I was really looking forward to Mass Effect 2 following playing the first game earlier this year. I did love the original but it was clearly showing signs of its age. I think with older games of the seventh console generation it’s not the graphics that date the game, more the usability and functionality of the game - such as save systems and upgrade systems and such.
This sequel starts with a bang and is instantly gripping, it has a novel way of resetting Shepard’s abilities so that you don’t start the game with too strong a character. The set-up for Mass Effect 2 works well on the whole, but being a stooge for Cerberus was something I never grew comfortable with. I couldn’t help but shake the feeling they were Space Neo-Nazis – at least The Illusive Man was an intriguing character and that made up for not having to report to the Citadel Council in small way.
The thing I can most commend Mass Effect 2 for is it has such a strong opening, but unfortunately for me this momentum started to evaporate when the game attempted to become more open world. I think this juxtaposition is the main flaw of this game’s narrative, whilst there is supposed to be an imminent threat/danger to the whole galaxy you are still free to dawdle and go about mining distant planets for some element zero or shoot the breeze with a Elcor. I mean who cares if the fate of all civilisation is at stake when you just have to go a drink on Omega, right?
I’m being a little unfair here as I did enjoy the freedom of the varied missions, especially the loyalty ones which proved great backstories and added depth to your teammates. But it was also the point I started to feel a little aimless and my attention started to drift away from the game. In a way I felt like it lost a bit of the urgency and focus of the first game, and there started to be too many third-person shooter elements that became repetitive. Whilst I enjoyed the simplified equipment modification the choices of attack felt all the more limited.
My favourite mission was Project Overlord, I really liked the unethical experimental research storyline and the twisted ethics of merging a human mind to a VI. It felt unnerving and like something out of a David Cronenberg film and had a lot more variety to the mission than most others.
In all I did really enjoy Mass Effect 2 a heck of a lot. Maybe I started it too soon after the first Mass Effect to really appreciate it, but don’t let that take away from what is a fantastic game. It’s a phenomenal space opera with great ambition, imagination and freedom.