Review: Mass Effect 2February 28, 2010
Well I promised my initial thoughts on this quite a while ago, but given the amount of time I was dedicating to playing it, I thought I may as well wait until I finished it, and so I did, then started playing other things, and before I know it, nearly a month has passed – apologies! However, thankfully, in around 30 hours spread across 6 days I have once again saved the galaxy from certain annihilation. Go me!
Commander Shepard returns and in the beginning all is well – you and your crew are aboard the Normandy, happily floating around in space and then BAM! A big ass ship starts tearing through yours! You have to save Joker (well, who wouldn’t?!) and then, in a cut scene, you are hurled off into space and certain death. I’ll be honest, this left me a little baffled, I thought I’d messed up the mission already and hadn’t saved Joker quickly enough or something, but no, it was all part of the plan… Your body is recovered, your physical being restored, and you are able to head out and save the galaxy once more. There’s just one catch – you’ve got the evil self-serving Cerberus to thank for it…
Read on to see how, sometimes, working for the bad guy’s the right thing to do…
To summarise the story in brief, and hopefully without giving too much away, you first need to escape the Cerberus base (which is under attack) and then agree to work for Cerberus. At which point you will be asked to gather a team. There are some familiar faces amongst your squad, and others who are now working in various places that you will visit during your travels. The premise for your mission is that human colonies have been ‘disappearing’ from the Terminus systems, and you are tasked with finding out why, and then try to get them back. As with Mass Effect there are various side quests you can complete for credits or salvage materials, and some of them increase the loyalty of your squad which, in turn, helps to keep both them, and you, alive during missions. Ultimately you must find all the relevant upgrades and ‘bits’ needed to allow you to go through the Omega 4 relay and take on the Collectors (the bad guys) personally on their own turf.
So what works about it? Well, it’s a Mass Effect title from BioWare, so it’s off to a promising start! The game keeps pace at a level that suits you – if you want to take your time and explore planets looking for sidequests, or wander around the shops at the Citadel, you can. If you want to recruit your team straight away, strengthen them up and head straight for the Collectors with no messing about, you can. It’s your call either way. The use of different armour modifications and weapons upgrades has been simplified dramatically, and there’s no more ‘collecting so much stuff that you can’t possibly carry it all and need to throw a load away because you’re nowhere near a merchant to sell it’ element either. No looting from the dead in ME2. Some people will say this is restrictive, and at first it does feel a little bit like you’re more limited than in the previous title, but actually, once you get used to it, it’s a heck of a lot simpler and quicker to change your ammo type in battle. The character interactions are still entertaining, although there are fewer of them as you’re wandering around – which will no doubt once again please some and disappoint others. However I think we can all agree that getting rid of the Mako was a damn good plan – god I hated that thing!
And what doesn’t work? Well, not a lot to be honest… There are undoubtedly some things that are a little frustrating or disappointing – collecting elements for instance – you now have to scan the entire planet (very slowly) in order to gather the various elements, rather than simply click on a planet and get given an element in return. However, there is a clear reason for doing it – all of your upgrades cost a certain amount of a given element – no scanning means no upgrades. There are fewer planet based quests, or at least, there seem to be, which made the game seem very short in comparison to the first one. And I didn’t feel the same attachment to my team as I did in ME1, a minor point, but one that niggled at me nonetheless.
Overall, this is, as expected, a great game. Yes, there are some little niggly points, but I’m scraping the barrel in order to try and present something balanced… There were far more moments where I was jumping up, cheering, staring in awe and grabbing my head whilst screaming “Oh my God!” than moments where I was frustrated or disappointed. BioWare has succeeded in impressing once again, and ME2 is a fantastic, and a great way to spend a few hours of your life, so if by any chance you haven’t yet bought this, then what the hell are you waiting for?! Go. Buy. Play. Enjoy.