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Mass Effect 2

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Mass Effect 2

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Xbox 360

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4.7 out of 5 stars Based on 248 Customer Ratings

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"When games transcend gaming…"
5 stars"

Mass Effect 2 is a true Empire Strikes Back – second in a trilogy, darker than the first, and perhaps, most impressively, better than the first.

I won't lie – the first Mass Effect was one of my favourite games ever despite its technical shortcomings, clumsy combat, and clumsy inventory management. Gone are the texture pop-ins, gone is the clumsy combat replaced with a new system that rivals the best of the third person shooters out there, and gone is the clumsy inventory management replaced with a streamlined upgrade system.

Some say the streamlining has gone too far and that Mass Effect 2 is RPG-Lite or Action RPG at best. That depends on your definition of RPG – if you're after a loot-grabbing, level grinding, XP mining number-crunch-a-thon from your RPG, you're out of luck. If however you seek a game that really lets you play a role in a believable universe, you're going to love this game.

It's the characters – the story is generally generic (although there are a few twists and turns that might surprise you along the way), but the characters are some of the finest ever created in a video game. Their backstories are full and fascinating and you may just find yourself questioning your initial judgements of characters. The returning faces are brilliant to see, and Bioware has cleverly managed their appearances.

I've never felt so much emotional connection playing a video game, but the lore of the Mass Effect universe and the quality of the characters (buoyed by some stellar voice acting – take a bow Martin Sheen, who is by far the stand out performer) draw you in to such a level that the final levels of the game are some of video gaming's finest moments.

Hyperbole? You might think so. But I firmly feel Mass Effect is a step toward the future: games are the biggest entertainment industry, but they aren't considered an art form by most. Mass Effect 2 is art. More games like this and the deniers of the merits of gaming can't keep their denials up for long.

A true masterpiece.

7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.
"A must-play for Sci-Fi fans"
5 stars"

The original Mass Effect was an excellent game. Great visuals, story and gameplay.

Canadian-based company Bioware certainly had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, they have met and exceeded all our expectations.

The gameplay is unprecedentedly better than ME1's, really feeling like a dedicated 3rd Person Shooter, while retaining the “feel” of the first game. Plus, some of your ‘The Force’-esque Biotic powers are truly badass, when maxed out!

The graphics are a great step up from the first, with characters displaying a lot more emotion. And on some Alien homeworlds such as Illium, the vista is literally jaw-dropping. It is quite simply amazing at points!

The music is great throughout the game and really fits with the dark second act of the ME trilogy. It really adds to the atmosphere at many points in the game, and much of it is very memorable.

As for the storyline, Mass Effect 2 is very much a character-driven tale. Thankfully, the game features some of the most varied and likeable characters in any video game. From the mysterious alien assassin, Thane, to the biotic psychopath, Jack.

Here, I have to give a special mention to Martin Sheen as voice actor for The Illusive Man. Sheen displays the character perfectly, really displaying the best and worst of humanity in movie-quality acting.

Overall, the game is close to video game perfection. Fun gameplay: Check! Graphics: Check! A gripping Storyline: Check!

It's all here! 5/5

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.
"It's still an RPG… sort of."
4 stars"
Purchased on Mighty Ape

I realise I'm in the minority but I don't actually think this game is all that brilliant. I'm not sure if it's an improvement over the original or not, but I personally prefer the original. Okay, they've made some changes, some good, some (in my opinion) not so good. I enjoyed this game but it didn't blow my mind like it did apparently everyone else in the entire world. Literally every review I've read can't seem to praise it highly enough, but I for one don't think it completely deserves it. It's a good game, sure, but it's far from the (insert hyperbole) game that seemingly everyone claims it to be.

My biggest gripe would be the missions and the main campaign. The core of the campaign is devoted to recruiting your team and doing each team member's “loyalty” mission. Those are fine, if short and somewhat linear. I just don't think it's good enough for that to be the bulk of the game. There are only a handful of missions involving the alien menace (the sinister and unimaginatively named Collectors). They provide an impetus for the story and its climax. But it terms of content it's almost a side line. The bulk of the game is made up of short, unrelated and fairly repetitive side missions. Most of the missions (be they plot or side) involve you simply fighting your way through a totally linear level, punctuated with a dialog here and there to break it up. Eventually you'll come to the climax (another dialog and/or boss battle) and that's it, mission complete. Over and over again. Mission after mission after mission. There are only two or three missions that deviate from this formula.

The combat follows the formula of entering a room or similar area, taking cover behind the piles of crates or architectural features that are suspiciously always present, while the enemy does the same, then popping out and blasting away at them until they're all dead. Then proceed to the next area and do it all again.

Much improvement has been made to the combat itself though, not least the removal of the enemies constantly spouting the lines “Enemy is everywhere!” And “Hold the line!” Combat in general is fun and satisfying, if repetitive.

