Mass Effect 2
The other day I finished my second playthrough of Mass Effect 2, an “action rpg” in space. It’s a Bioware game, made by their “sci-fi” team, so it smells a lot like Knights of the Old Republic. Call it KotOR’s “spiritual successor.”
Overall, I loved the fuck out of this game. I played it through once, went out of town for a weekend, and started a second play-through upon my return. That is not to say it isn’t without flaws – no, no. But those flaws were far outweighed by the sheer fun of it.
- The Story and Backstory
- The “universe” is well-built and interesting. The history of the universe is revealed to you in the actual dialog and story; you never actually have to read the pages of “codex entries.” I love that, not having to read.
- Galaxy Exploration
- The system of flying around between areas and planetary systems is well done. It is intuitive and fast.
- Lots of Dudes
- The squad members you recruit are many and varied. They all have rich back-stories to explore fun dialog to listen to. The voice acting is above-average and they all feel realized. (The number of dudes is also a negative; see below.)
- I love the way hacking is done. There are really only two basic hacking minigames, but they’re fast, “realistic,” and don’t get in the way.
- The Climax
- You’ll get it when you see it. It’s a “Fuck YEAH” moment.
- Planet Mining
- In theory, this might be a fun little mini-game. In practice, it’s hellish tedium. I’m not sure how to make this better except by making it entirely automatic. Also, am I the only person who found it odd that I can just fly up to a planet with a couple billion people on it and then strip-mine them from orbit? “Yeah, I’m sure you guys need that Palladium, too, but I’ve got a medical bay to build.”
- Romancing the Stones
- There are a series of “romance” sub-plots you can trigger. Basically, you pick a member of the crew and then say the flirty stuff end eventually you get “rewarded” with an awkward, stilted, censored sex scene. I skipped this stuff the first time through because it was agonizing to do; I did it the second time just for the achievement and cringed the entire time.
- Lots of Dudes
- This may sound strange, but there are too many characters you can recruit. There are eleven squad members (plus a slot for what looks like another coming via DLC). While this may seem like a good thing, it means that 90% of the game’s missions are either a) recruiting someone or b) ensuring their loyalty. They’re all fun missions, but since I kept switching up people, I never got to really care about any one or two characters specifically.
- Excessive Combat in Places
- You know, sometimes I just want to explore a creepy space ship and not be swarmed by wave upon wave of zombie thugs. There are a few side missions that are “puzzle” based but they are difficult to find. All storyline missions are gun-and-run.