Friday, January 29, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

The Good
  • Classic BioWare RPG goodness
    Great characters in a tight and interesting story all presented in a slick fashion. BioWare make the best RPGs because they deliver on these aspects consistently across their titles, and ME2 certainly delivers in this regard.

  • Choices matter
    BioWare have excelled themselves here. The truly wonderful thing is the number of decisions from ME1 that you see pop up as you explore the universe in ME2. Some of them are simply emails you receive from individuals, but there's plenty of returning characters that reference your previous actions involving them. It's a small thing, but it makes the continuity across the first two games of this series better than anything else out there.

  • The action
    The FPS nature of the game has really been stepped up by several notches, and it really does deliver. But this is no plain shooter where you just gun down your enemies. Like any good RPG, tactics are still required, as you can (and must) use several different powers at your (or your teammates') disposal in order to take down enemies. However, it's very easy to set these up and use them in the midst of a firefight. There's no need to pause like in ME1, which keeps the action going very nicely.

  • Presentation
    Slick, pretty, and cinematic. Graphics have been amped up a notch, and the texture pop issue of ME1 is gone. The voice acting is also excellent, though there are a couple of characters that are a little too melodramatic. An asari on Omega is probably the worst case of this.
The Bad
  • Lack of inventory
    This is a bit of a downer, even though ME1's inventory system was one of my most disliked GUIs for a long time. Yes, this is a much more action oriented game, but I'd like to have more variety in my gear. But barring that, I really should be told the differences between my available weapon choices. For example, the first new heavy pistol I picked up has a significantly reduced amount of ammo I can use. But this isn't listed anywhere. And how many extra damage am I doing per shot with those fewer bullets?
The Ugly
  • Disc Switching
    ME2 comes on two discs, so I decided to install both discs to my XBox Hard Drive to avoid having to switch discs. No dice. It still asks to switch disks every now and then, even though all the data should be on the HD. I haven't had to switch discs since the C64. I really don't like this. We're not in the early 1990s. Personally, I think this should be on the "must fix ASAP" list of issues.

  • Planet Scanning
    Well, BioWare listened to the complaints about resource gathering being dull, but seemingly missed the point of why. The tedious process of clicking on planets in the map and hitting a button to scan or driving across the planet in the unwieldy Mako has been replaced. Unfortunately, it has been replaced by an equally tedious process of continually holding down the left trigger (on the Xbox360) while you move the thumbstick methodically across a planet's surface and occasionally hit right trigger to mine resources. This was fun for the first couple of minutes... but having to do this for several mind-numbingly boring minutes for each planet gets very old, very quickly.
I haven't yet finished the game, and might write up something more detailed once I'm done, but these are my thoughts on the game so far.


  1. Hey AH, good points, except your sorry butt got the 360 version, ahahaha. Guess how many times you have to switch discs on the PC version? None! Oh, and there is anupgrade you can research that speeds up scanning of planets. I already beat the game and everyone survived. Good luck with your playthrough!

  2. Yeah, I played the original on 360 because I had to have it immediately after it came out, and there was no way I was not going to transfer my Shepard across. Knowing me, I'll probably end up buying the entire trilogy on both platforms just so I can have my cake and eat it too.