Really Late Game Reviews: Mass Effect 2

Continuing a long standing tradition of mine of playing games well after they are released, I’ve actually managed to play this one in the year it was released, but considering I started it nearly 6 months after release despite preording the deluxe edition, still a late game review.


Summary: Good game, had a lot of fun. Didn’t notice how stupid some of it was till afterward.

I really like the Mass Effect series. Sure the games leave something to be desire in a lot of areas, and there is a lot of talking etc. but overall I love the characters, the acting, the universe and how engrossing and involving the games are.

I loved Mass Effect 1, played it through twice. Ended being surprised by how much I liked some of the characters (2 playthroughs and I still ended up with Tali and Wrex in my party most of the time through both).

Mass Effect 2 carried on the tradition with the return of a few of your old teammates in various ways (Yay Tali, Wrex, not so much Garrus) and the introduction of some great new characters.

I had a ton of fun playing all the recruiting missions and loyalty missions and doing all the side stuff.

Graphics were nice, acting was superb, dialog was great and the combat was a lot more fun and a lot more challenging than the first game.

Also some of the renegade options were hilarious, although the renegade paragon system itself was not my favorite aspect of the game, more on that below.

Overall I’d recommend the game.

I do have a few qualms with it though (as always in no particular order).

1. Armor and inventory (or lack thereof).
I don’t think anyone enjoyed exactly how the inventory system in ME1 worked, but I’d have much rather they improved the inventory system rather than remove it completely. I might be the oddball here, but I really enjoyed all the different armors and stuff from the first game. I ended up keeping less than the best armors for a bunch of the characters (Wrex) just because I thought they looked so much cooler.

For Shepherd it was alright, because you could customize everything and what not, but there wasn’t shit you could do with squadmates until you had their loyalty and that just ended up with usually 1 stupid pallete swap of their current outfit. The fact that they release DLC that costs money to change appearances really kind of pissed me off.

I also hate the fact that you can’t remove your helmet, or change your armor during the game without going to your special armor wearing contraption on the ship. Wearing the helmet constantly during cutscenes and such got annoying so despite wanting bonuses the helmets provided and having 8 billion different types of headwear from deluxe edition content, DLC, promotions etc. I just ended up forgoing any head protection at all so I could enjoy the cutscenes without sounding like Darth Vader.

Also not fond of the weapon assortment. Am I the only one who barely used the heavy weapons? I used grenades in the first one constantly. Heavy weapons I rarely bothered with. I don’t like the progression of weapons either. No selection, no catering to specific playstyles, just individual, specific weapon upgrades as the story progresses, making it so no matter how often you playthrough you always have more or less the same loadouts at the same points in the game.

2. I miss the long elevators.
Yeah, I know people are shaking their heads at that, but I enjoyed the long elevators rides and their spontaneous conversations and stuff from the first game. Also interactions between companions were painfully few and far between, despite the fact that some of those characters should have been interacting A LOT and some truly great missed opportunities for fun dialogue and story (Tali and Legion, crocodile dundeeZaeed and Grunt, etc.).

I disliked the fact that you barely talked to or interacted with your squadmates except for on the ship, and on the ship you had to run all over hell and back and elevators etc. to get to them. The whole “I am done talking for now, come back later” crap got old real quick too. I’d have booted Garrus’ moody emo taurian ass out of the nearest airlock if it was really my ship.

3. Renegade, Paragon, I’m the guy with the gun.
You get bonuses for being either realllllllly good, or realllllly bad. In fact, one could easily argue that doing one or the other is required to finish the game in the best way possible because otherwise you can end up unable to resolve some situations in a satisfying manner.

There really needs to be a more middle of the road option. Some of the people I wanted to slap around (TAKE THAT REPORTER!) and some people I felt bad for or whatever, but the game kind of railroaded me into being one or the other.

4. Weird bugs.
I got the weird clipping bugs, often requiring a reload of an earlier saved game, way too often for my liking. I would walk into a desk or something and the game would propel me onto the desk and up through the ceiling or some other stupid thing. Got annoying after awhile.

Or else armor and weapons clipping into itself/other pieces during cutscenes and such (this was a huge issue for Dragon Age with it’s ginormous armor)

Some examples:

5. Main storyline (SPOILERS BELOW!!!!! )

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I didn’t really notice until after I had finished the game, but in regards to the main storyline… well, there really wasn’t much of one. 90% of the game was spent on companion characters, which was good and a lot of fun. But the game was shorter for me than the first one (finished in 60 hours doing pretty much everything I could do), and I bet it would have been a lot shorter if I just did the main storyline.

It was short, not much meat to it, and honestly, didn’t make a whole lot of sense. There was a lot more that could have been delved into, and the ending of it and lack of some options was disappointing.

Specific story problems include:
The council just decided to forget about the reapers? Come on. Making it more an intentional cover up or something would be interesting. But willing themselves into disbelief, it just seemed stupid and not well thought out. Seemed like they thought, “how can we make it so Shepherd is forced to be alienated from the council again despite conclusively proving the reapers were real and saving the council from them in the previous game”, and then decided to apply an afternoon soap opera type of solution. Very unsatisfying and made me want to reply the first game again just to kill the council because they are obviously mentally deficient.

I get that they are trying to paint the council as not perfect etc. But they are still supposed to be the people essentially ruling the galaxy, they cannot be completely incompetent or else the entire world that mass effect is based upon starts to come apart at the seams.

I also hated the entire stupid concept of the human reaper, seriously, what. the. hell.? They are a race of sentient space ships, machines that hold all organic life in contempt, but now all of the sudden they base themselves off of other races? Races that they think are disgusting and beneath them? How does this make sense? I hate cockroaches, so somehow I think I should make my children look like one? And so what race was sovereign, you know, the SPACESHIP, based off of? Some other race of sentient spaceships?

Just dumb, needs to be retconned out of existence, make it something else. Not a reaper, but just some weird experiment they were doing or something, the whole concept was just dumb.

Also, really wish there was an option to not destroy the collector base but not give it to Cerberus either. Again lack of a pragmatic option, I would have given it to the alliance. Unfortunate oversight there, and one I’m afraid I’ll end up paying for in the next game because I chose not to take a potential benefit because I didn’t want to give it to the marlboro man (also, seriously, we get that he smokes, give it a rest, don’t need half a cutscene of him taking puffs on a poorly animated cigarette).
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So overall, great game, lots of fun, enjoyable, but not without its negative aspects and wtf moments, and in all honesty, I can see how people wouldn’t like it. I enjoy it because story is vital to me in a game. It’s often where I get most of my enjoyment from in single player games. Immersion. An engrossing story and world can be the single most definitive factor for me in deciding whether a game is good or bad, so I didn’t mind the hours and hours of cutscenes and talking and dialog options and such, but I can see how some people would not enjoy it as much.

To each his or her own, I enjoyed it, and I’d recommend it. Good acting, good writing (except for a few story points mentioned above) and dialog, amazing cast, fun combat, awesome world setting with a lot of potential.

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