Mass Effect 2 Review

Mass Effect 1 was highly praised on the PC for its fantastic presentation and cinematic value despite this it still received much criticism for a variety of technical issues and its intent to appeal to both shooter and RPG fans; making them both suffer more than they should have as a result. The side mission design also left a lot to be desired being able to explore the vast reaches of the galaxy while good in theory didn’t make for much of a compelling experience for very long. It goes without saying Mass Effect was a gem, but a rough one. Likewise it goes without saying that Part 2 is one of the biggest releases this year, one many people have been waiting for for a long time, and rightly so.


Visuals: Visually it’s diverse, creative, and simply beautiful in its depiction of the world which takes many cues from the best examples of the genre. Next to Mirror’s Edge and Gears of War 2, Mass Effect 2 stands as the best example of the popular Unreal Engine 3, yet it lacks all the technical issues with the frame rate and texture problems that many UE3 games sport, including Mass Effect 1.

Back Story: Like Dragon Age: Origins, what makes the setting feel convincing and really come to life as you explore it is all the back-story and lore. This is important as it gives everything context making it come off as authentic and believable. A lot of people won’t read it but for those that will its all very well-articulated and thought out. You’re not just exploring a digital world, there’s a history there that most will get absorbed into.

Improvements: Many sequels can suffer from developers taking too much time and effort trying to fix what was wrong with the predecessor. They forget to build on what made the game great in the first place. Bioware has not done this, they’ve acknowledge what was so celebrated in the first game then improved and expanded on it to the best of their ability. The flaws presented in the first game are considerably lessened. They removed them the poor inventory system and poorly designed loot system from the first game. There is no exploration on vast amounts of barren planets looking for resources, instead there is a simple mini-game involving the probing of planets from space.

Characters: The characters are some of Bioware’s best that will once again inspire you to converse with and grow attached to as the game progresses. There are ten members in your party unlike the six in the previous game. These characters don’t play in the same boring stereotypes of the original and are considerably better developed. The recurring characters from the original seem to be injected with some much needed personality too. The cast is very diverse and it has to be almost guaranteed that you’ll come to like and be at least somewhat emotionally attached to atleast a few characters.

Your Actions Matter: You’ll soon come to realize that your decisions can and most likely will resonate over the course of the series.

Sound: The clear strength of Mass Effect is the story, but if there’s anything that could be considered better it’s without question the sound and music design. Like all good sound it just makes everything that happens that much better. The voice cast is one of the best gaming has seen, made up of none other than Martin Sheen who plays the Illusive Man very subtle and mystifying aswell as a huge plethora of other voice actors that anyone into science fiction would no doubt atleast recognize by face, such as Carrie Anne Moss (The Matrix) or Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica).

The weak link is once again Shepard; Mark Meer does a solid job and the important scenes work well enough with him in the lead but despite this when you have people highly acclaimed television and film actors portraying the rest of the cast it does seem kind of an odd placement, easy to ignore but odd nonetheless. Other than that, it’s spot on, and Jennifer Hale does a stand up job of voicing the female Shepard too. The animation goes hand in hand with this and it’s still some of the best there is.

The voice acting is easily matched by the musical score; Jack Wall has done a superb job once again providing a good combination of sweeping symphonic tracks and low key, mesmerizing electronic sounds that hit the right notes at all the right moments. It’s just so fitting for a space opera and when perfectly in sync with the grand cinematic moments as it so frequently is will send shivers down your spine.


Underdeveloped Locations: The game has many different locations; they’re rather small and undeveloped. This was obviously a choice Bioware had to make in order to make the galaxy feel diverse and expansive and it leaves you wanting to see more of locations like Omega.


Mass Effect 2 is not a perfect game and it won’t please everyone. The cover system and level design leaves a fair bit to be desired and the fact that Bioware doesn’t make a whole lot of action games shows. This isn’t as much of a dilemma as you would think as Mass Effect 2 is about so much more than a real shooter; its scope is much larger and more involved than those types of games usually are. Some people will not enjoy the stripped down RPG elements of Mass Effect 2, but the game was not designed for those people alone. Bioware developed Dragon Age to suit the hardcore old-school RPG crowd whereas the Mass Effect series is targeted more towards a wider audience. Each game has its own market and not enjoying one specific style does not make it bad, it just means you have different tastes.

Ultimately it’s the fascinating characters and riveting narrative that all create an epic, thrilling adventure that moves us.. Mass Effect 2 is an outstanding game that has all you could possibly want from a sci-fi action role playing epic, and it’s one of Bioware’s crowning achievements.

Mass Effect 2 Review by SYSTEMSH0CK