Every once in awhile, a very special game comes along and really captivates you. For me, Mass Effect 2 is one of those games. I have put more time into it than any other game except for Skyrim, which deserves a special place all by itself. With an estimated 260 or more hours in the game, four play-throughs, an numerous romances, there is something very amazing with this game. It’s also one of the few games that I have shed tears for (in a good way). A few weeks ago, I finished my last play-through of the game. It’s time to move on. But I want to share with you all how amazing Mass Effect 2 is to me. Sure, it’s far from perfect, but it is very special. Though this is a bit belated, here is my Mass Effect 2 review:
Mass Effect 2 is a third-person, action RPG developed by BioWare and published by EA in late January 2010. The game uses the Unreal Engine 3 and displayed what a game could do in the middle of the last-gen cycle’s heyday. Although it is somewhat overshadowed by the disaster that was Mass Effect 3, it stands alone as an amazing game.
Warning: If you haven’t had the chance to play this game, please do. This review will contain some spoilers in the story section.
There are not many games that open with a bang like Mass Effect 2. I don’t know of many that would kill the main character within the first scene. But ME2 did, and it was awesome. The pacing and intensity of the main story continues strongly from there as the player learns that Shepard has been “redone” by the questionable Cerberus group and has been asked to join them to stop the Collectors, an alien race that is harvesting human colonies. After some digging, Shepard and his team eventually find out that the Reapers are behind this evil scheme. The game is a wild ride, complete with old faces from the original game and some new but very memorable ones as well.
As one of the few games to actually get a setting in space done right, ME2 has an amazingly rich setting, complete with a detailed set of back-story or “Codex.” Although the game is Science fiction, the explanation of everything from the Mass Effect fields, to the relays, to the use of biotics seem to be plausible enough to seem like it could really happen. The game really is Sci-fi at its best. With an interesting universe filled with cool aliens and beautiful, yet dangerous places, Mass Effect 2 really is the complete package.
The feel of the game is also incredibly epic, as it has one of the more memorable hero characters in video game history. Commander Shepard, even when played as a badass instead of a paragon, embodies everything that a hero should be: intelligent, charismatic, skilled, and even good-looking. Moreover, he (or she) is an incredible leader who demands the very best from his team. It makes for an amazing game. I still remember the first time that I beat it; I may have shed a few tears because I had fallen in love with all of the characters. Unfortunately, the gaming industry doesn’t make many games like Mass Effect 2 anymore.
Besides having an amazing story, Mass Effect 2 is a blast to play. Though it seems like a standard duck and cover, third-person shooter, it really is a full blown, action RPG. The missions are fun, including the side-missions. Sure, the planet-mining is probably the game’s greatest downfall, but it isn’t too annoying overall. The make-up of a player’s team also can greatly affect the game play. By balancing, biotics, soldiers, engineers, and the big “heavy-hitters” with the types of opponents (i.e. geth, mercs, Collectors), the game can feel different with nearly every mission.
ME2 is not a typical open-world RPG because that would be extremely hard to do with space ships. However, the game does give the player free roam of the galaxy as well as mission selection, making the game still feel expansive. There are a few missions that a player must do at certain times, but for the most part, the game has a go anywhere kind of feel to it.
One of the great gaming elements of ME2 is the fact that the player can change the outcome of the story based on the choices that he or she makes in the game. The ability to make decisions that will have affects throughout several games is one of the best parts of the game. Also, players have the option to play the character of Shepard however they’d like. With dialogue options that range from good, to neutral, to badass, each of the game does not have to be the same. Don’t even get me started on the romance options. Like any typical BioWare game, I have played through a couple of times just to do a different romance option. Why not, right?
Even though the graphics for Mass Effect 2 are starting to look a tad bit dated in comparison to what is out for this current generation of consoles, for the time, they were pretty amazing. The cut-scenes were sharp, and the actual game play looked great for the time. It is definitely a game that one can go back and continue playing on a last-gen console without feeling like the graphics are eye-straining, especially as TVs get better and better.
This is a category that I used to not have, but I think it is becoming more and more important as the story and dialogue of games become more important. I adore the voice actors in this game, and it really is an all-star cast for the game. Look at some of the celebrities who helped with the voice work of this game:
Adam Baldwin as Ka’Reegar
Claudia Black as Admiral Xen
Seth Green as Jeff “Joker” Moreau
Tricia Helfer as EDI
Michael Hogan as Captain Bailey
Carrie-Ann Moss as Aria T’Loak
Martin Sheen as the Illusive Man
Lance Henrikesen as Admiral Hackett
The list goes on and on.
I have special admiration for Tricia Helfer, who did the voice of EDI. Unlike some other robotic characters in a game that starts with a D and ends in a estiny, she gives off the perfect performance as an AI with a sarcastic and saucy attitude. It is one of the more memorable performances in the game.
Mass Effect 2 is a very special game for me. It is an amazing combination of great story and good game play. Yes, it has its flaws, but it still remains an epic game.