Review | Mass Effect 2
Format: Xbox360/PC | Genre: RPG | Publisher: Electronic Arts | Developer: BioWare | Release date: 29/01/10 | RRP: £34.99 – £45.99
You know that thing where you’re looking forward to something, and you know it’s going to be great, but it turns out to be even better than you could have hoped? That’s Mass Effect 2. Where do I begin, though? A game as rich in diversity and content as this becomes a hard thing to pin down in terms of explaining why it’s so good, without the review descending into a boring list. I’ll try to avoid that.
I loved Mass Effect. I enjoyed every single second of it. It was pretty much what I’d always wanted out of a sci-fi roleplaying game. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but it really didn’t matter. As soon as I’d finished, it I immediately began looking forward to the second instalment. Now, just over two years later, it’s here. It’s actually here. And I’ve played it. And I’m a really bloody happy man.
In terms of the core mechanics, not much has changed. It’s been refined and streamlined. It’s been made better. Combat is improved – although, to be honest, I thought it was good enough the first time around. That said, when the action happens, it does pack more of a punch in terms of feedback and noise. Remember the big gun battle in the film Heat? It’s quite like that.
The various other changes – such as the resource and fuel management, the way uncharted worlds are explored and the inventory system (there isn’t one) – all get my seal of approval. “Tell us more!” you may be crying out. But I’m not going to. I’m on a mission to give out as little information as possible here, because spoiling this game would be criminal. I want you, dearest readers, to have the best possible experience with the incredible masterpiece that is Mass Effect 2.
STAYING IN CHARACTER
So, the basic stuff is brilliant, as expected. But what really raises Mass Effect 2 over its peers and then urinates on them from a great height is its extraordinary story and characters. If you thought the story in Mass Effect was exciting, then – to coin a phrase – you really ain’t seen nothing yet. It’s much darker in tone than before. The threat of the Reapers is still there, along with a more sinister and immediate threat to the galaxy. The core story is a simple one: assemble a team of the best and most dangerous the galaxy has to offer, and then go on what is essentially a suicide mission. It’s like The Dirty Dozen, only in space, but what makes this so special and ultimately turns the story’s simplicity into one of complexity and incredible depth is the array of wonderfully colourful and interesting characters. This is the most three-dimensional group of NPCs I’ve ever had the pleasure of encountering in a game, bar none.
What makes a person interesting if not his or her flaws? And flawed these people are, sometimes deeply so. This isn’t a group of clean-cut space heroes; this is a group of renegades, assassins, psychopaths, bounty hunters and worse. Even the nicest characters have the darkest of secrets. And this is a world in which others don’t need you, meaning you generally have to go through some kind of hell to get them on the team, and even then you’ll have to earn each team member’s loyalty.
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