Mass Effect 2 Review

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.

  • If I’d reviewed this in the first couple of hours I’d have given it 10/10. Everything seemed great. Loved seeing my Shepherd back in action (evil female version) and everything looked shinier and sharper than before. Combat slicker, and although I was initially knocked by no inventory I actually think the system worked well in the end.

    However I finished the game in 29 hours, and I don’t rush these things. I’m wondering what happened. I don’t think I missed anything of size. I did all the loyalty missions, traversed all the systems for side missions. But the game was structured such that you knew the end was nigh, and I was left wondering why it had come so quickly.

    I love the voice-acting, the cinematic direction of scenes, the character design, but the game felt a little short for me, and the story a little too light.

    So by the end, my opinion had shifted down a notch or two. Still extremely high calibre but not (quite) the classic I had hoped for.

  • I have the same problem with ME2 as I did with Dragon Age – I love the idea of a possible gear upgrade after evry kill. I think this points to a specific character trait since DA is a fine game. But the element of surprise missing means I am merely playing an extended FPS with elaborrate cutscenes.

  • I wish I didn’t read the first two paragraphs. Half the fun of these games is the story line!

    It’s almost as bad as someone telling you the score when your recorded the game the night before cuz you couldn’t watch it!

  • I liked the first Mass Effect a little more, the story in this game didn’t seem so engaging to me. It just felt like a bridge to the third game, honestly.

    There was no twist, and with all the hype this game got, you knew the climax of the story before you even played it. The ending to the game was not satisfying at all. The last mission was fun, but the ending just didn’t do anything for me.

    I didn’t like that the council was not involved in anything really. They were just like an easter egg, like most of the other characters from the first.

    The game is immensely fun, and I anticipate myself playing through it a few more times at least. Just story wise… it was like ‘meh’, just like an episode filler for a better one the next week in a tv show. I expect the third to be amazing.

  • @Spaz It’s not that big a deal. Most people knew all of that going in as it was revealed in several previews and dev videos.

    Like I said, it happens within the first few moments of the game. I didn’t spoil anything important.

  • I am still having fun playing the game, and one thing I really like is that every mission takes less than an hour to do. If it is something long then it is broken in to multiple parts.

    However I do feel like the game is over streamlined. Everything outside the action sections has been slimmed to the point of seeing bones. What passes for “hubs” don’t have the diversity that I felt ME1 or even Dragon Age had. No real need to look around. No feeling of just exploring.

    Still it is a lot of fun.

  • I’ve got a copy of Mass Effect 2 sitting on my desk ready to be installed on the weekend ๐Ÿ™‚ Looking forward to playing it even if it’s not drasatically different from the original. I love sci-fi RPGs and we see far too few of them these days.

    Also very happy that the mako driving areas aren’t this one ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I pretty much agree with everyone.
    ME 2 feels a lot like a bridge to 3, but it is still a fantastic game, and drove me to go back and play ME 1, so I can shape the story the way I want to now.

    ME 1 felt like an RPG with tacky shooter elements glued on.

    ME 2 feels like a shooter with some RPG elements glued on.

    Hopefully in 3 they will find a good medium.

    I do get the reason for the invantory/lack of armor and weapons.

    You are Shepard, the badassest bad ass in the galaxy. The ultimate war hero, backed by the richest black ops organization in the galaxy, wouldn’t be going around looking in crates for weapons and armor, he would already have it.

  • He didn’t give spoilers. Watch trailers, dev interviews, read about the game, and this is all there. You’ve been given the premise. Graev is always careful about spoilers. I don’t even play Mass Effect and I know this. It would be like me telling you that Star Wars is about a young man who is told he is going to be a Jedi and he teams up with odd companions to save the galaxy from the dark side. Not spoilers, but premise.

  • For people avoiding those “trailers, dev interviews, etc” hoping to avoid spoilers you ruined it for them. Knowing that the Normandy gets destroyed is a spoiler.

