Review: Mass Effect 2
The first Mass Effect had a wonderful story, the kind that Bioware has been known to deliver with all their games. Sadly, that was the only thing really holding it together. A lot of bugs and design mistakes made it hard for people to make it to the end (the Mako was the bane of everyone's existence). Thankfully, Bioware listened to people's gripes with Mass Effect and delivered what has to be the best game experience since Uncharted 2 and may be one of my favorite games of all time in Mass Effect 2. Mass Effect 2 has an epic, albeit clichéd, story that pulls you in from the get go. The story is so well laid out that it seems like a big budget sci-fi space adventure. Nowhere did the story take a turn to a point of me wanting to skip parts. The dialogue choices as well as the voices were excellent. I felt the first Mass Effect had too many choices and lead to me being a little bored with all the dialogue trees I had to dig through. Character development was very engaging and was tied in so well with the story. It made you care about every single person on your ship.
The recruiting of teammates is handle well enough. You go to your galaxy map like you did in Mass Effect and select what solar system you want to travel to. Helpful info is highlighted on certain solar systems so you know if there are critical missions or teammates to acquire. What was added in Mass Effect 2 is that you can now complete “Loyalty” missions after recruiting someone. Completing a loyalty mission will reward you with unlocking that persons skill that was previously locked. Speaking of skills, the skills have been drastically reduced leaving people upset that the RPG-ness of the game has been reduced and playing second fiddle to the shooting aspect of the game. Although I miss the various skill trees you could level up in Mass Effect, I felt satisfied with the slimmed down version. They made the limited skills you have more effective and relevant to what class you are playing as.
Combat has changed for the better in most respects. Though I love the tighter controls and the feel of the new combat design, I miss the unlimited ammo in the first game. Replacing the overheating weapons with ammo clips kinda took me out of being in the future. Ammo was hardly a concern for the most part in the game as enemies drop ammo for you as well as containers housing ammo for your heavy weapons as well. The quick select menu for choosing what skills you want to use for anyone has been cleaned up as well and is easier to navigate. I never felt pulled out of the fight while selecting skills to use for each of my squad members. The HUD also looks better with a clear description of what the enemies health is as well as if they have any barriers or shields up. All of this made for fast paced, very intense fights.
Gone from Mass Effect 2 is the inventory system. In its place is an upgrade system. During your missions, you will find some upgrades for you and your teammates weapons or you can purchase them from vendors on certain planets. After finding the upgrades, you must research them back on your ship by using minerals that you mined from planets in the surrounding solar systems. No longer do you have to drive the horrible Mako to explore planets. Bioware has replaced that with mining using probes shot from your ship. Mining does get mind numbing to a point but is a welcomed change from driving the Mako.
From beginning to end, Mass Effect 2 is a perfect blend of combat, story, and character development to keep you on the edge of your seat until the credits roll. Everything you do is crucial in the game that it gives you sense of pride and ownership of the decisions you make throughout the course of the game. This is a must play game this year.