I really didn’t like the new box art Bioware used for the final release of the game so i'll just pretend it never happened and use the old far better art.
Mass effect 2 is an amazing sequel to an already stellar game which surpasses the original in every way; combat has been streamlined, level design has been re envisioned, main characters are given more depth with interesting unique back stories and even the technological shortcomings of the original have been addressed. With improvements such as these why would one even bother writing a review? What is their left to be criticized? Who in the right mind would even read past the first sentence without succumbing to the irresistible urge of purchasing the game immediately? Well not to discern any readers from actually purchasing the game (it truly is great) I would like to give it an honest review so from here on in I will try to be as unbiased as humanly possible for a Mass Effect fan boy.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Mass Effect takes place in the distant years succeeding 2183 as humanity enters the galactic community following a groundbreaking scientific discovery on Mars of an advanced ancient alien base containing data that advances human technology immeasurably. With the knowledge gained at the Martian base humanity begins to expand across the galaxy via a mysteries network of relays (Mass Relays) which allows for near instantaneous travel from relay to relay. Humanities rapid expansion inevitably leads to conflict with a new found alien species. As the conflict begins to escalate the Galactic community takes notice and intervenes effectively halting the hostilities between the humans and the Turian Empire. With the revelation of a galactic community and its governing body known as the Citadel Council humanity readily accepts their offer to join their ranks and pledges to adhere to their laws. Unbeknownst to the aliens the humans are as shrewd at politics as they are at war resulting in an emerging human dominance amongst the other species. The events of Mass Effect 1 take place shortly thereafter as the player is tasked from saving the galaxy from a menacing unproven threat. Throughout the journey of this epic quest the player will often be tasked with making choices on a three point moral system; Renegade decisions usually being bad, Paragon good and a neutral which is a balance between the two (Renegade and Paragon earn you respective points which unlock new conversation paths). These decisions also have more profound effects such as the eradication of a nearly extinct species to the subtle changes in the news reports overheard on long (arguably boring) elevator rides.
For some reason i really liked the elavator rides
Suffice it to say Mass Effect 1 ended with a dramatic cliff hanger forcing the player into a hefty moral decision which implied galaxy altering consequences making it difficult to believe that all these choices would even carry over into the sequel. Well Mass Effect 2 delivers with all the varied choices one could have made in the first game all seem to have some sort of impact on the story of the second. With the expected return of familiar characters to the more subtle fulfilment of past promises Bioware truly delivered on their (at the time) boastful claims of creating a unique experience tailored to the player across multiple games. However plot wise Mass Effect 2 lacks the grandeur of the original which is to be expected of a sequel and rather adds depth to an already believable series. With its numerous allusions to Mass Effect 1 the game truly caterers to the fans of the original and from what I’ve heard doesn’t alienate newcomers either but I would still highly recommend playing the first prior to the second to get a far more personalized and fulfilling experience out of the series.
Game play wise Mass Effect 2 is a refined streamlined version of the original. It retains the third person shooter game play adding far more precise controls (notably the sniper which in ME1 was near impossible to stabilize early in the game) making the game play stand on par with some of the best third person shooters that is high acclaim for what really is a Action RPG that retains solid role playing elements (take that Molyneux) and only differs with the original by putting far more emphasis on the action which in this reviewers opinion suits the game.
A example of Mass Effect 1 texture poppin watch the box to the right of the party
Also improved on from the original are the technical issues such as the horrible texture pop in (seems Bioware has mastered the Unreal engine) and previously mentioned elevator sequences that acted as loading sequences that I had actually enjoyed but I guess the majority of gamers didn’t so they’ve been replaced with a standard load screen which isn’t in the least bit more exciting (at least on the elevator you could listen to the news concerning you latest mission and listen to squad mates converse). As I had mentioned earlier ME2 is a streamlined version of its predecessor so that implies that there were numerous cuts allow me to list notable exclusions; the clumsy open world vehicles system has been removed, the number of items in the game has been severely constrained resulting in a far more manageable inventory and levels from the some key locations from the original aren’t accessible anymore. Off course as in every sequel ME2 adds new features to the series ranging from a new mini games like the resource gathering Planet scanning and Conversation interrupts that are basically quick time events made to liven up conversations for the less dialogue based players. Basically Mass Effect 2 doesn’t add much to the series game play wise but rather refines upon the original successfully.
With its deep character development storyline which kind of reminds me of Dragon Age and its team loyalty system the game creates a deep immersive tale not of the goal but the adventure getting there. The addition of a superior combat to that of the first also helps broaden its appeal to those less inclined to play a Rpg by allowing them to engage in thrilling, fast paced battles with varied moves and tactics to engage the enemy with that are truly unique to the series (like getting a squad mate to use the lift biotic power to levitate a opponent out of cover so that you can line up the perfect headshot as it helplessly flails about in the air). Even to those unfamiliar to the original Mass effect 2 is well worth a purchase but it is highly recommended to play through the first game prior now if only Mass effect 3 would come out......