(http://masseffect.bioware.com/)  Rated Mature by ESRB.  Shortly after the release of the well-received action RPG, Dragon Age: Origins, Bioware has put out a sequel to their critically acclaimed game, Mass Effect. As expected from a developer that has released such amazing RPGs as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Jade Empire, Mass Effect 2 is a truly stunning game.

(http://masseffect.bioware.com/)  Rated Mature by ESRB.  Shortly after the release of the well-received action RPG, Dragon Age: Origins, Bioware has put out a sequel to their critically acclaimed game, Mass Effect. As expected from a developer that has released such amazing RPGs as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Jade Empire, Mass Effect 2 is a truly stunning game.

**WARNING** The following Video May Contain Content Inappropriate for Children**

 

Presentation:

Mass Effect 2 takes place 2 years after the conclusion of the original Mass Effect. Human colonies across the galaxy are being attacked by a dangerous and deadly new foe. The official government refuses to acknowledge this threat, so a secret organization known as “Cerberus” has requested the help of you, Commander Shepherd (the protagonist from the previous game), to find out what’s happening and stop it. Throughout this mission, you enlist several humans and aliens to help you deal with this problem. Each ally that joins your ranks has a unique and well thought through back story that at some point will reveal itself and help you gain more insight into their very well developed character.

 

Graphics:

Extraordinary graphics are part of what makes the world of Mass Effect so immersive. Every person’s face is constructed with extreme detail, and they display emotions splendidly. Unfortunately, characters sometimes have movements that are rather artificial.   Perhaps, a closer attention to facial expressions and movements would vastly improve the realism of the characters’ emotions.  One thing that would have been nice to see is if they resize the text a bit larger. Considering how much text you have to read during the game, a larger font size would help when reading pages of information.

       

Sounds:

The voice acting in the game is very impressive. The voices almost always line up perfectly with the characters lips moving and they convey emotions through their tone of voice with a magnitude that very few actors can without sounding overdramatic. Not to mention that the entire game is accompanied by an astonishing musical score.  These music tracks add to the over ambience of exploring the mysterious and vast universe.  As you engage in action as the commanding officer of your team, the music compels a feeling of urgency and direness to each situation.  In addition, the sound effects in combat are very noticeable and help identify your surrounding environment.

 

Gameplay:

Mass Effect 2 is a very good blend of both role playing and shooter elements. The core gameplay comes down to cover based combat similar to Gears of War, but you can use your teammates’ special abilities through a wheel menu that you can bring up in the midst of battle. Throughout the game, you will level up and be able to assign points to different aspects of your character, and the same goes for your allies. However, fans of the original Mass Effect game will find that the number of abilities and the level of customization have been lowered significantly. The galactic navigation feature has been redone as well, with the generic exploration missions noticeably missing. Except that it’s been replaced with the ability to “scan” planets for minerals. This wouldn’t be entirely dreadful, except that you need minerals to purchase various upgrades for your ship and weapons. The lack of a formal tutorial at the start of the game made the game a bit confusing at first, and unless you’ve already completed the first game, you might find the learning curve to be a bit steep. And as has been a staple of Bioware games for some time now, the choices you make during game play will influence the final outcome of the game.

       

Longevity:

As with any RPG, the expected game play time is very lengthy, with Mass Effect 2’s being around 30 hours give or take. But depending on your difficulty setting and how many side mission you decide to do, it make take up to more than double that length. Not to mention that a large portion of your time will be spent load screens that you will have to wait through. That’s not to say that they take an inordinate amount of time, but instead they pop up quite often. Additionally, there is are an abundance of side missions throughout the game, including many that you are highly recommended to complete as they will increase the loyalty of your squad mates and unlock new abilities that they can use. Pile all of that on top of the amount of time you can spend talking to every character throughout the universe and the previously mentioned planet scanning and you have yourself one extraordinarily long, yet marvelously fun game. Not to mention that you have the option to play through the game a second time and have a completely different experience by making different choices throughout the game.

 

Conclusion:

Mass Effect 2 is truly an epic game. With a story more extensive than your average Hollywood blockbuster and extraordinary graphics, it overwhelms anyone’s expectations for what can be achieved in a video game. With its well written storyline eluding the new unknown alien invasion and vast amounts of side missions to explore new areas and understand each of your teammates’ background, there is not a dull moment with the immersive experience of this game.

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