Howdy, GameSpot! :D
Another game has been cleared from THE BACKLOG! It was a long time coming and I'm so glad to have played Mass Effect 2. Sad part is, I bought the game on launch day in 2010 from my EA-employee friend, but for some reason I never got around to playing the game until now. :(
For some backstory; I played Mass Effect 1 on X360 in 2007 and thought it was a good, not great, game. I remember the narrative being pretty good, the inventory system being a mess, and the combat being solid. There were definite areas to improve on, but overall, ME1 was a good start to a trilogy.
How did ME2 stack up? Do I think the game is worthy of all the praise & sales?
MASS EFFECT 2 + DLC REVIEW
Mass Effect 2 is the second, and darker, part of the Mass Effect trilogy. Very similar to Empire Strikes Back in the original Star Wars trilogy. Commander Shepard is now aware of the Reaper threat and has to form an elite team to save the Galaxy.
DISCLAIMER: This a 2011 review of a 2010 game. Meaning that my version of ME2 had all of the updates/patches that may have annoyed gamers at the launch of the game. Plus, I got to play the DLC right away.
The Shepard Chronicles: BioWare pitched Mass Effect as a trilogy where your decisions stay with you across each installment. I imported my save file from ME1 and it was cool to have my Shepard look the same, but it was even cooler to see how my decisions in ME1 helped shape the world of ME2. You really do feel like your decisions matter in the ME universe. I'm super excited to find out how this feature plays out in ME3.
Lemme Tell Ya Something: RPGs live & die by the strength of their narratives, and Bioware crafted an excellent story for ME2. Although it's evident ME2's story is just a set-up for ME3, the bulk of ME2's narrative is spent assembling yoursquad. Finding out whatmotivates them, and how their history shaped who they are gives you an attachment to each squadmate. I found this very entertaining and I was happy to keep them all alive. One of the better narratives in gaming today.
Blastin' Fools!: Make no mistake,Mass Effectis an Action RPG series, and ME2 has a ton of action. Bioware refined the combat system from ME1 and the result is one of the better Third Person Shooter mechanics in gaming. I played as a Vanguard, so I had a mix of biotic powers and the ability to use guns like the shotgun and assault rifle. I found the combat extremely satisfying.
End Game: The last hour, or two, of ME2 was so engrossing to me. I cheered out loud for most of it. I was glued to my seat and my knuckles were white from all the excitement. Extremely well done finale by Bioware. Excellent pay off for all the time invested earlier.
Lair of the Shadow Broker: An awesome DLC episode considered by Giantbomb as the #1 DLC of 2010. You help a former squadmate from ME1 (Liara) take down her nemesis, the Shadow Broker. A solid narrative topped off by an actual Boss fight. Simply a must-play for ME2 owners.
Speak Up!: The voice acting is top-notch in ME2, which is crucial considering how much talking is done in the game. While Shepard's voice actor is merely OK, characters like Mordin, Jack, Miranda and Thane come to life because of the voice acting.
New Game Plus: While I haven't used the it yet, this feature should be standard across all games of this narture. Being rewarded for multiple playthroughs is always a great idea.
Refined Engine: As is typically the case with sequels because developers have more experience with a console, the game engine in ME2 runs noticeably better than before. The result is a smoother experience with less load times.
Achievement Hunter: All of the Achievements/Trophies are straightforward as fairly easy to get. I like that. :)
Minerals, Shminerals...: In order to do any upgrades in ME2, you have scan planets and mine them for their resources.Resources thatare thenused for upgrades. So what happens is that you spend hours on a boring sidegame just to upgrade your squad. To be fair, Bioware released a patch to speed up this process. But I still probably spent over 3hrs doing this, even worse is that I had way more minerals than I needed. ugh....
This is my Rifle, There are many like it: It's a shame you can't customize your weapons in ME2. In fact, the weapon selection in ME2 is lacking, overall.
Empire Strikes Back Syndrome: Like I mentioned earlier, ME2 mainly just sets up for ME3. The main story arc of taking on the Reapers is barely advanced in ME2. In fact, it could be argued that Shepard is left in the same place (squad is ready to fight, Shepard has his own ship, there's a love interest, etc) he was at the end of ME1.
Mass Effect 2 is the Empire Strikes Back of the Mass Effect trilogy, which is a good thing. While the narrative goes ina different direction that what you might expect, assembling your squad to fight the Reapers (in ME3) is still a fantastic experience. As you recruit each squadmate, you discover who they are and why they want to help you, which creates attachment to each character. You'll want to keep them alive, as their loyalty to you greatly aides to your success in ME2.
Bioware refined their game engine and combat system to deliver a smoother, more action-heavy experience in ME2. The clunky inventory system from ME1 is gone, as are the notorious load times disguisedelevator rides. What you experience is amore streamlined game than before, where the emphasis is on combat and dialogue.
Mass Effect 2 is where we begin to see Bioware making good on their vision for the franchise. Your decisions carry weight from one game to the next. And I couldn't be any more excited to see what's in store fore Mass Effect 3.
SCORE: 9.5 / 10.0
TIME PLAYED: About 40hrs
ACHIEVEMENT DETAIL: 1240 / 1355
SO glad to have ME2 done! So glad! :D
Not only was ME2 a fantastic experience, but this means there's only one game left in THE BACKLOG! :o One game left...that being Mario Galaxy 1...from 2007. :lol:
But with Gears 3 coming out next week, I won't be playing Mario Galaxy just yet. I probably won't start playing it until late October, actually.
So until I blog again, these will be the games I'm playing:
- Gears of War 3
- NCAA Football 12 (X360)
- Outland (XBLA)
- Halo Reach
THANKS FOR READING MY BLOG! :D