Jan 29, 2010

Mass Effect 2

Hot damn this game is really good.

So lets get this outta the way. This game is way better than the first outing into the Mass Effect universe on a production scale. Does it make it a better game? Well... that's argumentative. It really depends on what you like in a game.

First off, let me just bury a friend that deserved to be murdered. Good bye clunky inventory system! In fact, good bye inventory in general. Everything has been stripped down to the barest of basics. You are no longer juggling a handful of weapons ranging from pistols to rifles, instead you pick a load out similar to a multiplayer shooter. Because of this you can kiss good bye the paltry 150 item limit that I reached on all 4 play throughs I completed on Mass Effect 1. Upgrades also don't forgo a specific weapon this time around, instead just applying to everything.

The story does seem to take a hit from the first one, offering a ton of options but not really fleshing anything out. I guess it is okay for such a big cast of characters, a total of 11 if you include an extra downloadable character, to have everyone just get the one broad stroke of story, but I prefer something deeper. It also becomes problematic with the story line about half way through, as there are plot points that happen that would only make sense if you happen to have indulged in all of the extended lore.

The conversation system from Mass Effect is still the show stealer though, regardless of the action based combat. Bioware did little to improve it from the first one, but it seems more fluid and more interactive then staring at a character's face while they recite what you click on. The conversation system uses dynamic camera angles, movement and a certain degree of fluidity based on your choices. It fleshes out a bland feature from the first while refining it in the sequel.

The interrupt sequences are a guilty pleasure. Promised in the first game, but left out do to time constraints, the interrupt system allows you to make conversational choices that interrupt the character currently talking, from knocking an ally's hand back before he makes the decision to shoot a begging enemy to blowing up a fuel pipe in the middle of what Pixar would dub "monologuing". The cinematic quality here, in engine and via cut scenes, rivals most Hollywood productions.
The game is highly enjoyable from start to finish. The ending does feel complete but a little bland compared to the build up to the climax, but considering this is the 2nd act of a 3 act show, I am okay being teased just a bit. This one is right up there with the top 3 greatest sequels of all time (Aliens, Toy Story 2 and Empire Strikes Back (In no particular order)). Highly recommended for story junkies, especially if you want to forge your own story withing the context of a great galaxy.