PS3 Reviews: Mass Effect 2 Review

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Mass Effect 2 Review

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Graphics:

 

8.7

Gameplay:

 

9.4

Sound:

 

9.1

Control:

 

8.9

Replay Value:

 

9.6

Overall Rating:       9.2

 

 

Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Publisher:

EA

Developer:

BioWare

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

RPG

About one year after Mass Effect 2 wowed critics and gamers alike, BioWare’s epic role-playing adventure finally arrives on the PlayStation 3. Complete with a ton of extra DLC, an interactive comic that allows franchise newcomers to catch up, and the benefit of the engine currently being utilized for ME3, it’s the definitive “collection,” so-to-speak. It can be purchased on Blu-Ray or in digital format off the PlayStation Store; either way, you’ll need a hefty amount of hard drive space available. But for most, that won’t be an issue, primarily due to the game’s undeniable quality. Some say the storytelling and immersion is almost unparalleled while others adore the depth and detail. On the whole, you’ll be hard pressed to find a reviewer who won’t immediately recommend a purchase...and I’m not about to break that trend. Despite some small reservations, there’s no doubt that ME2 is an amazing accomplishment.

We’ll begin with the one element that may require the most explanation on my end: the graphics. For the record, the level of detail, the level designs, and even some of the facial emotions are top-notch; there’s a definite cleanness and slickness that permeates every last facet of the visual production. However, there’s also something else I feel I must mention. The presentation often feels a tad lifeless; maybe it’s the stiff animations, or the frequent (albeit minor) hitching during cut-scenes, or maybe it’s just the odd sterility that seems to accompany a sci-fi setting. To me, a lot of it seems more plastic than vibrant, and that’s the best way I can describe it. Still, the aforementioned holds true, in that ME2 looks great from top to bottom; it’s a fantastically competent and consistent graphical palette that likely won’t disappoint. “Plastic-y” may be more subjective and I accept that.

There’s very little to complain about on the sound front. Technically speaking, I felt some of the sound effects corresponded with the lack of perceived richness I found in the graphics, and the balance could be off (effects cut right out several times). It’s not as consistent as the visuals but the beautiful music and superb voice acting continually enhances our experience. The soundtrack, although I wish I heard more of it, fits perfectly and the developers know exactly when and how to implement an appropriate piece of music. The voiceover work is impressive, to say the least. There’s a ton of dialogue and a ton of different actors and yet, every last delivered line sounds authentic and believable. And because ME2 puts such a huge emphasis on story, this is essential and most appreciated. A few slight technical misgivings and some dull effects can’t stop the important aspects from reigning supreme.

Much has been made about the gameplay, in that some of the game’s detractors will say the world of Mass Effect is little more than a third-person shooter with a few RPG elements. They’ll say, “at best, it’s a blend.” And trust me, with my RPG background, if I honestly believed ME2 wasn’t a role-playing game, I would make that bold statement and back it up with plenty of evidence and sound reasoning. But I can’t do that. I can’t do that because ME2 is every inch an RPG; it just so happens to utilize a real-time third-person mechanic, and it’s a mechanic that works extremely well, by the way. In fact, I’d be willing to say it’s even more of an RPG than the first-person Fallout 3 or maybe even the oft-discussed Final Fantasy XIII. But maybe you’re still not convinced; maybe you’ve been waiting for my review to make a final determination regarding your feelings about the game’s “status.” So, the following is the explanation, and I’m gonna have a whole lotta fun writing it.

I say that because the following – the reason why ME2 is a hardcore RPG and one that can be immensely fulfilling – represents my favorite parts of the game. First, the story: this is a well-scripted, excellently acted, in-depth plot with intriguing characterization, plenty of intrinsically human themes and concepts, and surprising twists and turns. It has most every element crucial to an engaging storyline. You can make choices concerning your reactions, and this has a direct impact on the growth of your character. Furthermore, you’re even rewarded for such growth; if you lean more towards the heroic side (Paragon), you’ll be able to hit L2 when the prompt appears, and perform a special action that will likely effect events in the near future. If you’re more of an impatient Renegade, you can perform specific Renegade actions when prompted with the R2 button. There are side-quests, NPCs, and vast environments. RPG enough?

No? How about how they approach that third-person gameplay- first and foremost (in my mind, anyway), you can pause the combat. To me, this seems to be one of the last vestiges of the formerly unique role-playing realm. With so many genres doing so much blending these days, definitions have altered and lines have blurred. But only in RPGs can I pause, take stock of the situation, select equipment and new commands, and in general, get my bearings. At any time in combat, you can hit L2 to bring up the weapon wheel and select different weapons for you and each of your party members. What you have available is what you chose as your equipment when loading out. Or, you can press the R2 button, which brings up the power wheel. Here, you can choose from available powers and skills, unique to each character. So in theory, against a tough enemy for instance, you can bring up that wheel, select a power for each of the three characters, and let it all fly at once when you let the action resume.

I really liked this; such a feature gives the standard third-person shooting mechanic a whole new level of depth, control and customization. It also works almost flawlessly. As for the control itself, you can go into cover with the X button, or hold the X button to dash forward, and you simply aim with L1 and fire with R1. Collision detection is usually spot-on, the AI – on both the ally and enemy side – is pretty damn good, and although I still say Shepard moves a little stiffly and he sometimes wouldn’t hurdle over a barrier until I had pressed X a few times, the control is more than reliable. And I know I just said the AI is good but it can be erratic; Miranda once hopped up on a box of crates in a hail of bullets and fell almost instantly. Not sure what that was about. The enemies will also appear to adopt the same approach technique in certain battles, but really, besides that, the AI gives the action a dynamic, entertaining flavor.

