Mass Effect 2 for the PS3 and 360 review

You are all in for a treat! This is a game that at first I had decided never to review because I never saw what was so special about it. The other reason was that it was on the 360. Now, it’s 2011, and it was released a few months back in January for the PS3. This is also a surprise to me since it is now one of my top 25 favorite games of all time. I won’t delay the tension any longer, here is my special review of Mass Effect 2! I was seriously surprised at how deep and great this game is. I kind of blew it off ignorantly due to the fact that it was a space shooter. However, it is from the critically acclaimed studio, Bioware, and winner of multiple Game of the Year Awards from many publications. It is definitely a game that is worth the money and time if you’re old enough. Let’s dive into this wonderful game simply known as Mass Effect 2.

The game takes place weeks after the ending of the first game as the ship “Normandy” is on the look for a remaining Geth ship. When they actually find one, they are then attacked by a Collector’s ship and, as a result, get heavily damaged. As Commander Shepard is getting everyone out of the ship, he then is forced to help the pilot of the ship, Joker, escape. After he gets Joker into an escape pod, Shepard is sadly blasted into space by the Collector’s ship. Two years later, Shepard wakes up in a bed in a medical ward on a Cerberus ship.  Shepard is now working for Cerberus and is assigned to get a team of soldiers to take care of the Collectors who are planning something mysterious. This game has a really great story with deep and complex themes of politics and the different alien races, as well as the characters’ philosophies on life. This is a sign that this sci-fi shooter would be good, since it actually has a really good story that isn’t bland or something we have seen before. It just shows how good Bioware is at their job.
There is a lot to cover in this section of the review so let’s get to the gameplay. The gameplay is in the form of a third person sci-fi shooter with a mix of RPG, team-based shooters, and free-roaming elements. You take control of Commander Shepard and have a good array of weapons to use, like the normal machine gun, pistol, and shotgun. The weapon variety is basically the same, but you can always find better versions of those guns, or upgrade the default weapons you get. Each character can carry about two guns, with the exception being you, of course. You can get preset armor from preorders and DLC, but you can also find customized armor to give you more speed, defense, headshot percentage, and melee attack power. When you begin the game you can actually upload the data from the last game if you have the Xbox360 version. In the PS3 version, you just start from scratch. You can also choose what class of soldier you want to be in, like Warrior, which gives you better strength in fighting. Each class gives you specific abilities that are pretty fun to use in the game. When you go to different planets, you get sent down with two other teammates. This is where the squad-based shooter mechanics come into play. You can move your two comrades to different areas on the field and can use their specific abilities in battle. Each character has an array of moves, like a strong power shot, using their cybernetic enhancements to toss enemies around, using those enhancements to blow people away, doing a stealth kill, summoning an AI assistant, and many others. You also get multiple abilities, like I said, depending on what your class is. Of course, this wouldn’t be a Bioware game without having multiple endings and multiple paths that you can take throughout the game, by what your actions are. When you talk to ANYONE, you can choose different options on what to say, kind of like that bad game, Alpha Protocol. However, in this game, it’s done a lot better. Even coming down to the final level, where you need to decide who does what, will alter the ending of the game. There are also personal missions you can take on with your teammates that will make them even closer teammates and will show more character development. It’s nice since in a lot of games I see, they have a bunch of characters, but you only really care about a few of them. In this game however, I listened and cared for every teammate I had, and did all of their personal missions just so I could hear them talk and develop as characters. You can even fall in love and have a romance with one of the many female teammates. Just be careful what you say.

The graphics in the game are top notch since I played the PS3 version, which has the new game engine that the sequel, Mass Effect 3, is going to use. All the characters have amazing detail and great animations, even if you don’t see them move around a lot. The voice work is top-notch with great voice actors and some that may surprise you if you haven’t played the Mass Effect franchise. For example, the voice actor for Shepard is Mark Meer, who has used his voice acting talents in a lot of the games Bioware has made. Let’s get to the other voice actors that really impressed me, and just to spoil it, I loved a lot of the characters’ voice actors: Ali Hillis, Brandon Keener, Liz Sroka, Lazarre-White, Keythe Farley, Steve Blum, Courtenay Taylor, Michael Beattie, Maggie Baird, D.C Douglas, Kym Lane, and Robin Sachs. That is just a little bit of the voice work here if you only count the playable team members. The one that surprised me the most is the voice actor who played Joker, Seth Green. This was a shock to me since, well, I only know Seth Green from Family Guy and Robot Chicken. He does an amazing job here, and I think he could do well in this kind of genre of voice work. The music is also amazing with a lot of great tracks composed by Jack Wall and three other composers. Jack Wall is mostly famous for The Mark of Kri, Vigilance, Myst 3 and 4, and Jade Empire. This is definitely one of the best soundtracks I have ever heard. I also love how the branching paths give this game so many possibilities and so many endings. It just makes me think how long it took Bioware to fully complete this tiny bit of the game.

            This game is almost perfect, with great gameplay, great graphics, great voice work, great music, an amazingly compelling story, but it just has a few technical issues that makes me pissed off about modern games. The text is so hard to read in this game. I have gotten lost so many times in the shopping planets because I couldn’t find where the store was that I needed to go to. It was as annoying as it could be. This is why I hate modern games, the text can be unreadable at times, and it is even worse if the color of the text is the same as the background. I mean, seriously developers, STOP IT! I also don’t like how harsh some of the choices are, like when you are trying to find a woman to romance. If you do something wrong near the end of the game with them, they will ignore you for the rest of the game and they will repeat the same thing over and over again. I went through three girls because I screwed up with them, but I ultimately got Tali who is a fan favorite amongst the Mass Effect Community. The other thing I didn’t like was the freaking planet scanning. I know everyone hates this because it’s really tedious to upgrade my items and ship. I have to scan multiple planets of their resources instead of just getting all the resources at once. I probably spent around 5 or so hours out of the 25-30 hours I spent on this game scanning planets for resources.

            Even with these minor flaws, Mass Effect 2 is one of the best games I have ever played, and is rightfully the winner of multiple Game of the Year Awards from 2010. It is one of my favorite games and I know Mass Effect 3 will be even better and will topple the second over by a landslide. I would highly recommend getting the game for either platform since it is well worth the money and is one of the best shooters I have ever played.

This game gets a 9 out of 10