- Original release year: 2010
- Consoles: Xbox 360, Windows, PS3
Mass Effect 2 was released in 2010 (and in 2011 for the PS3), the game that finally launched the franchise into high critical and commercial acclaim. And yet, transitioning from Mass Effect 1 to Mass Effect 2 proves to be a very jarring experience. Although the most commonly held view is that Mass Effect 2 is the best game in the series, there is a small group of fans of the original Mass Effect, old school RPG fans, who feel betrayed, as Bioware ‘dumbed down’ the RPG mechanics and placed greater emphasis on action and shooting.
That isn’t to say that Mass Effect 2 abandoned good storytelling and characters, mind. The game features a huge cast of interesting characters and more time is put into extensive character building and development, through a wide amount of character-centred sidequests that are a hugely enjoyable part of the game.
The story, albeit interesting and one that grew on me, initially seemed almost quite disjointed after playing the first Mass Effect game. The series started out rather ‘clean’, particularly with me choosing the ‘good guy’ options, with Shepard being a traditional ‘goody two shoes. But in the second game in the series, the story becomes increasingly gritty, with Shepard getting involved with a morally ambiguous human-survivalist organisation known as Cerberus. Shepard also seems to be more of a ‘badass’ by default, making it seem like the game was pushing you in more of a ‘Renegade’ direction, whether you wanted to head in that direction or not. Once I got into it though, I. again found myself deeply engrossed in the experience.
Mass Effect 2 arguably refined a lot of the mechanics and abandoned those that Bioware felt had held down the previous entry (such as the Mako driving). The gameplay, in many ways, improved a lot, this time around. Again, like its predecessor, the choice granted to you as a player is what makes this such a compelling and dynamic experience. The improved combat system, gritty story and extensive character development makes Mass Effect 2 a fantastic experience.