A decent third person shooter, but a mediocre RPG. Where's the story??? An honest review from a huge BioWare fan.

User Rating: 7.5 | Mass Effect 2 PC
Let me start by saying, once again, that BioWare has usually been one of my favorite developers. KoToR, BG2, ME1 etc were all some of my favorite games ever. In fact, ME1 was probably my favorite RPG of all time. The presentation of the story, characters and environment in ME1 astounded me completely.

I've been playing RPG's for 20 years now there isn't a studio out there that's energized my imagination as many times as BioWare has. Every once in awhile a game comes out where a scene, level, environment or revelation just blows you away. Moments like Aeris' death (FF7) , Tassadar destroying the Overmind (SC), or finding out about Revan (KoToR), are gaming moments I cherish because they're unfortunately so very rare. In a publishing environment where flashy graphics and instant gratification seem to be the focus, it's rare moments like the above that lift a gaming experience (for me at least) miles above the competition.

Mass Effect 1 did this more than any other game I've ever played. It was a game chock full of those special gaming moments. Chasing Saren on Ilos was probably my favorite level/scene/environment of any game ever. Fighting amongst Prothean ruins against the enemy that destroyed them was an emotionally charged experience unlike any I've ever encountered in a game. KNOWING that you were racing to stop the threat that the Protheans failed to, seeing their sad statues staring down on you and listening to that crazy eerie music had me up until 5am in the morning on a work night. The suspense was unreal.

This was what I was hoping for/expecting with ME2. I wanted an RPG experience.

I suppose I'll start with the good. The Mako is gone. Thank god. The combat is better. On its own, this game actually plays like a passable shooter. Your 'team' is more fleshed out and the characters you recruit have better back stories and side quests. The graphics are better, the game is less buggy and the dialogue excellent.

Now on to the bad. Character customization is pretty much none-existent. I don't even understand why there is a leveling system in this game. Regardless of what class you play, you're 'choice' of skills and talents will be the same every time, really because there are only 5-6 skills to choose from. I can get over this I suppose, because ultimately this is a shooter RPG.

The Mako was replaced with something I would argue is probably even worse. I don't think anyone liked exploring bland planets on a physics-defying dune buggy in the first ME, but that was replaced with having to spend probably hours running a scanning reticule over planets to find 'resources' needed to upgrade equipment required to complete the final mission. I don't think I've ever seen a more obvious (or despicable) time-filler in a game.

Finally, and let's get to what I bought the game for, the storyline of this game is totally uninspired. Most of the game is spent recruiting new team members and completing their side quests. That would be fine, I guess, if it wasn't for the fact that these recruiting missions and side quests had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the overall story. For most of the characters it doesn't even make sense WHY they're joining your team. It's LITERALLY like, "Hey! You're pretty tough. I need you on my team. Wanna go fight the Collectors!?"
They're each like, "Ummm...Sure!?"

Take away the unrelated character missions and the hours of resource gathering, and there's maybe 3-4 hours of actual story-related game here. I was actually loving the game until I got near the end and realized that there wasn't going to be anything else to it. I knew what was happening and what was going to happen the ENTIRE way through and the ending was just a big yawn for me.

Between Dragon Age and ME2 I'm incredibly disappointed with BioWare and their storytelling. Two garbage stories within months from my favorite gaming studio is no what I was hoping for.
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