Mass Effect 2: Even More Awesomer Than the First

Yes, I know “awesomer” isn’t a word.

I finished this one last weekend after being utterly addicted to it for a just over a week.

It’s from BioWare, so it’s all about the story.

I think the best part of the game is that you get engrossed in the story and your character. I know that sounds cheesy but aside from the combat, you get to be a Jack Bauer-James Bond-type character where you have to do some pretty bad ass things to get the job done.

There is a Paragon/Renegade system, like BioWare had in the first one, where Paragon actions are “good” actions, like letting someone go rather than killing them, or helping an alien in need, or Renegade actions, whereupon you kick someone out of a window for being a douche bag, or things of that nature. The more of each you do raises your Paragon or Renegade score and then that opens up more dialogue (story) options as you progress. But Bioware really seemed to take it the next level in this game where you will need to take renegade actions, which I think is more realistic than in the first Mass Effect.

Remember you are often dealing with the scum of the galaxy, so you deal with scum using . . . . let’s call it a . . . . “no nonsense” approach, as a Renegade (hint, hint). You have two members of your crew who have a nefarious past, and you are trying to gain their loyalty. As a matter of fact, most of the game is building the loyalty of your new crew. How else do you build the trust of a fellow renegade? By being one, you silly goof!

Jack (one of the characters with a nefarious past) is one of my favorite characters and there were several places in the game where she (yes, she) makes comments about your Renegade actions that make you really feel like a badass.

The plot centers around you recruiting a crew and building their loyalty, while working toward the end goal of fighting an enemy called “The Collectors.” Your crew all have a story and quests for exploration, but BioWare, as usual, has done a fantastic job of interweaving these crew-quests with the main quest-line, and I found myself riveted. Along the way you upgrade your armor, weapons, biotech, and ship. You do not need to upgrade your crew’s armor this time, which I found to be a pain in the ass in the first one.

You can choose one of six classes. I chose the Infiltrator class.

The combat is third-person squad-based, but don’t let the squad-based part of it scare you. There are three basic commands you can bind to shortcuts that make it easy and fun. You can also pause combat and queue actions. Getting used to it is a breeze, and my only advice is to use the usual suppress-and-flank tactics in third-person shooters. As an Infiltrator, it was so much fun to use your team as a distraction to suppress the enemy, sneak up on their flank and unload a rocket on them.

The progression system is “resource and looting”-based this time, where you have to attain a basic piece of equipment, and then go mining (which is a mini-game by itself) to increase four different types of minerals to upgrade your items. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you master it, you can really upgrade your items quickly.

I found the end-game quest to be fantastic. I found myself cheering. I don’t want to spoil anything, but take Jack with you on your team. She is quite the badass.

However, I did buy the Collectors edition and I was quite disappointed in the Normandy Crash Site quest. Big waste of time.

Overall, I really have no complaints about this game other than the Normandy Crash Site quest and the initial adjustments to the mining mini-game.

Superultrafantastic game.