Mass Effect 2 Review
- Posted January 18th, 2011 at 16:59 EDT by Steven Williamson
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Mass Effect 2 is a stunning experience from start to finish, and with a third game due out later this year, there's never been a better time to make the transition to BioWare's sprawling sci-fi extravaganza.
- The high quality productions values. Simply put, this is one of the best looking games you'll ever play.
- The whole Mass Effect 2 universe, comprised of superb characters, interesting planets and strong script writing.
- The intense battles and missions. Plus, there are some great powers and weapons and issuing commands is a breeze.
- Scanning planets for minerals is a chore.
Some role-playing games are an endless grind, encouraging players to head out into a sandbox environment and slay beasts for three hours at a time. In return, you might — if you're lucky — reach the next level or get your hands on that elusive piece of armor you've been working toward. Extremely slow-paced and ridiculously in-depth, other RPGs are so statistical that players spend more time flicking through the flood of menus (fiddling around with various stats, fixing weapons and making potions) than actually "playing" the game. Indeed, while such games do strike a cord with certain types of players, it isn’t until an RPG manages to cement that fine balance between storytelling, inventory management, exploration and all-out action that it really strikes gold.
Mass Effect 2 is that type of RPG — accessible to those unfamiliar with the genre, yet deep enough for RPG enthusiasts. To top it all off, it boasts the kind of production values that wouldn’t look out of place in a multi-million dollar Spielberg movie. Quite simply, Mass Effect 2 is the complete videogame entertainment package. Furthermore, with the game's three downloadable add-ons — Overlord, Lair of the Shadow Broker and Kasumi — all available for free from launch day, there’s never been a better time to find out why so many websites dubbed Mass Effect 2 ‘Game Of The Year’ in 2010.
Though the original game only made an appearance on Xbox 360 and PC, it won’t matter if you don’t yet know anything about the Mass Effect story or its universe. BioWare has actually done the hard work for you, because Mass Effect 2 is a huge interactive encyclopaedia that gifts you with everything you need to know to understand the game’s extensive back-story. For this PS3 version, there’s also a stunningly produced comic book from Dark Horse Comics that re-caps on the major events from the original sci-fi classic, in addition to allowing players to make a handful of choices that impacts on the narrative in Mass Effect 2.
On top of this, you also have a wealth of information given to you by the interactions with many alien races across the galaxy. The more you interact with NPCs and probe them for information, the more the Mass Effect universe comes to life, and the more you get enveloped in its rich history. Pop into the menu at any time in the game and you can listen to monologues or read through scripts that tell you everything you need to know about particular planets, substances, alien weaponry and even the history of entire races. This deluge of information provides an entertaining and enjoyable backdrop to some of the epic events that you’re about to encounter.
The storyline in Mass Effect 2 follows Commander Shepherd, who is revived from the dead following an attack by an aggressive alien species called the Collectors. Now working for an organization called Cerberus — and under the wings of the mysterious “Illusive Man,” played by the brilliant Martin Sheen — Shepherd sets off on a galaxy-spanning mission to investigate Collector activity and get to the bottom of why human colonies have been vanishing across the Terminus Systems.
The character-driven narrative offers plenty of twists, turns and thrills. Not only is it backed up by some stunning character and level design – not to mention some great special effects — but it’s made all the more cinematic by the quality of the voice acting and the rousing dynamic soundtrack that picks up and slows down in pace alongside the action. Yes, there’s a heap of cut-scenes to get through, but the impressive character design, brilliant graphics and top-notch voice acting (further accentuated by some of the best lip-synching that we’ve seen in a video game to date) breathe an abundance of emotion and life into them that is easily on par with any modern Hollywood blockbuster. Furthermore, you’ll hardly ever have to just sit back and watch. You’re encouraged to get involved with conversations by having to choose from a number of options via a conversation wheel, taking either a Paragon (good) or Renegade (bad) approach. In addition, there are also other options that sit somewhere in between the good and bad angle that you can plump for, which ultimately change the course ... (continued on next page) ----