Saturday, 30 January 2010

Review | Mass Effect 2

Many would argue that the first Mass Effect is one of the best games the Xbox 360 has to offer. I would definitely consider it to be a good game, but technical issues such as long load times, clumsy inventory and clunky controls kept it from being a great one. Almost two years have passed since BioWare released the first game of the trilogy, and it’s obvious they’ve listened to what fans had to say.

Mass Effect 2 is particularly darker and more personal than the first Mass Effect; much like The Empire Strikes Back was to A New Hope. Without spoiling: Commander Shepard has to take on a suicide mission, with the fate of humanity resting on its success, but first he has to recruit the best and brightest from all over the galaxy and gain their loyalty—a very important theme in the game.

I’ve seldom been so attached to videogame characters before; each has something interesting to offer, and by the end of the game I wound up liking characters I was convinced I would hate. The dialogue is so incredibly well written and the voice cast is filled with big names including Martin Sheen, Tricia Helfer, and Seth Green. My personal favorite is Miranda, who’s voiced and modeled after Yvonne Strahovski from the TV series Chuck! Nice.

Gameplay has vastly improved. The controls have been redesigned to make combat feel smoother and more intuitive. If you’ve played Gears of War or Uncharted, you should feel right at home. Classes have also been touched on—everything is balanced out and you’ll have fun whether you want to destroy your enemies with heavy weapons as the Soldier class or toss them around with your biotic powers as an Adept.

A possible gripe to all you min-maxers out there is that the RPG elements have been somewhat simplified. Inventory has been completely removed and replaced with schematics that can be picked up and later used to upgrade your equipment, provided you have the materials.

Overall, Mass Effect 2 makes me feel good to be a gamer. It has fun, fast paced third person shooter gameplay, amazing visuals, and deep role playing elements. The Paragon/Renegade system alone makes the game worthy enough to be played through at least twice, and the game will last you 20 to 40 hours depending on how deeply you want to get into it.

One of my only gripes is the “grind” aspect to obtaining materials—the necessary ingredient to upgrade your ship and equipment. It’s a mundane process of playing a hot and cold mini-game scanning planets for resources. Load times can still be on the long side, too—but nowhere near as long as those damn elevator rides.

Final Verdict: If you haven’t played through Mass Effect, buy both games now. If you have, buy this game now. If you already have them both, why are you still reading this?

Anthony Papallo
Special Correspondent

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