Retro Game Reviews

Retro Review: Mass Effect 2

Okay, I know. Mass Effect 2 isn’t THAT old yet. However it had a huge impact and helped form the current gaming landscape and with Andromeda on the way, I felt like it was time to take another look at the sequel that was heard around the world. It’s also worth pointing out that no matter how recent you’re thinking Mass Effect 2 came out, it’s older than your memory will lead you to think. It released in January of 2010 which was the year I graduated high school and here I am having to pay utilities and buy groceries. It has been a while and a lot has happened in the industry. Most of the changes were likely a result of the great game design and improvements Mass Effect 2 brought to the table.

The original Mass Effect was a literal game changer. It was a flawed game but the impact and positives it boasted absolutely held their own against the issues it had. Many people (myself included) were worried when we learned that some RPG elements were being scaled back a bit for its sequel but we’d later see that BioWare knew exactly what they were doing.

Mass Effect had a great universe, story, and we all just wanted to get lost in its vastness. The combat damaged the perfection that almost was. We may not have been willing to admit this at the time but Mass Effect 2 would help get us to admit the previous game’s flaws. Mass Effect 2 brought better combat, a better narrative, more characters, different worlds and left the Mako in the junk heap where it belonged. Mass Effect 2 is a perfect sequel in that it kept all that we loved and fixed all that we disliked. BioWare listened to fan feedback and also fixed things that were probably bothering them.

Mass Effect 2, EA (Giant Bomb)

Mass Effect 2, EA (Giant Bomb)

The story is much more epic and I won’t dare go into any details in case someone reading hasn’t experienced it yet but I’ll touch on the surface a bit. Mass Effect 2 opens with Shepherd’s death and the aftermath that’s left in the void. Shepherd stirred a lot of things up that some wanted gone and others wanted to focus on. You either believed the fate of the galaxy was hanging on a thread or didn’t want to think about it. The  ‘Cerberus’ organization was usually focused on humans only politics, however the fate of the universe definitely got their attention. Within the first minutes of the game, we learn that they spent an untold fortune and thousands of hours bringing Commander Shepherd back to life to save the universe with the A-Team they would help Shepherd assemble.

There are countless optional quests that will actually impact the middle and end of the game–and the fate of the universe. The decisions that you will need to make will impact those around you. BioWare created a compelling world with believable and meaningful characters. You’ll care about those around you and you’ll want to save this universe. If for some reason you don’t have a heart for the story then the combat will pull you in and keep you playing for sure.

The combat has a Gears of War flow to it with the addition of biotic powers (read: the Force but with a technology basis) that you’ll use to destroy anything that stands in your way. You have a major threat you’ll face, known as the Reapers, but there are also smaller enemies along the way that are related and unrelated to the Reaper threat. You’ll acquire a different arsenal of guns, learn new abilities and powers, and add many different allies to your squad. BioWare does a great job of having the drive of the story feel compelling from a gameplay perspective as well. You’ll feel more powerful as you add to your crew. You’ll feel like you can save the universe as you and your squad grow more powerful. It’s not just some story gimmick that you’ll shrug off.

Mass Effect 2, EA

Mass Effect 2, EA

The world of Mass Effect 2 sounds wonderful. There’s an epic and emotional musical score that will push and pull you across this incredible journey. The sound effects help add to the atmosphere as well. Shotgun blasts sound blistering and are simply satisfying and the rush of ‘Pull’ and other biotic powers sound like you’re playing through a story set in space, a space opera perhaps.

Mass Effect 2 is one of the games from last generation that I have the fondest memories playing through. It really is a world that feels alive and it has aged so well in the past seven years. The voice acting really adds a lot of life to it as well. I would highly recommend playing it as ‘FemShep’ as well because Jennifer Hale did an incredible job adding emphasis and tone in all the right spots. I have honestly probably put at least 600 hours into this game and I know it will join Ocarina of TimeFallout 3Super Mario Bros. 3 and all the other gaming classics that I replay every year or two, just to experience their greatness and appreciate their impact again. There’s so much to love about this game and if you haven’t played it then I’d recommend getting a few days off work and just get lost in this world.

Mass Effect 2, EA

Mass Effect 2, EA

BioWare honestly created a masterpiece with Mass Effect 2 and while I may have a few complaints with Mass Effect 3, Bioware has really shown that they have the formula to a damn good action RPG whenever they want. I can’t wait for Andromeda. BioWare utilized the available gaming technology for Mass Effect 2 & 3 in ways many of us didn’t even realize were possible. I’m anxious to see what they’ve done with all the advancements that they no doubt helped inspire with the newest consoles Sony and Microsoft have given us. I personally think that Mass Effect 2 is an achievement in game design and will stand the test of time along with classics like The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros.

 

Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2
100

Score

10/10

    Pros

    • Believable universe with interesting characters
    • Great voice acting
    • Incredible story
    • Addictive and fun combat
    • Tight controls and user interface

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