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Mass Effect 2 is Out of This World

  • Mar 1, 2010
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In 2007 Mass Effect came out and changed the landscape of the RPG.  Perhaps the only really huge problem I had with the first Mass Effect... was that it was just too short.  The story could be completed really quickly, and I was disappointed that the game had to end.  Even more disappointing was having to wait so long for a sequel.  But it's totally worth it.  Mass Effect 2 outdoes the first game in just about everyway.  Improving on just about everything.  This is pretty strange, actually, considering that Mass Effect just didn't have that many flaws to begin with.  Mass Effect 2 is an incredible experience unlike any other you've ever had.  One that will be enhanced thanks to the very first Mass Effect.

Playing the first game is pretty important.  If you're one of those who is constantly asking, "Do I have to play the first one to understand the second?" the answer this time is that you don't necessarily HAVE to, but you probably should.  The reason for this is because of how the structure of the games are.  Mass Effect was set out to be a trilogy from the get go, and you can import your character from the first game and bring him (or her) over if you so choose.  This also means that the decisions you made in the first game play a part in the second.  With this in mind, starting from scratch in Mass Effect 2 is more likely to limit your enjoyment a great deal.  Likewise, you can be sure that when the third rolls around your decisions in the first and second game will be factored in as well.

Much like the first one, I wouldn't want to give too much of the story away.  So we'll just say that it's an epic experience in and of itself.  The first game was epic as it was, but the second takes things to a new level.  The writing is sharp and the voice acting is stellar.  The story really comes alive through the production values of the game.  It's astonishingly goregous in just about every way.  Though you may experience a bit of frame rate dips from time to time, they're not really a problem at all (or my 360 could be having problems, your choice).  As you might expect when you interact with people you'll be finding yourself carrying on conversations and making choices as the game shows you and the people you interact with exchanging dialog.  The voice acting is incredible and there's so much of it that it's a good thing that it is.  You'll find yourself in a lot of conversations and making a lot of choices as you pad through the game.  The choices you make are pretty important in the long run.  And in between missions you'll have chances to talk with your party members and learn more about them and become closer.  In short, if you find yourself uninterested in a character, Mass Effect 2 isn't going to drown you in character development and details if you don't want it to.  Yet it's worth digging into each character anyway.  There are few people who can do character development quite as well as Bioware, and it's the same thing here.  It's pretty cool stuff because you've got a pretty good cast of characters.

We could spend hours simply talking about Mass Effect 2's presentation alone.  It's just a gorgeous looking game all around.  The environments are expansive... the universe in and of itself just comes alive as you meet many difference races and travel across many different terrains.  Even when speaking to different characters their facial expressions just look gorgeous.  Moving around your ship shows this same thing.  Mass Effect 2 doesn't actually look that much better than the first Mass Effect... but it doesn't have to.  The first Mass Effect was by far one of the most gorgeous looking games ever made as it is.  All Mass Effect 2 has to do is emulate that look.  And it does.  You're stepping into another world each and every time you gear up your 360.

With that in mind, one has to wonder how the game plays.  When you're not conversing or traversing, Mass Effect 2 gives you a very distinct mission like setup.  It's a pretty open world in which you can choose different missions to partake in.  The story and overall narrative never falls into the background despite that there's quite a bit you can do in Mass Effect 2, including tons of side missions.  When going through these missions, Mass Effect 2 can start to feel less like an RPG and more like a third Person Shooter.  It's got a nice cover system thrown in there for good measure, and you'll have a lot of weapons at your disposal, all of which you'll find yourself using at one point or another.  The enemies you encounter are unique in that you can't plow through using the same gun on each and every enemy you see.  You CAN if you want to, but it's just not going to be very effective.  This forces you to approach different enemies in different ways.  The action within combat, however, is more intense than in the first game.  Although much of that comes from the improvements made to the game.  Much of it just flows better in part because Mass Effect 2 really does take on the role of a third person shooter.  Rather than relying on healing items you'll find that the game includes an auto healing system.  Also, rather than taking the RPG like statistics into play when firing.  It's all based on how well you can aim and shoot.  There's also actual ammo instead of the old overheating type stuff.  Not to mention there are also more weapon types to procure.  There's just more added to the game as a whole.  The changes in combat make the experience just all around better.  All these things change the experience of Mass Effect from being an RPG to being more of a shooter.  That doesn't mean the RPG elements take a back seat, mind you

