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"[Game] Mass Effect 2"

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This thread has been linked to the game 'Mass Effect 2'.
Sat 13/03/10 at 08:47
Regular
Posts: 5,630
It was a surprise to me to stumble across this site online the other day. As a regular visitor and contributor to Special Reserve, I thought the site had ended a few years ago and so I left, leaving my oh-so creative nickname behind. But now I'm back from the dead with a brand new review. Not that I’d compare myself to an intergalactic space hero who’s saved the universe on multiple occasions, but it’s a situation John Shepard also finds himself in at the beginning of Mass Effect 2, the now-compulsory ‘dark second act’ of Bioware’s epic science fiction trilogy (just the coming back from the dead bit, there aren't any discarded logins or uncreative names in Mass Effect 2...er, yeah).

Mass Effect 2 has been reviewed many times and has scored very highly, deservedly so. So rather than go down the 'graphics, sound, gameplay' reviewing route in detail (cliff notes: it looks, sounds and plays amazing), I thought I'd touch upon some of the other features of the game that jumped out to me from the many hours I've spent exploring the galaxy. It blasts out of the gate with a huge action sequence, with the Normandy, the space vessel from the first game, being destroyed and Shepard floating out into space. After a superb little sequence that evokes the creation of Darth Vader where we see Shepard's body being put back together, the surprising early death actually acts as a 'reset' of sorts, allowing new gamers to the franchise to create 'their' Shepard, or indeed a change of appearance for an imported character (more on that later). The following sequence is a nice little introduction to the enhanced cover weapon management system that's new for ME2, and re-educates players from the previous game on the new inventory layout.

It baffles me why more games haven't introduced this import save utility, especially as many games now spawn franchises. For all the next generation talk of 'player choice' for the most part you are always pretty much following a predetermined outcome. Your controlling your character in a physical sense, sure, but are you controlling him? If you have played ME you feel the weight of your decisions there come to bear this time, and its an unusual (but good) feeling. Characters may not be alive or may react different to you. You actually feel regret or joy that you handled things a certain way in ME1, and knowing this weighs on you when you make decisions in this game that you just *know* could come back to haunt you in Mass Effect 3. Its an aspect that vastly enhances the playing experience and really makes you ponder some of the hard decisions you will face in this game, knowing full well that it will have consequences. This is especially rewarding because story-wise, the game is top notch. There is a welcome focus on character development, a wealth of backstory and information on everything, and a hugely compelling narrative with some hefty twists and turns thrown in there too for good measure.

The exploration aspect of the game has been changed somewhat from ME1. Gone is Mako, the space buggy you had to drive to travserse mountainous terrain to access side quests, replaced with a new probe system, which to be honest is probably less interesting. From this you can acquire raw materials (that can be used to make upgrades which aid in your quest so that's an incentive), or on occasion an 'anomaly' is discovered that leads to a small side quest. Right off the bat the mission design of these side quests is a huge improvement. They are more varied and not blighted by using the same layout as pretty much every side quest building in ME1 (who knew the entire galaxy used the same builders?) but quite short and the whole thing misses the tangible sense of exploration you get from investigating hostile lands. Here's hoping they perhaps bring that back a bit for ME3.

Bioware have really blurred the line between 'shooter' and RPG here with a lot of combat sequences. The combat gameplay dynamic is not dissimilar to Gears of War with the heavy emphasis on cover (you will not last long going in gung-ho). Helpfully, there are a lot of stacked crates around! The weapon choice is split between pistol, assault rifle, sniper, shotgun and heavy weapon, and there is a tactical element to weapon selection which separates the combat from the 'one-gun-fits-all' approach to ME1. Also discarded is the overheating gimmick, replaced with a more traditional ammo based system. Again, much like the exploration change from the Mako to the probes, in my opinion whether this has improved the experience is debatable. Each has their strength and weakness and it would be nice to see a mixture of the two in ME3.

You heard the word 'epic' associated with Mass Effect 2, and its well deserved association. Spanning an entire galaxy, a whole host of fascinating characters, a rich storyline that you yourself shape, and a rewarding combat and gameplay dynamic, Bioware have crafted an amazing entertainment experience. Possible Game of the Year even in January? There's a lot of cracking titles coming out later this year but with Mass Effect 2 they just might have pulled it off. Highly, highly recommended.
Tue 30/03/10 at 21:58
Regular
Posts: 18
At first I thought, 'oh this is fun!' but after the first 3 planets I couldn't believe that was it/ It really did take away the fun of exploring random strange planets, and towards the end I was scanning the planets dying to hear the words 'anomoly detected' which finally meant some action!

Did you probe Uranus? That was quite an amusing easter egg.
Tue 30/03/10 at 15:47
Regular
"Devil in disguise"
Posts: 3,151
Difficult to say anything positive about the mineral mining isnt it? Seemed more like an act of desparation to keep some of the RPG elements.
Tue 30/03/10 at 11:31
Regular
Posts: 5,630
What did you two think of the probes and researching the minerals for upgrades? I don't see how that is any less annoying than struggling to drive the Mako, plus you lose the sense of exploration you get from visiting unknown planets. I recently completed my second playthrough of the game and I was absolutely SICK of doing that by the end.