I won’t give away much of the story, but all you need to know is that something is abducting humans. It seems a group known as the Collectors might be behind the kidnapping, but it goes much deeper as time goes on. The game lets you visit a number of different locales, most of which can be revisited and explored. You embark on a mission to assemble a team capable of taking on the final threat, and I’m always a big fan of recruiting in any RPG; I get to see different characters, participate in different scenarios during the recruiting process, and ultimately choose my favorites and pay them special attention. You also have to remember to take your morality into account, and as each major player in the plot has a central story, you must come through if you want them all to be your friend…and if you want them all to survive at the end. It’s just another engaging level of depth for the micromanagement lovers.

It’s about the story, the characters, the freedom, and the atmosphere. I still think the pacing is a little off and too many of the mundane, trivial side-quests tend to make us lose track of the main plot. But you don’t have to adopt the completionist mentality (like I always do with RPGs) and no matter when you re-grasp the primary storyline, you’re once again impressed with the professional implementation. Being able to choose how you advance, both physically and mentally, having full control over your team and and the gameplay proceedings, and just exploring this immense universe is probably enough. The combination of those positives really puts this one over the top, and is the reason why it is so widely respected and beloved. The bottom line is that even if you spend two or three hours, you not only feel as if you didn’t do enough, but you really want to go back and keep going…and do more.

Personally, it doesn’t grab me but I don’t want that to significantly impact this review, which is why I produced that editorial. Read that to understand why, no matter how many hours I invest, no matter how hard I try, no matter how many times I tell myself, “by all rights, you should love this game,” I just can’t connect with ME2. But besides that, there are negatives that have to be a part of this analysis: such drawbacks include the aforementioned pacing issue, the slightly less-than-perfect AI and control, and the technical hang-ups that are noticeable. Sound, for both voices and effects, would routinely cut out during my play time (only for a few seconds, mind you), I still think there’s a lifelessness inherent in the visual presentation, and cut-scenes can skip about a bit. The game also froze on me once. And although these are all minor, I don’t believe they can be entirely ignored.

Mass Effect 2 is so brilliant in so many ways. There’s just no getting around that fact, and I wouldn’t want to get around it. Just because it isn’t my thing – and I feel bad about that; I feel as if I’m missing out – does that mean it isn’t one of the best interactive adventures of the generation? Does it mean others, especially those who love the setting, won’t adore it? Of course not. I never liked any RTS, either; doesn’t mean Command & Conquer isn’t legendary. ME2 features one of the best storylines in gaming, a sense of freedom that comes through in almost every action and interaction with characters, a reliable and rewarding style of combat, memorable emotional peaks and valleys, a massive amount of sci-fi goodness, and enough depth – on just about every conceivable level – to satisfy even the most ardent role-playing fan. I have my reservations and those won’t change, and the production, especially from a technical standpoint, isn’t perfect.

But as it says on the back of the box, it’s “a brilliant sci-fi epic.” That isn't false advertising, friends.

The Good: Fantastic story with great writing and interesting characters. Ultimate control in terms of gameplay and customization. Plenty of freedom within the linear plot. Good AI and control. Super voice acting and a lot of great music. Blend of third-person shooting and RPG mechanics is nearly spotless. Satisfying and fulfilling to the max.

The Bad: Small technical hitches. Graphics lack luster and vibrancy. Minor pacing issue. AI and real-time control can fail every once in a while.

The Ugly: Even the Blu-Ray disc will require a 25-minute installation.

1/22/2011 Ben Dutka

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Comments (111 posts)

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 5:10:28 PM
Reply

After reading The Good, some may ask, "how can you know if it's 'satisfying and fulfilling to the max' if the game didn't grab you?"

My answer to that is because the game ALMOST got me, and it takes one HELL of a production to give me any sense of fulfillment in an environment I don't like. Combine this with the many, many people who name ME2 as one of their most satisfying experiences of the generation, and I think it deserves to be mentioned as one of the positives.

Agree with this comment 12 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Jawknee
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 5:28:49 PM
Reply

"more plastic than vibrant"

Unreal Trademark.

Good review. Frylock guessed the score correctly.

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frylock25
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 6:07:21 PM

yea i did. i had a feeling after reading the editorial yesterday that it would be right in there. considering i was .01 off of my high guess, i could just sense it in Ben's words.

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Highlander
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 10:02:21 PM

That is something I have mentioned before with other games as well. This generation, the HD vissuals are like a double edged sword. They can be lifelike, photo-realistic, artful and incredibly detailed, and on occasion, they can look like the objects on screen are injection molded, painted figures. It can be distracting to an extent, and it's a disappointment to me that any game falls foul of it. Considering that so many games get it just right, you expect that most major devs have figured this out already.

Ah well, such is life.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Qubex
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 11:08:50 PM

Yip, it is a great review. I have been very interested in purchasing this game but it will have to wait until after Killzone 3.

It's on my list anyways, and well done to Frylock for guessing that score, it's usually not easy to pick what Ben will give a game...

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

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Ludicrous_Liam
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 5:30:21 PM
Reply

Yeah I hear you Ben, I remember playing the demo & I saw why people loved it but when it said "Want some more?" I was like..."Eh, nah thanks.".

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frylock25
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 6:09:12 PM

ha ha just press the button once and wait.

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Jawknee
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 5:35:19 PM

Dude?

