Mass Effect 2 Reader Review
Mass effect 2 is such a complete and expertly polished game, that it makes me wonder if its predecessor was rushed out the door far too early. Whether itís the awkward combat, overwhelming amounts of dialogue, or even those texture loading problems, almost every aspect has been improved and expanded upon with great care and attention.
Your initial impression when you load the game up for the first time will be how brilliantly Bioware has managed to capture the cinematic experience, something that has become increasingly important for games in recent years. Commander Shepard is back and you are tasked with recruiting the best soldiers, scientists and assassins that the galaxy has to offer, in order to take on a suicide mission in an attempt to stop the mysterious disappearing of human colonies. The storyline and the way that itís told is probably the best that I have witnessed in a video game before. The characters you meet are one of the biggest reasons why it is so good. They are a lot more exciting and believable, and you can see how much thought has been put in to designing them. But itís not just the main story that works so well, each Person you recruit for your team, and some of the planets you explore, have their own side missions that are so interesting and unique from each other that I found myself eager to explore them further. You really get a breathtaking sensation of how truly deep and clever the universe is.
The dialogue wheel also makes its expected return and as usual you use the left stick to select a response when conversing with another character. One of my favourite additions to this part of the game are the dialogue interrupt sequences, this means that at certain moments when you are speaking to another character, you get a prompt on screen that allows you to perform a sudden action, and react immediately to whatever may be happening in that scene. These can either be good paragon deeds by pressing the left trigger or an evil renegade behaviour by pressing the right trigger. For example, i was talking to a krogan (a huge aggressive alien race) who was happy to tell me to my face why my race was so weak and unhonourable, however a Renegade option popped up on screen, much like a quick time event, and a swift head butt to krogans face was enough to change his mind. These made me feel a great deal more involved and in control during the dialogue, rather than at times when it can seem more like a traditional cut scene.
Every one of the choices you make in the game have many more consequences that are immediately apparent, and I found myself staring at the screen in the middle of tense scenes not knowing what do and being worried about what might happen when I eventually made a decision. Most RPGís you know exactly what to say in regards to being good or evil, and you usually make that choice at the start, and while that largely remains true here itís not as clear cut as that, and further makes you think about your choices.
The more RPG style elements to the game, such as levelling your character, collecting items and upgrading equipment are very different this time around. There are much fewer weapons in the game, and you must find and collect upgrades for these weapons (and other equipment such as your armour) while you are on missions or simply exploring planets. Alternatively you can purchase upgrades from stores scattered around the large and more populated worlds. However you cannot use these upgrades as soon as you have acquired them, you first have to take them back to your ship and research them in the lab. And you can only research these if you have enough resources or minerals. The way you collect resources is about as fun as someone forcing you to spend the rest of your life continuously watching the same episode of a bad TV show (and thatís being kind). You use your ship to travel to undiscovered planets and you use a radar to discover where the high levels of resources are, and then send a probe down to collect them. The problem is that planets are huge, and the radar is small and moves ridiculously slow. But itís not just that its time consuming, I also felt that it really caused a loss of momentum and took you away from how epic the rest of the game is. You can get an upgrade to make the scanner go faster, however I didnít come across this until I was 20 hours into the game.
The combat on the other hand has been so well improved that I canít help but feel it deserves its own game altogether. Controls are much more fluid and easier to get to grips with; you can now map two of your biotic or tech powers to the bumper buttons which avoids having to interrupt the gameplay so often by selecting them from the menu. You can also do the same for your two team mates, and map one of each of their powers to the D-Pad. Somehow though the weapon technology seems to have taken a step back since the first game, guns now require ammo whereas originally they just overheated if you fired continuously for too long. There is more than enough ammo placed around the levels or to pick up off dead bodies and I havenít run into a problem of being without any, so Iím not sure why the decision to make this change was made as it seems unnecessary.
The often criticised Cover system has been changed so that you now have to press the A button to go into cover. It works very similar to how Gears of War does (and what third person shooter doesnít these days) and as a result it has become a much more useful and required tool. However I did begin to feel a slight repetitiveness with the combat at times, but the new enemies and the first-rate level design that get thrown at you are good enough, and varied enough, that this feeling didnít last very long. There are even occasional places where there are some environmental effects you have to take into account. One planet I landed on had a rapidly ageing sun, and as result the intense heat meant it damaged my shields whenever I moved away from covered areas, meaning I had to be tactical about where I attacked the enemy from and where I directed my team.
Its wonderfully immersive, beautifully designed and its almost perfect. Itís the best action RPG ever made; there can be no doubt about that in my mind. And with so much of the year left and so many big titles still to be released, I feel sorry for them having to compete with what is one of the best games I have ever played.
10 / 10