Having played Dragon Age earlier this year, I had heavy doubts that anything over the next year or even the next five to ten years could top it. Then comes along Mass Effect 2, the sequel to Bioware's epic Sci Fi RPG, which literally blew me away. Right from the shocking start, you know you're going in for an unforgettable ride.
The first thing that strikes you while you play Mass Effect 2 is how smooth the game plays. They've vastly improved the combat system from the first game, giving it a more flexible, action orientated experience. Another good thing Bioware's done here is scrapping the Mako completely. Remember the slightly tedious moments in the first Mass Effect where you had to explore different barren planets with a vehicle that controlled almost as bad as Bush's America? It's all gone now, giving the game a much more streamlined, straightforward experience. The conversation system's also been improved since the first game. At certain occasions, your character Shepard, will say things without your command, making his character someone you can bond with even better than the first game. And not to forget the interrupt system, which certainly makes the conversations you have a lot more interesting when the option to use it pops up on the screen. Something else worth mentioning is the slightly trimmed down RPG elements for the game. While in the first game, you had a full inventory window, numerous skills to be upgraded at your own choice and weapons and armour available to customize at your will, Mass Effect 2 rids this system completely. It may seem like a risky move at first, but the result of doing so really does make the game flow a lot faster (which is important when you consider the importance of combining the story with the gameplay). If there's one fault with any of the gameplay design for the game, it's the planet scanning system. It works fine on its own, but with such a fast paced game like Mass Effect 2, it does seem a little out of place. Apart from this though, Mass Effect 2's gameplay is the stuff of legends.
One thing that'll definitely strike your attention while playing is the improvement made to the presentation. Locations have become a lot more diverse and interesting. Almost everywhere you go in Mass Effect 2 has a unique feel that never fails to impress. One thing that needs to be complimented in terms of presentation is the astounding use of lighting included in the game. It's the lighting that generates the true sense of atmosphere in the game, giving each Location a different feel. If you're familiar with the first game, you could probably guess that the animation is also beyond incredible. I can't forget mentioning the voice acting either, it's absolutely sublime. Each character comes to life with the help of such an extraordinary cast.
Most noticeably though, the main drawing point for Mass Effect 2 is its unforgettable story. Words cannot be fitted together to describe how beautiful, how memorable and how emotional the plot in Mass Effect 2 is. Maybe I made things sound almost too incredible there, but that's the honest truth. I can't recall watching a film, playing a game or reading a book in recent memory that's even come close to the quality Mass Effect 2 glimmered with. Each character owns many levels, so many realistic touches fitted to them, it's almost impossible to accept you're just playing a game. Saying goodbye to them by the end of the game isn't an easy feat to accomplish. This is a pure sequel, if you played through the first game, the decisions you made will carry on into Mass Effect 2. This definitely helps give an additional emotional tug to your heart, making the game all the more personal and feel all the more important. Some characters you'll come across will be familiar if you played the first game too, giving you an extra sense of familiarity with the game your entering. As for the actual plot, there's so many shocking twists and turns, I'd have to be very careful not to let anything out in case I spoil anything. What I will say however is that choices you make in this game will have a colossal impact on the ending. Your decisions will determine who lives and dies and who will carry on into the tale for Mass Effect 3. So yeah, as a whole, the plot for Mass Effect 2 is the best I've seen in a very, very long time.
If you've read through my whole review, you might have realised I'm giving out the impression it might be a good game. So if you haven't bought it already, stop reading this, pop down to your local store and spend the most well spent £35-£40 you've ever used in your life.