About Us | Game Reviews | Feature Articles | Podcast | Best Work | Forums | Shop | Review Game

Mass Effect 2 Review

Brad Gallaway's picture

The Normandy's Back, but She's Taken Some Damage

Mass Effect 2 Screenshot

HIGH Plenty of the same great writing and character work BioWare is known for.

LOW The collective lack of surprise at Shepard's resurrection.

WTF Do people really want to have sex with grotesque alien crewmates?

Creating a genre-defining game is something many developers aspire to, yet actually achieving it creates a special problem: what do they do next?

When a title turns out to be so successful that it raises the bar for all others, the developer can either create another exactly like it (potentially opening themselves up to criticism for not innovating) or they can seek to modify and improve what they've built to raise the stakes higher. The problem with the second scenario is that tinkering with something already great is a delicate high-wire act—just one wrong move, and it all comes crashing down.

It goes without saying that the original Mass Effect was an incredible title. Although by no means perfect, the third-person, team-based space opera did a great job of combining action and RPG, while heavily infusing them with emotion and drama. It succeeded on so many levels that I awarded it the highest possible score—one of only two such ratings I've ever given. Unfortunately, though Mass Effect 2 still scores some hits in terms of story and characterization, I don't feel that the overall design successfully negotiated the walk across that long, thin rope.

Mass Effect 2 begins right where the first left off, but that's not to say that everything is business as usual. BioWare has clearly made efforts to listen to the complaints that players had last time, and there have been several big changes to the formula. Some are substantial improvements—primarily, huge steps up in terms of graphics and presentation, along with more precise controls and upgraded AI/tactics for teammates. Without a doubt, these fixes are to Mass Effect 2's credit. However, the devs' attempts at addressing other complaints seem more like wild overreactions than anything balanced or improved.

For example, players groused about exploring worlds in the Mako, a skittish all-terrain armored vehicle that definitely needed work with its implementation. Rather than adjusting it and trying again, BioWare chose to remove planetary surface exploration completely and replaced it with an incredibly tiresome (and necessary) "scanning" mechanic which has players passively combing planet after planet with a giant cursor. I can hardly think of anything more offensively dull.

Mass Effect 2 Screenshot

Another overreaction was the handling of the game's inventory, skills and upgrade systems. In the first Mass Effect, the menus were unwieldy and prone to getting clogged up with excessive amounts of items. Instead of streamlining for improved functionality, BioWare again chose to strip the bulk of these systems away, replacing them with barely-there, minimal-option skeletons. For players like myself who previously enjoyed the customization and depth of the team management, this is a real disappointment.

Although there are a number of other bizarre, incomprehensible alterations that irritate, (Buy fuel for the ship? Guns lose infinite ammo? Same-room fetchquests? Easily-looped dialogue trees?) one of my largest issues with Mass Effect 2 is the aimless, fragmented feeling of the adventure itself. Without spoiling much, it becomes quickly apparent that the premise of stopping an evil force takes a backseat to the real main objective of the game: collecting teammates. I suppose there's nothing inherently wrong with this shift, but the way that BioWare brought it to fruition was unsatisfying, and wildly off-target.

Recruiting Mass Effect 2's eleven teammates (and fulfilling each one's "loyalty" quest) takes up the lions' share of playtime. This content would be correctly categorized as sidequesting in any of BioWare's former titles, but here it's the main attraction. The problem is that with such a huge cast, there's barely time to get to know them in more than cursory detail, never mind that each quest is separate and disconnected from the others. Relying on such content for the bulk of play provides little feeling of forward progress or accomplishment, and no focus at all on the enemy while Commander Shepard drives the intergalactic school bus. It's a shame, because every face has unused star potential, and crafting characters is an area where BioWare trumps all others. To see the game undercut its most valuable asset with excess is disappointing—I would've much rather had half the cast and twice the depth, and more narrative missions during which to form a bond with them.

Aside from the narrative weakness of too many underdeveloped characters, the new global emphasis on skirmishes is also of concern. As stated earlier, the teammate AI and combat mechanics are greatly improved over the first game, but things have (again) gotten carried away. The architecture of most levels has been downsized to small, almost perfectly linear spaces that emphasize combat over exploration. Planetary hubs are now reduced to large rooms, and although quite beautiful, most action areas are little more than unconvincing, glorified hallways.

Mass Effect 2 Screenshot

Negating all surprise, each enemy encounter is telegraphed a mile away thanks to their presence being preceded by rooms stuffed with three-foot-high barriers and boxes that serve no purpose other than to provide cover. Worse, many missions that seem interesting in and of themselves have combat stuffed into them, even when it doesn't belong... I'm not sure if BioWare is afraid that it won't be able to keep the attention of its new audience without having a firefight spoon-fed to them every five minutes, but they're suppressing their natural strengths as developers by treading so close to Gears of War territory.

After seeing these numerous missteps and changes, I had become quite concerned that the elements making Mass Effect such a transcendent experience had been squashed in favor of a more widely-appealing, simplistic, guns-focused identity. However, the game made a significant shift after all the teammates had been found—at which point I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

While I'm sad to report that there wasn't much game left after the team was complete, what did remain was pretty superb. Taking time to explore Mass Effect 2's "hidden" missions scattered throughout the galaxy offered more interesting and engaging situations than most of what makes up the first 20 or so hours. Even better, BioWare got back to the main adversary and what Commander Shepard (and crew) needed to accomplish in order to win the day. By leaving behind the scattered "fetch this person" formula and getting back to saving the galaxy, everything kicks into feverishly high gear. It was pure thrill to see all the dramatic, tension-filled elements missing from the adventure's meandering front end come back with a vengeance.

Although this last leg of the game was not enough to completely overcome the issues that came before, I do want to acknowledge that when the game started doing what it does best, my stomach was literally in knots as events played out. I held my breath, I painfully agonized over each choice forced upon me, and was compelled to shrug off sleep deprivation, hunger, and sore wrists for the sake of seeing the climax play out. When BioWare is on point, they are on point. Few games can affect me to such a degree. 