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Ludicrous_Liam
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 5:39:21 PM

Ah fack it I just deleted about 20 of them! Sigh..can't delete them now as I refreshed the page...screw it I'll keep my mouth shut next time XD

Last edited by Ludicrous_Liam on 1/22/2011 5:40:27 PM

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Pandacastro
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 5:39:33 PM
Reply

Lol you make up most of the comments, just press submit comment once.

Edit:Forgot to press reply to liam.

Last edited by Pandacastro on 1/22/2011 5:40:26 PM

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Ludicrous_Liam
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 5:43:59 PM

Yeah I'm impatient :P That & the PS3 browser is just plain irratating & makes me want to jump out the windown as I can't contain my fustration lol.

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Qubex
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 11:11:17 PM

Yes, the PS3 browser is incredibly poor, not to mention the memory constraints it has to work in which can make things worse under heavy page loads :(

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

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Pandacastro
Monday, January 24, 2011 @ 12:34:21 PM

At least this site works well with PS3's browser.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 5:48:20 PM
Reply

Cool review, outsiders won't really understand it but PSXE readers know what's up. And since everyone says it has improved since the demo that is just icing on the cake. It definitely sounds like more of an RPG than the demo suggested and that's cool. As soon as I have time I'll find this sucker somewhere.

The complaints you have don't bother me at all because (as this is Bioware) and I've been playing Dragon Age Origins today I can tell you all those and worse exist in DAO but that doesn't stop me from liking it.

Agree with this comment 6 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Temjin001
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 8:51:31 AM

Yes, I liked that Ben attacked the TPS/mild RPG myth about the game. I was always semi-annoyed by how frequent people would cite that myth on message boards. BUt I also knew, it was being generated from a gross lack of experience, basically ignorance, altogether. And if I felt compelled to respond by putting out those fires every time I saw them... I'd be a full-time fire fighter =p

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Oxvial
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 5:50:40 PM
Reply

Taking into account the improvements over the demo and the dlc packed I'm okay with this review, I knew this wasn't going to get a 10 like all other sites loves to give it.



Last edited by Oxvial on 1/22/2011 5:52:55 PM

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Oxvial
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 9:38:55 AM

Just one thumb down? meh you ME fanboys are nothing!, the Call of Duty fanboys would give 20 at this point.

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aaronisbla
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 11:31:42 PM

it could be they didn't care and are too busy playing ME2...

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tes37
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 5:51:01 PM
Reply

I was going to pass on this, but now I've decided to go ahead and get it. Everything I've been hearing has me convinced that I will like this game. I bought LBP2 and Brutal Legend the other day, but I want to finish Sly Cooper before starting those.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 5:58:11 PM
Reply

Ah screw it, this review has me amped and I just found it for $47 shipped. I'm buyin' it. I'll just find a way to make the time to play :)

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frylock25
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 6:07:51 PM

did you win a lotto ticket? lol

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 6:25:22 PM

If I won the lottery I'd buy you all a copy of any game you wanted :)

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Lawless SXE
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 8:55:25 PM

Someone buy this man a lottery ticket.

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Temjin001
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 8:46:12 AM

Sweet, welcome to the club =)
Nice score on $47.. that's pretty low for a new PS3 game.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 10:32:55 AM

Yeah, I got lucky i guess.

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frylock25
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 11:19:03 AM

keep your luck up and go get that lotto ticket lol

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PasteNuggs
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 6:09:57 PM
Reply

So would the consensus say that the demo was just a bad preview of the game and that it is actually good? I wasn't planning on getting this but I just might have to now after reading this review. Ahh, so many games, so little time.

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Jawknee
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 8:09:02 PM

I am a firm believer in demo's helping people decide on a game or not but the demo released a few weeks ago was crappy. If you're a PS+ member, download the 60 minute trial. It's a much better demonstration and allows you to spend more than 10 minutes with the game to help you decide.

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PasteNuggs
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 8:37:01 PM

I'm not a plus member but my interests generally fall in line with what is constantly praised on here so I think i'll be picking this up at some point. Thanks for the info.

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ZettaiSeigi
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 8:42:15 PM

The obvious thing you will notice upon playing the final version is that there's hardly any screen tearing on the cutscenes and there are lesser frames dropped.

I bought my copy yesterday and played it when I got home. I was expecting to see the flaws I saw when playing the demo, and I was impressed that I did not see a lot of them on the retail copy.

Going back to the topic, excellent review Ben! I myself am not a big fan of sci-fi storylines and settings, but I am liking ME2 so far. So I agree when you said "It takes one HELL of a production to give me any sense of fulfillment in an environment I don't like."

So yes, this is a great game and I am glad that I didn't have to buy a 360 just to play it.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Beamboom
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 2:04:03 PM

With a game as huge as this I can't help but think it's completely impossible to give a fair impression in a demo using two small scenes, cause the game is so much more than any particular scene.
Demos are best suited for the simple straightforward games, like your average fps/tps. Is it smooth looking, easy handling, good visuals? Ok cool then you know approximately what you get. Case closed.

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frylock25
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 6:29:19 PM
Reply

well the review makes me want to play it. i have so many games goin right now i cant spend the money for this. but at some point i will get my hands on it.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 6:30:27 PM
Reply

I didn't play the demo, but I seriously doubt ten minutes will give you any sense of what this game is really like.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 7:24:09 PM

Unsurprisingly, it made the mistake of focusing on the shooting and just added a smattering of dialogue options.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Jawknee
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 7:50:47 PM

The demo was crap anyway. If there are any PS+ members who are one the fence, I suggest they download the 60 minute trial. It was enough for me to decide whether or not I wanted it without the distraction of frame rate and tearing problems.