Word is that might not make it back into Mass Effect 3 (let's hope!)
Mon 29/03/10 at 20:59
Regular
"Devil in disguise"
Posts: 3,151
I missed the Mako actually. :) Yes it was bad and needed improving but as a feature it was hardly beyond redemption. I guess thats Mass Effect 2's main fault though, too much streamlining and every problem being resolved by removing something.
Mon 29/03/10 at 20:35
Regular
Posts: 18
I haven't downloaded the new DLC yet (I know, I know...) because I promised myself I would finish Dragon Age before I do anything else. I haven't had time to get on my 360 in the past week though so I need to get a move on.
I don't believe there can be something more annoying than the Mako though?! Maybe I need to give this new DLC a go actually.
Mon 29/03/10 at 10:27
Regular
Posts: 5,630
Hey someone replied to one of my reviews, thanks! Have you downloaded the Hammerhead DLC? Personally I think the new vehicle is even more annoying than the Mako! I think what made the Mako worse was trying to get over some of the mountains etc and then getting stuck, extremely frustrating...
Sun 28/03/10 at 18:48
Regular
Posts: 18
I'm so glad they got rid of the Mako, I found it to be the most irritating thing to drive ever.
Sat 13/03/10 at 08:47
Regular
Posts: 5,630
It was a surprise to me to stumble across this site online the other day. As a regular visitor and contributor to Special Reserve, I thought the site had ended a few years ago and so I left, leaving my oh-so creative nickname behind. But now I'm back from the dead with a brand new review. Not that I’d compare myself to an intergalactic space hero who’s saved the universe on multiple occasions, but it’s a situation John Shepard also finds himself in at the beginning of Mass Effect 2, the now-compulsory ‘dark second act’ of Bioware’s epic science fiction trilogy (just the coming back from the dead bit, there aren't any discarded logins or uncreative names in Mass Effect 2...er, yeah).

Mass Effect 2 has been reviewed many times and has scored very highly, deservedly so. So rather than go down the 'graphics, sound, gameplay' reviewing route in detail (cliff notes: it looks, sounds and plays amazing), I thought I'd touch upon some of the other features of the game that jumped out to me from the many hours I've spent exploring the galaxy. It blasts out of the gate with a huge action sequence, with the Normandy, the space vessel from the first game, being destroyed and Shepard floating out into space. After a superb little sequence that evokes the creation of Darth Vader where we see Shepard's body being put back together, the surprising early death actually acts as a 'reset' of sorts, allowing new gamers to the franchise to create 'their' Shepard, or indeed a change of appearance for an imported character (more on that later). The following sequence is a nice little introduction to the enhanced cover weapon management system that's new for ME2, and re-educates players from the previous game on the new inventory layout.

It baffles me why more games haven't introduced this import save utility, especially as many games now spawn franchises. For all the next generation talk of 'player choice' for the most part you are always pretty much following a predetermined outcome. Your controlling your character in a physical sense, sure, but are you controlling him? If you have played ME you feel the weight of your decisions there come to bear this time, and its an unusual (but good) feeling. Characters may not be alive or may react different to you. You actually feel regret or joy that you handled things a certain way in ME1, and knowing this weighs on you when you make decisions in this game that you just *know* could come back to haunt you in Mass Effect 3. Its an aspect that vastly enhances the playing experience and really makes you ponder some of the hard decisions you will face in this game, knowing full well that it will have consequences. This is especially rewarding because story-wise, the game is top notch. There is a welcome focus on character development, a wealth of backstory and information on everything, and a hugely compelling narrative with some hefty twists and turns thrown in there too for good measure.

The exploration aspect of the game has been changed somewhat from ME1. Gone is Mako, the space buggy you had to drive to travserse mountainous terrain to access side quests, replaced with a new probe system, which to be honest is probably less interesting. From this you can acquire raw materials (that can be used to make upgrades which aid in your quest so that's an incentive), or on occasion an 'anomaly' is discovered that leads to a small side quest. Right off the bat the mission design of these side quests is a huge improvement. They are more varied and not blighted by using the same layout as pretty much every side quest building in ME1 (who knew the entire galaxy used the same builders?) but quite short and the whole thing misses the tangible sense of exploration you get from investigating hostile lands. Here's hoping they perhaps bring that back a bit for ME3.

Bioware have really blurred the line between 'shooter' and RPG here with a lot of combat sequences. The combat gameplay dynamic is not dissimilar to Gears of War with the heavy emphasis on cover (you will not last long going in gung-ho). Helpfully, there are a lot of stacked crates around! The weapon choice is split between pistol, assault rifle, sniper, shotgun and heavy weapon, and there is a tactical element to weapon selection which separates the combat from the 'one-gun-fits-all' approach to ME1. Also discarded is the overheating gimmick, replaced with a more traditional ammo based system. Again, much like the exploration change from the Mako to the probes, in my opinion whether this has improved the experience is debatable. Each has their strength and weakness and it would be nice to see a mixture of the two in ME3.

You heard the word 'epic' associated with Mass Effect 2, and its well deserved association. Spanning an entire galaxy, a whole host of fascinating characters, a rich storyline that you yourself shape, and a rewarding combat and gameplay dynamic, Bioware have crafted an amazing entertainment experience. Possible Game of the Year even in January? There's a lot of cracking titles coming out later this year but with Mass Effect 2 they just might have pulled it off. Highly, highly recommended.

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