Mass Effect 2

Thursday 31st March 2011 - completed ME2

Well, what can I say, other than what a game. From the first bit of dialogue to the last, I loved ME2, despite not having played the first one. Everything from the tight story, engaging and, dare I say it for a video game, believable characters to the relentless action and amusing sleaze hit all the right notes with me. In short, I loved the gamestart to finish and there are 3 main reasons why...

1. Shooter and RPG and adventure game...

You basically get 3 games in one with ME2 - you can play the majority of the game as a shooter, ducking in and out of cover a lá gears of war, firing off lighting bolts, fire and many other powers as and when you wish. The cover works well, as do the different weapons you have.

However, what was really refreshing was that the all action, violent and breath-taking assaults was played out under the back drop of an RPG in the way GOW wasnt. You have choices to make, people to talk to, people to rescue and aliens to seduce - and in many respects this did not detract at all from the combat, rather it enriched it. Everything, all your actions and choices felt like they had more weight than in GOW because you care about the universe you are exploring. Yes - GOW combat is tighter, more refined and more tactical, but ME2 is every bit as rewarding.

The adventuring elements of the game largely involve exploring strange new worlds and talking to strange new people. These elements can git a bit samey after a while despite the incredible art design of the game, but though the exploration can be repetitive, the dialogue choices and conversation tree's are down right brilliant. You can have plenty of fun just strolling around talking to your shipmates, various street merchants and other random NPC's. The universe is kept well and truly alive through the great characters that inhabit it.

2. The Dialogue and art design

A great deal of effort clearly went in to getting talented voice actors, designing the characters and writing a script that has less quantity than, say Metal Gear, but as much depth. You don't watch cut scenes, you take part in them, guiding what feels like actors rather than game characters to say what you want, how you want it. Add to this the structure of the conversations, your choices are made based on a word or two to give you a flavour for what the character will say and you have a game that feels entertaining and fresh.

Add to this art design that would look at home in one of the modern star wars releases and you have a game that is well and truly immersive and genuinely fun to explore. The fact that different worlds have their own rules, customs and unique feel and at no point did I feel like I was exploring a boring world.

3. the sleaze

Honestly, I had so much fun just wandering around the ship making a (male) Shepard say chat up squad members and the crew. I don't know what it was, but I think the fact that a lot of the humour in the game comes from the ideas of romance against a backdrop of interstellar war ensured the game didnt take itself too seriously. It was amusing to think that despite being about to go out on a suicide mission and having being dead for 2 years you stillfind time to hit on some chicks. Hilarious stuff...

And Finally...

Any gripes? No major ones, mainly that the game does quite a good job of disguising how linear it is through the varied dialogue and loyalty based missions, but ultimately you end up in exactly the same mission and the only variety appears to be in who dies. Also, on the side quests - I found to be mostly dull. They appeared to be mainly of the "go here find this bring back to me" type that leave me cold.  Another gripes would be that the combat was not really all that varied as it is in GOW or even Vanquish, but then again, the game was not just a combat game.

All in all, a cracking game and fair entertainment that worked out (I realised) at less than £1 per hour (it took me roughly 25 hrs to complete the game. Quite simply, one of the best games I've played.