Mass Effect 2

Two years after the death of Commander Shepard, the crew of the SSV Normandy has gone their separate ways.  Human colonies have been reported missing at the hands of the Collectors.  In an attempt to locate and destroy the Collector mothership, Shepard is resurrected by Cerberus. Shepard must build a crew consisting of the best the galaxy has to offer, and launch a suicidal mission into the Collectors’ home base.

In my Mass Effect review, I linked the series to Star Wars.  Well, if Mass Effect was A New Hope, then Mass Effect 2 is The Empire Strikes Back of the series.  Like Empire, Mass Effect 2 is considered by many to be the best in the trilogy.  The sequel to this space odyssey improves on the original on so many different ways, further expanding the intricate details that make this fictional universe so fascinating.

Right off the bat, ME2 kicks off with the Normandy being ambushed by a mysterious vessel, resulting in the annihilation of the SSV Normandy, Commander Shepard, and most of his/her crew. During a two year process, Shepard’s remains are recovered by the rogue agency, Cerberus, in an attempt to bring Shepard back to life better than ever, and launch a “Suicide Mission” against a mysterious alien race abducting human colonies. This tragic event serves as an effective reintroduction to the series for any new players by rebuilding Shepard’s previous relations, while also introducing a brand new cast of characters.

And what a cast of characters ME2 contains!  By far the strongest point in ME2 is the character depth and emotional attachment one can develop for each member of your Shepard’s crew.  Most of the game is spent on examining character dossier missions given to you by Cerberus’s enigmatic leader, The Illusive Man (superbly voiced by Martin Sheen).  These recruitment missions introduce you to new characters and will reunite familiar faces. Recruiting and getting to know each member of the crew is my favorite part of ME2, because every squad-mate has his or her own unique personality with special subplots attached. I will never forget the moments when you find out the Drell assassin, Thane Krios, is actually terminally ill, and the Asari Justicar, Samara, must kill someone very close to her because of her order’s strict code. The “Archangel” dossier mission in particular is one of my favorites in the game.  Since every dossier mission feels different from one another, the game is kept fresh the entire way.

me2squad

One of the biggest draws to the series is the promise that decisions from the previous game carry over to the next game. ME2 delivers on this promise, but it becomes apparent some decisions were insignificant.  One example is with character romances. If you chose to build a relationship with Liara in ME1 you will be given an opportunity to make it known where you still stand with her in your relationship.  Ashley, Kaiden and Liara are unfortunately underutilized in the game – less so with Liara when playing the “Lair of the Shadow Broker” DLC, so be ready to be disappointed in that regard.

Combat has been improved by the addition of quick fire powers and overhauled power design, creating a less disruptive and more action-packed experience.  Utilizing cover has also been improved with the ability to stick to cover made popular by the Gears of War franchise. The amount of weapons and armor available is too few, pretty much the exact opposite of ME1.  Even though combat is more fun in ME2, the lack of variety in weapon choice can quickly turn the action stale.

Mako exploration from ME1 has been removed, but unfortunately, the scan-and-probe launching mechanic is even more boring and tedious.  Occasionally you will uncover a planet with a hands-on mission attached to it, but there aren’t many compared to the amount of planets available to scan.

Without a doubt the best moment in the game is the “Suicide Mission”.  All the work and relationships you have developed through the entire game boils down to this final mission.  Never before have I experienced a mission quite as intense as the Suicide Mission.  You are given a distinct impression every decision made in preparation for the mission could mean the life or death of any crew member.  Of course, this mortality would mean nothing if the game was ineffective at making you care for your crew.  By the end of the mission I didn’t know who was going to make it out alive, and I was at the edge of my seat the entire time.

GRAPHICS

Some of the absolute best graphics the PS3/Xbox 360 generation has to offer. Facial models are near photorealistic bringing to life each and every character.

MESamara

SOUND

Voice acting is phenomenal featuring talented actors and actresses such as, Martin Sheen, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, Seth Green, and Tricia Helfer.  The musical score is also amazing. Chills can be felt when hearing the “Suicide Mission” theme.  I knew I was in for something special when stepping into Club Omega for the very first time.

FINAL THOUGHTS

ME2 is one roller coaster of a ride, making you laugh one minute, and leaving you heartbroken the next.  The game’s colorful cast of characters keeps you invested the entire game.

Pros

  • Amazing character development
  • Improved combat
  • Strong voice acting

Cons

  • Scanning and probing planets are tedious
  • Overall plot isn’t progressed very far
  • Lack of weapon choice

 

 Style – Single-player, Third-person action RPG

Developer – Bioware

Publisher – Electronic Arts

Release – January 2010


 

JUNKIE SCORES
  • 5.0 – Gameplay
  • 5.0 – Graphics
  • 5.0 – Sound
  • 5.0 – Entertainment
  • 5.0 – Replay Value

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