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Shams
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 6:54:53 AM

Some games aren't demo-friendly. Some games aren't review-friendly. But, ME2 reviews very well, and even it's lowest scores are telling of that. It starts fresh, and ends with a bang, and you'll be coming back for more soon, enough.

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Temjin001
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 8:55:42 AM

Would it kill Sony to give a person even a 2-3 hour trial for PS+ members?..
With just 60 min, I'd be like, "CRAP! I can't take even this phone call, my time is ticking down tick-tok tick-tok.."

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AcHiLLiA
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 12:29:08 PM

I did to feel that the demo felt crappy, anyways I will check into this game later, heck my cousin has the game so I will check it out at his place.

Last edited by AcHiLLiA on 1/23/2011 12:30:09 PM

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Shams
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 6:56:24 PM
Reply

I myself preferred it to both RDR and AC:2, partly because the interactive drama a la Heavy Rain kept me engrossed and involved in the story throughout and 'til the very end, as your actions do have an effect on the consequences, where as the other games felt simply like the traditional fair of gameplay (albeit perhaps better gameplay) punctuated by cutscenes.

At the same time, I don't want to underrate the action element of the gameplay. Besides offering plenty of replay value through the actions and consequences in the story (which characters you choose to recruit, which relationships you decide to develop, even how you upgrade your ship influences the ending), there is wealth of replay value involving which character class you use, which skills you decide to acquire and upgrade, which members you decide to recruit, whom you select for your squad, which skills and weapons you choose to select and upgrade for them, and the multiple difficulty settings. Your character class (Adept, Engineer, Infiltrator, Sentinel, Soldier, Vanguard) will also affect which weapons and skills you can acquire and how much you can upgrade. Which members you decide to recruit, and which relationships you decide to develop will affect which bonus skills can be acquired and developed, in addition to how you choose to select and develop your squad, which you determine at the beginning and ending of every mission (with the exception of the character missions which will have the storied character preselected). When you start the game, you can choose for the game to automatically upgrade your squad members at the end of every mission, or have it so that you manually upgrade them to your own liking.

There is so much to this game, that even two playthroughs won't be sufficient for experiencing everything. And this is yet another category which ME2 excels at over RDR and AC. The other games are great for the first playthrough, but aside from the MP, they offer little incentive for picking it up again. ME2 is one of the few games that I played through again right after finishing it. And I'll definitely play it again on the ps3, to have my save file data ready for ME3. I figure this is why Ben gave it a 9.6 for replay value.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 9:48:43 PM

If someone chooses auto-upgrade, that person is not an RPG fan. ;)

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Shams
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 12:55:12 AM

Heh. I seem to remember someone complaining about being lost staring at menus in Demon's Souls ;)

But really, you do have to manually upgrade Shepherd in both cases, and if you haven't played the prequel, and have no clue what the classes and skills are about, selecting auto for your first playthrough maybe a better idea than selecting manual, upgrading your side characters along a particular path, only to find out 20 hours later you completely wasted their experience points. However, later in the game, for some amount of element-zero, you can reconfigure your characters.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 1:02:05 AM

No RPG has ever confused me, including Demon's Souls. The balance issue in DS concerned me, but that's something different.

And I think the class you choose in ME2 has a more direct impact on the difficulty level (rather than allocation of Exp) but then again, I haven't played it for as long as others.

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Shams
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 6:44:10 AM

Sure, Ben. Nice review by the way.

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Underdog15
Monday, January 24, 2011 @ 1:53:04 PM

The class you choose only has an impact at the start. It doesn't have a very major effect in the long run. Stat allocation plays a huge part. Basically, your life is easier if you decide to make your character especially good at a couple things, and not everything. If you're a heavy magic user with high magic stats and come across something that magic doesn't hurt much, morph to body form and drop a blue stone to get a friend to help. :)

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matt99
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 6:58:40 PM
Reply

Like so many others the demo made me question a purchase, but after reading this review and hearing what everyone around here has to say about it I think it's worth using my last christmas gift card on.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 7:25:33 PM

Since I just made my purchase online already, I'll use my last gift card on Dragon Age II I think.

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checkudes
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 7:05:03 PM
Reply

Ahh i was gonna write a long ass post but seriously. Good review, awesome game in my opinion.
Some gamers are so stupid and let their fanboy'ism get in their way. If you enjoy a solid storyline along with some great shooter/rpg elements then just pick up this game. Weeoooooooooooooooo

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Clamedeus
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 7:32:48 PM

And how do you know if it's fanboyism?It could be because of preference and it's not the kind of game they like.

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checkudes
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 7:06:05 PM
Reply

Oh by the way, judging a game of this caliber by a demo is just stupid. OHRå

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Jawknee
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 7:52:21 PM

Uh huh, then why did Bioware release one if not to give people a taste of what they will get to help them decide if they wanted the game or not?

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checkudes
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 8:14:15 PM

Of course this is my opinion, but it seems difficult to fit a heavily story driven game into a demo. I'm just sayin', a demo is no way to judge a whole game

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FM23
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 7:29:26 PM
Reply

Good review though most of the things you considered bad are featured in most if not all games that are story orientated. I love this game and if any cares...this has become my #1 game just slightly above the MGS series, GTA series, and Uncharted series.

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Shams
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 7:55:26 AM

Not my favorite, but it's up there, and definitely in a class of it's own.

Uncharted is unmatched in it's benchmark-setting graphics and animation, delightfully, hollywood-caliber presentation and voice acting, and unrivaled core gameplay. GTA is king of open-worlds, and variety of gameplay. Heavy Rain is the standard of interactive drama. MGS4 still reigns supreme in it's attention to detail.

