Bioware continues their epic space saga with the recent release of Mass Effect 2 for the XBox 360 and PC.
In Mass Effect 2 the player fills the shoes of Commander Shepard who returns to stop another threat to the galaxy. A mysterious species of aliens known as The Collectors are kidnapping entire human colonies. Gameplay is a hybrid of an action-RPG and a third-person shooter. The player decides what class their Shepard will be, such as a Soldier class relying more on firepower and a Vanguard class relying more on biotic powers. The player can then decide which of these skills to focus more on when allocating skill points gained from completing objectives and eleminating enemies.
One of the best parts of the game is how much the combat system has changed since the first game. Some of the combat in the last game felt a bit clunky and unpolished, especially the cover system which was integral to surviving most firefights. The cover system in the new game is leaps and bounds above what it was in the previous title. It is still necessary to survive, but does not seem like a hindarence. Some of the elements last time around, such as the over heating of guns, was just annoying and took away from the overall fun of the game. This has been replaced by simply using a typical shooter’s ammo system where the ammo is dropped by defeated enemies.
The story and presentation of the game is another amazing quality. Graphically the game looks incredible, especially the facial features and emotions shown on the main characters. This is apparent on the alien faces who show the same amount of emotion the human characters do while still having the same effect on the player. The musical score adds a lot to how much the player gets drawn into the game, starting from the very beginning when players are introduced to all the changes the galaxy has gone through since the release of the first game. This reviewer found himself completely enthralled with the universe from the very beginning, even though it had been two years since he played the first game.
There are only a couple negative aspects to the game, and even those are minor. The first is the fact that Mass Effect has such an engaging and large universe that most new players to the series will not get the full story from starting with Mass Effect 2. While some of the major events of the first game are recapped the story of the last game is not fully fleshed out. This reviewer recommends new players finish the first game before moving on to the second. The only other negative part of the game is how tedious scanning planets for materials and elements can be. The average planet takes about five minutes to scan and collect all that is needed which may not seem very long, but this adds up as there are quite a few planets the player can scan. This is unfortunate as the materials the player gains from scanning the planets is necessary to upgrade the weapons, armor, and ship. The last two directly effect how events unfold in the last sections of the game.
Overall, Mass Effect 2 is an incredible game action-RPG, third-person shooter hybrid. Players will almost instantly get drawn into the story of both the entire universe and the stories of the individual characters. While some parts of the game get a bit tedious and it may not be great for new players of the series, these are both minor faults at worst. For anyone looking for a great game that will entertain for a while, this is a great choice.