Make no mistake, Mass Effect 2 still has the power to deliver blockbuster sci-fi like no one can, but its developers should know better than anyone that you can't tell a great story if you spend three-quarters of a game introducing characters. Players who can look past the lack of drive, annoying decisions, and a general stripped-down, dumbed-down feeling can (thankfully) still look forward to some truly spectacular moments and unforgettable action before credits roll. In my view, Mass Effect 2 is a definite high-wire stumble, but it's to BioWare's credit that they managed to make it to the other side of the tent with their dignity mostly intact. Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Disclosures: This game was obtained via retail store and reviewed on the Xbox 360. Approximately 34 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game contains blood, drug references, sexual  content, strong language, and violence. Parents, let's make a long story short—this is a mature game aimed at mature players, full stop. Nothing else needs to be said.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing: You should be aware that there is an early audio cue alerting players to hidden anomalies when scanning planets that has no visual display. Visual notification eventually does pop up, but hearing players will get it first with less button presses. Be aware that you will have to actually scan a planet before getting this notification. Aside from that issue, I didn't notice any difficulty. The copious amounts of dialogue are accompanied by subtitles, and every time you see a room filled with boxes you know that a battle is coming up, so there are no audio cues necessary in that regard.

Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   PC  
Developer(s): BioWare  
Publisher: Electronic Arts  
Series: Mass Effect  
Genre(s): Role-Playing   Shooting  
ESRB Rating: Mature (17+)  
Articles: Game Reviews  

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

I really hope your

I really hope your "grotesque" comment wasn't aimed at Tali, she's adorable.

Humble pie

Well, as the poster who was all but certain that you would overrate this game, it's nice to be surprised and to see proper game reviewing journalism at work.

I think you actually highlight the reason why so many others are believing the game to be "superb" -- the much more linear and Gears of War focused tint to the game. It's somewhat annoying but true that most any game that looks nice, includes guns, and requires little thinking will be an instant success in the world of gaming, and BioWare have merely jumped aboard to exploit that fact. It's just a shame that paid reviewers are no different to the typical gamer, as they also seem easily pleased by basic gaming design that does little to advance and define either the RPG or third-person shooter genre(s). This is what I meant when I highlighted the film industry, as most top film critics would likely find fault and review Mass Effect 2 just as you have it it were a movie, but as it is the game now sits atop gameranking sites as an example of superb design. *Sigh*

Anyway, I like that you've pointed out areas where you've felt BioWare have made significant changes for the worse and I agree with all of it (especially regarding team-mates; too many of them and no real relationship spoils the game massively), though I'm not as bothered since I wasn't too impressed with the original game anyway.

So yeah, thumbs up on the review.

Crofto wrote: It's

Crofto wrote:

It's somewhat annoying but true that most any game that looks nice, includes guns, and requires little thinking will be an instant success in the world of gaming, and BioWare have merely jumped aboard to exploit that fact.

Can you please demonstrate how ME2 requires less thinking than ME1? The combat in ME2 requires far more thinking (especially on higher difficulties) than ME1 ever did. Furthermore, squad selection has dire consequences in the sequel whereas one could get by with any squad in the first game.

I'm not suggesting ME2 is a brain-buster at all. But at the very least it is as smart as the original which wasn't very intelligent to begin with.

Zelazny7 wrote: Can you

Zelazny7 wrote:

Can you please demonstrate how ME2 requires less thinking than ME1? The combat in ME2 requires far more thinking (especially on higher difficulties) than ME1 ever did. Furthermore, squad selection has dire consequences in the sequel whereas one could get by with any squad in the first game.

I'm more referring to the heavy reduction in RPG-customisation, like talent-points, armour, gear (etc...) and, instead, an emphasis placed on pure combat. I'd disagree about needing more thought-processing for combat in ME2 over the original too, since while ME2 is undoubtedly more solid and polished, the game is still straightforward compared to actual accomplished shooters where enemy types, resistances and AI are a real factor. Sure, using fire on regeneration enemies might be more prevalent, but in reality it's no different to using Warp on Krogan in the original (who also regenerated health by default). As for "needing" certain party members - I've not yet had any problems with which party members I take with me; their selection merely means whether I can use tech/bio powers, which may help a little in some situations, but are easily remedied with player skill (e.g. lack of tech support on robots doesn't mean they can't be downed with sheer force regardless).

Crofto wrote: As for

Crofto wrote:

As for "needing" certain party members - I've not yet had any problems with which party members I take with me; their selection merely means whether I can use tech/bio powers, which may help a little in some situations, but are easily remedied with player skill (e.g. lack of tech support on robots doesn't mean they can't be downed with sheer force regardless).

It's quite a different story on Insanity. The changes Bioware implemented for ME2 make the combat much more balanced. ME1 required only a brute force approach: Either spam your abilities (since there was no global cooldown) or activate Immunity and blast away. Couple this braindead mechanic with the dimwitted AI and your tactical options were very limited indeed. I'll grant you that ME2 can be steam-rolled on lighter difficulties, but on Insanity and even Hardcore you need to maximize your team abilites, take advantage of the terrain and think!

Review.

Thank you for posting a review that--correctly, I think--points out both the good and the bad of ME2. Thanks also for clarifying your own preference in gaming and explaining how that influenced your comments. Like you, I prefer story and character over action and your review captured precisely the feelings I had when I played the game.

I can sum it up this way: the most memorable portion of the game were the five minutes where I played as Joker.

Good review, you address

Good review, you address some issues that made me »wtf?« already. The guns that suddenly have limited ammo for example. How come technology suddenly jumps a step BACKWARD? But what was breaking the atmosphere for me most so far were the looped dialogue trees. I didn't notice that problem much in the first ME. Also that your crew doesn't have anything useful to say anymore after you did their quest. I like the characters in ME2, but they are not fleshed out as well as in the first game.

The combat is definitely better, but in terms of characters I would have preferred quality over quantity.

Crofto wrote:

I'm more referring to the heavy reduction in RPG-customisation, like talent-points, armour, gear (etc...) and, instead, an emphasis placed on pure combat. I'd disagree about needing more thought-processing for combat in ME2 over the original too, since while ME2 is undoubtedly more solid and polished, the game is still straightforward compared to actual accomplished shooters where enemy types, resistances and AI are a real factor.

I do feel that ME2 is more challenging than ME1 and that the combat in ME2 requires more tactics (thus brain ;)) than the first one. Where I agree however is that ME2 is too straightforward. Every level is a linear walk to the objective. It's impossible to get lost and in the process I completely lost the sense of _exploring_ new worlds.

People who complain about

People who complain about the intentional design decision to shift focus from clunky and tedious RPG elements who constantly clashed with a console interface in ME1 to a streamlined loadout and vastly improved combat are probably the same who hate Fallout3 for its drastic progression beyond its two predecessors.