  • You would have thought people avoiding “trailers, dev interviews, etc” might also have avoided a review too? Plot and story play a big part in a game, and to simply say “The plot is good/bad” isn’t sufficient for the purposes of a review.

  • @John The people you mention who avoid those types of videos would most likely avoid reviews as well, because most people are aware that reviews can be FULL of spoilers. I even sauntered over to Gamespot and in their review they also mention the destruction of the Normandy.

    Face it, events that occur in the first few moments of the game can hardly be classified as spoilers. It is basic premise. I mean, what next? Citing movie trailers as major spoilers because they give away the best parts of a movie?

    I always do my best to avoid spoiling game storylines, but I’m not going to bother accomodating people who choose to bury their heads in the sand.

  • Cant say i agree with the review or score but maybe its becose its the 360 version and my version is the PC. The PC version from what i have seen looks a bit better with better controls. Im not sure i would have enjoyed ME2 as well as i have on the PC vs the 360. Personally i would like to see if anyone has the same opinon as me. Plus Mining seems like a bit 1. drop loos of score.

    Mining is a important thing that, maybe not “FUN” its something to keep game balance in play. Giving people a way to upgrade weapons, armor and abilitys without becoming over powered to soon and distroying everything in your path.

    PLUS mining is a bit different on the pc, using a mouse i can go over a planet in under a min and end up with a ton of minerals (rich only thigns worth mining) and tend to find some extras to… anyways thats my opnion

  • @Elipsa, I’ve played it on both, and the controls feel much more solid on the 360. The combat does, anyway.

    Generally a 3rd person shooter, with a cover system, is going to be better with a controller.

    See: GTA IV

  • @Mcface I played Gears of war on the 360 and gtIV on both pc and 360. Now i have a 360 controller on my pc as well and thats what i did is I used the 360 controll for driving but got out of the car and used the keyboard mouse combo. Shooting is much better iwth a mouse and keyboard on the PC version of GTIV.

    Now gears of war well i never found the shooting that tight but thats becose i dislike controller shooting even though the Gears of wars was the best i have played (hates halo) Never played gears on the 360.

    The controls for mouse and keyboard are very tight on the PC for ME2 and i used sniper rifel and took out most everythign simple. Covering and jumping over things was easy. So Really i cant see a controller making it better considering all the complanes i have heard about the “mining button killing me” coments that i dont have to deal with.

    So really Mcface i dont see your point at all

  • @Graev As i said i was just wondering if maybe you would have enjoyed it better on the PC and not giving it a lesser score. If i had to personally score it I would have given it a top score and if it was out last year i would have said it was the best game of that year that i have played. Considering im on my second playthrough now almost finished with the Hardcore mode (not looking forword to the one shot death of insanty but really wanting to play it still) I cant think of anything better to say

    I would even call it the best game of 2010 but i think most reviews will forget about it at the end of 2010 for whats “new and shiny” thats released.

    I only had one Disappointment with the game and that has more to do with EA and there “systems” then anything. Hopefully there DLC will be large, Priced well and worth buying

  • @Elipsa I doubt my score would change much if I played it on PC. I prefer console controls anyway and I thought they were great. Some people prefer a mouse and keyboard and some like a controller. Just personal preference.

  • well remember the two games have different interfaces and systems when it comes to combat. scanning planets is different and thats about it that i know of. Plus controls can sometime make or break a game. Maybe more difference then you think ~shrugs~ just a opinon

  • Waiting for my son to finish so I can play! Question…so is there no more landing on planets and getting out of the mako for some fighting? I actually enjoyed finding the different planets, cruising around in the mako, and then finding an ouitpost or two to explore/fight.

  • There is a Meko but its set for DLC. theres a spot in your ship and everything, When its released as DLC though not sure what your going to do with the thing…

    So as of no no theres no landing and driving around. You Scan from orbit to gain raw Metals and sometimes find distress calls where you land on thouse spots where you explore on foot.

    One good thing about this game is theres no re using of the same areas or pre generated little outposts. Every thing is unique and disgned differently

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