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Old 02-03-2010, 10:15 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Mass Effect 2 Review (360)

Developer: BioWare
Publisher: EA
Engine: Unreal Engine 3.5
Platforms: Xbox 360, PC
Release Date: January 26, 2010 (NA)

When the movie Avatar first came out, back in December of 2009, it was pegged as the gateway to the "next generation of movies." While the story/plot of the movie wasn't too original, the movie did not fail to deliver on it's premise. The visuals were absolutely stunning, unlike one's I had never seen in a movie before. The 3D graphics didn't over-whelm you, as they complimented the movie perfectly, almost like two actors that work in a movie flawlessly together. Simply put, it was epic on all kinds of levels.

This my friends, is the perfect way I would describe Mass Effect 2. This is a game that will usher in a whole new generation of games and how you play them. The graphics and visuals are simply amazing. The gameplay is flawless. The characters are something out of a movie...well put together, likable/dis-likable, sexy, and easy to relate to. The voice acting is superb and leaves you not playing a game but watching an interactive movie. There is no "video game" here, it's an interactive experience that you just happen to relate to a video game. BioWare has out done themselves in a way I would have never thought possible.

Your adventure is a continuation of the first Mass Effect where we link up with Commander Shepard once again aboard the Normandy. The opening sequence to ME2 is one of the best ever, in my book, and gets your blood pumping from the very first second. Long story short, the Normandy is attacked, the crew escapes in little pods, Comm. Shepard then sacrifices himself to save the ship's pilot; Joker. The last scene of the sequence is Commander Shepard's lifeless body floating in space.

This is where Cerberus comes in. A "gun for hire" company much like modern day 'Blackwater' or even like the "RDA Corporation" in the movie Avatar. They find Shepard and basically genetically repair him, bringing him back to life, so he can fight for them. Cerberus, led by the character named "The Illusive Man" (voiced brilliantly by Michael Sheen) pegs Shepard to lead a recon mission against a species known as the "Collectors" who are going planet to planet and "collecting" the humans on the colonies. No one knows why the Collector's are taking these humans or what their plans are...but Cerberus wants more information and that's where our adventure sets off.

Here in ME2 you have the party system much like the original game. It wouldn't quite be an RPG if you didn't have some sort of party, right? You'll meet old characters from the first game as well as new ones, with potential love interests. These characters play a very important part throughout the game and especially towards the end. Your interaction with them proves vital to your efforts to stop the Collector's. It's this one thing that makes ME2 stand out amongst all the other voice over RPG's out there. Your word choices have a good meter "Paragon" and a bad meter "Rebel"...BioWare adds a nice touch to this as your character's face will start glowing a bright reddish/orange from the scars the more "Rebel" you become. It adds a certain "badass" level to Shepard...as if he didn't have enough?

You travel world to world in order to recruit your team that you will ultimately take into battle with the Collector's. There are 11 spots available for you to recruit, and only half the spots are mandatory, that's the brilliant part. If you don't feel like investing about a good 10 hours into recruiting Tali or Samara, you simply don't have to...but you'll pay the consequences for it. Once you recruit these team members you'll have the option of doing a "loyalty" mission for each one of them. Of course, this is optional but if you don't your crew members might not be willing to go into battle with you in the end, and that would be disappointing for someone who just used 25+ hours to recruit all of them.

The ending sequence to the game is simply magnificent, it involves you going through the "Omega 4 Relay" to do battle with the Collector's on their "harvest" ship. It's tabbed a suicide mission because no one who has ever gone through the Omega 4 Relay has ever survived but, if it's one thing I know, it's that Commander Shepard is that much of a badass to pull through.

The combat system throughout the game isn't changed much although the cover system is more heavily relied on this go around. Squad combat is also encouraged with a new "abilities" wheel that you can choose your squad member's special attacks from. Also new to the game is the ability to pair and link attacks with your party mates in order to form an almost invincible attack. The targeting system could be better, but to be honest, that was the only flaw I found throughout the entire game.

We waited three years for Mass Effect 2 and it was certainly worth the wait. It's revolutionized the RPG genre in way we haven't thought possible. It's a RPG-action game. It's the only game with the exception of Fallout 3 that has successfully blended the RPG quality with action so effortlessly that you generally can't tell that its base quality is an RPG.

The game will leaving you wanting more in a good way, and it's a shame that it eventually has to end. Rest assured though, with BioWare at the helm, Mass Effect 3 will be even better than the second.

Gameplay: 9.5
Graphics: 10
Replay: 9.5
Controls: 9.5

Final Score: 9.6/10

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