Mass Effect 2 – Review
It’s been less than two weeks since I finished Mass Effect and I have already finished Mass Effect 2. It’s certainly not because ME2 is a short game, my last save game had 48 hours in game, and that doesn’t count running through certain missions twice to get different results (like the entire ending). I really enjoyed most of Mass Effect and I was excited to see what they had changed for the sequel. Unfortunately, they made an interesting choice for the story to allow the ability to change your character and that made me really not care for the character I had in the first game. My Mass Effect Character was mostly Paragon with about halfway through Renegade, kind of right in between in major moral choice, but when I started up in this game, I felt cheated and decided to play full on Renegade.
Instead of grabbing another picture of my shepherd model (which I feel is the best looking of any I see on the internet), I decided to show off the best developed character in the game, Miranda Lawson.
The game has been out for a few years, so I will not bother dancing around spoilers after the break.
When I first started playing, I imported my character and the first thing that happens is they kill her off. I immediately thought, “what a great idea, let people get invested in a character, let them think they are loading that character up, and then kill them”. This could actually be a really interesting dynamic for a different game series. For instance in ME2 they could have killed off Shepherd and then made you start playing a new character, and possibly later on they could have brought old Shepherd back from the dead and either made the new character a lackey, or kill them off in return. Probably everyone would hate it unless you made it clear that their favourite character would be returning later in the game.
Speaking of which, I really enjoyed the point in the game where you play as Joker, this was a really fun diversion. I was much more impressed with Joker in the sequel, his quips were actually very funny. When I found out that he gives a little blurb about the people you last went out on a mission with, I felt cheated that I hadn’t talked to him more often and literally loaded up different groups, walked on the Citadel and immediately left just to talk to Joker to hear his thoughts.
I felt the voice acting was fantastic in this game, and what’s more important is that I only recognized a few people by their voices. Some of the characters were so convincing, like Miranda Lawson, that I didn’t even realize that she was voiced by the lovely Yvonne Strahovski who acts on the TV show Chuck, which I actually quite enjoy. Others have such unique voices that they can’t possibly escape identification such as Martin Sheen as the Illusive Man, Keith David as Councillor Anderson, and the aforementioned Joker voiced by Seth Green.
When I was “reborn” I did change my class from the Soldier type I was in Mass Effect to an Infiltrator, which I think was an excellent choice for my play style (stealth sniper). What did change was my attitude towards the character, it was as if my character died and I was now playing a shadow of her former self. I remembered Cerberus from the game I had finished playing just a day earlier so I was very snarkey with them and started down a Renegade path. I’m glad for how the moral system was changed, in Mass Effect you could either grab Paragon points OR Renegade points and every conversation where moral points were awarded would have a neutral option which didn’t award any, a Paragon “I love everyone” option and a Renegade “I want to kill you” option. ME2 has a lot more grey areas in the conversations and when you finish you could end up with both Paragon and Renegade points, plus there are lots of places where you might get one type or nothing, it’s not an either/or moral choice at all. Since this allowed me to play Renegade a little when I felt it made sense and play Paragon the rest of the time (which is actually how I tried to play Mass Effect) I actually swayed a lot more toward Paragon finishing with a maxed out Paragon and only two full sections of Renegade.
I didn’t really like the way the inventory was done in Mass Effect, but at first I hated how they removed it in ME2. After a few hours playing with it, I actually grew to like it more than the original. I didn’t have to mess with omni-gel, selling/buying spare guns or running out of inventory space because I might want to give one of the items I’m carrying to my other characters when I get back to the ship. In ME2 I just had to upgrade a weapon and everyone got the best version of that weapon. The side effect of this change was that in Mass Effect I ended the game with 10 million credits, but in ME2 I couldn’t afford to buy all the upgrades I wanted even after beating the game. At first I thought I’d miss the car, but I really didn’t.
One of the best changes was in the mini game, not only did they make two different kinds to avoid the tedium and ease with with the first game was completed but they made the games seem relevant to the task you were completing. If you need to hack a console to get a door open, you are connecting circuits on a board, and when you are hacking a computer terminal for information you put together pieces of code (which actually looked pretty convincing, I wonder if they used some of the game code for any of those sections). The only I wished they had was some kind of instructions, I was dropped into the mini-game with no idea what I was supposed to do (especially the code hacking mini-game) and just fumbled through a few times before I even saw the “target code” section at the top. I think the galaxy map was another nice improvement, it really gave you an idea of where you were at all times.
There are a few key choices you have to make in the game that are moral choices, but could have very important consequences in Mass Effect 3 and without knowing what those are, it’s very troubling to know if I picked a good one or not. In Mass Effect you had to choose whether to save the Rachni (which I did) and I got a message in ME2 about how the Rachni queen has been keeping out of trouble and will possibly aid in the war with the Reavers so I felt justified with that, and I decided to let the council die and felt throughout ME2 that I’d made a huge mistake doing that but it was too late at that point. In ME2 I chose to reprogram the Heretics to be part of the Geth and I don’t think that will immediately come back to bite me in the ass. I chose to save Morinth because I wanted her power, but the way you do it seemed so absolutely against the way I’d been playing that I reloaded and promptly saved Samara instead. I honestly don’t see anything bad coming from that decision, and the alternative could have gone badly at any point. The one choice that I really don’t agree with is the last one, originally I thought “why not keep this station to learn as much as we can about the reavers for the oncoming war?” but when I chose that option the only character who thought it was a good idea was the Illusive Man, plus I got Renegade points for it so it didn’t add up. I reloaded and chose to destroy the station, which gave me way more prompts to change my mind (Renegade option goes immediately to saving the station, Paragon option gives you 3 choices to instead be a Renegade); The Illusive Man was pissed, we parted ways, but the rest of the crew was fully behind me and I got Paragon points. It seems like the “right” thing to do, which means I must have trusted Cerberus way more than everyone else by the end of the game.
I just found out I have to wait nearly 9 months for the release of Mass Effect 3, maybe I’ll play some of this DLC while I’m waiting, or finish catching up on other games. Either way Mass Effect 3 is probably going to be high on my “want to play” list.