It seems everyone has been busy with Mass Effect 3, closing up the epic space trilogy and getting all mad at the ending. I’m always a little out of date with the world though, so I’ve been playing through the second in the series. I like to take my own pace through space.
Mass Effect 2 is the mid-point which means we kinda flow around a largely unimportant plot to the whole of it all, but get the most character development to tuck into. After an intense opening which has Shepard biting the dust, he awakes in a room completely restructured and ready to kick some Collector ass, the ones who messed up his ship at the start. Shepard joins up with human loving and alien hating organisation, Cerberus, and goes off on a quest to build up a strong enough crew to take the fight back to them. The game has us touring the galaxies looking for people to join up and each quest feels like an episode of a space soap opera. It’s very cool and the game can be played almost like episodes as the central story only comes into focus now and then.
The gameplay is a more streamlined version of the original. Levels are more linear, the third person combat simpler and the planet exploring and equipment is all upgraded through one computer with little way in complete individuality after the opening class selection. Conversing with the aliens in the Blade Runner looking cities and shooting some other aliens in desolate forests and crashing ships is the order of the day, and it always feels exciting and engaging. Once you’ve been on an assassination mission with sniper Garrus and battled a giant worm in a trial with the bulky Grunt, you feel part of the world. The real world is just the gaps between Mass Effect 2 sessions. To walk in the cities and watch sexy blue asari dance is better than any Pop World in Liverpool.
The download content adds extra depth and feeling of a vast world and it all blends in seamlessly. The download missions pop up on the computer or through messages like any other mission and the new areas are all as realised and striking as the main games. Sneaking around a fancy mansion in ‘Stolen Memory’ and charging around the streets in a flying car in ‘Shadow Broker’ can be even grander moments than what the main story often throws out. It’s hard to go through each individually despite the uniqueness they provide, because they all blend into the game perfectly. They all act like bonus episodes in the series, and deal with sci-fi tropes such as crazy AI, intergalactic thieves, exploding meteors and secret information bases. Any of the missions are worth a go, though the extra weapon packs and character skins are pretty superficial.
Mass Effect 2 is a thrilling RPG which everyone should be able to jump into. More polished than the original with genuinely engaging characters and life threatening choices. I’m a little worried how it is all going to end after the backlash of 3, but 2 stands strong as one of the greatest space journeys in the universe.
Kasumi – Stolen Memory – 8/10 (Awesome mansion location, investigation type missions. Bit brief)
Overlord – 7/10 (Cool stealth opening, Turns into mindless shooting)
Lair Of The Shadow Broker 9/10 (Huge episode with investigation, driving through city streets, old characters returning and amazing sights on a flying ship)
Arrival – 6/10 (Shoot, shoot, shoot. Not much variation or engaging plot)