Trying to give a full, comprehensive review of “Mass Effect 2” in 600 words is like trying to sum up the Bible in a 10-page comic book. It can’t be done. But I will try to hit the important points of this 20 to 40-hour game.
The latest installment in developer Bioware’s trilogy, “Mass Effect 2,” is simply one of the most emotionally immersive games out there, as well as being a top-notch action packed RPG third-person shooter.
ME2 picks up where the first game ended, with the player controlling Commander
Shepard –– a natural-born leader who travels galaxies fighting off many types of enemies for the greater good. The story begins with Commander Shepard being hired by Cerberus, a giant renegade corporation that works outside of the Alliance. Humans are being taken and harvested by The Collectors, a strange amphibian-esque multi-eyed alien race that is working for the Reapers, enemies from the first “Mass Effect.” Shepard must build a team while finding the technology to track down the Collectors and hopefully destroy them.
From the beginning of the game, the story is thick. Every conversation has multiple response options, each with a consequence. Over time, the decisions you make add up, making the character a paragon or renegade, otherwise known as good or evil. The depth of relationships you can build with your team and crew is unbelievable for a video game. You can even pursue a sexual relationship with a character. Near the end of the story, many prior decisions will greatly affect the course of the game, as the game has multiple endings.
The fighting mechanics of ME2 have been significantly improved, rivaling any of the top third-person shooters out there. Compared to the first Mass Effect, the game has 100 percent more action, the missions are longer and the fighting areas are more diverse. A cover system has been implemented, which makes the combat more realistic and the battles longer. The biotic and tech powers one can wield are also a fun asset to bring to a fight.
A player can tell his character to use throw, hurtling an enemy into the air like a clay pigeon at a skeet shooting range, or overload, which overwhelms the enemy’s shield capacity and causes it to explode.
The enemy artificial intelligence is also improved: they now move together and use their powers effectively, which makes for a more rewarding experience.
Getting better weapons and armor is much different in ME2 than the previous game. Now, there isn’t a plethora of weapons and armor upgrades to find all across the galaxy. Instead, you must find research projects that enhance or upgrade the few weapons and armor types available. The upgrades require different types of elements found by scanning the many planets in the galaxy.
And a word on the galaxy in ME2 –– It is gigantic. And you can explore it all, or at the very least, scan it all. You can’t visit every planet, but you can still retrieve minerals from them via probes.
ME2 has a few faults, but nothing game altering. The inability to visit planets that are not apart of the main missions takes away from the RPG element and sometimes leaves the game feeling a bit linear. Also, the upgrade system will leave some wanting more, although I didn’t mind it. And scanning planets for minerals can get tiresome, but there are ways to do it quicker, it just takes some practice. And finally, while the story, writing and voice acting are literally some of the best in the video game business, even borrowing the voice acting talents of Martin Sheen, the voice of Shepard is somewhat unfeeling, which takes away from some of the emotional scenes.
However, this game is a must-have. Even though it came out at the beginning of the year, I would bet a large sum of money that ME2 will be on most people’s list for a possible Game of the Year.