Mass Effect 2 dropped back in January but I just beat it. For those of you, who haven’t bought it yet or are maybe on edge about the game here is a late review, but a in-depth one. The space epic which took me around 30 hours to beat is one of the best games I’ve ever played.
Mass Effect 2 picks up with a bang in the first ten minutes. Not going to spoil anything, but Bioware doesn’t lead you into a story, they say “Here’s Mass Effect 2. Are you ready!”. The game is a roller coaster from there on out. The game, like the first, lets you explore the universe at your own pace doing side missions and talking to allies. Then at strategically placed points you get these interactive cut scenes that makes you feel like you feel like you are in a Star Wars (non-prequel) or Star Trek movie.
You continue your journey as Commander Shepard and his attempt to stop the Reapers from destroying the universe. In the second act of the trilogy, you are trying to stop the Collectors from kidnapping humans from space colonies. Your supporting cast from the original game returns, and you will see all of them throughout the game but only have two of them join your squad in the game as teammates on your squad.
For most of the game you are trying to assemble a team of specialists to take down the Collectors. These guys will bring their own specialty to your cause, and create an exciting bunch. It reminds of a gang from older movies like “The Great Escape” or “The Dirty Dozen” where you get this group together and watch their personalities collide.
While playing the game you’re gonna get that classic Bioware RPG feel. You can level up your characters abilities throughout the game, customize your character, and every action you make effects the story. You can change your characters appearance, choose from six different classes, and import your character from the original. The six classes you can choose from in the beginning are Solider, Vanguard, Adept, Engineer, Sentinel, and Infiltrator. Each gives you specialized abilities that can either make you a tech, biotic, or combat specialist; or a combination of two of the three.
The game is more streamlined. There is less options when it comes to different weapons, different ability options, and RPG elements. The game is still a RPG, but it does feel like more of a 3rd person shooter with RPG elements instead of the other way around. This may appeal to gamers who aren’t into RPGs as much. The game is not overly complicated when it comes to depth, and is a game you can pick up and play for 20 mins if you feel like it.
The cover system is much improved over the original. The original was clunky and average. While the new one isn’t on the level of a Gears of War or Uncharted it is still very solid. The game overall runs very smooth when it comes to sliding in and out of cover. There will be frustrating times when you stick to things you don’t want, but that happens in all 3rd person shooters. There are also moments where you can get stuck and have to restart the mission. These errors are probably the only frustrating thing about the game, but for me it only happened twice throughout the 30 hour journey.
Graphically the game is one of the better looking games on the Xbox 360. Top 5 material on the console, and one of the better looking games on any platform. The game still has some pop-in problems, but it is FAR improved from the original. It’s a rarity when it happens and it only happens here and there. Each world in the game has it’s own distinctive feel, and are very creative overall. BioWare has done a great job at creating a living/breathing universe with memorable worlds and species.
One thing I actually prefer from the original game that isnt in Mass Effect 2, are large environments. In Mass Effect 1, when you explored planets in the Mako (which isn’t present in ME2) you had these large environments to explore. Also, the Citadel was a very large and connected area. In Mass Effect 2, to pack more content, they make the environments corridor areas. The worlds are great, but the feeling of being in a huge new world is lacking. This isn’t something bad because it makes you stay focused on what is important, but rather I hope they combine elements from both the original and the sequel in Mass Effect 3.
The music, the sound, and the voice acting are all top-notch. Seriously, this game may have some of the best voice acting I’ve seen in games. Each character has a distinctive feel to their voice acting and all of them seem like realistic characters. Both the male and female voice acting for Commander Sheppard is great. It’s a shame that a large number of people will never hear the female version of Commander Sheppard because they will only play as the male version, because she is great as well. The other voice acting includes famous actors and actresses like Seth Green, Yvonne Strahovski, Martin Sheen, etc as supporting characters and all of them are great.
The game also has little mini-games throughout. To hack in Mass Effect 2 instead of leveling up your characters “hacking skills” you just do mini-games to get credits and other materials. Also, to get “raw materials” to do research projects to upgrade armor, equipment, and your ship you need to scan planets and launch probes to collect materials. These little games are nice, but collecting materials on planets gets old by the end of the game.
Overall, the game is fantastic. Continuing over from Mass Effect 1, really makes this game feel like you are apart of a universe and that your decisions affect the story. Customizing your character in a multitude of ways both combat and stylistically wise helps give you a connection to the characters. The story and world are dark and intriguing, and honestly it’s badass. You feel like a badass throughout the entire game whether you play Paragon or Renegade. The supporting cast is memorable and each of them bring something cool to the table. You can create relationships once again with characters in the game, and trust me Miranda Lawson is smoking. The combat is greatly improved over the original, it feels like a 3rd person shooter and not a RPG with hacked on mechanics.
This game has very very minor flaws, but overall it is one of the best games I’ve ever played. The replayability is fantastic with all the different choices you can make throughout. I beat the game in 30 hours, but you could honestly play this game 4-5 times and never get bored with it. I honestly cannot see a consumer out there who enjoys 3rd person shooters, RPG’s, or Sci-Fi that wouldn’t enjoy this game. It is such a deep and intriguing universe with so many fun gameplay elements that it’s almost the perfect storm. There is a nice balance between gameplay, story, and strategy. I would suggest this game to anyone with a 360. Personally, it is probably the best game I’ve ever played on my Xbox 360.