Game: Mass Effect 2
Release Date: 26th January 2010
Platform: Xbox360

I’m going to be honest; I didn’t see the massive appeal of Mass Effect 1. The hype behind it was massive, I could appreciate the various aspects of the game, and I could see all the potential for it to be an absolutely stellar title, but it didn’t take grasp of me. I never felt like I really delved that deep into the rich world that Bioware had laid out before me. It felt like it was over too soon. That said, I succumbed to purchasing Mass Effect 2 on launch, aware that I could expect disappointment. Before I continue, I can say without a doubt that this is one of the best games I have ever played.

Presentation

The main thing that strikes you about Mass Effect 2 from the off is the ridiculously high production values. The Bioware team has surpassed themselves with the meticulous attention to detail to every aspect of the game. The graphics are stellar, the action is intense, the storyline is gripping and to top it off it has some of (if not, the best) audio work in any game to date.

You start off by choosing the gender and appearance of your own Commander Shephard, and then you are immediately and forcefully pushed into the action, make no mistake, this is undoubtedly a good thing. If you have played the first Mass Effect (and to enrich the full potential of this title you definitely should) then the choices you make in the first game come back to alter the events of this games in various different ways. This is a game mechanic that makes the game experience feel so much more personal, and replay value is greatly enhanced with the vast amount of different plotlines that can be changed with your actions. There is also the new interrupt feature that enables you to boost either your Paragon (good) or Renegade (bad) points by either being the Galaxies Savior or the Merciless Spectre.

None of these features would be as spectacularly implemented if it didn’t have a solid storyline for them to stand upon. Mass Effect doesn’t have this problem. That said, when the credits roll the storyline is revealed to be quite the simple epic affair of good and evil, but while you are in the game, filling that roll, you are engrossed in that storyline, wondering where the suspicious Illusive Man will send you on your quest next, looking for the twists and turns in the plot. On top of the storyline you have the brilliant Loyalty Missions, which you can choose to complete, or not at your leisure, these are the highlight of the game, giving you the insight to all of your team members background and motives. There is a lot to do here.

Gameplay

Everything about this title has been stepped up a notch. The combat has been taken to a whole new level of greatness that feels so much more fluid and natural than its predecessor. The third person action is great and compelling, your biotic powers feel powerful and as you upgrade them you begin to feel more and more like an absolute badass. The item upgrades and weapons have been majorly stripped down from ME1. Instead of endless amounts of weapon loot that you would scroll through in your inventory, you now collect weapon research, which you can implement in your TechLab on the Normandy. You then choose your weapon loud out at the beginning of the missions or at various checkpoints throughout. This may infuriate some Mass Effect 1 fan boys who loved the prospect of finding endless amounts of weapons and upgrading them as you see fit, and while I can see the positives in this, being a loot whore myself, the final product feels so much more refined and sleek, you are now able to concentrate on the combat itself, instead of what you’re using, while still being able to upgrade your character.





In terms of minus points, there are the occasional AI bugs where your team mate will stand helplessly in the middle of the battlefield, or a few targeting issues, but at the end of the day these are minor gripes that cannot begin to contend with the amount of good things about this game.

Other than the combat the other obvious standout aspect of Mass Effect is the conversation and dialogue options. You feel like Shephard, you take on his role, and the game makes you feel cool doing this. Whether you choose to be good or bad, the game rewards you in various ways, as well as presenting you with the consequences of your actions. Games like Fable2 which claim to make you care about your dog or the people around you look measly compared to the absolute prowess with which Bioware presents here. Absolute genius.

Verdict

I could go on for so long about why you should play Mass Effect 2. But it would be quicker if you just went out and buy it. Play Mass Effect 1, endure the ‘not so great’ prequel so that you can experience this game. You will not miss your 40 pounds; this game has set the bar for how storytelling in video games should be done. Play and replay, find out what happens if you punch that woman instead of siding with her, you will not be disappointed.

10/10

Presentation – 10

Set the bar for storytelling; blow us away Mass Effect 3

Gameplay – 9

Fantastic, yet still minor bugs and issues

Visuals – 9

Fantastic art design and direction help engross you in this world, a few visual hiccups

Audio – 10

Stellar voice acting and soundtrack

Lasting Appeal – 10

The amount of possibilities here are phenomenal

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