As a passionate lover of the Mass Effect Universe, I will try my best to keep this review short and sweet. Easier said than done but I will do it damn it, so help me! Anyway, Mass Effect 2 takes up where the original Mass Effect left off and sends Commander Shepard into a new adventure with a new crew and a new boss calling the shots. Of all the great enhancements, fixes and changes made to the game engine, graphics and playstyle, my absolute favorite would have to be what was done to the Normandy itself. The new ship that you command is absolutely beautiful and the way the story flows through you find yourself getting attached to her the way a captain should be attached to his vessel. It helped that Tricia Helfer voiced the A.I. for the Normandy as Caprica 6 (her character on Battlestar Galactica) whispering commands to me at the helm is always a welcome fantasy. Damn It Bioware why wasn’t the Normandy a romance option!?
A FEW of The Things I loved About Mass Effect 2
Aside from that guy off to the right – who was my favorite, I loved all of the characters onboard the Normandy. The character models have been given a bump since the first installment, the textures make the first game look like Super Mario Bros. and there is this Boss Bitch of an Asari in a space station named Omega that made me want to live in Shepard’s world. This is just the icing on the cake as the combat has been given an overhaul favoring a more precise over-the-shoulder style of play combined with a button to do cool things like vault over obstacles, sprint and crouch to avoid fire. The AI has been given a huge boost, making you really notice your fellow crewmen in battle as they do their thing. As an example of this, the new Krogan “Grunt” was one of my favorite characters to fight alongside since my cover fire would lead to his big ass running into the frey scattering bodies… awesome.
Each one of your team has a detailed and super-interesting background to them, and part of the fun was sitting with them during the off times to learn more about their past and what makes them tick. The relationship element from Mass Effect 1 is back in the sequel but with more variety if you’re straight. Unlike Dragon Age Origins, Bioware didn’t throw the GBLT community many choices in this one. It seemed being a straight male would net you more sack time than playing any other sex or orientation. Remember the MAKO? Well it has been replaced with a shuttle and more immersive form of exploration. Dropping probes, space mining and even flying the Normandy have been completely redone and it is a lot more fun to do these things.
What I DisLiked
Okay… Bioware, please take a look at the character development and interaction that you provided for us in Dragon Age Origins. Study up on why people like myself were hopelessly addicted to it and why we continue to play it even after beating it three times… I’m such a loser. The point I am making is that LINEAR = BAD, FORMULAS = BAD, give us more dynamic conversation with the crew and make their likes/dislikes vary to the point where I can’t just look at them, know they are good and choose paragon chat patterns. After getting the 3rd crew member I had already figured out the pattern of – Rescue, chat, ask for Normandy Upgrade, do their private mission to get them to love me. That shit is boring Bioware, COME ON! Even the supposedly tough Jack aka Subject Zero was eating out of my hand just for giving her some attention. (-____-) That’s me looking unimpressed.
And you know what I am going to complain about since I am one of the hopeless losers who play this game for the romances. What’s up with the G rated loving? The hookups were done so carebearishly (my own word) that you may as well had fade to black and come back with the characters getting up out of bed or the engine room floor (you know who I am referring to you naughty genetically advanced freak you). Can Mass Effect 3 give us some R rated sex please? If not, at least beef up the choreography to something worthwhile, you give us 40 second cinemas for landing the damn ship, how about the same length for finally mounting the Yeoman!? Wait what?
My Favorite Team – The Dragon Team
Everyone was good, all of the characters within their respective roles kick ass, so randomly choosing a team would do them a disservice. Who did I find myself running with the most? Well that would be that crazy Bish Subject Zero and the Grunt. Zero with her supreme biotics and lack of care for getting shot, burnt, slapped whatever is a great compliment to the Grunt. I play a Vanguard, which is the warrior/mage of Mass Effect 2, I charge you with my Biotics, punch you in the gut and leave you on the floor with a couple bullets in you chest “take two on the way down POW POW!!!” So I am an in-your-face fighter, I rarely run around behind boxes trading assault rifle fire with you, my preference was the heavy handgun – it holds only 19 bullets. Ya you see how I get down, the three of us bloodied many mouths.
Who Did I Romance and Why
This was tough, if you read my “Women of Mass Effect” article you know I have a thing for tough girls. When I rescued Subject Zero, learned her back story and begun spending my free time kicking it with her down in the basements of Engineering she grew on me to the point where I wanted to be her rock. This was all well and good until frikkin Tali comes back into Shepard’s life and then Ashley (who I romanced in the first one) went loyalist, human bitch on me. It came down to Tali versus Jack and while it was the bald, tattooed hard ass who came to my (clears throat) quarters, heh heh before the final mission, it was Tali in the end who I locked it up with. Going into Mass Effect 3 Tali’Zorah vas Normandy will be my Shepard’s woman and Ashley can go take an anger management class. Bad Ashley, BAD!
Why You Should Buy Mass Effect 2
Because I said so. Look I promised you short and I gave you a book, is that not reason enough to buy this game? How much more of a fanboi do I have to prove myself to be before you go pick it up? I’ll do you one more, the aliens there culture and the ongoing adventures of Mass Effect can rival if not trump the Star Wars Universe. There I said it. Mass Effect 2, though not as dynamic and wonderful as that other Bioware game, is a pretty damn good Space Opera.
Editor’s Update: It’s been a year and this game still calls me back, the replay value is HUGE, making it one of the best valued games for your dollar. I am not sure why I gave it only 4 out of 5 stars initially but I am bumping it up to 5.