Mass Effect 2

by Logan

January 26, 2010

Arguably one of the more anticipated sequels of this current generation, Mass Effect 2 seeked to not only improve upon it's predecessor, but reinvent it. In a truly monumental effort of listening community feedback, BioWare managed to create a game that unleashes endless possibilities for the final chapter in the saga.

The original Mass Effect was accomplished on many levels. It told a great story that was a fitting beginning to a proposed trilogy, it created an extremely interesting world full of enough backstory and other lore to keep you busy for days, and it offered a lot of interesting possibilites to expand upon traditional RPG gameplay. However, the execution of all these said things were a little lacking in all departments. There were graphical issues, a nightmarish inventory, and the game was just a little unpolished overall. BioWare's Ray Muzyka said it best when he described it as "a flawed masterpice." The game didn't really do much of anything wrong per se, but it didn't live up to its potential in a lot of areas.

Well, that was certainly rectified in the sequel. Nearly everything you could complain about has been totally scrapped in favor for a more streamlined approach. Gone is Mass Effect 1's gameplay of hold down the trigger until the enemy dies, and in is a fast paced, adrenaline-packed third person shooter. While still managing to hold on to some of the RPG elements, the game feels more akin to Gears of War than its predecessor. This turns out to be a welcome change as the game shines in its combat. Encounters are fast and brutal, and give you a sense of urgency the first game just didn't have. It also adds in great possiblities as the tech and biotic powers are totally revamped, becoming a lot more accessible and useful in normal encounters. Your squad AI also got a much needed improvement, although they still make some mistakes. Bottom line though, BioWare made some risks by abandoning the first games RPG heavy shooting, but they certainly paid off. Mass Effect 2 is simply a joy to play, even after multiple playthroughs.

Mass Effect 2 seems a bit conflicted in the narrative side of things. On one hand, the development of the characters and their place in the story is simply sublime. However, the story itself leads a little bit to be desired, and seems kind of anti-climatic considering the revelations and build up of the first game. The story revolves around a race known as The Collectors abducting human colonies. It's up to you to recruit a rag-tag group of heroes and miscreants to enter into a suicide mission to destroy the collectors and stop said abductions. This premise, accompanied with the revamped gameplay, is where Mass Effect 2 really starts to click. You spend most of the game recruiting and strengthening your squad all while this impending doom looms over your head. This is pedestrian enough, but as the game builds up to the climatic final level, the weight of everything begins to appear. The consequences of your previous and current decisions during the final level are beautifully done. You hang on every moment knowing that not only can the squad you worked so hard to assemble die, but so can the main character that you've sculpted for the past two games. It's an unmatched experience, and will no doubt get your adrenaline pumping.

On the flipside, ME2 has some rather boring minigames and some minor technical issues still exist. Also, the RPG elements of the first game have pretty much been abolished, so if you're looking for a total RPG experience, you won't find one. However, these are the only complaints I can level about this game. Everything about it is as polished as can be. The characters, the writing, the gameplay, it's all superb. I talked about how much I loved the ending and climax of Mass Effect 1, but I think ME2 does an even better job and leaves you wanting more. Bring on Mass Effect 3!