ME2 manages to combine such genres in such a way not done before. It takes the interactive drama from Heavy Rain/Fahrenheit, the cover-shooter mechanic of Gears/Uncharted, weapon wheel and variety obviously influenced by Ratchet, and mixes it with splendid measure.

If it had a streaming world complete with vehicular travel, it would be nigh on perfection.

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Nick Maim
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 7:58:31 PM
Reply

Playing it now.

The space scenes look fantastic. The interiors and characters, although fairly detailed do look like they're all made out of smooth, shiny plastic. This game needs to look more like Deadspace.

Loving it otherwise.

Great review.

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Jawknee
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 8:06:58 PM

Trademark of the Unreal Engine.

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FM23
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 8:36:14 PM

Dead space?...not sure I would call Dead Space on this one. How about Uncharted? Now that's a looker

@Jawknee

Agree, most Unreal games looks like this, ME2 is a better version of Batman Arklym Asylum

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Lawless SXE
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 8:58:36 PM

The gritty, dark, dank atmosphere of Dead Space was awesome. Or I may just think that because Alien is without a doubt my favourite SF series over anything shiny.

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Highlander
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 10:09:39 PM

LOL!

This reminds me of my favorite (probably unfair) criticism of Gears of War being all about Space marines in shiny armor, just like Halo is about Space Marines in shiny armor. Anyone remember the 1st Madden on the PS3? Actually the second Madden on PS3 was no better, they both looked as though the players were animated toy figures. Shiny surfaces adorned everything in sight. It just looked plain wrong. Thank goodness that devs have figured out how to do better.

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Temjin001
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 8:22:44 AM

I think it's interesting to point out that some of 360's best looking games are UE3 games. When Gears launched it was quite the looker. And to be fair, UE3 typically performs more consistent for 360 gamers than it does for PS3. I think 360's top looking games are Reach, Forza 3, Gears 2, MW2, and ME2.
Last night I played Gears 2 and then KZ2 back to back. KZ2 pretty much slaughters it visually. THere's just so much more stuff going on geometrically, dynamic lighting, and post processing wise.

oh, and Highlander, I never really thought Gears had a shiny armor look. They are actually pretty gritty and muted, like the rest of the game. As for Halo, yeah, lots of shine going on there, usually.

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Highlander
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 11:37:49 AM

@Temjin,

LOL! That's why I admitted my view was probably unfair. To be honest, I never liked the aesthetic of the overly macho space marines in Gears of War.

OK, this isn't a reply to you, it's simply an observation based on 5 years of 'next gen games' and the current cultural trends ion gaming and entertainment in general. The thing about the kinds of over done male hero characters in games (like Halo, or especially Gears of War) that makes me laugh is the way in which so many people have a knee-jerk politically correct reaction to equally overdone female characters. I mean, those male characters are so over done it's just laughable at times. Yet when a game comes along with female characters that are equally overdone, we get the usual moral majority opinions from non-gamers, and from a lot of gamers you hear about how pervy the female characters are and how anyone that likes that kind of thing is just plain weird. Oh, but they really enjoy their overtly macho male characters.

Anyway, that aside, yes, the graphics in Gears of War are less shiny than those in Halo, but I hope you understood what I was referring to with that shiny/plasticy quality that some games this generation have, it can be off-putting when it happens.

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Temjin001
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 11:54:38 AM

I remember, years ago, I thought the shiny/plastic look made games look cool hehe. I thought it added a level of depth.
But now, yeah, you look at a close up of a face on HR ( i did play the demo) compared to a close up of a face on any UE3 game and one looks very real and the other looks very... well, plastic... I just can't think of a better adjective lol

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Nick Maim
Tuesday, January 25, 2011 @ 9:54:07 PM

@Jawknee: didn't know that re: Unreal Engine characteristic. Time for an update!

@FM23: Deadspace looks more natural. The textures aren't so glossy. Maybe it's the art style or the game engine, but as a space motif, I much prefer the gritty nature of DS.

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Lawless SXE
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 9:01:27 PM
Reply

Awww! This solidifies my decision to get this game, but no way in hell am I paying full price for it. Also, I recall reading something somewhere that said the DLC had to be downloaded, and wasn't included on the disc. Is that true? If so, I recant my previous statement.
Peace.

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Qubex
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 11:14:27 PM

Yhea, I am also waiting for a price drop!

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

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Temjin001
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 9:19:56 PM
Reply

A good respectable review, Ben.

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PorkChopGamer
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 9:34:19 PM

I agree completely.

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Temjin001
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 10:05:04 PM

PorkChopGamer, I just have to ask. So how did you decide on that name and the Power Ranger avatar? =)

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Kai200X
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 9:45:39 PM
Reply

I got the game the day it came out, and I enjoyed it very much so far. Alot of conversations but the story is fun and it did grab my attention. I can't wait to play more.

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Highlander
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 10:06:31 PM
Reply

Thanks Ben, A great review, and very honest as well. I do like sci-fi settings, and this may be something I need to give a look, when I can break away from White Knight.

That plasticy nature of the graphics is something that has been an occasional issue this generation. Some games just look like molded plastic instead of fluid graphics. Because everything now runs at such high resolution, some games manage to go beyond realism in their pursuit of higher resolution and cleaner images. I don't think this was a problem in the last generation because there wasn't sufficient resolution for gamers to really notice.

