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Mass Effect 2 Review

August 12, 2010

Mass Effect 2, the last RPG from the vets over at Bioware continues the space odyssey of Commander Shepard and his crew.  This time around Shepard (after pulling a lazarous) must join up with the human pro group, Cerberus, in order to confront the threat of “The Collectors”.

Story wise the game takes place two years after the ending of the first, it starts with the Normandy being attacked by an unknown ship (revealed to be a collector’s ship) and Commander Shepard is killed saving his crew.  From here the story picks up with the leader of Cerberus, The Illusive man talking with a woman about Shepard.

Cerberus then ressurcts him/her (depending on the gender you choose) and this is where the player can choose to customize Sheppard’s appearance and pick his class.  From here Shepard is informed about attacks on colonies and is tasked to investigate.  From here the game opens up story wise as most story missions (involving recruiting new and old characters) can be tackled in any order.

The game does a good job of keeping the main story in focus however with forced interludes after a certain number of missions are completed, giving the player a sense of both an open world (err galaxy) and a strong narrative.  Like the first game, Mass Effect 2 has a morality meter between Paragon (Good) and Renegade (evil).

Many of the conversations and actions in game result in points one way or the other, and certain missions for an optimal outcome requires a high amount of morality one way or the other.  The story is quite enjoyable and a real highlight of the game, which is a good thing as recently RPG’s stories have suffered a bit.

Gameplay wise Mass Effect 2 is a hit and a miss. By no means is the gameplay bad, it’s a very solid third person shooter, however the RPG elements are all but naught.  The RPG system has be severely striped down to only a handful of skills per character, and only Shepard can buy and use new armor.  Being a big fan of RPGs I was a bit disapointed at just how simple the RPG elements were, boiled down to a handful of skills/skill levels and upgrading weapons.

My gripes with the RPG elements aside, the game as a whole is very fun to play.  Resource gathering, while streamlined is mundane and sometimes tedious but has a purpose, if only for the beginning of the game. After awhile you won’t even need to gather resources outside maybe Element Zero as that is rare because its unnecessary for any upgrades, eventually it just boils down to “I wanna 100% this sector”.  There are a few hidden missions found during gathering but they are few and far between and isn’t really a good incentive.

The presentation of the game is nearly flawless, while there were a few hick ups playing it on my PC (Like the eyes appearing as dark holes in the head) it didn’t detract from the game as a whole as the graphics were still impressive and it ran smoothly.  The audio work is equally well done with great voice actors, music and sound effects.

I really enjoyed Mass Effect 2, regardless of my disappoint me of the RPG system.  The story is great with fascinating characters and lore and the shooter gameplay works very well.  Those looking for a hardcore RPG will be disappointed but it still deserves a play by everyone and anyone who can.


Editor's Choice

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