A review thats openly saying "I had become quite concerned that the game changed to be more widely-appealing" and marks it as a negative baffles me. Do you really expect the developers to ignore all feedback and make conscious decisions to impair the experience for a larger part of the players? Do you even notice how egoistical that assumption is?

Great review!

Brad, this is a terrific review. I appreciate the time and effort you've put into making your opinion of Mass Effect 2 as fairly considered and carefully documented as possible. I'm sure even Bioware would greatly appreciate all you have to say about their game, both positive and negative.

Punny Mass Effect 2 reply

Our plan is working beautifully! The Mass Effect 2 review score is simultaneously killing the MetaCritic average AND we are getting getting more hits to our site. We've already made about $10,000 in ad revenue and the review has only been posted for one day! Dare I say it has been more than effective? Massively effective?

I am worried though that some are figuring out what we have done. I don't know how much longer we can continue. After we "review" BioShock 2 or Final Fantasy XIII, we'll probably have to go back to giving realistic scores. Until then let's keep up the momentum. Maybe we can go back and crap all over older games we have reviewed like Dragon Age: Origins, Uncharted 2 and Modern Warfare 2? But we can always discuss that later.

It seems to me...

That your review is missing any mention of presentation or production. Especially as it pertains to improvements over the first game. You've made it abundantly clear that the story of ME2 doesn't meet your expectations, but what about how well the game is crafted from a technical standpoint? Doesn't that count for anything?

As much as you loved the first game, there's no denying that a 3-second delay of texture loading does terrible things to immersion. Or how about the terrible frame-rate that chugged for no reason? Or perhaps the witless AI firing into walls. Oh yeah, and don't forget having to access the power-wheel every other second to make full use of your squad.

Yet despite these and numerous other flaws in the Mass Effect 1, there is scant mention of how the sequel addresses these issues. For me, no game in recent memory has felt as "solid" as ME2. It actually feels like a living, breathable world. The grunginess of Omega is palpable and the cavernous views of the Collector ship are awe-inspiring. Mass Effect 1 rarely illicited a feeling such as this, yet I found myself soaking in the environment several times with the sequel.

It might not mean much to someone who feels the story is the Alpha and Omega of a game, but to everyone who enjoyed the story just fine, what about these other points?

I just don't know

I felt a pretty strong connection toward the character that matters the most in Mass Effect: Shepard. The well defined cast and conversation options pulled me in just as much, if not more, than Mass Effect 1. I would say they made the switch from Star Trek: voyage, explore, negotiate, to Star Wars: fight, talk then fight some more, but I think the switch is justified based on the context of the story. If there was more exploration in the game I think I would have lost the narative a bit. Just like Dragon Age, the most RPG RPG I've seen in a long while, the story drives all and in the end Shepard has no time to dick around with customizations and 20 minute conversations. The writing for every scene is great, and the split second decisions help to charaterize Shepard all the more. The way they hold on the renegade trigger for just a bit too long so that even if you are good you are goaded into smacking the crap out of the guy is just brillient choice. The blocking for the scenes is laid out beautifully as well, making it much less static.

I think all the good points far outweigh and stripping down that occured. Focused rather than lineier.

The review I believe looked more toward a genre in general and lamented the loss of things held precious, but as someone who loved DA:O, ME1 and ME2 I could justify it easily as canon and move on.

Also, I had at least 3 additional conversations with Thane after his quest. What are you talking about with that?

"sigh", a negative review

"sigh", a negative review always brings out the metacritic whores. Here is a crazy idea - have respect for opinions other than your own.

I agree completely with your review Brad. What i read on Gamasutra is the developer basically went through metacritic and took ALL the criticism and changed everything critics complained about - Literally.

My problem with that is there is no room for creative freedom and the game becomes a product of what people want, not necessarily what the developer originally intended solely to get a high metacritic score. Sure it worked - the game has rated amazingly, but i find it troubling that the critics as a whole are starting to mould the actual games themselves.

Hence instead of being a RPG with a sprinkling of shooter we have more of a shooter with a sprinkling of RPG.

I don't know Shane, it this

I don't know Shane, it this case the role playing (RP of RPG) was enhanced in my experience. Rather than pick up all the clothes and pocket change of every enemy I encountered, I stole their ammo. Rather than pour through lists of stats and armor to increase, I grabbed an outfit from the closet. I was also free to make many key decisions in the game in a split second instead of pausing to think about it.

In the end I think Bioware refined elements of role playing that haven't been touched in a while and that were just taken as nessesary. I praise ME2 for a 30 plus hour game that drew me in every bit as much as its brother Dragon Age. Just in a different way and rather then commend that all I see is gripes about subtractions.

Round about way of saying I think the review is a bit too nitpicky on these points, but there you go.

Myth of Lowballing Ratings for Hits

For anyone who believes that we purposefully lowball game ratings for hits, we addressed this issue on our podcast here at the 27:35 mark.

"Its developers should know

"Its developers should know better than anyone that you can't tell a great story if you spend three-quarters of a game introducing characters".

Ever heard about "The Seven Samurai" by Akira Kurosawa?

If I don't say this, EA will remove my ability to breathe.

How dare you, Brad Gallaway, say anything close to bad about a game we all paid 60-80 dollars out of our (the gaming elite's) hard working money, and in doing so, insulting us and our families.

We don't like other people's opinions when it isn't our own. We happen to like scanning for planets like Minesweeper, it's easy for us to follow when we always got lost in the first game and wanted to blow stuff up when we pressed start.
I don't want to bother with getting items. I'd rather pick up and use ammo like every other game, because if it's not like Gears or Halo, why play it?

I just wish people would stop talking so much in this game and just get to the sex when we're not shooting people. Got that Bioware? Please do that, okay?

Anonymous wrote: How dare

Anonymous wrote:

How dare you, Brad Gallaway, say anything close to bad about a game we all paid 60-80 dollars out of our (the gaming elite's) hard working money, and in doing so, insulting us and our families.

We don't like other people's opinions when it isn't our own. We happen to like scanning for planets like Minesweeper, it's easy for us to follow when we always got lost in the first game and wanted to blow stuff up when we pressed start.
I don't want to bother with getting items. I'd rather pick up and use ammo like every other game, because if it's not like Gears or Halo, why play it?

I just wish people would stop talking so much in this game and just get to the sex when we're not shooting people. Got that Bioware? Please do that, okay?

This is GOLD.

Geez Brad. Because of you

Geez Brad. Because of you the meta score for ME 2 went from a 9.65 to a 9.6. Thanks a lot.

