Review: Mass effect 2 (PS3)

Posted: January 31, 2011 by Tony Polanco in REVIEWS

After three years of being an Xbox 360 and PC exclusive franchise, Mass effect has finally arrived on the Playstation 3. Mass effect 2 was one of the most highly praised games of 2010 and even though they had to wait a year, Playstation 3 owners can finally experience this mind blowing game. But just how good is it? Wait…I just called it mind blowing didn’t I? Okay, the game is so good that you should probably stop reading this review and go play it now. The game gets an EXCELLENT. However if you want to get a better feel for the awesomeness that you are in store for, please read on.

Mass effect 2 takes place nearly two years after the events of the first game. Human colonies from across the galaxy are being wiped out by an enigmatic race of aliens called the Collectors and it’s up to Commander Shepard to gather the most lethal warriors from across the Milky way to stop the Collector threat. For those of you who may not have played the first game or for those who simply want a refresher course, there is a very cool interactive comic book introduction that tells you the tale of the first game and also allows you to make key decisions that will affect certain events and conversations in Mass effect 2. The comic book was done by Dark Horse comics (who also do the Mass effect comic books) and looks really nice. Yeah, it’s not as good as having Mass effect 1 on the PS3 but since Microsoft published that game, it’s very doubtful that it will ever be released on Sony’s console. This is as good as it gets unless you decide to buy Mass effect from Steam or get an Xbox 360 to play it.

Mass effect 2 controls like a dream, especially when compared to the first game. The fact that you use the Playstation 3’s Dualshock 3 controller probably helps a lot too. I’m Sorry Xbox fans but the 360 controller just feels weird and it was nice to play a Mass effect game with a proper controller. Getting headshots, running to cover and using special ammunition (designed to take out enemy shields, armor and barriers) all work really well. If you have played third person shooting games before, then you will be very comfortable during gun fights.

Besides the standard gunplay, you can also use an assortment of powers to help you in battle. Depending on what class of warrior you choose, you can attack and disable enemies with a variety of special moves. Your party members all have special abilities as well and you can either let them do whatever attack they deem appropriate or you can manually control what powers they use and on which enemies. If you have the right team members and you can quickly adapt to any situation, your enemies won’t stand a chance. Overall the combat is very solid and is a vast improvement over the first game.

While most of your time will be spent battling foes, the real heart and soul of Mass effect 2 is with the story and the characters. Even though the game takes place in the future and most of the people you talk to are extra terrestrials, it all seems very real due to the fantastic writing and voice acting. There are quite a few Hollywood heavyweights who lend their voices to Mass Effect 2 and the game is made that much better for it. Stars such as Martin Sheen, Seth Green, Carrie Ann Moss and Tricia Helfer (just to name a few) all do an incredible job. You will feel for or hate these digital humanoids in the same way that you would for protagonists in any other form of media. Bioware are the masters of creating lifelike characters and natural conversations that flow seamlessly from one topic to the other.

Whether you decide to be noble (Paragon) or…more morally ambiguous (Renegade), Shepard still has characteristics that remain the same no matter which side you pick. Paragon Shepard isn’t completely a goody two shoes and Renegade Shepard isn’t a complete heartless monster either. I’d like to imagine that Paragon and Renegade Shepard are two sides of the same coin. In most games where you get to decide what your character says and does, they are little more than a blank slate and it’s very hard to relate to them. Thanks to the fact that Commander Shepard is voiced by the great Mark Meer and the always amazing Jennifer Hale, you will feel very connected to him/her.

One cool thing that I really liked was how you could do special missions for all of your team mates so that they would become loyal to you and your cause. Each of these loyalty missions are self contained stories and help you understand your squad mates even more so than just simply talking to them would. These missions also help make the world of Mass effect 2 that much richer. You’d get a good sense of immersion through simple story progression but these missions will help make you feel more connected to the world and your crew. Also, gaining the loyalty of certain team mates of the opposite gender will have other…benefits as well.

Having a loyal crew will not only add to your overall Mass effect 2 experience but will help you out during the final battle. During this fight, any disloyal crew members will die and this of course will impact whether you succeed or not. If you have a disloyal crew or send the wrong members to do specific tasks, your mission will fail. And I don’t mean that you will get a GAME OVER screen and asked to try again, I mean that your game will end with you and your squad dead. It is in your best interest to do every character’s loyalty mission to ensure that your quest to save humanity will be a success.

If you haven’t already guessed by the screenshots…Mass effect 2 is one beautiful looking game. It runs off the same version of the Unreal engine that will be used for Mass effect 3 and the results are stunning. Now granted, I have not played the original Xbox 360 Mass effect 2 and I could be talking out of my ass here but by looking at screenshots and videos from both versions it’s pretty clear (to me) that the PS3 Mass effect 2 is graphically superior to the 360 version. If Mass effect 2 looks this amazing running off of the new Unreal engine, I can only imagine how amazing Mass effect 3 will look. Despite the pretty graphics there were some technical glitches that were annoying, such as drops in frame rate or when the video and audio would get out of sync. One last thing that I wanted to point out is that, while the art design is incredible, I wish that the inside of buildings, ships, ruins or warehouses had more diversity. I guess one of the big corporations within the game must have created a monopoly on creating the architecture of the galaxy because all buildings have the same doors, wallsafes and basic design.

If you are going to play this game make sure to leave silly things like friends, family and any semblance of a social life behind because you will be playing Mass effect 2 for a very long time. If you do every single main mission, side mission and dlc mission, then you are looking at around 60 hours of gameplay. Even though most missions require you to shoot the crap out of people and robots, there is actually a surprising amount of variety to be had within them. That’s all for one playthrough. If you really want to get the most out the game then you will want to go through it two or more times to try out different character classes, different decisions or a different gender. You are definitely getting more than your money’s worth with this title when it comes to replayability.

For the trophy hunters out there, Mass effect 2 is almost an easy platinum. I say almost because the only one that will give you problems is the one that requires you to beat the game on Insanity (the hardest difficulty). I tried this mode out for a bit and unlike most “hard” difficulties of modern games, this one will kick your butt all day long. Other than the super hard Insanity trophy, the rest of them are ridiculously easy and you’ll get most of them through simple story progression and by using all of your and your squad’s abilities on enemies.

Mass effect 2 is one of the greatest games of this console generation. With an epic story, multi-faceted characters and the ability to make moral choices that visibly affect events (and your character), Mass effect 2 is a great example of what video gaming should be about and where it must head in the future. Although the game is great for whatever system that you own, the Playstation 3 version is by far the superior console version with its updated graphics and hours of extra content all packed onto a single blu-ray disk. Mass effect 2 is a marvel and I can’t wait to see how everything wraps up this fall when Mass effect 3 is released.

Liked:

  • Intuitive and streamlined combat mechanics
  • Characters that you’ll honestly love or hate
  • Exploring a vast galaxy
  • Amazing voice acting

Disliked:

  • Sometimes the video and audio went out of sync
  • Long load times.
  • When you run out of stuff to talk about with crew members.
  • G rated sex scenes

Mass effect 2 was developed by Bioware Corp and published by Electronic Arts inc. It was released on the Playstation 3 and is available now for $59.99. The copy played for this review was a new retail copy.

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