The lights are on
Simply put, Mass Effect 2 is the Terminator 2 of video games. It
takes everything great from the first game and capitalizes on it, in
terms of story, characters, gameplay, and visuals. After the events of
Mass Effect 1, Shepard is killed by a mysterious force, only to be
resurrected by the Cerberus corporation and a mysterious figure known as
the Illusive Man (Martin Sheen, an excellent choice for the role).
Shepard, in exchange for his/her life back, agrees to work with Cerberus
to find out why several human colonies have been disappearing at the
hands of an alien race known as the Collectors. Whether or not the
Collectors are working with the Reapers, that's why Shepard specifically
was chosen for this mission. As Shepard, you have to travel across the
galaxy once again to put together a team of elites that will take the
fight to the Collectors in a suicide mission beyond the Omega 4 Relay.
You have the option of importing your Shepard from Mass Effect 1 into
the game, which is a fascinating aspect to the game overall. You still
have the option to be a saint or devil to anyone you meet, and there
are several more opportunities to do so than in Mass Effect 1. As you
interact with the galaxy, several familiar faces will pop up,
recognizing you from Mass Effect 1. In addition to your new squad
mates, you run into people you knew from before, such as recruiting
Garrus Vakarian and Tali 'Zorah. Provided you kept him alive in Mass
Effect 1, Wrex makes an appearance as clan leader on the krogan
homeworld of Tuchanka. Even Liara T'Soni shows up now and then.
That's not to say there aren't intriguing new characters. There's
the quirky, eccentric salarian doctor Mordin Solus, the tank-bred
genophage-free krogan called Grunt, the penitent drell assassin Thane
Krios, and the intriguing geth known as Legion. Seeing friends and NPCs
react in various ways, depending on how you acted around them in the
first game, makes the situation of galactic destruction seem like a
Missions in Mass Effect 2 have been greatly redesigned. Instead of
wandering around in a tank on horribly bleak and repetitive worlds, the
Normandy drops you off right where the action is! The nature of what
you do on the surface of random planets is improved as well, since
you're not just blasting through the same underground compound time
after time. There are several different types of side missions, like
searching the abandoned wreckage of a ship, or tracking a malfunctioned
AI across the galaxy. Your squad mates also get more depth to them in
the form of loyalty missions. After recruiting individuals, they'll ask
you for a favor, usually involving their family or associates who are
in peril. By helping them on these missions, you secure their loyalty,
and everyone's chances of surviving the suicide mission increase.
The fact that repetitive missions are gone in Mass Effect 2 doesn't
mean there isn't anything repetitive throughout the game. In your free
time, you can go jumping across the galaxy, scanning planets for their
natural resources, and deploy probes that mine said resources that can
be used for upgrading your team. After sucking a few clusters worth of
planets dry, however, you'll probably have enough palladium for two
playthroughs. Upgrades in Mass Effect 2 have been downgraded severely.
being able to select from a plethora of weapons and customize them with
different ammo and firing upgrades, you can only chose which type you
want before missions. Upgrading is mostly reserved for researching new
things, like biotic enhancers and a stronger hull for the Normandy.
Combat in Mass Effect 2 hasn't really been messed with, you can still
use biotic and tech powers as you see fit, and the addition of heavy
weapons to your arsenal is heartily welcomed. However, now you have to
be on the lookout for ammo clips on your way. Instead of waiting for
your weapons to cool down, like in Mass Effect 1, you have a finite
number of shots to each weapon, which is a bit of an annoyance,
especially since you didn't have to put up with it it the first time
Yes, that's another Terminator 2 reference.
Visually, the game is stunning, and improves on the look of the first
game. Plus, textures load at a ridiculously fast rate, blowing away the
look of Mass Effect 1 spectacularly. I did at one time, however,
experience a glitch where one krogan character on Tuchanka had
absolutely no rendering, he was just a giant silhouette talking to me.
It was only for a short cutscene, but it stuck out to me, especially
amongst the other visual marvels. Cutscenes look amazing, making it
seem like you're watching a movie at times. The only problem is that
is now on two discs on the 360, so changing them back and forth a few
times is a little annoying.
Overall, the game is a huge step up from Mass Effect 2. Everything
great about the first game is back, and things that didn't work have
been reworked to near perfection in this one. It also advances the
story along brilliantly, and is a great addition to the franchise. I
give it a 9.5, vastly improved over Mass Effect 1, here's hoping this
Terminator-like franchise won't go the same way Terminator 3 did...
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