Mass Effect 2 User Review
Humanity is in peril as an ancient near-mythical race, known as the Reapers, prepare to overtake all sentient life in the universe. Few know or even believe of this threat and even less will attempt to answer the call to stand up against it. This is where you come in. You’re John Shepard, a highly trained battle hardened soldier written in history books and renowned within the galactic universe for being a hero who has helped all of humanity once before by going against all odds to stop these destructive Reapers. But your work was not yet been finished, as many more of these luminous entities lay dormant on the outlining rims of the universe. This time, though, you have bleeding edge technology made available to you from a distrusted mega corporation, Cerebus. They offer you the resources to recruit the best known talent to do the job. You’ve been placed at the helm of a cutting edge spacecraft, Normandy. Shepard’s goal is to stop this threat against humanity once and for all and revitalize the continued prosperity of sentient life and co-existence.
There you have it; the purpose behind your actions. The start of a generic Saturday morning sci-fi cartoon? No, but instead, the beginning of an inter-galactic adventure intertwined with drama, intrigue, suspense, terror, and a whole host of other emotions that places you in the shoes of a commander who feels the weight and consequence of his actions and for the lives, even friends, of others.
The majority of the experience revolves around the various missions and assignments you’ll pick up along the way. Most of which are somehow relevant to your overall goal. This is where you’ll feel and breathe in the universe that Bioware has painstakingly crafted for you. You’ll go anywhere from shopping public markets and malls to discovering and responding to a distress signal on an unknown alien planet. You’ll engage in cultural disputes of ideals and customs and will need to use logical reasoning to help bring solvency to such issues. These decisions can be made either rashly or altruistically; it’s up to you. But the result of these decisions may bring about unfavorable consequences during your journey. Some of which may not be readily apparent.
As you recruit members to your cause you’ll come to know them personally. These characters are highly proficient in a specific skill who usually have diverse backgrounds and values. All of these team members will eventually open up to you with emotional concerns of theirs. You’re given the option to listen as a friend or quell any sort of compassion and sympathy by keeping everything strictly business. But in order to gain the loyalty of a team member you’ll need to strengthen your bond by going out of your way to help them when they ask for a special request. By gaining their loyalty, their abilities will expand and ultimately make for a more powerful teammate.
While helping your teammates you may come to like them on a personal level. The game will provide you with indicators to pursue a more meaningful relationship with them. What you say and do can affect the likelihood of forming a romantic relationship. During my first play through I was unable to establish something lasting. Initially I took too getting to know Miranda, but during this process I found her to be rather distrusting and concealed. So I took my interests to Kelly Chambers, a counselor that serves on the bridge who is in tune with the morale of the team and keeps you notified of unread messages. The relationship started out well by making advances that showed my interest. These exchanges led to having a date over dinner. Which then led to trusting her to feed my pet fish in my captain’s cabin. However, this relationship eventually went south. After a rescue mission involving Tali, a female alien that has shown interest me, Kelly Chambers asked if I liked her, I said yes. Upon returning to my cabin I found my fish dead. Whether this was programmed in or coincidental, I do not know.
You and your team will have access to weaponry in the form of pistols, shotguns, rifles and heavier ballistic weapons. Along with this weaponry you have biotic powers that are functionally magical--picture Jedi force powers from Star Wars. There are also tech abilities that increase shields, enhance firepower, or manipulate synthetic devices to your advantage. As you delve deeper in the game the use and optimization of these abilities will help strengthen your resolve against opposition.
You’ll fight battles from a third person perspective in usually a squad of three members. Micro-managing these teammates is negotiable by the user and the game gives you the option to have more or less control of the tactical unfolding of play. Depending on your play preference you can choose to have your team mates initiate their own special abilities or take control and perform many of their abilities at your command.
On a technical end, ME2 has a great overall presentation. The graphics look nice with stellar art design and above average technical quality. The FMV sequences should've been of a higher bit-rate but they still look nice, regardless. The voice overs are great and the characters perform convincingly in their roles. The game controls well enough, albeit feeling reminiscent of Gears of War with a contextual button that serves the purpose of run/cover/vault. The soundtrack is fantastic. It perfectly captures the emotion of this saga and fittingly matches the events of any given scene.
Overall, Mass Effect 2 is a stunning achievement unlike any other that won’t soon be forgotten. The experience offers a wealth of elements to appreciate with plenty of lasting gameplay value. The exhilarating closing events create for a genuine level of accomplishment made by yourself and the team you’ve assembled to get you there. You feel the weight of the lives at risk under your direction and the consequence of the decisions you’ve made for your team while achieving your goal. Some may die and maybe all will live, but the risk is worth it for the sake of the universe. You’re Commander Shepard and you can be the hero of this adventure. Go experience it =)
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.