It can be a little annoying to have to switch guns constantly for taking on different enemies, but it's something that should really be second nature for a game like this.  It's fun and intense, but it never becomes repetitive because Mass Effect 2 just has so much for you to do (depending on how you play you're more likely to spend more time conversing with different characters at times).  It's pretty cool stuff.  The game rarely, if ever, slows down in the enjoyment.  If you're not wrapped up in combat, you'll be wrapped up in story. 

The MAKO has also been taken out of the game as a whole and instead you'll have to scan for resources from your ship.  It sounds boring, and some of it is, but you'll actually find yourself doing this a lot.  And I do mean a lot.  

There is only one real problem with Mass Effect 2 and that's the load times.  If you choose not to install it in your 360, then the load times might become something of a problem.  They're pretty long, but it's a minor complaint in the long run.  You can always install it if they get to you.  The other problem is, much like the first one, the game just isn't that long.  It's a small price to pay, however, given that you can alter things using the first and second games to do so just to experience it in a different way.

Mass Effect 2 isn't just a video game.  It's an experience.  One that is presented incredibly well, and one that is presented in such a way you may find yourself wanting to experience it again and again.  It's even enough to make you want to play the first again, making different choices just to see how they pan out in the second game.  The idea of importing a character is handled so well that hopefully more sequels and games which insist on bringing back characters will do the same thing when they get the chance.  If you're an RPG, third person shooter enthusiast and you own a 360 or a capable gaming PC you need to own this game.

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March 01, 2010
I'm here! I'm here! Hollee...such an in-depth breakdown of the game. Your review sealed just made me salivate all over my keyboard! "..isn't a video game, it's an experience." Shit. Last time I became really, really engrossed in a game was Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill. Ok, I am sold! Thank you for the awe-tastic review!!
March 01, 2010
I see you have another full-length review about the internet, I'll be back to read that one tomorrow. I'd like to focus and read that book LOL!
March 01, 2010
Yeah, that write up is pretty epic in length.  I just wanted to get something up before I go on my vacation.  I have other write ups that will probably be ready, but I'm not sure i'll get them all up before I go.  But part of my trip I MIGHT have internet access.
March 01, 2010
Hopefully you do get internet access...this site would be dull without your presence for more than a week. I know what you mean, I am so behind on my schedule. Oh, I'll e-mail you about something tomorrow...
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About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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About this video game


Mass Effect 2 is the sequel to BioWare's hit space-based role-playing game (RPG), Mass Effect. A single player adventure, Mass Effect 2 allows players to continue the adventures of the fully customizable series hero Commander Shepard, as you take on a whole new adventure and a new cast of supporting characters. Additional new features include the ability to import game save files from the original Mass Effect game to continue the adventure in an unbroken fashion, a new damage system, a new, more flexible dialogue game mechanic and more. 

Mass Effect 2 game logo Commander Shepard ambushing a mech in Mass Effect 2

The return of Commander Shepard.
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New characters from Mass Effect 2
A new cast of characters.
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The Turian Garrus Vakarian from Mass Effect 2
Along with familiar faces from the past.
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Mass Effect 2's new damage system illustrated as an enemy continues to pursue Shepard even with its legs are blown off
New damage and dialogue systems.
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Two years after Commander Shepard repelled invading Reapers bent on the destruction of organic life, a mysterious new enemy has emerged. On the fringes of known space, something is silently abducting entire human colonies. Now Shepard must work with Cerberus, a ruthless organization devoted to human survival at any cost, to stop the most terrifying threat mankind has ever faced. To even attempt this perilous mission, Shepard must assemble the galaxy’s most elite team and command the most powerful ship ever built. Even then, they say it would be suicide. Commander Shepard intends to prove them wrong.

An space-based action RPG like its predecessor, gameplay in Mass Effect 2 revolves around the player's particular ...

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Number of Players: Single-player
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Bioware
Console: Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: January 26, 2010
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