Thursday, February 25

Mass Effect 2 review

    Finally just finished Mass Effect 2 yesterday. Actually I played both of them for the first time in the last ten days, but that's not important. The important thing is this game is awesome! It released several weeks ago for the Xbox 360 and the PC. I got the Xbox version of both. Mass Effect was a very well received game, but it wasn't without it's problems. With Mass Effect 2, Bioware listened to all the complaints, fixed all the problems in the first game, and improved on everything that worked as well. What we get is probably one of the best Xbox 360 games to date - also one of the best looking.

    Mass Effect (developed by Bioware) is a combination of third person shooting and an RPG. In the Mass Effect series you play as Commander Shepard; an Alliance military soldier. The Alliance is the primary human military force in the galaxy. You can choose whether Shepard is male or female, and you can change his/her appearance. You can choose a from six different classes of soldiers, all with different skills. You also hire a number of teammates to help you along the way, and you'll always have two of them backing you up.

    Throughout the games you have to make decisions. You can chose to be nice (Paragon), or you can chose to be a jerk (Renegade). Every decision you make effects the rest of the game, and I mean every decision. Not only that, but since Mass Effect 2 can load your save file from the first game (as long as you finished the game on the same system), every choice you made in the first game affects the second. If you don't load a save file from the first game, you start your character from scratch. This makes it feel like your game rather than just a game, and both games did this well. Both games have an epic story where you're trying to save the galaxy.

    But because I'm reviewing Mass Effect 2 here, I might as well start talking it. This game is awesome, in fact possibly one of the best games available for the system. The shooting gameplay isn't legendary by any means, but it's good enough to hold it's own. The AI is surprisingly smart for an RPG game, although they will occasionally make a dumb move. You also have a variety of weapons and powers to choose from (what weapons and powers you can use depends on the class you choose). You can also command your squad-mates to use their powers.

    This is a big game. The main storyline should take you at least 20 hours to complete, and there are tons of optional side-quests to complete too. These side-quests range from helping random people solve their problems to stopping mercenaries from killing colonies. In the first game, these side-quests often required exploring; people complained that there was too much exploring. Bioware listened, and they removed the exploring element for Mass Effect 2 altogether.

    In terms of the story, it's a direct sequel. Avoiding any possible spoilers, a new threat has arrived. Human colonies are disappearing at an alarming rate, and yet the Alliance is ignoring this. You have to gather a team of the most dangerous individuals in the galaxy in order to take down this threat. Every one of these characters has their own story, ranging from tragic to heroic. Every one of the characters feel real, and I ended up liking nearly all of them. Your mission is described as impossible, and it's actually possible to have everyone in your team, including yourself, die at the end of the game. It's also possible to have everyone survive. More than anything else, it depends on how well you prepare throughout the rest of the game. Many of the surviving characters from the first game make their return, but only a few will re-join your team.

    Overall, I very highly recommend this game. I'd recommend both of them, but Mass Effect 2 is definitely the better of the two. The gameplay is fun, the story is deep, the characters are deep, and it really feels like it's your story rather than a script you have to follow. This game is nothing short of a masterpiece, and I wish I had played them sooner. Oh well, late is better than never.

Two word review - Brilliantly Awesome!

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