One month after stopping a race of large sentient machines from wiping out all life in the known universe Commander Shepard is used as a figurehead for humanity and subsequently put on bitch missions to kick the last of the Geth in their robotic nads. This is where Mass Effect 2 begins, and where one hell of a ride starts.
Mass Effect 2, from the start, is a major upgrade from the trilogy’s start. The game has a fresh feel, while still keeping very close in the realm of Mass Effect. Many, many changes have been made to the sequel, both good and bad in my opinion. The story has the same idea as ME1, but with several changes. The opening of the game has you scrambling to save Joker (Seth Green), everyone’s favorite crippled, wise talking pilot, as a menacing ship appears out of hyperspace and begins an assault. The end of the opening cinematic has Shepard floating through space, suit badly damaged, and oxygen failing. The crew escapes as Shepard is seen on a crash course with a nearby planet, thus Mass Effect 2 begins.
The game picks up two years after the prologue with a strange company rebuilding Shepard in a medical miracle called the Lazarus Project. The company in question is Cerberus, a human-focused corporation funded by an ultra-human nationalist dubbed “The Illusive Man.” ME1 fans will remember the group for its almost terrorist-like operations and human furthering ideology, which causes a big stir within the works of the Alliance and Council.
You start by picking your character from the stock, John Shepard, your own custom Shepard, or a character you’ve beaten ME1 with. The import character is a brilliant idea, as it changes a lot of the standard game if you were to instead start a new character or have never played Mass Effect. You can change your previous class into the same handful of classes, though with many changes. Classes don’t have access to all guns automatically, instead they are limited to two , three, and four different types as well as new skills.
Graphically, the game is a leap and bound above Mass Effect. Armor, guns, aliens — everything has a new level of detail to it that was almost unseen in ME1. The slums on Omega, a mining colony turned piss hole, has a very “dirty” look and feel to it, adding to the overall sense of danger the place is supposed to give off. The Normandy 2, while nearly identical to its mother, is very sterile and futuristic looking, stainless steel and little in the way of color. Shepard’s armor even looks realistic in the carbon fiber-like material it is made of.
Gameplay remains mostly intact, save for a few tweaks. In Mass Effect, you fired your gun until it overheated, then cooled off, rinse and repeat. Guns had no ammo count and certain things made them more or less effective. Mass Effect 2 introduces a new element in thermal clips, magazines that house heat sinks of sorts, used to draw heat from the gun to keep it firing. Those give you an actual ammo count (though ammo is never hard to find) and make firefights a bit more than stand and shoot until nothing lives.
Heavy weapons have been added. Rocket launchers, flame throwers, grenade launchers, particle cannons. These hard hitters are great for taking out the new enemies and sub bosses. Enemies come in many new flavors as well. Humanoid “mechs” have taken the place of many humans in light of the massive body count during the Citadel attack in ME1, so these gun toting androids pick up the slack and play guard dog and security bot. Enemies also have multiple levels of defense, unlike the basic shields in ME1, opponents now posses shields, as well as armor (depending upon type and actual armor worn) making use of new guns a must. Sub machine guns and burst fire assault rifles have been added to the list of small arms available, giving you a few new flavors of piping hot death to serve.
Old friends make new appearances, which also varies if you import a ME1 character. Garrus, Ash, Liara, as well as Tali (or Kaiden) make cameos in the new title, both as recruit-able and non recruit-able characters, shocked by the return of Shepard after two years.
Squad Tactic has been fixed up, each team member is assigned to a d-pad direction, with up being group attack and down being hold position. Over all the AI, both friend and foe, has made an improvement, and Tactics feature is more useful than it was in ME1.
Overall Mass Effect 2 is a fantastic title to own, and a major upgrade from ME1. While some things seem a bit recycled, and the inventory system is basically gone in place of a Rainbow Six-like “loadout” screen before missions, it is overall a great game. If you’re just starting in the series, or you’ve already driven the Reapers back to their extra-galactic holes for pissing you off, Mass Effect 2 will play just fine for you.
- Weapon systems
- Somewhat jumpy cover system
- AI has its moments
- Two discs (only because I don’t want to get up in the middle of ass kicking to change a damn disc!)
Overall Score 9.5/10 (Outstanding)