Thursday, 8 March 2012

Mass Effect 2 [PS3] [QUICK&SHORT]

As this week sees the release of the latest shiny sci-fi offering from Bioware - Mass Effect 3 - I thought I'd do a quick recap review on it's predecessor Mass Effect 2. Released on PS3 in January 2011 - nearly a whole year after the PC/Xbox 360 release! - Mass Effect 2 is the second part of the Commander Shepard trilogy. This game begins with our hero, Commander Shepard, being killed in a space battle - you watch him or her float off into space without oxygen and die within the first 15 minutes of play. A shadowy organisation, Cerberus, then re-builds you and it is during this rebuilding that you are able to customise Shepard however you want - man, woman, alien-looking or more humanoid, and so on. From then on, your actions and decisions define your experience right through to its spectacular finale.

Major Points
Great Story - The plot of Mass Effect 2 is nothing short of EPIC. After the intro featuring your death you awake to find that humankind is under attack once again from the Reapers - an alien race that poses the biggest threat the Galaxy has ever faced - but no-one will listen to the warnings. Shepard is therefore tasked with recruiting a crew and taking a high-tech spaceship around the Galaxy (and beyond) to try their hardest to stop the Reapers from wiping out all life. It's played out over around 30 hours of game time, and as your decisions have a direct impact upon what's going on you really feel engaged and involved. To keep a player going to the end of the story is one thing - to hold them on the edge of their seat desperate to find out what happens to the crew at the end of their near-suicidal adventure is another thing altogether. To top it off, there is the possibility of sleeping with crew members if you are seductive enough - and this can be a great motivator to get through conversations:

Shepard: So... you have lovely.... gills.
Alien Crew Member: Ah yes, and my species loves.... 
er.... human-type things....
Shepard: Good..... wanna shag?

Active Play - So not only is the story driven by your actions, but there is a great deal of flexibility in battle as well. The game allows you to choose from several character classes, weapon types and tactical options in order to vary play - meaning that you can be a firearms specialist and blast baddies to bits from afar or play as a tech specialist and use vaguely Jedi-like powers to defeat foes. Not only that but you have the option of taking complete control over your crew as well - who you take on missions, how you upgrade their skills, when to use certain abilities in battle - and this means you have a wealth of ways to play available to you in every part of the game.

Easy Tactic - There were times when the game felt like it was being a little easy though. Learning how to use your special abilities takes a little time - then if you find which combinations of powers work you are pretty much  unstoppable. There is also a very clear "hidden upgrades" design that the developers went for - basically look in the corner of empty rooms, or walk down the corridor away from your quest marker, and you'll find tons of money and a weapon upgrade (so I guess there must be no poor people in this galaxy). Getting some of your skills and weapons upgraded to the max adds to the difficulty problem - but the game manages never to be boring. It still has a nice variety of enemies and settings so that if you get complacent then they'll swarm you and kick your arse. I can't complain too much as it is the inevitable issue present in most free-choice games - in order to have the game at a playable difficulty for all character classes/story options then some choices may lead to an easier game. It's only if the game is at an unplayable difficulty then it ruins an otherwise great game - which is not the case in Mass Effect 2.

If you've ever fancied yourself at the helm of the Enterprise then this is for you - truly a great game which allows you to engage in sci-fi gun battles, build up a crew of well-characterised aliens and try and sleep with them.

The game has plenty of depth and variety - in spite of having some corny dialogue and odd plotlines it still manages to be gripping right through to the end (and is worth a second play through too).

So Mass Effect 3 is coming out tomorrow - with a review to follow in the next week or two - and looking back on ME2 has only served to exaggerate my excitement.

This is one of my favourite game series at the moment and if I ever need to demonstrate why I only have to point in the direction of ME2 - it pretty much had it all. The only question is - can Mass Effect 3 improve on such a great title?

Trailer below to get everyone in the mood.

All videos in this review are from Youtube and are kindly provided by

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