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Qubex
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 11:18:54 PM

The engine plays a big role in getting that final look right I think. It may be that proprietary engines, such as the ones used in Killzone and Uncharted, have the grunt to "enhance" the graphic window with laden post processing effects adding the worlds realism... enhancing lighting, specularity and bump map shadowing that all goes towards making the overall image look that much better...

Pity the multi platform Unreal3 engine doesn't make use of any of those CELL SPU tricks to make these games look as good as our favourite benchmark in the graphics department, namely Uncharted 2.

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

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Highlander
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 11:46:22 AM

That's very true. There are not many games that duffer from this, but when you see one, it's weird because once you notice it, you can't *un-notice* it.

It's like on the original theatrical release of Return of the Jedi, there's an optical affects glitch in one of the major space battle scenes where two tie fighters briefly appear and then disappear, in front of the Millennium Falcon. The optical effects were layered and for a few frames the wrong layer was on top. I never noticed it until years after the release when I read about it and went back and re-watched the movie. Sure enough they were there, and now any time I see that release of the movie, I can't miss them, it's like my eye is drawn to them.

Lucas went back fixed it in the remastered re-release of the movie. Along with all the other changes he made - why did he have to replace the original Anakin Skywalker? It makes no sense since Obi Wan and Yoda appear as they where then they died, just as Anakin originally did. I hated the way that Lucas came over all revisionist so his prequels would fit.

Anyway...there are a few games where the graphics are too crisp and clean, the lighting is too even and motion is unnaturally smooth. The result is that objects/characters don't look real as much as they look plastic.

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DIsmael85
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 10:10:14 PM
Reply

Ok maybe I'm the minority on this, but I do not see the "plastic" graphics everyone is claiming it to have. The game looks perfectly fine and has way better texture work than Dragon Age: Origins. I would say play "Lair of the Shadow Broker" and you will see the graphics doing some amazing things. Also I have never seen Unreal used to very well before. UT3 looks cartoony, but there is no doubt that game like Gears of War and Mass Effect have had some amazing looking environments. I know Uncharted trumps all, but "plastic" is a little overused in this regard.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 11:33:16 PM

Dragon Age is in the same boat.

And there's a distinct difference between how games look that use the Unreal engine, and games that strive to use a specific hardware's power with specifically made engines.

Bottom line is if you put two games in front of me, and one of them is using the UE3 engine, I will always be able to know which one it is. And it'd take about 10 seconds.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 1/22/2011 11:33:41 PM

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DIsmael85
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 12:21:53 AM

Well yeah, if it's used like it was in Enslaved. However, it took me a while to realize that ME2 was using Unreal Engine, only because it doesn't look as horrendous as some other games that don't know how to properly work with it. I'm not saying it's the best engine, but it's used very well in Mass Effect 2. Like I said, play the "Lair of the Shadow Broker" and you'll know what I mean. :)

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 12:59:57 AM

It is used better in ME2 but as I said, I can still notice it. It just doesn't bring the environment and characters to life, no matter how well that engine is utilized.

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DIsmael85
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 4:15:32 AM

Uhm, while I do respect your opinion on this, I must ask how the games engine does not bring the characters or environments to life, when there is way more content and detail in the games world than there was in Final Fantasy XIII. I would say Bioware has reached a level of detail as with the Star Wars or Star Trek universes. As I have stated, the unreal engine isn't the best out there and it is dated by today's standards, but the way the game looks is absolutely stunning for running on the Unreal Engine.

I can understand that it will come down to a matter of taste in this regard, or maybe what HDTV we are using, but I don't think this game looks as poor in relation to other Unreal Engine used games(i.e. Enslaved) *Which was a great game by the way*

Overall it's getting great reviews and I am happy that we can finally experience it on the PS3. And yes I own the Xbox 360 version and when compared the PS3 version is way way better looking. I'm just really happy they were able to utilize the Unreal Engine so well on the PS3, which has been a console plagued with issues on running it in the first place. I can't wait for Mass Effect 3. It's going to be great.

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Shams
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 7:28:07 AM

I think it mainly has to do with the stiff movement in 3rd person view, and animation (which is in common to all Unreal 3rd person games like Gears, Batman:AA, ME's). Anything in 1st person may not be so obvious to tell.

As for animation, Uncharted (with it's layered, dynamic, non-canned SPU-driven animations) remains king. AC (and Prince of Persia 2008) are next in line because of the life like Parkour.

And while ME2 does have a dance segment you can partake in if you wish to, it doesn't really specialize in animation, although Shepherd does move in a life-like manner (and dashing into enemies followed by a shotgun via Vanguard class never fails to exhilarate). The character detail, however, in your main characters is astounding.

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Highlander
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 11:47:45 AM

Shams,

Any time you combine really crisp and clean graphics, neutral/flat lighting and un-naturally smooth motion, you risk looking a little on the plastic side in a game.

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Shams
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 3:48:37 PM

Yes, Highlander, there certainly is an action figure feel to the characters during gameplay, which maybe a bi-product of UE, and the effects that you mention, but it's easy to overlook, at least for me.

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bloody_rootz
Saturday, January 22, 2011 @ 10:16:16 PM
Reply

def gona pick this up next week. (if i can find it)

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Teddie9
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 9:17:25 AM

yeah let's hope I'm going out to see if I can find it today

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___________
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 12:03:01 AM
Reply

just such a shame they had to release it against DS2.
i mean come on, its a fantastic game but nothing compared to DS2.
when will publishers learn to date there games appropriately?
oh well, at least this way ill be able to pick it up in the cheap winter bin when theres no new releases coming out.

