Mass Effect 2 (PC, PS3, XBOX 360)

With my new computer and copy of Mass Effect 3 still no where to be seen I continue my quest through the Mass Effect universe from start to finish. This week I find myself in the gooey middle of Shepard’s story to save the galaxy from the Reaper threat. One month after the devastating geth attack on the Citadel, the galactic community struggles to rebuild. Now the Council is forced to respond to evidence that the Reapers — enormous machines that eradicate all organic civilization every 50,000 years have returned. To quell the rumours, the Council has sent Commander Shepard and the Normandy to wipe out the last pockets of geth resistance. Officially, they blame the invasion on the geth and their leader, a rogue Spectre.
But for those who know the truth, the search for answers is just beginning…
Our story begins again aboard the Normandy, Commander Shepard is out looking for geth to kick in the teeth, but not before his ship is destroyed, Shepard is killed and his body ejected into space. Not the best way to kick start a game by killing off the lead character, but what the hell, I’ll go with it. Oh wait, it’s ok because the game is actually set 2 years later where you find yourself waking up on an operating table. It turns out you’ve been revived by a group called “Cerberus” (a group of nasty men and women who believe humanity are the master race and want to keep it that way, so basically the KKK on a galactic level). They want Shepard to gather up friends old and new and discover why human colonies have disappeared.
Gameplay has changed slightly in the new installant. Where the last game was an RPG with action elements, Mass Effect 2 is more of an Action game with RPG elements. It’s very much dumbed down compared to the original. For instants there is no where near as many skill traits to level up and the micro management of equipment is gone. Not that I miss the micro management but the scaling down of the skill traits makes Shepard seem that much more generic, like the rest of the armour clad space marine protagonists from every other game in existence. There was me thinking Shepard was different, *sigh*.
It’s not just the RPG elements that have had their corners cut, it seems when Cerberus decided to give Shepard a new ship, they refused to give him another buggy to scour planets with. I guess they were scared that Shepard was going to make fun of it again for it’s broken physics and the general ball ache it is to drive the dam thing. Normally something like that I would leave with neither a farewell or tip of the hat, but in this case removing the vehicle sections makes the game loose it’s epicness. Rather than explore a small section of terrain, you now send probes down to the planets surface to collect resources. Although boring it needs to be done if you want the best ending and weapon upgrades. Their may be more planets and systems to visit in Mass Effect 2 than the original, but you really don’t see the point of heading all the way over to the other end of the galaxy just to start probing planets you may have missed. Not only this but since Shepard’s move to Cerberus he has lost his use of the Alliance Military credit card, which Shepard must have used to pay for fuel in the last game. Cerberus, obviously has strict travel expenses rules (I guess even inter-galactic super corporations aren’t immune to the credit crunch).
With the loss of the vehicle sections and the mediocrity that is recourse probing, it means that the game-play is really only held up by that scourge of the over the shoulder action based epic which is cover based shooting. It wasn’t genre defining when Gears of War did it, so I don’t get why people are so obsessed by it. Anyway, back to the matter at hand before I tangent you all to death. The combat in Mass Effect 2 is alot easier than it’s counter part, I guess this is so Bioware can continue the feel of babies first Mass Effect, which is ironic since it’s the second instalment.
Much like everything Bioware has ever done the game is well written and presents itself well, and unlike a lot of modern games, comes out of the box with very few bugs, (Every time I mention bugs at release I have to mention my disgust for Fallout 3’s bug content so here it is) Unlike Fallout 3. Everything in Mass Effect 2 glistens to a shiny finish. It’s obvious alot of work has gone into making the game. Another move Bioware has made with Mass Effect 2 which I’ve not seen being done in a long time, is the ability to import a save from the original game into Mass Effect 2, in which the choices made in the first game can effect events of the second game. This is a very clever move by Bioware since it can force most fans of the series to own all 3 games if they want to live the whole experience. Although I can also see this being a reason for purchasing the PC or 360 version over the PS3, since the PS3 doesn’t own it’s own copy of Mass Effect, the loser.
Now for my final though, I don’t think I can decide which one of the 2 I prefer. It seems what Mass Effect got right, Mass Effect 2 got wrong and vice versa. Where as Mass Effect is more in-depth but high maintenance, Mass Effect 2 is faster paced and in your face but shallower than a toddlers paddling pool. So I guess overall I have to say they are both as good/bad as each other. Next week I will not be reviewing Mass Effect 3, even if I do eventually get my new computer I’ll still be away and not be able to play it. I might just take a couple of weeks off instead… Yeah, that seems like a good idea.
On a final note, this concludes my 20th blog review. YAY!!!

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