I really liked the original game and have been eagerly awaiting the release of ME2 for quite some time. I just finished my first run through the other day and figured I should write up my review before getting wrapped up in something else. Anyways, here we go.
The story in Mass Effect 2 picks up a couple of months after the events of the first game. Commander Shepard and his crew are ordered to hunt down remaining Geth when they are attacked by a mysterious race called the Collectors. In a few blasts from their ship they destroy the Normandy, killing several of its crew, including Commander Shepard himself. All of this happening in the first few minutes of the game.
Shepard is revived two years later, having been put back together and brought back to life by the organization Cerberus, led by a mysterious person known only as the Illusive Man. He brings bask Shepard and tasks him with discovering the mystery behind the Collector threat and their link to the Reapers. Thus begins the commanders mission to rally together a strong team to complete this suicide mission.
The plot has its cliche moments and a few holes here and there, but for the most part it’s pretty solid and very engaging. Several new characters are introduced that make very welcome additions to the series and more of the galaxy is opened up, letting you explore interesting new cities and locations. If you choose to import a character from the original game you will see some of the choices you made have had an impact on the universe, but for the most part these are minor, resulting in a short conversation or an in-game E-mail. It really isn’t as interesting as most people thought it would be.
The gameplay mechanics have improved a lot since Mass Effect. The gunplay feels tighter and more like a third person shooter. It no longer has that disconnected feeling that existed in the first. Character abilities also seem improved, a lot of them actually being noticeably useful. The cover system, which is similar to Gears if War, doesn’t feel as good as it could, however. Getting from cover to cover can be difficult and accidentally sticking to cover when you don’t mean to can get annoying, but it doesn’t really happen so often.
With the game shifting more over to action elements it loses some of its RPG elements. Your inventory is essentially gone. You will no longer find tons of different weapons and armor lying about. There is actually only a handful of guns in the game, none of which gave visible stats which makes it difficult when trying to figure out which gun is superior. You can buy different pieces if armor to switch around how you look and and slight bonuses, but there aren’t different sets if armor to acquire, unless you count pre-order and collector edition content. Most people find these things to be positive, claiming the inventory system in the original game was horrible. I slightly agree, but why choose to streamline a feature down to non-existence instead of just fixing it and making it better?
Several people, including myself, will be glad to hear that traversing planets in the Mako is a thing if the past. However what replaces it isn’t any better. In order to find resources in the game, which are very important for upgrades, you have to scan planets. This involves dragging a slow-moving reticule around a planet until a graph spikes, indicating the presence of a needed mineral. The task quickly grows tedious and you’ll find yourself dreading the prospect when your resources run low.
The games visuals are pretty nice. Doesn’t seem like much improvement over the first, but everything is pleasing to look at and rarely are you caught off guard by a hideous character model. Being a Bioware game it features a large amount of voice work, which is quality as usual. Unfortunately the music doesn’t seem too different. Maybe its just me, but a lot of it sounds just Like the music in its predecessor. Not that its necessarily bad, but I get kind of sick of listening to a lot of it.
As my mission ended and the credits rolled I found myself satisfied. Mass Effect 2 had been a fun and exciting trip while it lasted, which was around 42 hours for me. I’d highly recommend it.
We give Mass Effect 2 a 4 out of 5.
ME2 vastly improves upon its predecessor in most areas, but is not without its flaws.
To view our scoring system please visit our reviews page.