Thursday, July 8, 2010

Video Game Review - Mass Effect 2

*Warning: Major Spoilers for the first Mass Effect follow, and minor spoilers for Mass Effect 2.*

Mass Effect 2 is the follow up to the original Mass Effect, which was TOTALLY NOT LIKE STARGATE AT ALL. At the end of the first game, you find out that Saren's ship, Sovereign, was actually a Reaper. It tries to use The Citadel to summon an army of Reapers to destroy the universe, and you stop it. Depending on your actions though, the Council may be alive or dead. Thus, the game I am reviewing is the follow up to my experience in Mass Effect, and may be different from yours.

This is because one of the best features of the game allows you to import your character from Mass Effect one, and pick up right where you left off. The game uses over 400 "hooks" to detect what choices you made in the first game, and changes the sequel based on that. Really well too. It really felt like I was picking up where I left off, not starting a new game.

Now, at the beginning of the game, you die. That's a problem. Luckily, you don't stay dead for long. Well you do. Two years, actually. During those two years, everyone from the first game (who survived) has gone separate ways. Luckily, a group called Cerberus, a human supremacy group who "looks out for the human race in a galaxy of aliens" knows only you can stop the Reapers from DESTROYING THE UNIVERSE! So they start a secret project to bring you back known as "Project Lazarus". It's a biblical reference. There's actually a couple of those.

The game plays similarly to the first game, if you took everything that was good about the first game, and made it better, and took out the bad parts. They dropped the overheating mechanic, and introduced "thermal clips" (read: ammo). They removed all the annoying micromanagement of armor the first game had. They removed the terrible vehicle sections.

They kept the gripping story, the over the shoulder shooting style, and they made it a whole lot better. The characters are better. Even the returning ones. Oh, and yeah, there are returning ones.

The plot twist about 2/3rds of the way through the game is just as good and shocking as the last one, and the last boss battle actually felt like a boss battle. Unlike fighting Saren. Which was very... Eh.

The armor mechanic has been replaced by an upgrades mechanic. If you go to a certain area of the new-and-improved Normandy, you can upgrade guns, items, biotics, and other such things. To upgrade you need to orbit various planets and scan them for minerals... Which is really dull.

Now, my criticism. For one thing, the characters are still in the uncanny valley, especially the character Jacob. Secondly, the big dramatic choice at the end did not feel the same as the choice between Ashley and Aiden, because... Well... There's a way you can make sure everyone lives. Admittedly, two of my crewmen did die, but it still felt like it didn't have the same pull knowing that if I do it right, everyone CAN live.


All jokes aside, this game is great. Really and truly fantastic. One of the best games released this year, and it's definitely worth a look. And the final shot of the game is a big cliffhanger setting up for Mass Effect 3. Fall 2011!

Buy this game if:
You liked the first Mass Effect.

Don't buy this game if:
You don't like dark and gritty sci-fi epics.

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