The least you could have done is point out a ton of faults, but still give the game a perfect score like all of the other sites do. All I can read are numbers. Words baffle me.

abfackeln wrote: The least

abfackeln wrote:

The least you could have done is point out a ton of faults, but still give the game a perfect score like all of the other sites do.

This.

Is it just me or is the

Is it just me or is the rating actually visible on this page? I only saw it when I took printer version. In html version it needs to be highlighted.

Anyways, everyone needs to find a critic that suits their tastes, not the 'majority' and not those that pay attention where their sponsorship comes from.

I think I would've given ME2 an 8 while ME1 a 10, despite it's faults. But I can understand 7.5 since there isn't much that really shines to make it great now, it looking a little run of the mill.

If ME2 came out on its own without ME1, it probably would've been lost among the crowd and I would not have bought it. If ME starts going silly like Dragon Age, I'll just have to wait for the next great RPG. Yeah, I don't need crazy freak sex in my games.

7.5 is a favorable rating

For folks that are outraged over this "negative" review, you should keep in mind that even Metacritic categorizes a 75 as a "generally favorable review". So please read Brad's review before deciding that he has ruined this game for everyone.

Favo(u)rable

Chi Kong Lui wrote:

For folks that are outraged over this "negative" review, you should keep in mind that even Metacritic categorizes a 75 as a "generally favorable review". So please read Brad's review before deciding that he has ruined this game for everyone.

Exactly. It's a running joke on Eurogamer how Halo only got 8/10. I dread to think how bad a game has to be to get 3 if 7.5 or 8 is a bad score

I have seen the future, and it looks a lot like Mass Effect 2

I had the exact opposite reaction to the storytelling and overall structure of ME2. In my experience, the frequent "unlocking" of new, reasonably compelling characters was precisely what created the incentives needed to blaze through the main quest at an almost break-neck pace - and, by contrast, the optional side quests and inevitably overblown end game scenarios didn't feel nearly as engaging or relevant.

Predictable and gamey cover barriers notwithstanding, the good-looking and refreshingly diverse level design as well as the boldly compressed mission structures (get in, shoot enemies, make Paragon/Renegade decisions, get out) also contributed greatly to my appreciation for the main quests. Most of the time I was really impressed by the brilliant pacing, which even rivals the sheer intensity of linear action games like Uncharted 2 (no mean feat considering that ME2 is to some extent a characteristically sprawling Bioware RPG).

As for the "dumbed-down" part, I'm just happy Bioware has finally been able to produce a combat system which doesn't feel like a confused and schizophrenic variant on the original pause-based combat of Baldur's Gate (even Dragon Age couldn't quite escape the shadow of Bioware's earlier masterpiece, and the original ME was just a small step in the right direction). Mass Effect 2 works amazingly well as a shooter, but also has just enough character development and squad-based tactics to make the overall gameplay experience that much more compelling than a pure action game could ever hope to be.

Cliff Bleszinski (and, by implication, Randy Pitchford) was surely right; the future of shooters is RPGs. And, as ME2 emphatically shows, on the cutting edge of this development we don't find the trendy guys and gals of Epic, Naughty Dog or Infinity Ward but instead the good old PC nerds of Bioware...

Your scoring system is simply wrong

Any statistician worth his salt would conclude the score of 7.5 as a statistical outlier. There can be no confidence that this score is a reflection of the 'true' score, even at the 90% level of significance.

I understand all the arguments typically provided by GameCritics.com that 5/10 means average. That given enough games, approx 50% of games should be worse and 50% of games better than a game scoring 5/10, and that a game scoring 7.5/10 actually marks out a very decent, though not great game.

Simply put, this argument is disingenous. Ask anybody interested in games, and the common response will be that approx 75-80% marks the median game.

"Ridiculous" GameCritics.com may reply, but only if you stubbornly refuse to recognise anything other than a linear 1-10 scale. The rest of industry (including Metacritic, by inference), clearly uses a LOGARITHMIC scale which would possibly mark 75-80% as being the median quality.

Logarithmic scaling applies not only to the gaming industry however, but also to the whole of humanity. If you knew anything about the WEBER-FECHNER law (Google it), then you would also know that human cognition of number systems and scales is *naturally logarithmic.

So I accuse and challenge the position of GameCritics.com with regards to their scoring philosophy on three counts:

1) When human cognition of numbers is logarithmic, and the rest of the industry uses a logarithmic scale, why do GameCritics.com insist on linearity? If this is as a brave stick-your-neck-out attempt to prevent score inflation then I would suggest you are wasting your time -- My gut feeling is that historic data will disprove that scores have NOT been inflating over the past 25 years.

2) The GameCritic score, being linear, should be ineligible to Metacritic which uses a linear average of logarithmically calibrated scores. Chalk and cheese don't mix!

3) Your own poll would suggest that ME2 is the better game than ME1 - at a highly statistically significant level. However this is in no way borne out by the scores given, which are 10/10 and 7.5/10 respectively - they're not even close! Thus I can only conclude that you are scoring/reviewing games inconsistently, which adds further doubt to system that you use to score games.

Alv wrote: My gut feeling

Alv wrote:

My gut feeling is that historic data will disprove that scores have NOT been inflating over the past 25 years.

3) Your own poll would suggest that ME2 is the better game than ME1 - at a highly statistically significant level. However this is in no way borne out by the scores given, which are 10/10 and 7.5/10 respectively - they're not even close! Thus I can only conclude that you are scoring/reviewing games inconsistently, which adds further doubt to system that you use to score games.

i) Meant to say my gut feeling is that historic data will not provide any significant evidence of score inflation over the past 25 years

ii) Note, the poll may be biased in favour of ME2 due to outlier score given to the game. (You cannot deny the score is an outlier)

Metacritic Ratings Defined

Alv wrote:

"Ridiculous" GameCritics.com may reply, but only if you stubbornly refuse to recognise anything other than a linear 1-10 scale. The rest of industry (including Metacritic, by inference), clearly uses a LOGARITHMIC scale which would possibly mark 75-80% as being the median quality.

This is from Metacritic:

90-100 - Universal Acclaim
75-89 - Generally Favorable Reviews
50-74 - Mixed or Average Reviews
20-49 - Generally Unfavorable Reviews
0-19 - Overwhelming Dislike

The reason for this special treatment for games has to do with the games publications themselves. Virtually all of the publications we use as sources for game reviews (a) assign scores on a 0-100 scale (or equivalent) to their reviews, and (b) are very explicit about what those scores mean. And these publications are almost unanimous in indicating that scores below 50 indicate a negative review, while it usually takes a score in the upper 70s or higher to indicate that the game is unequivocally good.

