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Review of Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2 is a real adventure.

Laura says: I loved, loved, loved this game. I felt like I was reading a relatively entertaining sci-fi novel with a good plot despite somewhat strained writing at times. I actually got into it watching Damon choose renegade options and thinking, "Why? The other one would have been so much better!"

The whole choose-your-own-adventure aspect (RPG? Is that what they're calling it these days?) is neat. I love the idea of being a hero or a badass. (Damon says: I prefer to live in the moment. If the guy is a jerk, punch him in the face. If it's a little kid, cut him a break.) (Laura says: Yeah, but you did not, in fact, cut the kid a break!) In fact, I really liked how your decisions from the first game affect the second so much that after beating the second with the default settings I went back and played the first again so that I could load a character who had made different (paragon) choices. And now I am playing the first again so I can have a character who made renegade choices.

The dialog is good. Sometimes. Sometimes the dialog is cringe-worthy. Where was QA for all the male love interests? Seth Green is hilarious. Ah, Joker. (Damon says: Don't forget that Caprica Six plays the very sexy ship!)

Damon says: I like that the descriptions of future technology are based in reality. For instance, hacking machines and doors is cool because having you rewire schematics and recompile code to bypass firewalls is semi-realistic and so very much better than Simon Says.

The story line is quite good. I found the missions to be fast paced, creative, and less linear than in the original. In addition, there were no annoying boss battles (except that the last one, which was a little weak).

The graphics and audio are good, except when loading a saved game in the middle of a cut scene. In that case the dialog is way too quiet for the first several words.

Some things disappointed me:
  • Planet scanning for resources to buy upgrades was obnoxious. (Laura says: It was so bad it actually made me miss the Mako.)
  • The downloadable characters are not nearly as good as the built-in ones. They only have one real mission associated with each. There's no recruitment mission to speak of, just a loyalty mission.
  • It's still buggy (like the original). Expect to get stuck in walls, etc.
  • Autosave is much better but still not to be trusted.
  • You can't get two sniper shots in while using adrenaline rush. So lame. (Laura says: Playing as an Infiltrator gives you a sniper slowdown, which is awesome!)
  • Pressing X to skip though conversations is annoying because you can skip past branches. That really hurts replay value.
  • The weapon and armor upgrades are severely limited compared to ME1. Also, the character attributes are over simplified. (Laura says: I completely disagree. I think the customization in ME1 was overrated. Having to choose which of my five types of weapon I want is hard enough. Don't make me have to remember to go into the pause menu an upgrade it - for each of my squadmates.)
One small nit that I think could be improved in ME3 is shopping. It would be better if you could order from the ship (by email, catalog, teleport, Pony Express, whatever) once a store is found. (Laura says: Agreed. Why do I have to go tramping through most of Illium for that last weapons upgrade? This was better in ME1.)
Xbox 360
Damon played: 50 hours
Laura played: Too many hours
Damon says: A great game and a lot of fun.
Laura says: One of my faves. Had me swearing at it less than Mass Effect.
Replay Value
Damon says: I'll play it through once more on hardcore.
Laura says: Infinitely. Well, no, but I am on my third run - need my renegade for the next game.
Favorite Part
Damon says: The combat is significantly better. Sniping is fun and fighting from cover is comfortable.
Laura says: I like the RPG aspects, how you can choose whether your character is paragon/renegade, who (s)he romances, etc. And I for one am relieved at the lack of weapons customization. And it's cool that your choices are going to impact Mass Effect 3.
Fun Factor
Damon says: Combat and loyalty missions. Hacking is so much better than the original Simon Says and it's cool that it feels somewhat realistic. No more Mako!
Laura says: Interrupts. Also, I like sniping, too. I loved the slow down you get while looking through the sniper scope with the infiltrator class.
Damon says: I miss the more complex attribute, weapon, and armor upgrades from the original.
Laura says: Planet scanning is sloooooooow. Also, don't get me started on the romances for the female Shepard. Jacob's dialog is cringe-worthy, romancing Garrus made me feel like Professor Higgins from Pygmalion, and to say Thane has issues would be a terrible understatement. Bring Kaidan back!

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