I’m not ashamed to admit that I played Mass Effect because I wanted to play Mass Effect 2, and I heard that you could import your character from the first game. I wasn’t really that interested in the series until I saw the previews, and read some reviews for Mass Effect 2. I saw how it was a story driven, third-person RPG type shooter, that looked exciting. The reviews were right, and Mass Effect 2 did not disappoint.
The game itself is a direct sequel to the first one. You continue in the role of Commander Shepard, even with the ability to import your character from the first game. The import process basically imports some of the decisions that you made in the first game, and it sort of imports your character. I say, “sort of”, because you can change Shepard’s class and facial features if you want, so really other than whether Shepard is Male or Female, you aren’t importing that much about the character herself.
Truth be told, Mass Effect 2, stands as an independent game from the first one. And while playing the first game will give you some additional background information on what is going on, and what has happened, you’d be just fine picking this game up and playing it. The decisions imported from the first game, also, don’t have any effect on the outcome of this game. From time to time you might hear a news story about an event that happened in the first game, or you might bump into a character from the first game, but it is really not that big of a deal, and the save-game import is more of a novelty than anything else. It doesn’t have nearly as much effect on the game as some of the ad campaigns made it sound.
The important thing, however, is that Mass Effect 2 is an improvement over the original game. The graphics are better, combat runs more fluidly, and the game is easier to get into.
Saying that the game is easier to get into, is an important thing for this game. It’s an important thing for RPGs in general. A lot of RPGs have the problem of starting out very difficult, and then getting easier as your characters level up. This makes them very frustrating to begin playing, and it becomes very tempting to move onto another game. Mass Effect 2 does not have that problem. You start out tough, you end even tougher. It is a very streamlined experience, and certainly something that shooter fans, with little RPG experience, will be able to get into.
This game is much more of a shooter than the first game, it’s main focuses are combat and story. The story is good, and the combat is excellent and fun. In general the story missions are very well designed. The main focus of the story is building up a team of specialists in order to fight an enemy known as the Reapers. Each mission focuses on recruiting a member for the team, or helping out a member that is already on your team. Throughout this, you will have a few missions involving the Reapers, and the game finally ends with a
suicide mission where the team goes to destroy them.
The main quest is very exciting. The side missions, however, are less so. They have the same sort of generic feel, that the side missions in the first game had. They aren’t really repetitive, but they aren’t that exciting either. They don’t have much story, and in general are more annoying than anything else. There aren’t that many of them, however, or at least you don’t feel super motivated to do them, so you’re not going to be bogged down.
One of the side features of the game is mining, where you basically survey a planet by launching probes at it, in order to get minerals. This is probably the lamest part of the game. It is repetitive, and it’s not that fun. The good thing about it, however, is that you really don’t have to do that much of it. Upgrades are bought with mined minerals, but you can pretty much just mine as you need it, and purchase the upgrade you want. There is no reason to spend hours on end going from planet to planet, mining minerals. Though, I personally know of a few people that have. Don’t waste too much time on that, I say.
I want to comment on the
suicide mission. I’d heard about this mission well before I played the game. I probably heard about it before the game came out, and all I knew was that some of your team members could die on the mission. This is true. I was worried about this from the start of the game, wondering what decisions would get someone killed. If you think you’ll be worried about this, don’t worry. When I played, all my team members survived, only parts of my crew died. I pretty much played as most gamers would. I wasn’t a completionist by any means, but I did complete all the character quests, and I made smart decisions during the “suicide mission”. My crew died because of decisions I made far to early to realize it would have an effect on the outcome. If I played again, I think I could get everyone to survive with ease, though admittedly, I’m not sure that I’d want all of them to survive.
One thing with this type of game, is that there are a lot of branches that you’ll never explore. There are about eight different romance options and most quests have a few decisions that can effect some things. I personally played as a renegade character as often as possible. It was much funner to see Shepard shoot first and ask questions later, than to never shoot at all. This game does have replayability, but if you don’t feel up to replaying it, you can probably find videos of the various branches on the internet.
The final word on this game is: Play it. It’s a fun game, and most gamers, whether they be shooter fans, or RPG fans, will enjoy it. It’s about 30 hours long, which is good for a game of this magnitude. Plenty of game time, but not so much that you’re sick of it.