Ladies and Gentlemen Capsule Computers Community Member bdavid81 is back with another fantastic review. This time for Bioware/Ea’s MASTERPIECE Mass Effect 2 for the Xbox 360.
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MASS EFFECT 2 REVIEW – XBOX 360
Bioware has kept us waiting, but the wait is over and Mass Effect 2 has arrived – was it worth the wait? Two long years have passed since Saren’s defeat. Commander Shepard is back after being presumed dead, and once again another force is threatening peace in the galaxy. Human colonies are disappearing and it’s your job to find out what’s going on, and how to resolve the situation.
The original Mass Effect remains as one of the best stories of any game, having spawned two novels and most recently, a comic book known as Mass Effect Redemption. In Mass Effect 2, you once again take on the role of Commander Shepard – though for unforeseeable circumstances – you have to rebuild your team. In the beginning of Mass Effect 2, you will learn that human colonies are being abducted and you have to find out what’s behind it and stop it.
First you need to rebuild your team before you can take on the primary threat. Using the Normandy, you’ll travel across the galaxy to join up with some old friends, while making some new friends as well. The story is weaker than the first game for the fact that half of Mass Effect 2 will be spent recruiting the members to your team. While some may be disappointed in this, each character has a story of their own, and the game ramps up near the middle and remains focused on the primary threat.
Clearly, Bioware spent much time polishing this game as it looks stunning. The new design of the Normandy is stunning, as are the environments themselves. While you are limited to the number of planets you can visit, they all strongly vary from one another and offer some impressive environments to explore. You’ll spend time in warehouses, cliff-sides overlooking the ocean, an abandoned laboratory, and more.
The lighting techniques have been immensely improved for this game, and you’ll be sure to notice this in the game’s introduction. With the in-game armors, as well as the download content ones available – you will appreciate the reflections and natural shine that it carries with it. One particular planet will require you to avoid direct sunlight – in turn, proper use of light & shadows was a necessity and was executed perfectly. Most textures are impressive at relative distance, from rocks to buildings.
Character models for every character are extremely well designed, including but not limited to facial hair and scarring. While the game looks beautiful in majority of its key areas, there are of course some weak textures scattered throughout the game – though it doesn’t affect any major components of the game and can easily be overlooked.
Mass Effect was originally released as a RPG-Shooter, and while its regarded as a top quality title, it was also plagued by badly managed menus, clunky frame rates, and a variety of other issues. Bioware listened to their fans and they made some great changes. First off, the RPG mechanics were completely re-worked, much of it actually removed. Each character starts with a few basic stat categories, upgraded with an experience system. It takes 10 points to max out a particular skill which then allows you to choose one of two upgrades for that category, such as more health, and a much slower power recharge time. On top of that, each character has an optional (yet highly suggested!) loyalty quest. After you complete that quest for each character, a new stat unlocks for you to upgrade. Overall management is much easier this time around.
The next big upgrade is definitely the frame rate. Mass Effect 2 runs at a steady 60 frames per second and only had a few isolated incidents where slowdown and choppiness was experienced. Whether you’re running through a populated civilian area, or in a battle with 6+ enemies, you won’t notice any drop on the technical side of things.
In the original Mass Effect, gunplay took second place to the RPG aspects, but the tables have turned yet again. While the RPG mechanics have taken a back seat, the gunplay has been strongly improved. Overheating guns are a thing of the past, and Mass Effect 2 has adopted the classic ammo system. The game is user-friendly in the sense that enemies will drop ammo for standard weapons when your personal stock is low. Also, instead of having 10+ different guns in each category, the game has turned to offering 1-3 of each type, but offering an upgrade system to upgrade the power and other stats regarding the weapons.
Finally, the next major change is related to planet exploration. In the original, you had to maneuver the Mako vehicle around planets to find resources. In the Mass Effect 2, you visit planets on the new galaxy map and scan them using the left trigger and an aiming reticule. A bar graph combined with controller rumble feedback will let you know when you’ve found something and roughly the size of the deposit. Once you find a mineral, you fire a probe using the right trigger and its automatically extracted. A mid-game upgrade will allow for faster scanning, allowing to save some time and earn those upgrades quicker.
After many changes, Mass Effect 2 comes into the running strong, and it passes with flying colors. While the overall plot is weak compared to the first one, every other aspect of the game is wonderful, you’ll surely find yourself wanting to play this one multiple times. Since every choice you make can alter the game – the possibilities are virtually endless.
Rating: 9 Capsules Out Of 10
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