Thoughts, observations, scripture and other articles relating to Christianity and the Christian life.

Mass Effect 2 Spoiler Free Review

Ever since I played through the original Mass Effect, I have been waiting for Mass Effect 2. I LOVED the first game, and I LOVE the second one even MORE. The first game introduced us to our galaxy more than 150 years in the future. Exploring the citadel, meeting new species, shooting aliens and robots, were all great but the thing that makes this game stand with the best games of all time (Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 7) are two things: Characters and story. Few other video games are able to utilize these two elements to make a game a thoroughly emotionally experience like Mass Effect 2 and it’s predecessor.

There are some key places where ME2 trumps ME1, and where they do, they turned a great experience into an absolutely outstanding experience. That being said, DO NOT make the mistake of ignoring ME1. The whole Mass Effect experience will be compromised if you play these games out of order, as the ME1 decisions do have a substantial effect on your in game experience.

Gameplay: Playing through ME1 was fun, but there were a number of aspects that were annoying, bordering on infuriating. Driving the Mako (Which does NOT make a return in ME2), buying/selling equipment late in the game, sometimes ridiculously dumb AI all spoiled what was otherwise a great game in ME1. ME2 fixes these issues (you will still find dumb AI from time to time, but not nearly as often as the first game) and makes the game play as crisp and satisfying as its storytelling and character/relationship building. Endless supplies of ammunition balanced by overheating is now remade into a more traditional clip/ammunition system, which forces you to conserve ammunition. But not once (on the second hardest setting) did I ever completely run out of ammo with my soldier. The Mako is replaced by a shuttle system, which is easy to use. Your Shepard character is highly customizable and now you can chose from a variety of colors for your characters armor from the very first battle. You can now order squad mates to move to areas individually and once your are high enough in level, your powers become more customizable and specialized. New game plus is back in two forms, but I wont get into that because I don’t want to spoil that aspect for people.

Story: Outstanding. I wont go into great detail, but there were a number of times that the game made me laugh out loud, smile with a sense of revenge, feel sad and even get chills. The great part about this is, there are a LOT of different outcomes for the side stories as you are given a lot of control over the decisions being made. Ending got me COMPLETELY pumped for ME3.

Characters: All of them have different personalities and there will absolutely be some you like and others you don’t. But that is the beauty of this game. You get to use who you want, when you want. Again, I don’t want to say too much because you need to get to know them for yourself.

Graphics: Not THE best, but still VERY good. Gone is the slow loading textures of ME1, instead textures load almost instantly and facial expressions look convincing and lips move pretty realistically with what is being said. Special abilities look cool, especially the biotic abilities.

Sound: Again ME2 has some of the best, if not THE best voice acting of any video game ever made. Go online and look at the cast that was used to voice act. EA spared no expense. The music is appropriate for the game but for some reason I preferred the music in the first game. Not that the new music is bad, I just prefer the first game’s music.

Some things I would like addressed in the third game:

Unnecessary profanity: There are times in a game when the foul language felt natural and added to the mood. But there were more times than I liked where the cursing was just adolescent, unneeded and actually took away from the experience.

Overused battle shouts: I loved having Grunt in my squad, but I REALLY could have done without hearing “I AM KROGAN!” over and over again. Do we really need to hear commentary from the other characters every 10 seconds during a battle? Use it more sparingly and make it less cliché.

Multiplayer: I know that it would be tough to do, but having co-op in this game would be AWESOME. At least during missions. Or better yet, find a way to do a multiplayer area style like Borderlands. Not a requirement, but it would be WAY cool to have biotic battles with friends.

Themes to take into consideration regarding faith: The game does include profanity, violence (though not NEARLY as violent as other games) and sexual themes including homosexual themes.  This is recommended only for mature Christians as the story is highly enjoyable but content would not be recommended for younger viewers.
Bottom line: I LOVED this game. If you like FPS but could care less about story and characters, you will want to make sure going into it that you know you will be spending a lot of time just talking to people. If you like RPG but don’t care for FPS, you may or may not like the gameplay, but you will still probably LOVE the story. If you are a fan of both: stop reading, make sure you have played ME1 first and then go get ME2. You Will not regret it. I will be playing through the game again and again like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 7. Mass Effect 3 can’t get here soon enough.

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