Mass Effect 2
Bioware just keeps on getting better and better. Mass Effect was awarded Game of the Year by several groups, No. 1 in IGN’s Top 25 Xbox 360 games, and alot more. Dragon Age fared just as similarly. And Mass Effect 2 should be no different.
For the sake of keeping the game unspoiled, the plotline of the game shall remain unrevealed.
From the early teaser videos, it had been seen that Shepard faces an early demise in the game. This does indeed happen, when an unknown and tremendously powerful enemy ship fires on the Normandy and dismantles it completely. Shepard falls to his fiery death on a nearby planet. Two years later, Cerberus, a human-supremist group has used their enormous funding to create the Project Lazarus, the resurrection of Commander Shepard. Why? A never-before-seen alien race is abducting human colonies leaving no trace of survivors, or struggles. And the Council wants nothing to do with it.
And so the game starts with Shepard recruiting a group of specialists fit for this dangerous and potentially suicidal mission.
Massive improvements have been implemented into the gameplay, with the inventory system almost removed. The Mako is no longer there, and good riddance. Sidequests are no longer boring ‘enter facility, kill persons, rescue person/execute person, exit and gain XPz and creditz’, instead are quite rather engaging and more importantly, enjoyable.
Exploring planets are no merely for the sake of optional achievements. A new aspect of the game are upgrades. Upgrades are either solely for Shepard himself, the whole squad or the Normandy. More ammo capacity, better weapons, better defense, more firepower, more health, etc. are some of the upgrades for Shepard and the Squad, while Normandy upgrades can be shields, firepower, more fuel and probe capacity, etc.
This is where exploration serves the purpose. Planets are rich (or moderately rich) with resources, and you must orbit a planet, perform scans and send probes to mine for minerals, which are, in turn, used for the research, WHICH, in turn, are integral to the survival of your team – and this is not a spoiler. Asking crew members about the chances of survival will have them commenting that the ship isn’t nearly strong attack to survive an enemy attack. The game lets you know that bad things may happen, and asks you what you’re going to do about it.
Thanks to the need for upgrades, exploration actually has a sense of purpose to it, instead of just mindlessly mining for achievements.
The inventory system has been almost removed, instead using a ‘weapon’s locker’, which can be accessed from certain parts of the game, and always from your ship. Armor can be customized from the ‘Captain’s Cabin’, through a selection of shoulder pads, chest plates, and other accessories that you come across.
Overall, everything is more intuitive and has a more natural smoothy flowy feel to it that is even in its own restrictive way somewhat liberating, and of course, immensely enjoyable.
There are other features of the game which were exceptionally well done, for example, the pre-rendered ‘movies’, the cinematic experience oh-so-awesomely-unique to Mass Effect (much improved upon, yet again, in this sequel), and whatever not, but somethings are just better experienced first hand.
Graphic-wise, there isn’t alot of difference. The first one was Unreal Engine 3, ME2 just uses the slightly newer 3.5 one. Still, a sight to the eyes, and specially on high-end machines, and specifically on the Xbox 360. God knows why, but the console version always looks better. The soundtrack is just simply wonderful, composed by Jack Wall who also made the music for Jade Empire and the first Mass Effect.
Mass Effect 2 will give you 25-35+ hours of unbridled happiness as you sink yourself into pure gaming bliss. Mass Effect 2 deserves all the GOTY out there, and more. It is THAT good. Definitely a must play for all fans of the first game, and if anybody wishes to try it out, it’s best if they play the first installation before diving into this one. Game on, Bioware. You are, indeed, a proverbial god in the gaming industry.