Recently I’ve found myself fascinated and compelled by the universe of Mass Effect and after completing and enjoying the first game so much I was very eager to carry on with the trilogy; as you may gather from the presence of this post, I have now finished Mass Effect 2 and wish to reflect on it accordingly.
Initially, I was expecting ME2 to carry on where I’d left of with the first game and be literally more of the same. As sequels go, that may sound unimpressive but Mass Effect was so good in my opinion that wouldn’t have mattered; just to continue interacitng in the universe with such engaging characters would’ve been just fine.
BioWare had other ideas, and interestingly had me essentially starting over again. I was initially uncomfortable with control changes that seemed needless to begin with but quickly bedded back in and my immersion in the game was restored. In hindsight, the control changes were a good addition as they made squad management much easier and didn’t require as much immersion-breaking thought – one button pretty much did all I needed to do and that was fine. However I did feel that the gameplay mechanics had been simplified considerably and the jury’s out as to whether I feel that good overall or detrimental.
Story-wise I found that I was a million miles from the idealism of the first game’s ending but the shenanigans that took place in the interim did indeed seem very much like what would happen – the big spectacle at the end of Mass Effect essentially being swept under the rug by politicians being short-sighted – does this sound familiar?
Characters new and old cropped up, and while the old friends gave a necessary connection to the first game, the new characters all had their own personalities that did lead to a number of quite hairy situations where, much like in ME1, I had to make quite big moral choices in the blink of an eye and get on with those decisions for the rest of the game. The Save-File Transfer system of taking a ME1 character and importing the decisions made there right into the story of the new game worked really nicely, and it was nice to have to face finally some of the consequences. Characters actually seemed to have a memory of my past dealings with them and in a computer game it really sold it as more than a game but a story in which I move along with interactivity.
The free-roaming nature of the game was retained, although events cropped up that reminded me of the main story and gave me gentle nods where to go. Planetary exploration has received a welcome overhaul and is considerably less of a chore of exploring though identikit worlds, and leads to new gameplay opportunities besides simply achieving a sterile “finding X of Y unobtainium” goal etc.
Generally I was very impressed with Mass Effect 2 and would say it was definitely on par with it’s excellent predecessor. I don’t want to make direct comparisons between games in the series until I’ve played all three major games and have a trilogy-wide overview. But it was great fun and I only wish I’d played it before!
And deep breath, as the controversial third game is next! Suppose I’d better (begrudingly) install Origin…