When the original Mass Effect was released, I missed the boat for about a year and then finally picked it up. It was fantastic, granted it was a bit rough around the edges, obviously the shooting mechanics were a little choppy, the ammo system was non-existent, the powers were meh at best, and of course the Mako. Need I say more about that? But the story was fantastic, the majority of characters were fantastic and the game was a memorable one for me, I was hooked. So when the sequel was on its way, I was waiting on bated breath for it to be released.
To the point that when it came out, I played it from just after 10am when I got home with my new copy until just after 2am that night. I was so hooked on that game from the very get-go.
Right from the very start the game grabs you by the hand and pulls you into the rabbit hole. The shock of your character dying after such a long journey in the original game hit hard and told you right off the bat that this game wasn’t pulling any punches. Granted, your Shepard gets brought back to life, but the stakes were already laid on the table with that Collector ship just wrecking you right from the start.
Once you start fighting within the Cerberus base, it’s clear just how much BioWare had improved the gameplay, the movement felt much smoother, the new ammo system actually made things much more realistic, forcing you to not just fire until the bar goes red, you’ve got to be a little more careful with how many bullets you spray in a room. The powers also feel a lot better, the commanding of them was smoother and visually they looked even cooler than before. Now it wasn’t just a half-assed battle you were fighting, every fight was fun and sometimes challenging.
It’s way too easy to argue that Mass Effect 2 had the best overall cast of characters on your ship, without question. While I wish Samantha Traynor from ME3 replaced Kelly Chambers to make everything perfect, pretty much everyone down to the more minor crewmates are fantastic. Newcomers like Jack and Grunt fit in perfectly, while returning characters like Garrus and Tali continue their growth and become even more memorable, both incredible party members in the original game. There isn’t a single party member, including the two DLC characters in Zaeed and Kasumi that I didn’t like.
The story as well is absolutely perfect. You’re on edge at all times whenever trying to deal with this Collector threat, remembering that they royally kicked your ass at the very start. Not only that, but your working relationship with Cerberus and the Illusive Man (who Martin Sheen is just fantastic as) also puts you on edge because if you’re a Paragon at heart, you’re not all that comfortable with his methods and ideals, you’re just dealing with his bullshit in order to save everyone. There’s a few times in the game where you take a break from the on-edge stuff, usually involving a return of one of the original characters for a brief moment and is always entertaining.
Now there was some disappointment from me with this game. I still vividly remember the absolutely ridiculous bullshit American news networks like Fox News were taking endless shots as the original game for having “full-frontal nudity” and the ability to have full control of what happened in the sex scene. Cause y’know, journalists working for crooked news networks with bullshit religious agendas like Fox News do so much research for the things they’re “reporting” about. I was so pissed off watching the “SE”Xbox segment where Geoff Keighley (who I don’t like much as it is) was the one trying to defend the game and point out every bullshit statement they said and throw it back in their faces. And yet these reporters acted like our facts were wrong and their “facts” were just.
So when the sequel came out and the most risque it goes was Miranda Lawson’s butt in the frame and her unzipping her suit so you could see her bra really pissed me off. Not because I wasn’t getting more alien sideboob, but because BioWare had caved into that bullshit. Granted, they upped the ante in Mass Effect 3, but the second game was so tame it hurt. I expected so much better from the one game developer I still 100% trusted and still do to this day, but when BioWare didn’t have not only nudity, but more nudity than the original as a fuck you to all those who tried to call them material that was breaking children’s minds (cause y’know, the game didn’t have a M-rating or anything) and supporting the idea of sex, something Republicans apparently have a problem with for some reason still.
Regardless, Mass Effect 2 remains one of my favourite games of all-time, certainly near or at the top of North American developed games. The story is awesome, the characters are awesome, the gameplay is awesome and hell, the majority of the DLC, ESPECIALLY Lair of the Shadow Broker is awesome as well. If you haven’t played the Mass Effect series, you must have never owned a console in the last 10 years, cause it’s a must-play.
Especially when the ending doesn’t piss anyone off. You know it’s a good game.