This game is very, very heavily focused on combat. You could argue that it is leaning more toward a third person shooter than a role playing game. It's still a role playing game, but I think it would be best described as a third person shooter with some role playing elements, and very high production values.

Some of the role playing mechanics have been watered down or “streamlined”. For example there are only half the skills of ME 1 (and three of them are special ammo types). All of the skills are associated with combat. There is no decryption skill to unlock containers, there's just an (albeit improved) mini game. There are no persuade or intimidate skills, that's handled differently now. There are also fewer powers, at least in my preferred class of Infiltrator. In ME 1 my Infiltrator's class powers were Shield Boost, Overload, Marksman, Damping, Sabotage and Immunity. In ME 2 I've got just three; Tactical Cloak, AI Hacking and Incinerate (a sort of fire ball, as if this was Dungeons and Dragons or something). I got so bored with this class I restarted as a Soldier so I could use all the weapons and at least get a bit of variety that way.

When you get hurt you no longer have to apply medi-gel yourself. If you take damage you automatically regenerate. If you're taking a real beating all you need do is take cover until your health comes back up. No need for a health meter. You only need medi-gel to revive companions who have been knocked out in combat. Although this makes sense to some degree because your suit is automatically applying the medi-gel every time you get hurt, I didn't like it. It reminded me too much action shooters.

Some other changes or “streamlining” are the complete removal of the inventory and any ability to customise weapons. I'm aware some people love this aspect of the game, and I'd be the first to admit that ME 1's loot system was horrible, but I think a happy medium could have been found instead of just ripping it out completely. There are far, far fewer weapons and no new armour. When you find a new gun it upgrades and replaces your old one of that type. You can revert to your old one but you can't sell it (you can't sell anything actually). And you will only find a couple of each type throughout the entire game. You can buy or find upgrades for your weapons that give bonuses, for example a ten percent bonus to damage, that usually effects all the weapons of that type for the squad. But customising each weapon with heat sinks and barrel mods and whatnot is gone. And there are no other armour suits than the one you start out with (not including DLC). Again you buy upgrades for individual body parts that change the appearance and offer bonuses. It looks pretty cool and you can change the colour scheme (which is neat), but it looks like bulky, heavy armour. If you prefer a lighter, more figure hugging look you're out of luck. And I should also note that you can't change the armour of your squad mates. That's a shame because for me, a fun part of the original, or just about any party RPG for that matter, is kitting out each of my squad mates. That's completely gone. Another victim of the “streamlining”.

I should further note while I'm on the subject, that the weapon and armour upgrades are pretty much all there is to buy at stores. There are one or two other pieces of gear (like a visor that gives you a boost to head shot damage), and pets and model ships to customise your cabin with but that's it. Each store will have fewer than half a dozen items for sale.

The graphics have been improved and it now looks better than ever, but still runs perfectly on the 360. And thankfully there's a brightness control (which is at least one improvement over ME 1).

The designers made an attempt to do away with the repetitive side missions that made up the bulk of ME 1, and was one of its most serious flaws. Now each side mission has its own unique and very pretty environment. But there are fewer of them (if you don't call the companion missions side missions), and they all follow the same repetitive formula (see above). But what is kind of cool is they are now hidden away on planets and you must explore to find them.

They took the Mako out completely, for better or worse.

I like that there are a couple more hub worlds (stations or planets that you can revisit like the Citadel). But they are not developed very well. They look pretty, and convey a sense of busy space ports and such, but there just isn't much to do and not much to explore. The Citadel was the biggest disappointment of the entire game for me. I fully expected the designers to develop it much further, expand it and flesh it out and make it an integral part of the game. But far from expanding it they cut most of it out. Now it's just counsellor Anderson's (or Udina) office, a bar, a few shops and two pathetic little quests. There is one cool character there, C-Sec captain Bailey (voiced very convincingly by Michael Hogan of Battlestar Galactica), but after you've had a quick look around you'll have very little incentive to return, which is a huge shame.

None of this might bother you of course. A great many people LOVE the game and laud it as a huge improvement over the original in every way conceivable. The guts of what made Mass Effect such a great game are still there; the characters, the in depth conversation, the relationships and romances (sadly no fem/fem or even a fem/asari romance), the quality voice acting and writing, and the cinematic grandeur are still there. I mostly enjoyed the game and I certainly don't regret buying it. It's just not a great game. And a great game is what Mass Effect 2 should have been.

13 out of 19 people found this review helpful.
"Mass Effect 2 is the greatest"
5 stars"
Purchased on Mighty Ape

The best single player game I have played, it will keep you busy for a long time and having to make decisions that will effect how the story goes is awesome. Plus if you have played the first one it's cool to see how things you did in the first game effect the story of the second.

