I’ve just finished Mass Effect 2 and the only word to describe this sequel from BioWare is epic! Never before have I felt such a connection to my NPCs as during the last mission against the Collectors – but let’s back up a bit so you know how I got there.
So once again you play as John or Jennifer Shepard and you now work for a company called Cerberus which still has humanity’s interests at heart but are frowned upon as terrorists by the Alliance. The Collectors are kidnapping humans across the galaxy and it’s up to you and your new recruits to stop them.
You’ll spend the majority of the game recruiting a large number of team-mates, all with different abilities and attitudes who you can then make loyal by doing more missions to help them out. They’ll also suggest improvements you can make to your ship, the Normandy, which may help you out later in the game.
Mass Effect was a belter of a game and this one’s even better and here’s way. First of all it’s twice as long but everything’s been refined too. Combat now feels more like you’re playing Gears of War thanks to the ability to quick-assign abilities to the d-pad and shoulder buttons and you can now sprint to cover and quick-change weapons as well. Weapons no longer overheat and now you simply eject heat clips to effectively reload your weapon. Your squad members can also fire off their biotic and tech powers without prompting too which helps matters in the heat battle.
When it comes to exploring planets in unexplored regions of space, gone are the roaming search missions in the Mako and instead you rotate the planets you find and fire probes into them to collect minerals to help you upgrade weapons and unlock new prototypes. Much less tedious but it can still feel like a job at times.
Overall, the game’s also just better balanced. The game doesn’t open up too much at the beginning which I know overwhelmed some people in the first game and of course you’ll build relationships with your crew and really care for them as you talk to them. And there is lots of talking, but if you love the Mass Effect universe and characters as much as I do, it all makes for a very interesting read and the animation and voice acting is superb to boot.
My other gripe about the game is the many loading screens which replace the elevators form the first game. Personally, I’d rather feel a bit more immersed in the game and stare at someone in a lift shaft instead of being ejected out of the experience with a nice vector-based graphic when I change location.
Still, Mass Effect 2 is without a doubt already contender for game of 2010. Nothing touches it in terms of character depth, environment richness and an overall feeling that the universe really is in peril and only you and your team can do something about it. Believe me when I say the climax of the game will give you sweaty palms. Mass Effect 2 gets an almost perfect 9 out of 10.
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