Alv wrote:

Thus I can only conclude that you are scoring/reviewing games inconsistently, which adds further doubt to system that you use to score games.

The mission of our site is to present diverse range of perspective on video games. Nor is art criticism a mathematical endeavor so can we please stop talking about the ratings and perhaps discuss the game and the positive and negative criticisms that Brad made.

Oh snap

Anonymous wrote:

I'd rather pick up and use ammo like every other game, because if it's not like Gears or Halo, why play it?

I know this is going to sound like whining, but I saw a lot of "Dude you deleted my post" because they didn't have open minds, but the quote above appears to be ragging on me directly for my comment about the pace of the game being fast enough that picking up all sorts of loot is out of place. Is that open minded?

I just wanted to voice my opinion and discuss it with people who don't share the same one. Instead I come back to be made fun of. Ouch.

Anywho, I enjoyed this game, but have been thinking about the definitions of RPG for most of the day yesterday and keep coming back to the fact that I think the subtraction of armor stats, various weapons and XP grinding helps to focus more on character development and relationships.

It's like back when I was a DM for a group. We wouldn't spend the entire game wondering whether or not the knoll they just killed had a better club or armor. We would divide XP at the end of the session and leave the rest of the game to explore character and senario. I know this stuff is a convention of RPG, but is its deletion really that bad?

Metacritic uses normalised scores

Chi Kong Lui:

You've completely missed my point.

Metacritic uses a NORMALISED score already, so it really shouldn't matter if other sites use logarithmic scales. However it DOES matter if GameCritics uses a linear system, as effectively your score is already normalised BEFORE it reaches metacritic, thus biasing the Metacritic normalisation process.

Ultimately the point of contention boils down to why there is a 20% deviation of your score from the 96.5% NORMALISED weighted average (nobody has in fact rated this game below 9/10, apart from yourselves!).

Brad's review itself contains his justification for this deviation -- I do not dispute that. What I do doubt however, is:

i) the use of a scoring scale that is incompatible with other scoring scales used in industry, hence implicitly biasing meta sites.

ii) Brad's view on the game given he is 1 voice in 80. Are all other critics painting an inaccurate picture of the game and that his is the only opinion that is accurate? I simply don't believe this.

Chi Kong Lui wrote:

Nor is art criticism a mathmatical endevour.

I was merely using the statistics to highlight why I believe your scores to be extremist. As I have already noted, you cannot say the 7.5/10 you gave is not an outlier. The question is WHY?

Why is it that...

... nearly half the comments in any GameCritics thread are by defensive GameCritics staff? Why do so many of you need to come to the aid of this reviewer? This isn't the norm in any heavily-trafficked game-site, why is it here?

I'm not Chi but: Alv

I'm not Chi but:

Alv wrote:

Metacritic uses a NORMALISED score already, so it really shouldn't matter if other sites use logarithmic scales.

EDGE Magazine
Eurogamer
That are just two other publications listed in metacritic that use 1-10 in a linear manner. The normalization problem mainly applies to sites that use different rating systems, e.g. from A to F or 1 to 5 stars.

Quote:

(nobody has in fact rated this game below 9/10, apart from yourselves!).

That's just plain wrong: some big German games magazines gave mass effect 2 ratings of e.g. 82 or 88 out of 100. The Russian absolute games gave it a 74 out of 100.

A rating below 90 is in no way just an outlier.

Yeah, 7.5 is ridiculously

Yeah, 7.5 is ridiculously low. I am in agreement with many of the cons about the game, but a 7.5? Come on now. The review simply does not back up a score that low, particularly in comparison to other titles. To put this in perspective, it is only .5 above Divinity 2. The concept that ME2 and Divinity 2 are only .5 out of 10 apart is simply absurd, and there is no getting around that.

I'll even grant the review scores being on the low side compared to other sites(5 being average and not 7ish being average), but even taking that into account the score is far, far too low by any reasonable standard. If you assume 5 to be average and 10 to be virtually unobtainable perfection, if Armored Core Portable, Ninja Blade, and PixelJunk Shooter are all an 8 or more on that scale... well, then ME2 sure as hell ain't a 7.5.

Even if you docked it significantly for changes from the original(which isn't a valid complaint as every game should be looked at on its own merits), the strength of the audio and visual presentation alone on top of even mediocre gameplay would rise it above that score. So when you take its universally recognized areas of strength and place them on top of a game that is certainly not mediocre, even while lamenting the direction the series took as an RPG, then there is simply no excuse.

Sorry, but when all is said and done your reviews are inconsistent, and I am at a loss why you are even considered for the meta scores to begin with given that lack of professional consistency.

And on a quick gameplay note, I'd question whether or not you played on Insanity difficulty. I can say that it is certainly far more rewarding an experience(as the lower difficulties are underbalanced). It certainly alleviates some of the more simplistic feeling aspects, and requires far more tactical use of your abilities(more on par with what you would expect out of an RPG). (Dragon Age could be extremely hard even on normal, equivalent to ME2's Insanity to give it some context.)

Zelazny7 wrote: ... nearly

Zelazny7 wrote:

... nearly half the comments in any GameCritics thread are by defensive GameCritics staff? Why do so many of you need to come to the aid of this reviewer? This isn't the norm in any heavily-trafficked game-site, why is it here?

For the same reason Eurogamer's Ellie Gibson gets tons of sexist comments for her review with a score of 6/10 for Dante's Inferno.

Because there are enough close minded people who think that it's forbidden to have a different opinion. And since they can't articulate themselves properly they result to other measures. Like telling the reviewer outright that he or she is stupid, unfit for the review, biased, the wrong gender, too old, too young, too small, gay, lesbian, working at IKEA etc.

Just because god forbid someone does not agree with you that every game YOU like is an automatic 10 out of 5.

Zelazny7 wrote: I'll grant

Zelazny7 wrote:

I'll grant you that ME2 can be steam-rolled on lighter difficulties, but on Insanity and even Hardcore you need to maximize your team abilites, take advantage of the terrain and think!

I haven't played the game on hardcore/insanity so you may have a valid point (I started on Veteran, and thus far I've not needed to use much tactics). We'll see how it goes.

NOT ALL THAT GLITTERS IS GOLD

Numbers aside, I think one has to admit that there are some serious design flaws in this game that make it worth only one play-through.