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Beamboom
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 3:37:09 AM

With the rate games are released I'd say it's pretty hard to find a release date that's not close to another large release, unless you go for mid-summer launch.
Another thing is of course that in my eyes it's DS2 that must suffer in the shadow of ME2, not the other way around...

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___________
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 7:34:40 AM

no, there are plenty of games out there similar to ME2 but theres none similar to dead space.
not to mention most people have already played ME2 because its been available for over a year!
they could of chose plenty of better dates for it, the first 19 days of january were empty as are the first 10 days of feb till mindjack and test drive unlimited 2 which dont count because they look pretty crappy.
so they more or less had 40 better days than what they chose, not to mention theres nothing coming out early march.
they had PLENTY of better dates to choose, but no for some reason publishers have to release their games when other really good games are releasing.

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Highlander
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 11:39:40 AM

Oh? How many games are similar to ME2? Name them please. As for most people having played it. I think you need to clarify that by saying that most people who play games on the 360 or PC have already payed it. PS3 gamers are likely to *not* have already played it.

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Lairfan
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 12:50:26 PM

@_________:

DS2 and ME2 are not very much alike, and you can't really compare them to each other. Sure, I could understand if you liked DS2's scifi setting more than ME2, but in terms of style and plot they are completely different.

Btw, I'm getting DS2 when it comes out, but I'm not going to neglect ME2. They both deserve a purchase IMO (even if the story in ME2 has far too much characterization and too little main plot). Don't know why you want to completely neglect ME2 for being different than DS2, but if that's your way then so be it.

@Beamboom:

None of the games should suffer, they both look excellent.

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Beamboom
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 2:21:04 PM

So you really, honestly believe that moving the release date of a game two weeks or so, into the first half of january, would mean anything to anyone at all? Well, it would mean me getting the game two weeks earlier and I'd be happy about that of course, but in the grand scheme of things I really do not see the reason for your frustration at all. To me it sounds like,
"Buuhuu another good game gets released just when my favorite is released.... Stupid stupid Sony, bad boy bad boooy!"
- I mean... WTF?

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___________
Monday, January 24, 2011 @ 7:07:48 AM

of course its going to make a difference, i dunno about you but i cant play 2 games at once.
if i was to buy ME2 now, i would not get a chance to play it till probably late april!
who the f*ck would spend full RRP on a game, and not play it for a few months?
instead of wait till they can play it, and probably save a good 30+ bucks in the process.
come on, common sense cant be that rare!

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MadPowerBomber
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 4:02:54 AM
Reply

Definitely getting this, but have to wait a couple of weeks.

I think I might be one of the few that doesn't mind the "plastic" look of the Unreal Engine. It's other things that bother me about it. I do wish it would go away, though.

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aaronobst
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 5:57:57 AM
Reply

Worth every single penny

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Temjin001
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 8:25:24 AM

Funny avatar.
I have to say it has been annoying switching back and forth from disc 1 and disc 2 on ME2. Late in the game it gets all ridiculous asking you to swap from disk 1 to disk 2, back to disc 1 and then back to disk 2... pretty annoying. Oh, I've played only the 360 version =)

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IonHawk
Wednesday, January 26, 2011 @ 5:15:26 PM

Sold the 360 version and bought the PC version instead - couldn't say no to $5 for ME2 on Steam :)

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Turbey
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 8:37:51 AM
Reply

Bought this game day one! :) So far, I`m enjoying the game tremendously...been waiting a year for this game :P

Oh, just wondering about something. Have someone here played "Overlord" mission in ME2? Because the driving section in it, while very good, the ground are so pix-elated it`s god-awful to look at. Not to mention the dozens or so rocks you can drive through.



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xenris
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 9:56:44 AM
Reply

The real shame is that most of the people playing this never got a chance to play ME1. ME1 was better in almost every single way, whether its the customization of your character, the plot, the choices you had to make and or the music.

ME1 crushes 2 in every way, except in the ballistics of how the guns work early in the game, it was more RPG so there was a dice roll and even if your ret was on the enemy the bullet might go through them doing no damage, and guns over heated quick. However this all went away as you leveled up, guns could be modified, and at a high enough level you could shoot your gun forever without it over heating, there were no ammo clips in the game. Did I mention the story is actually coherent and there are 60 character levels not 30?

If you played the games back to back you would see that EA had its dirty fingers in this game when you compare it too the first game. This game was meant to cater to the CoD Gears Halo shooter people, and it succeeded because it has destroyed the first ones sales.

This is only an opinion but I strongly suggest trying the first one out on a PC it can be found for 5-20 bucks.

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SirLoin of Beef
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 10:36:27 AM

ME2 improved ME1's inventory system and got rid of the *!(@)# Makko (or whatever the heck it was called). I hated that thing.

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xenris
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 11:22:10 AM

It improved on its inventory system by completely removing it? RPGs are about managing your inventory, they could have toned down some of the useless stuff that you picked up sure. But this isn't the case they completely took it out. There were hundreds of guns in the first game all modifiable, this game has about ..12 or 13 I think. Not to mention a handful of crappy pieces of armour that you could throw on Shepard that did practically nothing. They give us 5 or so pre order bonus armour sets with slightly different stats instead of being able to find armour drops that give you a significant boost in stats?

So driving around a full planet in a mako that had sub par controls, exploring the planet for anomalies loot and missions, is worse than staring at a planet from space reading a graph to gather resources?

ME2 is shooter with rpg lite elements, ME1 was an rpg with shooter elements and it shows in story and gameplay.

