Mass Effect 2 Review: Commander Shepard Our Savior

For years I have waited to save the galaxy once again. For years, I Commander Shepard, have been alone and now is the time to make my glorious return to the Intergalactic Stellar System. BioWare’s Mass Effect 2 might be another game in the trilogy of the saga, but it reminds us that beautifully superb video games are possible as part of a bigger adventure. BioWare’s Mass Effect 2 brings the space action back once again to allow players to experience a role-playing action-adventure title never before experienced since Mass Effect or Dragon Age: Origins. With beautiful overarching stories with multiple plotlines, a trenchant role-playing dialogue system, suitable combat gameplay, and moreover characters which are truly believable with voice acting to suite every colloquy in pure harmony. Mass Effect 2 redefines the space galaxy as Mass Effect did before it and incomparably changes the scale and customization by an even more magnificent sight.

Mass Effect 2 begins the sequel for the epic series two years after Commander Shepard deterred invading Reaper threat bent on the destruction of organic life. Now, Commander Shepard faces a new and mysterious threat than ever before. Emerging from the darkness on the fringes of known space, something is suddenly abducting entire human colonies which comprise of thousands to millions of people. Commander Shepard is put to the test in this mission as his incontrovertible reputation as being the first human Spectre in the universe precedes him. Commander Shepard must work with Cerberus, a ruthless organization devoted to human survival at any cost, to stop the most petrifying threat mankind and aliens alike have ever faced.  With this in mind, Commander Shepard must gather the galaxy’s most elite team and command the most powerful ship ever built. While people say the mission verges on the border of being suicidal, Commander Shepard is determined to prove them wrong.

Mass Effect 2’s mission structure remains similar to the previous title but is engaging more than ever before through the dynamic galaxy map, and much more to do on planets this time around. Commander Shepard still travels galaxy to galaxy while encountering incredibly believable characters that challenge his response and fortitude. As the audience, we are engaged on a role-playing experience that is not just engaging but also alluring. It is no longer just about choosing choices and seeing responses. For the most part, the dialogue system has changed dynamically with surprises in between that shocked even us. Renegade Hostile and Heroic Interrupts change the course of the gameplay and crazes players on the wild side to give them more power that they can feel in a physical way. Without giving away any crucial details to this dialogue system, we can easily say that the action is more engaging than ever before albeit the mission mechanic remains the same in essence.

Mass Effect 2 places an incredible new variety on combat through weapon variety and power talents to display a profundity to the world that the first title lacked. The combat foundation no longer requires running from a straight linear path shooting down repetitive enemy types. The weapon types include shotguns, sniper rifles, heavy weapons, light machine guns, and heavy pistols that are all more intuitive to the shooter gameplay. The action becomes more dynamic through a variety of new talents called ‘Powers’ while the actual complexity of the battle has shifted from work to simplistic.  New talents come in the form of two types: biotic and tech. Biotic powers focus more on biomechanics between the fights and can be used by certain creatures directly given innate talent abilities. Combat abilities themselves provide more class benefits to different characters more experienced with war while tech powers further the usage of technological emphasis that the first title made too simplistic. Along with the new gameplay combat mechanics in Mass Effect 2, the shooter mechanic is more dynamic through different weapons but also vast improvements to the aiming abilities. Targeting of individual body parts enables players to make more damaging headshots and further damages in a strategic way than randomly firing at the torso. Legs, arms, and any other limb can be shot off displaying the sheer brilliance in design and graphical flare Mass Effect 2 has to offer. Ammo systems have also been put in place which works well with a modified health system which regenerates shields and health when a player is not taking damage. Mass Effect 2 dramatically increases combat incongruity that creates an overwhelming appeal to players to actually choose combat and really experience the true natures of space battle.

Enemy A.I. in Mass Effect 2 has seen a change in combat that involves different strategies from enemy types. You do not constantly keep shooting at enemies randomly or enemies running towards you shooting. BioWare focused on this aspect in addition to combat to provide a sense of tactical advantage or disadvantages with enemies that also use different armor, have different power talent innate abilities, and utilize various other combat methods to make the flow of combat more realistic.

The latest feature that BioWare has added with Mass Effect 2 revolves around the great user demand for more armor customization. To most people, it seemed rather odd that Commander Shepard bore the same N7 suit without any need for customization from different weapon types and many other threats.  Finally, Mass Effect 2 answers these demands with an in-depth armor system for combat missions that respond to the environment in a multifarious way. Dual layer of fabric armor and kinetic padding within a lightweight ablative ceramic create a newer ‘Appearance’ for Commander Shepard rather than his own Casual Appearance. Casual Appearances itself can also be edited to deliver sustainability in keeping the visuals not only good looking but also fresh from the same outfits.  Armor is modular and custom N7 armor can be built from parts bought from merchants, or acquired on missions, through the player’s armor locker aboard. The in-depth customization also follows through to the gameplay which creates an effect on behaviors and influences as well as modifying aspects of armor through ‘research projects’ to be collected.

Mass Effect 2 provides a gritty action adventure game that redefines the genre yet again by refining the same formula used in the already incredible Mass Effect 1. With a greater combat system, better enemy A.I., increased tactical customizations with power talents and armor, and an even more memorable dialogue system that creates dynamic pacing, Mass Effect 2 delivers an insatiable experience for anyone with a thirst for interstellar travel and saving the galaxy. Gear up Commander Shepard: mankind and the universe need you.

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