Mass Effect 2 Second Opinion – The Choice is Yours, Shepard

Mass-Effect-2-BoxartMass Effect 2 is the best RPG I’ve played in years, full stop. It’s also one of the most improved sequels I’ve ever played. With Mass Effect 2, BioWare has addressed the original game’s weaknesses, and produced an incredibly well-written, cinematic thrillride that improves upon its predecessor in every way.

Speaking personally, my main complaint with the original was its dull, slow-paced plot. The writing was fantastic, and the amount of backstory provided about the massive universe was staggering; but the main plot almost became buried beneath this deluge of exposition.

In Mass Effect 2, the stops are immediately pulled. The game kicks off with Shepard’s beloved ship Normandy exploding. I won’t spoil more, but suffice to say, things get pretty crazy. Like Empire Strikes Back, Mass Effect 2 takes on a much darker, more desperate tone the the original, right from the start.

And, seeing that Empire Strikes Back is my second favorite Star Wars movie, I consider that a compliment. In Mass Effect 2 the stakes are higher, the decisions are heavier, and the ramifications are dire – people often live or die on your whim. Mass Effect 2 is a far more intense, involved, and well-paced experience than the original was.

Not only that, Mass Effect 2 plays a hell of a lot better than the original as well. Gone is the ridiculously contrived “overheat” system, replaced with a fairly typical ammo system. The gunplay adopts a more cover-oriented approach, and as result, ends up feeling slightly Gears of War-ish. This isn’t a bad thing, though – combat is much faster and more enjoyable in Mass Effect 2.

Oh, and I feel compelled to point out: the exclusion of the awful dune buggy that occasionally forced itself upon you in the original game was a good decision. That is to say: the dune buggy sucked ass. A break from the usual gameplay, yes, but a shitty break. It is not missed in Mass Effect 2.

This dude is my fave.

This dude is my fave.

But the most impressive thing about Mass Effect 2 is how flawlessly it maintains the richness and believability of its universe. After importing my save from Mass Effect 1, I soon found out that decisions I had made in the original game would have ramifications now. Also, I was impressed to see that concepts only touched on in the original – such as the Krogan genophage – were fully explored in Mass Effect 2. You’ll even come across a number of incidental characters from the original, and they’ll all know who you are. Something this complex has really never been done before, and BioWare is pulling it off with remarkable grace.

But I’ve said all I need to say. Ethos has already written extensively about the game, so check out his two posts for more information. Other than the specific points I mentioned (such as the Buggy) I agree with his analysis of the game. His generous score 9.0 is well deserved. Mass Effect 2 is not a game to be missed.

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