For example, how is it that your scanner is the SAME SIZE regardless if you are looking at a small moon or a gas giant that is thirty times bigger?

Like many, I hate the planet-scanning mini-game, where there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to where the minerals are found. The fact that this mini-game is pretty much mandatory if you want better equipment, does not make me want to play this game a second time.

Finally, I agree that games can be character driven with great success (FINAL FANTASY 6 anyone?) but having every person on your team struggling with a mid-life crisis just before game-time is plain ridiculous and unrealistic. Not to mention that just about every "loyalty" mission plays out the same.

Sure, the graphics are good, but not all that glitters is gold.

Mass Effect 2 on the GC Podcast

Attention haters! Tomorrow night we are recording a Mass Effect 2 segment for our podcast. Brad will be on to discuss the game and his review. It should be posted early next week and will provide you with a fresh outlet to direct your anger. Excelsior!

That's not the point...

Anony Mouse wrote:

Numbers aside, I think one has to admit that there are some serious design flaws in this game that make it worth only one play-through.

By the same token, one must admit that Mass Effect 1 had egregious design flaws as well (much more so than ME2, for me), yet this reviewer gave it a 10. It's only logical that one questions the standars by which this reviewer used to measure games. The only conclusion I can come up with in light of both games' flaws, is that Brad didn't like the story in 2 as much as in 1. I agree with many of Brad's sentiments in the ME2 review as well. It's only in light of his recent body of work that I begin to scratch my head.

Agree

This is the best and most accurate review for this game. This is the only reviewer that isn't gushing about the game and giving it 100/100. Very fair score. Thank you for keeping it real, Mr. Gallaway.

Agreed

Zelazny7 wrote:

By the same token, one must admit that Mass Effect 1 had egregious design flaws as well (much more so than ME2, for me), yet this reviewer gave it a 10.

I agree. I disagreed with Brad when he reviewed the original Mass Effect giving it a 10.
I remember how much I disliked the funky Mako physics and how every planet side-mission had pretty much the same floorplan.

That being said, I think the flaws with ME1 were more nitpicky whereas the flaws with ME2 are more critical and severely damage the replay value.

> is that Brad didn't like

> is that Brad didn't like the story in 2 as much as in 1.

And he says as much, that he didn't like the narrative style of backgrounding the main storyline in favor of character recruitment and loyalty missions. I'm familiar with waiting for the part of the story I really want FAR TOO LONG with plenty of other continuity-driven franchise sequels.

When you think they're playing coy with the meat of the story, you don't like the dumbed-down interface for the main game, and you don't like the minigames added in place of exploration, how would you sum up the review numerically on a 10 point scale?

What this review rates relative to other games is a poor argument. You have to think about context. Go look at some early PS2 RPG reviews, when gamers were starved for anything that had hit points and mana, and compare the scores to what you'll find from late in the console's lifespan, when there was more JRPG choice than there's ever been in North America. You'll find some grave injustices if you believe all games should be rated relative to all other games.

As far as Mass Effect's context, there's a lot more competition out there now in terms of great RPGs and great 'shooters with RPG elements' than there was a couple years ago. I think the first really broke the formula, and I didn't mind the rough patches that came with having a deep interface and a feeling of exploration. I'm reserving my own judgment on the sequel till I play it. But keep in mind, not everyone shares the same opinion of what makes a great game. That's what makes gaming a great and diverse hobby.

Well I for one disagree with

Well I for one disagree with you there. You'll have to clarify by what you mean by "more critical and severely damage the replay value". I don't even wanna touch ME1 with a 10 inch stick after playing ME2 and I'm itching to play it again even though I've got 100% achievements.

Excellent review, unfortunately.

Now that I have completed the game and had a few days to think about it, I find myself surprised to say I think this is the best and most accurate review of ME2, in my opinion. While I too was disappointed with how the inventory and mako exploration were simply gutted rather than improved, the most insightful observation this reviewer makes is the game's story arc is wildly unbalanced - the vast majority of the game is revealing plot points gradually as you embark on quests to recruit your crew. Once you have done that and the 40 some odd side quests (which offer a great deal more variety than ME1, but are often short, similar to other side quests in the game or simply involve talking to someone in another room - very few are notably unique) there simply isn't much left to do. The big build up for what should be the show stopping final act winds up being the game itself - once you make that final trip toward your suicide mission, it is quite simply underwhelming and incredibly short. You wind up feeling like you were spending the whole game preparing for something that is over before you know it. While I did not hate the planet scanning as some do, it was very disappointing to find that my completionist style of playing the game meant I had several hundred thousand of hard earned minerals and nothing to do with them. I'd say I added 10 or more hours to my game for what turned out to be no reason. There is much I loved about the game, and Bioware is still the best by far with characters, story and dialogue, but I felt a lot less engaged this time around, and was left with no desire to play it a second time, which I am still kind of shocked by, as someone who played ME1 three times. Certainly a game you can't miss, but a game that nonetheless wound up being surprisingly disappointing for me.

Alv wrote: Logarithmic

Alv wrote:

Logarithmic scaling applies not only to the gaming industry however, but also to the whole of humanity. If you knew anything about the WEBER-FECHNER law (Google it), then you would also know that human cognition of number systems and scales is *naturally logarithmic.

So I accuse and challenge the position of GameCritics.com with regards to their scoring philosophy on three counts

Alv, yours is an earnest post and I believe it deserves an earnest response, so let me just put in my own $.02 here.

For all the effort you put into that comment, you did not once refer to the writing of the review. Like many others who have visited the site recently, you chose to focus on the least important aspect of the review--the rating--simply because MetaCritic and GameRankings make it their primary commercial purpose to group games in the most reductive and simplified manner possible.

If you come here, I would hope--and I mean that, sincerely hope--you are visiting this site because you are interested in what is SAID, not what numbers appear when attached to writing. I've only been here a short time, but it is evident to me that GameCritics.com does everything in its power to de-emphasize the scores, which it seems to me are provided more as a nod to the media standard of attaching arbitrary numbers to a review than anything else, and to emphasize the thought underlying them.

Imagine our chagrin when a slew of people come to the site to talk only about numbers, making horrendously miscalculated accusations about inflating site traffic based on sites that have little to do with this one, and ignore Brad's very carefully considered points... and even the fact that he ENJOYED THE GAME. (And trust me, we would have much rather that some of you not come at all. There's no conceivable gain in inviting animosity, but there is in inviting well-reasoned disagreement.)

