Mass Effect 2

Commander Shepherd, hero of the battle with Saren, is back in action again. He’s on a mission to track down the Geth threat, and fend off the reapers. Oh, and he’s (or she, if that’s your desire) just died. The beginning of ME2 is amazing. Sucked out into space, Commander Shepherd floats lifelessly until a passing shady organisation rebuild him…

Most people who play the second part of the Mass Effect trilogy will have invested a fair amount of time on the first episode so the option to bring your character back in the second part is where you’ll first find yourself – although the rebuilding sequence is a nice way to allow you to change your mind on how your character looks but chances are you’ll choose to leave your Shepherd intact – mainly because you’ve already been through so much with him that you can’t face a change of face now!

Importing your character is good for another reason – you remember all those mining sites from the first game? Well it turns out that these give you resources at the start of the second game, effectively giving you a head start on the research and upgrading of weapons and equipment. It’s all very clever, and another sign that this whole thing has been thought through very carefully.

The second installment of this space epic has been tweaked to bring you an almost faultless experience. Gone are the irritations from the first game – the inventory, the Mako sections and the combat have all been overhauled or removed completely. Now you don’t have to worry about collecting hundreds of different guns, most of which you’ll never use and end up turning into omnigel to make space for more. This time out your loadout is a lot simpler, and can be changed at ammo lockers either on the Normandy or mid-mission. The combat itself has been overhauled to give it a smoother feel – now it’s more like playing a third person shooter than the clunky RPG style of the first game, and it’s all the better for it. There’s also a more tactical approach to commanding your team-mates and making the best use of their powers – but none of it comes across as too complicated. In fact, you won’t be playing for long before commanding the team becomes second nature.

The Mako has been removed from the game completely. Rather than being dropped on a planet and asked to drive to your mission you’ll find yourself deposited close to the mission site by shuttle and have to fight your way in. It’s a much slicker approach to the planet-side missions, meaning that you’re put straight into the action each time you select the “land” option. If all the action is getting too much for you, however, you can cruise around the galaxy scanning each of the planets and collecting valuable metals to fund your upgrades. Whereas the first installment would tell you you’d found a haul of goodies, ME2 asks you to scan the planet yourself using a moving reticule and to launch a probe to collect anything you find. While much slower than the pace of the rest of the game, this section doesn’t feel out of place in the slightest.

Another change for the better comes in the form of the hacking mini-games. In the original you’d be faced (many, many times) by a locked crate, probe or door which you couldn’t open because you didn’t have the right skills. This time out you have to solve a simple mini game (matching pairs or matching passages of teeny-weeny writing) to unlock the goods – this means that if you fail to bypass a wall safe, or hack a datapad it’s basically your fault and not the fickle finger of chance as in the first game.

So everything’s better, yes? Well, almost. The one thing that sticks out and creates a bump in the otherwise smooth running of the game is the mission summary screen. Cropping up when you’ve finished a story mission, this report breaks down what you’ve collected, summarises the story of the mission and generally serves as a break in the flow of the game. A quick press of A gets rid of this distraction almost as quickly as it came, and it’s just a shame that it stands out as a flaw when everything else is pretty much spot on.







2 responses to “Mass Effect 2”

  1. John avatar

    It’s back, I’m addicted, it’s brilliant! Ship scanner upgrades rule! 🙂

  2. Jake avatar

    Not too bad is it?

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