I can’t start this post without first talking about the creators of the Mass Effect series, Bioware. It’s safe to say that Bioware is one of, if not the best producers of ACTION/RPG video games today. With games such as Jade Empire, Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age, and of course the Mass Effect series, they have set the bar pretty high for everyone in the gaming industry.
Though having played the other Bioware games, no game has ever had the “effect” on me that Mass Effect 2 had. And the reason why is, Bioware didn’t just created a sequel to a video game, they created a SAGA!
Personally, I love to play video games, but I would never call myself a “gamer”. I am very fickle with the games I play and what the determining factor is for me to invest time in any game is, STORY! As a writer myself, I hold video games to the same standard that I would hold any movie or TV series. Tell a good story! It seems simple enough right? But unfortunately most companies make video games for children who have the attention span of a gnat.
Admittedly, I was not very excited when the first Mass Effect was released because I thought it would be just another Sci-fi space shooter with lots of kaboom and no storyline. It took me almost a year to finally start playing it and to be perfectly honest, I felt like literally kicking my own ass for waiting so long! I was completely BLOWN AWAY by this game! I had no idea what I was in for. It was ridiculously good! The story is a galactic epic of good and evil and a universe in peril (See Mass Effect). I was fortunate enough to finish the game just before the release of Mass Effect 2 so the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
If Mass Effect were to be compared to “Star Wars”, then Mass Effect 2 is in every way, “The Empire Strikes Back”! Everything in this sequel is taken to higher level!
Commander Shepard is back, sort of, (certain events take place before the credits) and while he (or she depending on what Shepard you created) was gone for a few years, the threat from the first Mass Effect even has grown even greater. And where in the previous game you fought as a Military Commander in the Galactic Alliance, in this new story, things are a bit more, covert. Shepard is now in the employ of a mystery figure known as, “the illusive man” and his “pro-human” black ops organization known as Cerberus. And like any shadowy character, his motives are questionable. The galactic military and the other races of aliens fear and don’t trust Cerberus and this is a theme you run across in the game quite a bit.
But what really makes this game separates it from the first though are the characters. There are a few returning character from Mass Effect, but for the most part, there are tons of new faces, and attitudes to deal with. But it’s what makes the game so fun to play. Where before you only had a six man team, now you’ll have thirteen! Each with their special set of skills and/or powers.
Everything from company agents like Miranda, to psychic sociopaths like Jack, to morally challenged alien doctors such as Mordin Solus, makes the character set in this game years ahead of any video game I’ve ever played! The challenge is knowing which are the best characters to take with you on a particular mission. For example, psychic fighters (known as Adepts) are not usually that effective against the killer robot race known in the game as the “Geth”. Or the flipside of that is, technical characters with hacking abilities don’t fare well against humanoid or fleshy beings.
The game play is 3rd person ACTION/RPG, as mentioned earlier and a lot the game is based on decisions you have to make throughout your missions. For example, in dealing with the Illusive Man, you can either defy him or side with him. And there are benefits and consequences for all of your actions. The weapons in this game have received a major overhaul from the first game as you can now choose from a variety of “heavier” weapons from an ice cannon to a gun thats blasts nuclear fire (don’t use that one too much). The power sets are lot more streamlined as well. Every class now has a signature ability that the over one doesn’t. For example: if you choose to be an engineer you can have a combat drone at your command, where as if you pick the infiltrator (sniper) you have access to an invisibility cloak. And there are more goodies you discover as you play on, but nothing I can really say without giving up some vital secrets about it.
In my judgement, Mass Effect 2 IS THE PERFECT GAME, and it would take a hell of a lot to prove me wrong on this. The story is AMAZING and the big universe feel of the game will pull you in all kinds of different directions with an ending that is just as grand scale as the first. The game mechanics are just as fluid as the cut-scenes, and there is a lot replay value here as well. You will fiend like a meth addict and count the days until Mass Effect 3 is released. But the great thing about this game is that Bioware has left plenty of DLC to keep you busy long after you finish the game 5 or 6 times like I have!