Mass Effect 2
Developed by Bioware
Published by Electronic Arts (EA)
*I made you, Shepard! I brought you back from the dead!*
*Please Note: This Review is of the PC Version of the game*
Though the game came out in late January 2010, Mass Effect 2 stands out to me when I feel the urge to play an original IP that includes a rich story and an engaging RPG element. This game, developed by BioWare and published by EA, continues to be my best game in the series and a great use of 70 hours of my life…seriously, 70 hours to 100% this beast.
The story follows an Alliance Soldier named Commander Shepard on his fight against an advanced race of synthetics known as the Reapers. When human colonies start to vanish, an infamous group named Cerberus hires you to investigate. On your way to stopping this threat, you must hire a crew of humans and aliens alike to take your ship, Normandy SR-2, to fight this threat. Whilst investigating you discover a species working for the reapers are responsible for the abductions to the colonies. You must track down these creatures to their home world and recapture the lost colonists.
Though the description was brief, there are a lot of secrets, tension filled moments and dramatic turns within the game and none of this can be spoiled if you are wishing to enjoy the full experience for the first time. However, a 6 year old game that is as good as it is should have already been experienced.
Whilst in the game, you control Shepard through a 3rd person camera that is directly positioned over the soldier. This I feel was good compared to an FPS style view as you really need to be aware of your surroundings whilst in combat. The main reason for this is that, whilst on missions, you also have 2 companions with you. These are controlled by AI, but special abilities, which are unlocked through level-system, are controlled by yourself to unleash hell upon your opponents. Though remembering that this is a feature can cause a few fights to last a bit longer than they should have, as holding [SPACE] to dramatically slow time and pick an ability for your team-mates can lose some of the tension in a fight, but usually it works quite well.
Whenever you level-up you’re given a point to spend on your character and team-mates. Though your character has 7 ability paths to follow, other team members only have 3, until loyal where it becomes 4. This can seem a little empty as there isn’t any customization within weapons also, other than swapping them out completely. However, as I mentioned earlier, you can sometimes forget to use your team-mates abilities so less to think about is better in this way.
As this is an RPG style space game, there are multiple paths that you can take along your travels through the milky-way galaxy. The two main paths are known as Paragon and Renegade. Paragon allows you to follow a good path, whilst Renegade is the evil path. This system works very well as more paragon unlocks more charm chat options and renegade unlocks more intimidate chat functions. Missions and relationships with the AI can also be affected with the system.
The chat is a simple dialog wheel that can greatly affect the game through the Paragon and Renegade system.
Exploration is an essential part to this game with materials scattered around the world to collect so you can upgrade your ship of weapons. Another way of gaining these materials is by scanning and probing planets. This is one of my only negatives with the game, scanning a planet is very tedious and looking for all the resources on all of the planets takes hours. As a completion, I did what had to be done and completely stripped each planet bare, but a cost of a total runtime of 70 hours. I would recommend that you only scan planets when necessary as this task can bore some people into not returning to the game.
As the game came out in 2010, you can’t expect next-gen graphics, but for its time, the game looks beautiful. All the planets when you select them are hand drawn models that slightly animate and the textures of the models are beautifully done, knowing that they created new species with this game. Sometimes the models can glitch, but nothing big breaking. However, a couple of times whilst playing I have gotten stuck in odd places and have had to reset, but on PC, [F5] quick saves the game and [F9] loads it; so nice and easy.
Once you have played this game, some part of the music will be stuck in your head. The music would be described as atmospheric and ambient, but the lead composer Jack Wall has made the emptiness of space sound, beautiful. The soundtrack can be bought at iTunes for $11.99 and I believe it is a great buy.
Though the player models can sometimes bug out and the scanning and probing for resources is tedious (though an easter-egg can be found for probing Uranus), this game well deserved its critical acclaim everywhere. For all those who somehow haven’t played this game yet, I recommend your purchase it as quick as possible. There isn’t a requirement to play the first game as this game is great as its own, but all 3 games in the series are serious fun. The DLC is fun too and you can get both the game and DLC for cheap at Steam and Origin. Thanks for reading and I look forward to my next time typing for you.
Score = 9/10
Mass Effect 2 is available now for PC, Xbox 360 & PS3 from all good retailers. Thanks go out to EA for supplying the assets used in this review. Be sure to let us know your thoughts on this review in the comments section below and be sure to stay tuned to UGNN for all your gaming news and reviews and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Review by Sam Elliott