Artificial Continuum

Monday, February 8, 2010

Well ladies and gents, the time has come. After about two and half weeks the mighty Mass Effect 2 has fallen to my gaming abilities. Has Bioware's latest epic lived up to the/(my own) hype? Does it deliver its promises? Read on!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The essential part of any Bioware game is its story. Bioware is a master at its craft creating beautiful in depth worlds with complex and captivating characters. Mass Effect 2 begins with a bang and continues throughout the entire game. The story follows Commander Shepard, returning from a brief hiatus to assemble a team of heroes, assassins, prisoners, and mercenaries to take on what appears to be a suicide mission. Although the main story itself lapses into the occasional cliche (the ending boss is familiar to say the least), the real strength of this story rely in the side moments inside. Since Mass Effect 2 relies on your save game from the previous installment, you'll find yourself interacting with some incredibly personal moments. Discussing fallen teammates with the ships doctor, getting a hug from your former teammates, or even meeting up with that annoying fan from the Citadel all resonate deeply because they actually feel like something you accomplished. Shepard himself is improved as a character as well. No longer a dry and lifeless hero, your Shepard actually gains personality according to your actions. This adds to the level of immersion. Mass Effect 2 delivers possibly Bioware's best cast to date. Every character is enthralling and beautifully rendered. They make you laugh, yell at your screen, and maybe cry. (Hey I said maybe.) When things come down to the final mission and the big choices really begin to culminate it is heartbreaking to lose them. ( I lost one of my favorite teammates on the end run.) In fact this may be where one of the games major story flaws is. Some of the decisions are to hard to live with. This adds a level of tension, but also heightens the frustration. A decision that activates at a certain point in the story will hurt you no matter what happens.

+Good Writing/Dialogue
+Shepard has personality
+/-Hard Choices
+Amazing Charcters
+Memorable Moments Throughout
-Slightly cliched main plot

Score: 39/40

Perhaps the biggest fallback to the original Mass Effect was its gameplay. Although combat was fun it was often hampered by dumb AI, lackluster coversystem, and lack of weapons. When looking that the combat between the two games, it really could be compared to night and day. Mass Effect 2's encounters are intense, action packed, and exciting. The game delivers a caliber of action that can only be compared to the Call of Duty series in intensity. The new heavy weapon system also allows for fun kills, and really do make you feel like a badass. The dialogue system from the new game remains intact, but this time sports an interrupt system that allows for your character to become even more of a hero or villain. The terrible Mako system is gone, replaced with an easy dropdown shuttle system. The sidequests have also been fleshed out and have much more originality then the previous installment. However, the gameplay does suffer from a few hitches. The first being the mining. Although harvesting resources does grow on you as the game progresses, it is just incredibly slow paced and monotonous compared to the rest of the game. There are also numerous points where the game will crash or you will float up into the sky. In other words its slightly buggy. However, the most blatant problem with the game design wise is the odd mission completed screen that appears after every quest. This drags you out of the experience and feels out of place in an rpg. There is also a lack of general RPG elements, but in the end this allows for a much more streamlined shooter experience.

+Fantastic Combat
+Amazing dialogue system
+Fun Quests
-Design flaws

Score: 38/40

Mass Effect 2's graphics standout primarily due to their art design. Although not on the level of such powerhouses as the Call of Duty franchise or Uncharted, the graphics of Mass Effect 2 carry the necessary emotion and grittiness needed for the sci-fi world it depicts. The environments are detailed, expansive, and incredibly atmospheric. The character animations especially in combat are fluid and natural, and add to the intensity. However, perhaps Mass Effet's greatest strength is the facial movements in its interactive cutscenes. The emotion and weight carried by the face alone is astounding.

+Detailed Environments
+Smooth animation
+Charcter design
+Art design
-Lacks the polish of other games
Score 9/10

Bioware games are known for their amazing voice acting, and Mass Effect 2 doesn't disappoint. With such actors as Martin Sheen, Yvonne Strahovski, Tricial Helfer, and Seth Green in the supporting cast it is little wonder that the sound in this game is phenomenal. The game triumphs outside of the acting to. The battle sound effects are superb and frenzied. The zip of bullets flying past your head, and the screech of laser fire adds to the intensity. Yet, the real star is Jack Hall's superb and heroic soundtrack.

+Outstanding voice acting
+Polished sound effects
+Amazing Score

Score: 10/10

Mass Effect 2 is a phenomenal game, and has probably taken the place of my favorite game of all time. Yes I said it, shut up haters. With a personal and emotional story, and intense gameplay this sci-fi epic is one to remember.

Aggregate Score: 96/100
Overall Score: 97/100
(Yes they're basically the same, shut up.)
Letter grade: A+


Luke said...

soooo biased . . . nonetheless true