Last edited by xenris on 1/23/2011 11:27:44 AM

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SirLoin of Beef
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 7:32:27 PM

The inventory system is still there. You just don't get access to it all the time that you do in the ME1. I did like the better selection of gear and weapons in the first but absolutely hated the way it was handled in the user interface.

And regarding the Makko, yes, I preferred the ME2 way of doing things. Operating the Makko drove me crazy most of the time.

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Alienange
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 10:38:06 AM
Reply

Why'd you have to go and use the word "vestige" in your review? Couldn't get FFXIII out of my head after that.

Nice review though. I found the first one ok but not really my thing. But what kind of gamer would I be if I didn't at least give ME2 the old college try after a glowing review like this?

One thing though, you didn't really mention whether or not the interactive comic does the first game justice. I'd like to know. Otherwise I really will have to finish the first one on the 360 before moving into part 2.

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xenris
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 11:26:13 AM

There is no way it could do the first game justice. In a lot of peoples opinions, not just mine, the first game is a lot better than the second. In terms of story music customization and choice. Gameplay is the only thing they really did better, the classes all feel really good in ME2 combat is definitely an improvement in most ways. Why they took out weapon mods and added in ammo clips blows my mind though.

Also ME2 is a corridor shooter. ME1 was a lot more open when you got into fights, ME2 is a cover shooter and feels very closed off in comparison.

If you have a decent PC I highly recommend you play the first one to experience it, then make the same choices in the comic so you can carry over to ME3 for your ps3.

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Temjin001
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 11:33:12 AM

I'd imagine Ben's review was for a PS3 audience coming into ME for the first time, and not so much for 360/PC gamers who already played the first game who are, more than likely, not very interested in the PS3 version.

Though as for your question, I do remember reading places that the comic presents you with four major decisions. Whereas, having played the 360 version it referenced ME1 at least a dozen times, or more. And not just references either but sometimes larger, more important, decisions. I'm still very curious about what happens if I had killed Wrex from the first game. In ME2 you encounter him as the head of an entire Krogan tribe who carries a lot of significance.

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Temjin001
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 11:45:25 AM

xenris, I do hope that for ME3 they bring back something more similar to ME1's landrover expeditions. I liked the feel of landing on a remote planet to investigate, not knowing what I'd find. The first time I encountered a Thresher Maw on a planet I was 0_0

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xenris
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 1:04:30 PM

Me too man, exploring a remote facility on a planet and having 2 of those things jump out of the ground was also a thrill. Stuff like that is what made the game the superior one.

For the third one I want them to keep the combat feel of me2 the same, but put some loot in there and basically a lot of the awesome RPG systems they removed from the first one. Saying that people don't like loot is sort of silly. I mean look how popular borderlands is. I don't need that much loot but it would be sweet if ME3 had some randomized armour in the game, or rare armour sets that you had to explore to find.

My fear is that this is the last game and they will remove even more exploration because "time is running out" but I cant criticize ME3 until I have played and beaten it :)

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Alienange
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 1:48:33 PM

Thanks for the info xenris. I started ME on the 360 about a year ago and gave up around the point where you have to explore the galaxy like it's Master of Orion or something.

Still, I think I'd much prefer actually playing the original game over just skipping ahead into part 2. Interactive comic or not. Maybe I'll give it a go when I'm done with FFXIII.

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Bloodysilence19
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 3:07:09 PM
Reply

its a great review its right score for me2. ive been playing 14hrs of these game only cause im trying to get everything done and beat it on insanity the first time. the game looks amazing, its still has its graphical bugs, being its using u3 engine i can understand why. gameplay is great, though AI for your partners are dumber than rocks they don't always stay or listen to you when u tell them to take cover. also the cover system is a joke. you take cover but yet you cant blind fire and if you move your camera angle to much he comes off covering. other than that the game is great and fun to play

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Beamboom
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 5:22:21 PM

14 hours and you've done *everything*??? Wow... Is that even possible? I'm way past 20 hours into the game and has barely just recruited most members, now working on loyality...

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Teddie9
Wednesday, February 02, 2011 @ 10:33:44 PM

I'm 22 hours in, have all characters and I've done each teammates personal mission, and all DLC, now it's the omega 4 relay for me :)

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Minishmaru
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 5:59:32 PM
Reply

Ben, you had me at "About..."

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Bloodysilence19
Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 11:03:12 PM
Reply

@beamboom

didn't say i got everything done in 14 hours. i said Ive been playing for 14 hours cause Ive been trying to get everything done. Keyword (TRYING) to get everything. it be impossible to get everything and beat the game in 14 hours even on the easiest difficulty. you can beat the game under 8 or 9 hours if you have it on lowest difficulty and know what to do. its collecting minerals from planets, mini missions and upgrading is what makes the game longer than 10 hours.

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XmnMetal
Monday, January 24, 2011 @ 6:55:36 AM
Reply

ME2 is an amazing game with a rich universe and great story and characters. Graphically it is a great looking game and is hands down the best use of Unreal 3(even with its drawbacks). I think the install helped with the texture loading that plagues Unreal 3 because it was rare. The review was spot on. All I can say is CAIN is my favorite weapon..............

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fdgtyr568
Wednesday, January 26, 2011 @ 8:16:29 AM
Reply

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KidCallaway123
Wednesday, February 09, 2011 @ 7:37:34 PM
Reply

Ben nobody gets the job done as well as you do... I have to say that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this game. There is SO much to do and SO fun to play as different versions of Sheppard. I was surprised that something was missing for your personal taste but your review is spot on as usual. ME2 is probably my all time favorite game up there with ACII and AC Brotherhood.

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