If we’re talking about the looks of ME2, the user interface is also improved. It’s sleeker and more straightforward. Customizing characters in the RPG aspect of the game brings up a less convoluted screen, keeping the action and pace of the game intact. If you like customizing and building your own character but don’t necessarily enjoy the sometimes-laborious nature of RPGs, ME2 makes it simple for you. You have four basic qualities with two specializations to customize each ability for each character. You can spec your abilities after fully upgrading them towards either the option of increasing health or increasing damage. This change from the first game is appropriate because it keeps the shooter action fast paced while still giving gamers the opportunity for customization known in RPGs.
Even though BioWare has taken steps to simplify gameplay, ME2 gives you so much more direction and information than its predecessor from the HUD to the helpful loading screen messages to guidance while on missions. Your HUD is constantly updated with information from your codex, journal, items, etc, including a brief synopsis of what they entail. There are summaries upon completion of missions, with specific details including the immediate consequences of your actions as well as theoretical future consequences. You even get alerts of your progression toward leveling equipment as you pick up upgrades and the like.
My only complaint with the HUD is the inaccessibility of radar. You can only call upon your radar by clicking on the right or left stick, or bringing up one of your spin wheels (weapons or biotics). My radar is something I’m constantly checking, so I’m not sure why the decision was made to clear the screen of this information, especially when this upgraded radar is so useful with its reliable objective arrow. Clutter control is one thing, but keeping an eye out for enemies seems like one of the more important pieces of clutter that I don’t mind having around.
Accessing your galaxy map is also a lot more informative than it was in ME1. It’s easy to get lost in the galaxy map of ME1, whereas ME2 has indicators showing how much of each universe you’ve explored and where your next missions are located. That addition was much appreciated, as it made travel easier and quicker.
The new galaxy map also allows you to scan new planets to collect resources or find anomalies. Composites from planets are used for research material to upgrade your equipment, weapon, ship, and developing prototypes. It can, however, get pretty time consuming. Nonetheless, the benefits make it hard to skip out on them. Scanning planets will find you anomalies that set you on further side quests for more game time. As time consuming as it was, I was still addicted to exploring the many planets across the clusters, and it was exciting to find a hidden mission to accomplish.
City maps are also much more clear this time around. Pinpoint locations are laid out and labeled, and your current location icon shows where you are facing as opposed to the blob of a dot from ME1. Mass Effect 1 was like walking around with a paper map you’d just bought from a gas station. Now I’m rolling with my high-powered GPS system.
Navigating your ship in ME1 took some time to get used to everything and everyone’s placement. To help with this, the Normandy is equipped with the AI named EDI – and it was a smart decision to incorporate her. She keeps your missions on track, and brings extensive information that would otherwise be hard to explain their origins. The four levels of your ship are mapped out with information of where you can locate specific people or areas of interest.
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