Why you should buy Mass Effect 2

16Mar10

One of the small pleasures of being unemployed, is that I have *slightly* more time to play on my Xbox 360 (only slightly, mind you). Just recently, I invested in Mass Effect 2, a fighty-role playing game that follows on from the very popular original, Mass Effect. To get straight in there – I am loving this game. But I’ll try to approach the review more systematically.

Screenshot from Mass Effect 2Graphics: There’s no denying that this game is visually impressive. At first, it doesn’t make your jaw drop like Assassin’s Creed 2 does, but it does a much better job at keeping you interested. There are tens of different worlds and space stations that all look vastly different from one another. There are numerous alien species, all of which are original and beautifully animated. Even the scenery is carefully considered, designed to give maximum cinematic effect at all times. In other words, especially on a 42″ plasma screen in full HD, this game is beautiful.

Story: Anyone who has played the original Mass Effect will attest to its brilliant storyline. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say that the Reapers are back, but this time they don’t have the Geth in to fight for them. The new threat comes in the form of ‘Collectors’, an alien species that are kidnapping entire colonies of humans across the galaxy without leaving a single sign of a struggle. And Shepard, the character whose identity you assume, is the only one who can stop them.

If you don’t like RPG’s then this game won’t be for you – as is common to the genre, there is a LOT of talking to do. And I mean a lot. But as with any good RPG, the more talking you do, the more immersive your experience becomes. To give the game credit, I very rarely find myself skipping through the voice acting, which is actually rather good. Some famous names have signed up to this title, including Martin Sheen as ‘The Illusive Man’ and the lovely Seth Green as ‘Joker’, your faithful ship’s pilot.

Gameplay: Perhaps most importantly is how the game handles. Well I’m glad to say that it actually plays very well. I’d suggest having a newspaper on hand for some of the lengthier loading screens, but once the game is loaded the handling is very smooth, making these screens forgivable. The control system is complicated, as a game with this level of depth demands. You’re required to allocate skill points for your entire squad as you all level up, make decisions about the weapons and armour everyone carries, give orders (if you want to) and so the list goes on. You’ll need the patience and time that an RPG of this size demands, but if you persevere with it, you will be rewarded.

Screenshot from Mass EffectThe fighting system is one of my favourites I’ve come across in a game. You take manual control of your character, and can be as involved as you like with controlling the rest of your squad. Generally, their AI is very smart and won’t leave you face-palming as they stand in every doorway, blocking your path and leading to your eventual demise. You get to play with some fun and powerful weapons, as well as enjoy a range of ‘biotic’ powers that your characters can perform. Biotic powers can be used without needing ammo, giving you even more options for ways to cripple your enemies. I’d say the fighting-to-other-stuff ratio in this game is about 35:65 – so if you’re looking for an out and out shoot ’em up, I’d pick up Battlefield: Bad Company 2 instead.

Conclusion: You know when you first get a new game and it dominates your thoughts until you find that everything you do is just passing time till you can play again? Well that’s what I’m going through with Mass Effect 2. And I have to admit, it’s been a long time since I felt that way about a game. So, buy it, try it, I think you’ll love it.

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