Very rarely does a game come along that challenges our preconceived notions of morality and forces the player to look inward at who they are and who they think they are. “Mass Effect 2” takes on this challenge and soars with success.Recently, a plethora of games attempted this same feat, letting the player decide to be a “good” or “evil” person, with varying degrees of success. The greatest flaw in the majority of these titles was that the decisions a player made had clear implications, that is to say, the difference between good and evil was clearly delineated. “Mass Effect 2” bucked this trend by successfully implementing a gray area of morality.
Is worth it to remain good even if costs an ally his life? Not all the decisions in the game are this earth shattering, but they all come back in the end.
For the first time playing a game of this nature, the player really does get the sense that every decision will have a consequence later in the game. This goes beyond whether or not the characters in the party will like the player. By not knowing the strengths and weaknesses of some characters, the player may consign them to their untimely death.
Another weakness from the first game that has been addressed was the communication wheel. The player has much more control over what Commander Shepard actually says and implies in the narrative.
Adding to the player’s control of the narrative, Bioware added the interrupt system. During certain cut scenes, the player has the opportunity to interrupt conversations for either good or evil. This intuitive addition to the game adds new depth to the already astounding story.
Throughout the game the player is treated to a compelling narrative. From the opening sequence when Shepard is floating lifeless through space, until the final battle, the player is on a wild rollercoaster of intrigue and danger. The storytelling in “Mass Effect 2” is far beyond any of its competitors or predecessors. Rich and well-developed characters help pull the player into the story and form bonds with the player.
Not to mention, the player can radically alter the story in various ways. Depending on his actions in the first game, major elements of the game can change. This feature beckons the player for more than one, two or even three plays of the game.
Despite all the other improvements over the first “Mass Effect,” the single greatest improvement was in the combat system. In the first installment, an element of luck was involved with shooting at enemies. Even if the enemy was within the player’s scope, there was a chance the round may fly off target.
No more. A shot aimed at an enemy will hit the enemy. If the round kills the enemy depends on the player’s talent point decisions and weapon upgrades. The new weapon and armor upgrade system is a bit odd at first, especially for veterans of the first game, but still makes sense and works well.
The only problematic portion of the game involves the mining system. Now, when the player finds an unexplored planet, they can scan it for raw materials. However, to do this, the player must engage in a convoluted system. But, thankfully, this is not a major portion of the game.
Regardless, Bioware once again delivers a triumph. “Mass Effect 2” raises the standard for multi-genre games. If you enjoy fun, pick-up this game, you won’t regret it. Hopefully, the final installment of the trilogy comes out soon, I for one, can’t wait.