Mass Effect 2 Reader Review
I was really looking forward to this game and with some justification. The reviews had all said it was superb and they were not wrong. The first game had its flaws but you forgave them because of the utterly compelling universe Bioware had created for you to role play in. Once again Bioware have created an experience that is cinematic, atmospheric and utterly absorbing.
The game is a lot more streamlined now and benefits from this. The RPG levelling and stat management is hidden away. There is no more tedious inventory management to distract you from the game. Weapon choices have been cut down to just a few different types with well managed and valuable upgrades. The Mako has been retired. I am one of the few people who actually quite liked the Mako and found that the vehicle sections added a bit of variety to the last experience. The problem last time was that the journey was rarely worthwhile and a lot of the loot or missions became repetitious. Yes, it didn't handle that well but I thought it had character. Hopefully the Hammerhead DLC will go some way to restoring that element of the experience whilst improving upon the last game.
Upgrades are purchased via the currency of precious metals that have to be extracted from the planets. This process of scanning planets and launching probes was novel for about 10 minutes and made excellent use of the rumble feature, but became rapidly tedious thereafter. I looked forward to upgrading my scanning ability but found that the scanner upgrade merely made the planet spin marginally faster. I think some sort of logic mini-game that allowed you to hone in on the resources quicker if you were successful might have been a bit better. Or perhaps another upgrade that allowed you to pin point where the resources are more efficiently, because I did come to resent having to spend so much time in that aspect of the game. The other two mini-games are quite good fun as well although the pair matching bypass sequences could have been made a bit more challenging!
The game is still saddled with long loading times.
The best aspect of the game is the character of Shepard. It is great fun taking on his role, assembling your team and going off to kick some butt. The writing and dialogue is generally excellent. I found I became very attached to my team and interestingly seeking to gain the squad members loyalty made me feel more loyal to them! The romance element was very well done with some suitably cringe-worthy but always fun flirtation scenes, a good selection of differing women to pursue and good pacing. It is a shame that the denouement to this though was so neutered. I am not advocating that the scene should be pornographic but a little more titillation wouldn't go amiss. A special nod to the art team is due for their creation of Miranda's arse, which was particularly well handled.
The achievement point allocation is sensible with little need to re-play through several times for the sake of it. I was pleased that visiting all the worlds was not rewarded. I ended up doing this because I have completionist tendencies and was enjoying the game so much. In retrospect I wish that I had just got on with the final mission once the loyalty quests had been completed, as the hidden missions were rather insubstantial and unsatisfying, took surprisingly long and diverted me from the narrative thread for long to enough to start to affect my levels of immertion in the game world.
Gamers are well accustomed to saving Humanity, but no game lets you achieve this goal with as much style and swagger as Mass Effect 2. A brilliant game and experience.
10 / 10