Mass Effect 2 Impressions (X360)

I hate posting reviews of an item that I have yet to finish. I think its rather horrible of me to act like I’ve played something through to the end, report it as “good”, and then maybe suggest you spend your hard-earned cash on the same item. Therefore, I’ll call this an “impression” because I have yet to finish the game. (And that’s a good thing; I really want to savor this.)Mass Effect 2 CE (X36) Box Art

I’ll spare you the boring details of ME2 that you’ll find elsewhere on the web. The critical thing is that the game is good, better than ME1 but in a different way. The converation trees are deeper, the consequences greater, the characters more refined, and the technical and artistic design of the game quite beautiful. More importantly: the universe is far deeper.

Let me give you an example: Without sharing too much of the story, you spend most of your time (as well as I can ascertain anyway) on a new station called Omega. Its sort of a rogue installation far away from the Citadel and its usual cleanliness. Back-alley deals go down here; people get shot all the time, and you can get in touch with your seedier side if you so wish. The nightclub areas are a step up, oozing feeling and I find myself thinking “This would be an awesome club if it actually existed!”. And that’s what I mean, all over this game I find myself really wishing this universe, this storyline actually existed. I haven’t felt that way since watching Star Wars as a kid.

One of the better things about ME2 is how it seems to integrate into the trilogy arc as a whole. Just like the first game there is an entire galaxy to explore, but it assumes you’ve played the first one. The whole “right side” of the galaxy map is the area you explored in the first game and wouldn’t need to see again. The Citadel, once an area of great exploration with stores, clubs, C-Sec, etc. to explore is like a small afterthought– you’ve been here before, now go explore these new stations and planets. Even the exploration of planets has changed– where once you used the hulking, lumbering Mako vehicle to actually land on planets and explore them, you now scan from space from the comfort of the new Normandy SR2. It is the inclusion of the light, mini-games within the Mass Effect universe that I think is so cool.

I am a bit disappointed to see that I now have to pick up ammo clips to replace my own, and that there’s a decreased amount of things to pick up. However, I can’t argue with the simple inventory system and the fact that I don’t have to have 47 versions of the same armor stacking up my precious inventory spaces. I’m mixed about the increased reliance on shooting abilities– I really liked that ME1 was an RPG first, and a shooter second. This one seems to have flipped that around, but apparently the Internet disagrees with me: Glowing reviews suggest that it was the right way to go.

ME2 Screenshot

ME2 Screenshot

I’m about 12 hours into what is being touted as a 30-hour game and I’m loving every second of it. I’m taking my time with all of the side-quests but I want to get done before next week’s release of BioShock 2. It appears there is a larger plan for DLC– there was Day One content released, but I get the feeling we’ll be seeing some of this stuff for the next year or so.

Well done BioWare! You guys rock as always. Maybe you’ll hire me one of these days…

Mass Effect 2 Videos: http://www.masseffect.com/media/videos/