Consider this for a moment: Ignoring the score, Brad would willingly and wittingly RECOMMEND Mass Effect 2 to someone interested in the game. How, then, does his opinion of Mass Effect 2 being worthy of purchase or being a good game differ from anyone else listed on those simplified surveys on MetaCritic and GameRankings? Because he provided a score which he felt was an honest reflection of his opinion, a mere 2.0 points less than the average? That seems truly ridiculous to me.

Review scores are always subjective. Always. Just because they are numbers doesn't mean they have any basis in tangible, irrefutable reality. Would you rather he had been disingenuous and provided an inflated score that did not match up with his opinions? Would you rather that he had lied altogether and trumped up the game at the expense of honesty and integrity? Seriously, I'm not quite sure what you and the many others who have complained about the score would have preferred in this case.

GameCritics is listed on the review aggregation sites because it offers valid arguments and opinions, just the same as any of those other sites. If you can seriously argue that this site deserves to be de-listed based on one person's honesty, then I would counter that every other site deserves to be de-listed as well.

Of course, the arguments we've been seeing aren't quite so logical. They always come down to, "I don't like that you disagree with me. Therefore, there must be something wrong with you."

This is an extraordinarily rude and dismissive way of thinking, not to mention bordering on a kind of fanboy-ish fascism. I feel sorry for those who must make excuses for their own vanity just to feel accepted by a majority... on a review aggregation site, of all things! I'm not saying that you yourself are vain, but I do think you worked hard to misrepresent both the aims of this site and even the purpose of the review aggregators.

No one here relishes in being an "outlier," or a "rebel." These are video games, for crying out loud! Don't you think a reasonable person would stake their reputation on something not related to fleeting $60 purchases and having fun? But would they stake their reputation on providing truthful and transparent opinions? You bet.

And for those wondering why other staff members have come to Brad's defense here, it's not because we're ganging up on those who vehemently disagree with him. It's because we have a stake in each other's integrity. Why else would we communicate with one another?

We're not here to do battle with people who disagree. I don't think anyone is here to defend a number either. Rather, we're here to point out rational thought in a comment thread that has been largely governed by childishness (some more eloquent than others).

You have every right to feel the way you do about the score if you disagree with the rating. But please don't try to hide behind an erudite statistical analysis when your sole goal is to say, "You're not allowed to have a different opinion." That's just disingenuous.

Re: Oh Snap

I think you're taking it too personally. The comment you speak seems to list off every change that has been implemented in ME2 and considering it "praise" because one shouldn't question these things.
There was no "finite shots" and anything enemies dropped immediately went into your inventory in ME1. These two items are not present in ME2.

I actually think the

I actually think the reviewer, Brad, was very generous in his score. I would've given it a lower score, not necessarily because its a horrible game but the fact of switching genre's in the middle of a series. I enjoy rpg's, the customizations the many different weapons to use. I didn't really read up on this game so I was expecting a wrpg as opposed to a tps and being that Bioware was doing it I had high expectations. I mean if I really wanted to play a tps I have gears or war. I think most people who are dissapointed in the game wanted an rpg with tps's elements not the other way around.

Also, besides the gameplay being a lot like gears of war did anyone else notice the similar story between the two games? I really do hope it was coincidental but I really don't think it was. I won't spoil anything for those who haven't finished the game but the collectors are doing the same thing the locusts did in gears of war.

I agree with Crofto, its

I agree with Crofto, its refreshing to see a real review and not a glowing 10 best game of all time review two days before the game hits the shelf. I was highly disappointed, the only thing about the game that I would call Mass Effect at all is the look, story and voice actors. The game itself was so highly tweaked in all the wrong ways if it came out before ME it wouldn't be put anywhere near a list of great games. I was very disappointed with the backward progress, its not and RPG in anyway but dialog options and its a pathetic shooter with a glossy coat and boring gear & powers. Epic fail in my opinion and anyone who thinks this is a great game i really don't want to know what your second pick is cuz you never played a great game. I think when EA bought it all the real artist took there ideas and property with them and bioware was stuck with the story and no real programs to make a game with.. again im sorry but this game is awful..

A few things to say:1>

A few things to say:

1> Technical production does not equal critical excellence.

2> Games here are scored on their own merits, not relative to every game in existence.

3> With 5 being average, 7.5 is an above-average and postitive score. It's the same thing as 3/4 stars.

4> If you had a comment deleted, it was because there was something offensive in your post. (From Moderator: Please note the Code of Conduct at the bottom of every page)

5> My thanks to those who left genuine and thoughtful comments, whether you agreed or not.

B

>Matthew Kaplan Your reply

>Matthew Kaplan

Your reply to Alv was probably the only really reasonable thing I've seen posted by any of this site's staff so far. That being said, I wanted to offer a reasonable response to something you brought up.
You Said:

"I've only been here a short time, but it is evident to me that GameCritics.com does everything in its power to de-emphasize the scores, which it seems to me are provided more as a nod to the media standard of attaching arbitrary numbers to a review than anything else, and to emphasize the thought underlying them."

If that is your stance, I really thinks it makes sense for this site to overhaul its approach to reviews much in the same way Kotaku presents theirs. There is no numerical score whatsoever. Their reviews are framed entirely in "Loved" and "Hated" context and require you to actually read the reviews to get their take on each game. This would also save the site from the bad reputation it's building by being listed on GameRankings and MetaCritic with low numerical scores. Just a thought, but it would definitely put the focus on the actual reviews.

Soumynona wrote: If that is

Soumynona wrote:

If that is your stance, I really thinks it makes sense for this site to overhaul its approach to reviews much in the same way Kotaku presents theirs.

Personally, I quite like Kotaku's system and I have no problem with this suggestion. However, I can only speak for myself here; I have no control over such things (I'm not a reviewer for the site, and I don't intend to write reviews). I've commented on the utility of review scores before on my own blog, but I respect the position of GameCritics staff members to still attach ratings to their reviews.

Matt Kaplan: I should have

Matt Kaplan:

I should have added a disclaimer: I have not played the game, and am NOT trying to defend it. My concern is based purely on your score being a statistical outlier, deviating some 20% to other scores (on Metacritic). If you're interested in the average income of the US, do you include Bill Gates and Warren Buffet in your sample?

