Mass Effect 2
[N.B. The following review was posted elsewhere c 26/07/2011. This is also the first game I played in the trilogy, due to the first game in the series being represented by the publisher as never to appear on the Playstation console.]
Console: Playstation 3
Genre: Role playing game/First person shooter
Setting: The Milky Way Galaxy in the future and selected planets and spaceships in there.
Story: You play an elite human soldier (Shepard) who must save the universe from a monstrous alien attack. This soldier commands an advanced spaceship and must recruit various humans, aliens and androids to take on a fearsome adversary which is attacking human colonies and leaving no one left behind to tell the tale.
Graphics: Excellent. Has a quality science fiction/fantasy art book look to it, but not as lush/realistic as, say, “Uncharted 2”.
Good about the game:
* You can upgrade the skills, weaponry and powers of those you recruit by gaining their loyalty. However, on first play through, it seems that sometimes you have to choose who to support…which means you may alienate other recruits. The system does have some depth, in that you can lose the loyalty of someone. Nobody on your team starts out as loyal, but that’s not to say they are hostile to you. At times, if you make a lot of alternative save spots in the game, you can go back to a point in time and try to gain a different outcome as far as interaction with your ship’s crew goes…but that can make no difference at times…which is a strength of the game (unless some game trophies require things be different).
* The gameplay and cinematic element is brilliantly executed in the mission concerning the sniper recruit trying to find someone he believes betrayed his squad…it’s like watching a movie…which you are creating right there.
* There are side missions which can increase the strength of your squad members…or they may just be a bit of fun…or perhaps there will be serious consequences to them in Mass Effect 3? * There is a sense of fun to the game, should you care to explore. E.g. some of the interactive advertising billboards are amusing. Conversations you have with team members can be intriguing too. I did find amusing some of the information on planets near the Krogan’s home world, as well as what some of your crew were reading, according to secret dossiers on them.
Misjudgements in the game:
* The PS3 version of the game has one glaring omission…you start in the middle of the trilogy. The whole point of the game is the story element, and the main gimmick of the game is that the choices you make in one game carry over into the next game, when you play that. It’s for this reason I am not marking this game as highly as I could.
* The PS3 version of the game does not have a booklet with game information in it. There is such a guide on the disc, but it is not accessible when you are actually playing the game, I don’t think. I would have appreciated having a booklet to glance at to familiarise or re-familiarise myself with gameplay or gameworld information.
* There is a bug in the game whereby if you get to close to something the game won’t let you walk over (like a hole or incline) your character is lodged in the air, unable to move…so you have to reboot the game! Other characters may float next to you by way of solidarity with your predicament.
* Unfortunately, I had an undesirable outcome once I accepted one mission…which is why I think I’ll replay the game…i.e. even though you have to save the universe, there’s no rush UNLESS you choose to take on a particular mission (IFF mission). The game does warn you that you can’t go back once you start the Omega 4 Relay mission, but I think that the IFF mission warranted such a warning itself…found myself sans nearly all of my crew after I dilly-dallied rescuing them. Since I read a cheat book, I know that it was possible to rescue more than I did by delaying their rescue.
* The A.I. can be up and down…early in the game when I was hopeless at times, the female thief was brilliant in allowing me to complete a mission, or so too the Krogan character in another mission…I don’t think that I had the right equipment on me, so without my squad’s help I doubt if I could have progressed. The flipside of this A.I. is that on some missions they are nowhere to be seen…they abandon you to face enemies alone…e.g. in a room on a spaceship I was fighting a team of enemies and my two squad mates were outside. It would be good if they could help you defeat your enemies without needlessly getting themselves killed too…take cover, for God’s sake! * Oddly, I did find it awkward when one crewmate pointed out that I had asked the same thing before. Another crewmate complained that I was having too many personal chats with him…when I hadn’t spoken to him in a while! On the flipside, I liked that you could ask the same question again without such awkward comments being made to you…i.e. if you missed the import of something that was said, you could go back to take it in better.
This is a quality game with an engaging story. The major drawback with the PS3 version of the game is that the gimmick available on other platforms (Xbox 360, PC) aren’t available to you (the element of your choices counting in later games). Replaying the game (you can get bonuses after completing the game a first time, as well as change your character’s gender), I found I had a sense of familiarity with the characters, not unlike those on other platforms get, who have played the first in the series. Although the game does have some bugs, it doesn’t significantly detract from the pleasure of the experience. High replay value. Potentially a 8.5+/10 game (on other platforms).