When 2007 brought gamers Mass Effect, many were in awe with Bioware's space-age RPG saga that
was set to make big splashes around the gaming industries. With Commander Shepard defeating Saren and the Geth in the first entry, the second entry has the Commander facing his toughest enemy yet, while also allying with a known enemy from the first. With this second installment released and played through, how does it hold up on its predecessor?
When you first start up the game, you are treated to one of the coolest and most surprising beginnings
to a game I've ever played, when you see outside, you'll know what I mean. When the Normandy's demise is sentenced, you are introduced to Bioware's always-great character customization. This gives you thousands of variations of your male or female Shepard, which also includes a code on the bottom part of the screen. This is used to where if you have a really good make of your character, you can save it to allow your friends see what you made and see what they made as well. After making your character, you're given the lowdown of what is happening: You've been dead for two years; Cerberus, a pro-human organization that didn't like you in Mass Effect
, has resurrected your dead self to help save humanity. I won't delve too into it since it's a good plot to follow, and not to be told.
Now I used to play the Hell out of Mass Effect, and I loved the RPG elements and the deep
customization of skills your character could use. But Mass Effect 2
conducted a big change in how the game plays as a whole. Instead of having that strategic feel that characterized the game, it now has a very Gears of War
feel to it, basing most of its tactics on cover-shooting instead of using your biotics and tech skills to eliminate enemies. Mass Effect 2
now supports ammo for your weapons instead of the over-heating energy clips, lowers the cooldown on your powers to mere seconds, and lowered a lot of the skills to instead of having 10-12, you only need to level up 4 times to receive full power. I was personally sad for the dumbed-down RPG elements and sticking more towards the shooter elements, but I can't argue with its effectiveness and how it has become very addictive to use the GoW
shooting elements. It just feels like they catered towards it since it was a more modern feel for the game for the consoles, instead of working on the original format. Nevertheless, it's a fun change to the formula and for what its worth, it works damn well.
What surprised me the most is how well the graphics are, the amount of detail on the characters is
ridiculous. The venues are very detailed and the set pieces look fantastic. Some of the character models were actually the voice actor themselves, which worked well for the characters. Mass Effect 2
boasts almost 100 voice-actors, and each one does a fantastic job in creating a believe-ness of each character. A huge part of this is shown by the different Paragon and Renegade choices. Each NPC has that feel of if they got insulted or complimented, and it really helps with immersion of each world that these people inhabit. Of the worlds that these people inhabit, Mass Effect 2
has completely switched up their use of space travel. Instead of just flying around and landing on remote planets finding [useless
] material, you have to fly to the different clusters using Fuel [ala money sink
], and probe planets for some very useful minerals [ala more money sinking
]. These minerals help you upgrade anything from biotics to weapons to the Normandy itself [THIS IS IMPORTANT PEOPLE
]. This is a big step up from roaming around aimlessly in the Mako, but after a couple hours of probing around, you'll find yourself tired of this style of mineral collecting. But it isn't too bad if you pop on your favorite tunes and grind it out, because you'll need those upgrades in Mass Effect 2
, so sooner or later, you will have to probe planets, a lot.
With the dumbing down of the RPG Elements, Mass Effect 2 feels more encircled around around
Shepard more than anyone else. To make sure the game has all its characters have their 15 minutes of playtime, all your teammates will have Loyalty mission you can choose to do. These loyalty missions give backstory on the character, and will get them to enjoy your presence more. Completing these missions will give the character a different outfit since ME2
doesn't allow the player to customize the teammates' armor like in the first installment. Along with this small customization of teammates, there isn't much customization of armor for your character or your character's weapons. Most weapons only have around 2-3 variations, each much better than the other one, and don't require much thinking to use the more recent one. The armor variations maybe reach around 10 different items found throughout the entire game, most give small buffs in HP or damage, but nonetheless, it feels like they completely bypassed this part of the game and feels very lacking.
Also, the game doesn't feel as long as the first Mass Effect. Running through the game, and hitting all
the side missions will net you around 30 hours, which in turns feels a bit lacking knowing the only real quests you have are the main missions and the loyalty missions, plus some anomaly missions you can find in the middle of space. With the first Mass Effect
feeling like you never ran out of side-missions and gave you time to level yourself up to MAX level, Mass Effect 2
feels shorter to compensate for a smaller level cap since the dumbing down left your character less concerned about what it gets but more of when it gets.
Mass Effect 2 is a great installment to what will become one of the better Trilogy's of the current-
generation, but I feel the game as a whole was dubbed to more of the FPS crowd than the RPG crowd. With the cover-shooting, ammo needing, and overall feel of the game feels nothing like the game people fell in love with in 2007. Bioware gives off the vibe of it didn't feel like it felt comfortable with how the first one went, and differentiated the game with a genre that most people can relate to, thus making the game less original, and more like one of the masses of the current generation of cover-shooter games. Nonetheless, Mass Effect 2
is an enjoyable game that does boast some amazing progresses in the Trilogy, but the fact they had to drop to worn out tactics does not bode well for the RPG game I fell in love with a couple years ago.
- + Best Graphics on the 360 to Date
- + Top Notch Voice Acting
- + Crazy Immersion
- + Straight Fun
- +/- Mineral Grindin'
- +/- RPG to Cover-Shooter
- - Dumbed Down Skill Trees
- - Lack of Customization
- - Doesn't feel like Mass Effect