Mass Effect 2

Review

posted 1/26/2010 by Tina Amini
other articles by Tina Amini
One Page Platforms: 360
Mass Effect 2 is like the second child of the BioWare family. Two years ago they released the first Mass Effect  and everyone was fairly impressed by it. BioWare was experimenting with this shooter-RPG hybrid, and incorporating it with the sci-fi and deep story that they are known. Given that it was their first iteration of the Mass Effect franchise, there were bound to be a few missing points on behalf of the inexperienced parents. That’s where a sequel comes into play as Bioware had time to analyze the missteps with the first game and improve upon them for the sequel. 

In Mass Effect 2, BioWare has given birth to a game with the core concepts of the first Mass Effect and refined them into pure gaming bliss. 

Commander Shepard will come back from the dead to kill you. Chuck Norris can’t even say that
Once again you play the role of Commander Shepard.  As being in the center of trouble seems to be your forte, you were bound to run into a wall at some point. After your ship gets attacked, you run your crew off into escape pods but sadly don’t make it out alive yourself. Thus, BioWare’s easy explanation as to why you remember nothing from the first game (should you be new to the Mass Effect franchise) emerges.


Fortunately, however, your reputation for success under more than risky situations has earned you a ticket back from the dead. Cerberus, a pro-human organization not necessarily known for being charming or having an amiable leader, takes an interest in you. The Illusive Man, the not-so amiable leader, creates the Lazarus project to have you brought back under the very specific instructions of retaining your personality and character. After two years, you’re abruptly awoken by yet another attack on a ship you’re on. Fighting your way through, you finally meet your maker so to speak, and he informs you of Cerberus’ investigation of the abduction of entire human colonies at the hands of an alien race known as the Collectors.

Before you can dive head first into taking the alien race on, you’ll have to build a formidable team. Your recruitments will take you across the galaxy to find the best and the toughest fighters to accompany you on what is thought to be a suicide mission. Things aren’t so simple, though, (are they ever really?) and your travels will take you on other investigations.

The gameplay itself is composed of three parts: the actual missions and gunfights, the side quests, and the wandering about the ship building relationships with your squad members. You split gameplay between missions and time on your ship. Being on your ship is where you get organized and interact with your shipmates. You can customize Shepard from one of 6 classes, either specializing in weaponry, biotics, or a combination of the two. You won’t see drastic changes to the classes available to you in Mass Effect 2, but there are a few additional biotic abilities that cause great havoc (I’ll be excited to see what they brew up for the already announced Mass Effect 3)


You look familiar…have you gotten some work done?
The very first thing I noticed when the opening cut scene began was how much better the cinematic direction is. Angle changes, a variety of zoom levels, and more action surrounding the content make the cinematography a lot more impressive than Mass Effect 1 cut scenes were. You’ll be flying in ships, walking and traversing areas, pacing about, and even slapping some faces during the interactive portions. Mass Effect 1 also had interactive cut scenes, but only in the form of dialogue. ME2 allows for selection of dialogue, but also the option to partake in Paragon or Renegade actions. These actions will build your reputation and skill in negotiation in either a reasonable manner or a violent manner. You can also skip through dialogue instead of being forced to listen through every line. Gone are the days you have to sit through the same dialogue sequence because you can’t beat a boss, and you better believe I’m happy to see that gone.

Good cinematic direction is complimented by enhanced graphics, and you can tell from characters’ facial features. I wouldn’t say it’s the best I’ve ever seen, but the meticulously concentrated on facial hairs and shining tears on people’s faces are clearly an improvement from ME1’s somewhat dull effects. Mass Effect 2 looks cooler, making for a more immersive experience. BioWare has even included details like retaining armory design in cut scenes.
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