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.
"A great experience"
5 stars"
Purchased on Mighty Ape

I'll be honest – I haven't played the first Mass Effect before. I'm certain there's a lot of easter eggs and subtle jokes I'll undoubtedly have missed during the game but I can safely say that Mass Effect 2 works fantastically as a stand-alone. It helps if you play Commander Shepherd as not remembering anything as well; they'll explain things to ‘regroup’ your memory.

So those of you who want to play this game without having played the first.. Do not worry. It's not a problem. As such, my review is NOT going to be comparing to the previous ME.

The storyline is fantastic. As a JRPG veteran I found the dialogue options very… Rewarding. Picking what I want to say to people (be it mean, nice or neutral!) was very immersive and made me relate significantly better to my character than most games do. And being able to choose my dialogue made me want to run around and talk to every person I possibly could.. Which surprised me sometimes with quests I would have otherwise missed.

An added effect to being able to choose my words is it heavily increases replayability. I want to see what happens if I chose the other dialogue option, instead. Maybe Jack won't hate me my second go-through. Forming relationships (be it loyalty as well as romantic) was appealing as well and I really enjoyed getting to know my crew for who they were.

I'm not a huge fan of shooter games but Mass Effect 2 really warmed my heart to it. It's skillful without being overly complicated and being able to ‘pause’ the action to decide what weapon to choose was severely beneficial as I tend to panic.

The graphics are beautiful. I can't say much more about them than that. I'm originally a Wii owner so usually am not that interested in graphics but the scenery and detail in ME2 often leaves me taking my time and admiring the scenery as much as possible. I can understand the graphic complaints the Wii receives now when HD users have been so spoiled!

The side missions in the game are very fun and interesting and don't feel nearly as repetitive as some games feel.

All in all, I personally felt this game was amazing. I originally bought my 360 (only a month ago at that) for Fable 3, but I found myself unexpectedly enjoying Mass Effect 2 more.

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.
"Unbelievable."
5 stars"
Purchased on Mighty Ape

I'm pretty sure that a word hasn't been invented yet that can describe this game. Well worth the wait and the money, the game is too epic for words and even just playing it for a minute will leave you hooked.

It's better than the first game in every aspect, feels just like an incredible blockbuster film. For those who've not played the first game (you're badly missing out!), you are Commander Shepard, captain of the Normandy and the first human Spectre, a special operative of the Galactic Council. After almost single-handedly saving the galaxy from a sentient machine known as a Reaper, Shepard needs to find a way to stall and destroy the Reaper invasion. After learning–no wait, why don't you play it for yourself!

This is definitely the game of the year, even though it's so early. I reckon it'll be close between this, Halo: Reach and possibly Just Cause 2. You know what that means; buy 'em!

If you're a 360 owner and don't buy this game then I feel the need to punch you in the face, Mass Effect 2 is that good! Must be played to be believed – the awesomeness is so great that they couldn't fit it all on one disc. That's right, two discs! So what are you waiting for?!

2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Description

Two years after Commander Shepard repelled invading Reapers bent on the destruction of organic life, a mysterious new enemy has emerged. On the fringes of known space, something is silently abducting entire human colonies. Now Shepard must work with Cerberus, a ruthless organization devoted to human survival at any cost, to stop the most terrifying threat mankind has ever faced.

To even attempt this perilous mission, Shepard must assemble the galaxy’s most elite team and command the most powerful ship ever built. Even then, they say it would be suicide. Commander Shepard intends to prove them wrong.

Features:
  • From the makers of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age: Origins, and Mass Effect comes the dark second installment in the thrilling Mass Effect Trilogy!
  • Command a unique team of amazing characters on a perilous mission in the most dangerous regions of space.
  • Players of the first Mass Effect can import save games to continue the story of their own Commander Shepard. New players will find a thrilling stand-alone adventure awaits them - a polished and action packed adventure that surpasses the first game in nearly every possible way.
  • Take cover, command an elite squad with ease, utilize 19 weapon classes including heavy weapons, and unleash deadly powers against your foes with an all new and improved combat system.
  • Increased intensity with precision shooter controls to let you control the action and overcome insurmountable odds.
  • Featuring a new location based damage system: target key weak points, and blast off limbs, ignite enemies, or cripple and disable enemy troops.
  • Visit familiar locales, such as the Citadel, and travel to deadly unknown new worlds to save mankind.
  • Survey unique planets and embark on side missions to uncover more secrets in the Mass Effect universe.
  • Robust Character Customizations
  • Choose a player class, customize your appearance, and tailor your own abilities and strengths. As you progress so do Shepard's abilities.
  • Control the conversation. Improved conversation system where you can take matters into your own hands - often with the liberal application of force.
Mass Effect 2 Strategy Guides.

Release date Australia
January 29th, 2010
Brand
Developer
Publisher
Box Dimensions (mm)
138x190x15
UPC
5030930090029
All-time sales rank
Top 200
Product ID
3157440

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