Bargain Bin: Mass Effect 2
Sometimes big titles can just pass you by, even if they're highly critically acclaimed and recommended by every fan you see. Such is the case with Mass Effect 2, Bioware's second offering in its incredibly popular space opera series.
You can play Mass Effect 2 on Playstation, Xbox 360, and PC, but this review is based on my experience playing on the Xbox.
Importing Your Character
One of the interesting aspects of Mass Effect is your ability to import your exact character from the previous game. For me, at least, it allows you craft a character that feels like you. For you, the creation you made in Mass Effect is Shepard.
It adds a bit more gravitas to the whole thing. This is your Shepard, fighting her way through the galaxy.
If you choose to start the series at Mass Effect 2, or if you are a Playstation fan who was unable to play the series on your console til Mass Effect 2, you can play a motion-graphic-style comic at the beginning that allows you the opportunity to make all the series changing choices you made in the first game.
The controls in Mass Effect 2 are not substantially different from those in Mass Effect. The power wheel is still much the same as it was in the first game.
In team interactions, you can still select your teams power up abilities. My only qualm with the system is that it is difficult to ascertain when your team member has repowered up. The power up on your own abilities is actually incredibly quick.
The only change to the system I wasn't really pleased about control wise was in crouching behind cover. I found the new method unwieldy and often found myself suddenly standing to suddenly become a bullet pincushion. This might simply be because I chose to binge on the Mass Effect series over the course of a few days and became accustomed to play functioning a certain way, but I did not like the new system.
Also, c'mon. Shepard is inter-galactic super soldier, and she can't JUMP? This is literally the most confusing part.
The characters in Mass Effect were honestly fantastic. Even characters that I found to be incredibly sanctimonious and "stick-up-their-ass-ish" I began to really appreciate in Mass Effect 2.
For example, let's think about Garrus. In Mass Effect, I was so unimpressed with his character that I didn't particularly want to spend any time with him. He would preach and prattle and it was all about rules.
But in Mass Effect 2, through a variety of incidents, Garrus has grown into a much deeper character. He can still be a bit sanctimonious, but there's an understandable nature to his current state of being. It makes him a more interesting character overall.
Mass Effect 2 is also the introduction to what have become two of my favorite characters in the franchise -- Mordin Solus and Thane Krios.
When you meet Mordin, you'll probably understand my love. He has a unique and perfectly alien perspective on morality and yet is completely relatable. It got to the point where I would pop by the tech lab just to chat with Mordin.
Thane is an interesting character. I found him deep and insightful without being ridiculous, a difficult thing to attain.
Once again, I found the human characters to be uninteresting. I was actually really annoyed when I was basically made to flirt with one of the human characters. It felt awkward and wrong.
As you can probably gather, I never got around to romancing any of the characters. It always felt relatively secondary to the more interesting task of gallivanting around the galaxy. Overall, I found the acting, plot, dialogue and characters to be a massive improvement from the first one.
By far the best part of Mass Effect 2 is exploring the galaxy, mining different planets, and creating relationships with every character you meet.
Also Space Hamsters, and the fish you can get to fill your captains quarters. It's a great game, and worth way more than the bargain bin prices you can find it at your local used game retail.