Published on February 5th, 2010 | by prime0
Mass Effect 2 – Review
Summary: The richest sci-fi world ever conceived now has the game to go with it
Only BioWare would release two gigantic RPGs in the space of just over two months. Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2 couldn’t be any more different from one another in terms of source material, but it’s clear from both franchises that each respective team has learnt a lot from each others’ development. That doesn’t mean that you’ll spot Morrigan in a space suit, but you will see improved dialogue and faster combat, all of which were lacking in the original. It must be absolutely terrifying to be any other RPG developer, because BioWare have pulled it out of the bag yet again and created a game that’s simply outstanding.
The plot follows on directly from the events of the original, with Shepard and co touring the universe when their ship is attacked and sunk by an unknown vessel. The Human Spectre saves everyone on board but not before she/he perishes in the void of space. Slowly Shepard is revived, thanks to the scientific minds at Cerberus – a shadowy human-centric organization – and after two years you’re back on your feet and ready to investigate the disappearance of Human colonies.
It’s a fantastic plot device because throughout the experience you’ll run into previous crew members who have been fairing rather differently after your high-profile death. Who you meet, how they treat you and their circumstances all change dynamically due to the decisions you made in the original, thanks to the handy save importer. It’s a simple yet brilliant solution to tie the franchise together and we are sure that other developers will follow suit.
As massive fans of the original game, we were genuinely giddy when we met up again with Tali, Garrus and co. once again. There are plenty of former shipmates to meet, and while we’d love to tell you of our encounters, they are just too brilliant to spoil.
There’s nothing square about this energetic Mass
Side quests have been paid more attention, so you’ll no longer have to fight in the same base that’s inexplicably replicated throughout the entire universe. This is a good thing.
Galaxy-wide exploration is introduced very early on, and unlike the original you won’t have to spend lots of time at the Citadel. Every location now feels more alive and interesting, with the Asari homeworld particularly standing out with its constant bombardment of advertising and shady corporate laws.
The new characters introduced are just as interesting as the original members, and even though we were skeptical of the ‘Aussie’-voiced Miranda at first, by the end of our 25-hour experience with the game, we were more than happy to have her in our team. Any sci-fan will recognize many of the game’s voice actors. It was only with Martin Sheen’s illusive Man where we had problems with immersion – thinking of President Bartlett when we should have been listening to the mechanically enhanced man of mystery.
All of the problems from the original have been solved, so there’s no elevators disguising load times, no texture pop-in and, most importantly, no Mako! Some may miss driving up mountains at a 70-degree angle, but the experience is much more streamlined. You’ll zip from location to location thanks to an airborne APC which will happily drop you off everywhere you need to go.
Harvesting resources has also been enhanced, meaning now you just scan unexplored planet’s surface with your mouse and dispatch probes to any valuable mineral-enriched areas you find.
Mini-games are just reserved for hacking and unlocking, but they don’t stand out anywhere near as much as before. To unlock doors you just have to match up symbols on an elaborate circuit board, and for hacks you need to find specific code in computer routines. Each aspect replaces the mindless bashing of buttons and is much more immersive as a result.
Gunplay feels much weightier than before, and combat in general feels more like a third-person action title rather than an RPG playing dress up. Cover now plays a pivotal role, and some enemies will cut your HP to shreds if you’re aren’t sufficiently protected.
Biotic powers can now be bent around corners, guns can be armed with their incendiary or icy projectiles, and commanding AI partners is now easier. If Mass Effect 2 was released in 2009 it would have been our Game of the Year by some margin. This game solves every complaint of the original and overshadows it completely.
The story is better, the gameplay is sharper and the characters are more believable. If you loved the original Mass Effect this will completely surpass your already high expectations, and if you didn’t pick it up anyway because the RPG game doesn’t get more dramatic or entertaining than this.