so many you couldn’t get them all on one character no matter what you did. There were guns upon guns and they had ammo and your armor and that had upgrades and a whole slew of micro management that made a character feel very personal to you.

All of that is gone in Mass Effect 2, oh you still have skills, but now there are half as many levels, hardly as many skills (and far too many useless ones get repeated on characters), and there’s no more equipment system, there may be 20 guns in the whole game and that’s it. Upgrades are there but they come attached to a resource searching mini game that feels boring and tedious, and then they are cookie cutter things like damage increase, health increase… blah blah.

Essentially Mass Effect 2 downgraded in the Gameplay. They took the entire treasure hunt out of the game, now you’re just jumping up and down enough times until the game decides you’ve been so good you can get your tennis ball now. What’s further more is that if you want the best ending you better jump up and down, and a lot, otherwise you might get back a tennis ball with a poo stain on it.

Characters 10/10

I think its just Bioware. Both Mass Effect games had good characters. Dragon Age had good characters. Thing is, Bioware is just damn good with their characters. I’m not saying there’s anything here you haven’t seen before, but they all just feel right and they get so involved in the story.

Specifically, you get a slew of characters, you get the good girl, the good guy, the mad scientist, the tech whiz, the raging Krogan, the silent logical type, the crazy psycho, a robot (no literally), a really old lady, and some others that change depending on your Paragon or Renegade status.

Now, unique to Mass Effect 2 is this loyalty system, in other words if you want the best ending you will do a personal quest for each of these characters so that they can concentrate on the mission better. It feels like an excuse really to go on these, but it develops the back grounds and the nature of the characters, and hey why not?

Replayability 6/10

It really seems like Bioware is trying too hard in this area. What they can do, Story and Characters, doesn’t carry you enough to go through everything that they can kind of do, Gameplay to be specific.

Mass Effect 1 was a great replay experience because you could play six different classes, each with a slew of different abilities that at least kept you interested. Mass Effect 2 has dumbed down the skill building and micro management systems that I can’t see how simply getting different dialogue (say you go good guy first game and bad guy second) could be enough of a motivator to actually play through it again.

Especially when I think about doing all ten loyalty missions again, there’s almost no way I would replay this game, simply because it is repetitive to the max, and there are not enough individual differences to be able to play it again.

They promise that choices you made here will matter in Mass Effect 3. I think I’ll be happy pursuing that goody two-shoes character I’ve worked for two games to make.

Overall 8/10 (or comprehensively 31/40)

When you get down to it, Mass Effect 2 is a pretty good game. At this rate it will probably be a pretty good series. Its honestly like the Star Wars of video games, it will probably be hailed as a classic for the rest of video game history. That being said, its not the best game ever made, but if you expected that of every game you would always be disappointed.

Mass Effect 2 just works. You feel good the entire time playing it, and even on the side quests and loyalty missions, you feel damn good playing this game. Unfortunately, you’ll probably only do it once.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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

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