Mass Effect 2: The greatest game ever made?Rodney 11 comments
The greatest game ever made? That's a very big call; but it's what they're saying. It's not every day a game gets 10 out of 10 on several serious gamer review sites (in fact it basically never happens) - but that's precisely what's going on, right now. So why is there so much hype and reviewer gushing over this RPG?
In short - because it may well actually be the greatest game ever made.
In a world where there are so many games to choose from and so much nostalgia and personal taste attached to games of the past and present, it's of course impossible to say one game is truly better than all the others. Ordinarily, when I think of the best games of all time, I would think of Star Control II, Monkey Island II, some of the old Sierra Quests... and Mass Effect 1 (my old review of Mass Effect 1 is here). However - and please understand I don't say this lightly, Mass Effect 2 is really just that much better.
So what makes Mass Effect 2 so incredible to play?
There's no single element of the game that makes Mass Effect 2 great - it's the game working with all its elements together. For those of you not familiar with the genre, Mass Effect 2 is a cinematic role playing game, mixed with a 3rd person shooter. The game is like living inside the most involving movie experience you could ever have, coupled with fast paced action and plot twists and turns that keep you hooked.
Without giving too much away, the game picks up 2 years after the end of Mass Effect 1, where you stopped the Reapers from wiping out all life in the Galaxy. You think you'd be a living hero... but 2 years can change a lot. From here, you have to gather and develop your team, before heading out to save the Galaxy, once again.
Mass Effect 1 savegames can be imported, to bring all the choices you made in Mass Effect 1 into play. In fact, this will substantially alter the story; although the core storyline will always remain the same - stop the bad guys. It's just a matter of how you go about it and with who.
At the end of the day, the storyline is really the key element of the Mass Effect series. It's the ability to have such detailed relationships with your crew members, so much dialogue, so many different outcomes possible and such an personal, immersion and involving experience when playing the game that makes it stand out. It's not just me saying it, either. Check out any number of online reviews and you'll see people are saying the same thing.
Being a 3rd person shooter, Mass Effect is not going to appeal to hard core FPS players. The emphasis is not on headshots and frags (although they play a huge part), rather it's on developing a storyline, based on your actions. Unlike so many RPGs out there, your actions really do have consequences and really do alter the outcome of the game.
A lot of improvements over Mass Effect 1 have been made. "Cookie cutter" side quests with no impact on the story are gone, as is the complexity of inventory management. Combat is simplified somewhat and the overall effect is actually great - you are allowed to get on with the business of playing the game, without having to worry about managing nonsense side issues and mini-games.
Unnecessary vehicle sections are also gone and the tedious long travels over land, from Mass Effect 1, are also cut out. Sections load very quickly and gameplay is barely interrupted by loading times.
For me, I felt the graphics was a bit hit and miss, unfortunately. There are marked improvements over Mass Effect 1, however sometimes a little bit of laziness shows up in the background - or even the foreground, with some very ordinary models. Most of the time, however, the graphics, especially the cut scenes, will impress.
The only issue I have with the game is it does have a few bugs - the worst of which is the ability to get "stuck" in the environment. Four times, so far, I have managed to get stuck on a ledge or some other object and had to reload my nearest savegame, as there was no way off it. That bug plagued Mass Effect 1, as well.
Who will enjoy this game?
Casual and hardcore gamers alike. Game review sites don't usually gush to this extent about a game - if you enjoy gaming, and you're not a total genre snob, you will probably like Mass Effect 2. If you enjoy immersion experiences, RPGs or "choose your own adventure" books, you'll probably love this game.
Mass Effect, both 1 and 2, take me back to a time when games lit up my imagination. When I could lose myself in an experience and just enjoy the game for what it is. It brings together so many elements, so well, that there will not be many people who cannot find something good about it.
If you're looking for a new game to play, you will have heard the hype. Believe it.
Here is a video review from someone who put in way more effort into their review than me.