The truth is, I finished playing Mass Effect 2 (hereafter ME2) about five months back, but have been procrastinating on the review due to the perfectly understandable reason of laziness. Anyhow…
ME2 is, of course, part 2 of the Mass Effect trilogy, a shooter/role-playing game where you take on the persona of the space-faring hero Commander Shepard. If you’re playing the games as a trilogy, ME2 can take off from where ME ended — that is to say, you can import your character into ME, and play with your very own special Shepard (in my case a female spacer of the Infiltrator class by the name of Jan). If you import your Shepard, you also import the various after-effects of your ME game, for example, who survived and who died, your relationships with various people, and so on. In other words, “a surprising amount of unexpected baggage”, as Gamesradar.com says.
I won’t give away any spoilers, but ME ended with Shepard defeating Saren, even though the future of the universe wasn’t automatically turned rosy by that event. In ME2, circumstances find Shepard working as a mercenary for a group called Cerberus. She (in my case) starts out looking into the mysterious disappearances of humans from a number of space colonies, and ends up unravelling a conspiracy on a massive scale. The storyline is quite fascinating, though it takes some doing to keep up with it. The ME universe is vast and if you’re the patient kind, you might want to read your journal to be in the know; if not, just keep playing.
As in the first game, you need to recruit some of the universe’s top brains and brawn to build your crack team. And there are some surprises along the way. And by the way, just getting them to sign on isn’t enough — you must play a “loyalty mission” to gain the loyalty of each of your allies. There are many more allies in ME2, which makes choosing just two people to accompany Shepard quite difficult at times. Be prepared to meet some old friends, rekindle sparks and have your past catch up with you.
The controls in ME2 are considerably different from ME. In other words, there is a bit of a learning curve as you get to grips with it, especially if you’ve just finished playing ME. However, the gameplay in ME2 feels a lot smoother and intuitive. In ME there were various points where I felt stuck and found it hard to go further; ME2 seemed easier to play. That’s not to say it isn’t challenging — some of the missions sorely tested my patience. The most annoying part of the gameplay is probably the R&D that you need to do to keep the Normandy (your ship) upgraded, wasting precious time scanning alien planets for resources. You can skip it if you want, but you will pay for it later (and that is a BIG HINT).
The dialogue is witty, funny and clever. What you say and to whom may make a difference in certain situations. You also have the chance to romance all sorts of people — including green-skinned aliens… Overall, all the excitement and involvement I felt with ME continued with ME2. I’d rate this one 8/10 as well.