Furthermore, you've taken this rather to heart. In no way did I question your right to have a difference of opinion, nor did I ever label your site as being a rebel ('outlier' is a statistical term). However, based on the peculiarly low score you've given the game, most intelligent, questioning lifeforms, would debate if not challenge the accuracy and 'agreeability' of your opinion, as I am doing. Yet you cheaply accuse me of being dismissive, misrepresentative, and disingenous. That's rather bad form - if you're going to publish your opinions, then you should be prepared to face your own critics in a manner you would expect them to face you in return.

Besides, if you believe that the score is the least relevant part of the review, why provide a score at all? We certainly wouldn't be debating it now!

NB As I have already pointed out, it is disingenous on your part to keep promoting 5/10 as the 'average' score when it is not - 5/10 is NOT average on a logarithmic scale. If you take all the games in history, I would imagine the MEDIAN score would be around 7.5/10. Are most games then above 'average?

Alv wrote: NB As I have

Alv wrote:

NB As I have already pointed out, it is disingenous on your part to keep promoting 5/10 as the 'average' score when it is not - 5/10 is NOT average on a logarithmic scale. If you take all the games in history, I would imagine the MEDIAN score would be around 7.5/10. Are most games then above 'average?

If you believe game reviews, ratings and criticism is about mathematically categorizing the quality of games to some degree of scientific accuracy, that's fine. I obviously don't agree and it appears your values differ greatly from this site's mission and even the purpose of aggregate sites like Metacritic. None the less I appreciated the level of thought you put into your posts and the different perspective. That is after all what this site is all about. Let's not spoil that by beating a dead horse.

Very good review Brad. You

Very good review Brad. You and I don't always see eye-to-eye, but I value your opinions regardless. In the case of ME2 I think you're spot-on. While I'm enjoying the game a great deal, the first was clearly superior in a number of areas (story and characters in particular). Keep up the good work.

Finally, a REAL review.

This review is correct. It is not opinion, it is simple fact BioWare set out and voiced to severly lessen the RPG elements and attract the FPS player base. The end of Mass Effect 2 had me damn near falling out of my chair, as Shepard grasps to make that jump I almost began to scream "MAKE IT MAKE IT!" As my Garrus fell in battle (idk why because I polished up so much...) I felt a tear start to form. Sadly, it took almost 20 hours of grinding to play the sequal of the epic Mass Effect storyline. Where as the first title went from engaging politics, exploration, micromanagement, strong character interaction, and riviting decision making the second slapped on good visuals, guns, and CoD health regen.

Aparently the FPS-heads loved this title so much they feel the need to tell RPG fans why it's the better game, because aparently shooting is more fun than role playing.

At any rate, by the end of the game I was convinced I was just blinded by nostalgia. I went and did a run through of the first title and realized without a shred of doubt that the better RPG is ME1. Naturally, the better shooter is ME2. I wanted an RPG, though.

Looks like BioWare is taking notes from Blizzard and is going to start catering to casuals?

Not suprised by Brads review going against the grain AGAIN

I was much looking forward to the first ME, all the hype and supposedly huge production. But when I played it I felt that I was missing something but couldnt explain. Edge magazine UK hit it on the nail with its review in which it gave the game 7/10, "ME tries to be like Star Wars in scope but ends up feeling like a n episode of Star Trek". In other words it was boring and lacked a sense of SCALE. They also noted the lack of intersting side quests and that the mian story was a slog and not disguised by the many lifeless side quests.

Brad gave this game a 10. This time round Edge acknowledges the advancements that ME2 has made some real advances in all the areas they pointed out in their first review. In short that the game has realised its potential with an eventful main story and many side quests that are actually worth playing. They have managed to up the scale to EPIC and meet the production values rather than the B movie sci fi feel of the orininal.

Therefore i find it very surprising that Brad has the opposite opinion in his review to Edge magazine once again.

ANYONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN A REVIEW OF BOTH GAMES THAT HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD, just head over to Edge magfazine uk and be educated.

ME2

Just to inform you re my last post. Edge magazine UK is one of the most highly respected video game magazines in the world. It is an adult orientated magazine with very harsh reviews (not unusual for a game to get 3/4 out of 10 and is full of industry related journalism. It also acts as a recruitment magazine for programmers and all other ppl looking for roles in the video game industry.

Its reviews are highly respected and it is not shy to tell you how it is. Gears 1 got 8/10 when everyone were giving it 9 or 10, FF X only got 6/10, Killzone and resistance scraped 7's.

I know reviews are opinionated but i feel this review is not substaniated in the sense that the most important aspects of the game are not weighted correctly in measuring theor importance, such as the improvements to characterisation and story (as noted by Edge).

Middle game syndrome

I completely agree with the reviewer, although it took a 2-3 day "cooldown" period for the hype effect to wear off, and for me to realize that ME2 was not as good as ME1.

ME2 is every bit the "middle game" of a trilogy - it can't, for the fact that it is a sequel, have the same impact as the first game, in which everything was new. And the game felt like a mere build-up to the final game, in which all of the cards will be laid out on the table for everyone to judge the franchise as a whole.

My suspicion is that all the changes that were made to make ME2 more "casual gamer friendly" was all EA's doing. Many of us Bioware fans cringed when we heard about the acquisition and in ME2, our fears came true. The game was dumbed down, streamlined, and made into a skeleton of its former self all to appeal to the mainstream gamer who can't be bothered to put too much time into things like inventory management and character customization.

And I have no doubts that EA is behind this new DLC-centered model - where we get the body of a game, with all the appendages and flair to follow...

Don't get me wrong, I love the game. But I only love it because it is Mass Effect and takes place in the same universe as the first game. Were I to approach ME2 on its own, having not played the first game? I probably wouldn't like it as much, if at all.

Tolerance Defined

tol⋅er⋅ance  [tol-er-uhns]
–noun
1. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.

2. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own.

3. interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one's own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.

Thank you for writing one of

Thank you for writing one of the only legit reviews of ME2 on the net. As a huge fan of the 1st game I feel this game was a massive letdown. Aside from all of the failures mentioned above (the planet scanning which brings the game to a grinding halt, the almost complete removal of RPG elements, etc....) I could not believe how little was done to advance the main storyline. This game is basically a 25 hour long side quest....and to make matters even worse some of the character missions/side quests are a complete waste of time (does anyone actually give a shit about Zaeed?). The final 2 hours of the game really blew my mind...What a totally uninspired ending. Without spoiling anything, I half expected Doctor Evil to jump out of the final boss.(those of you who beat the game will know what i'm talking about) Seriously...how do you go from ME1 to the ending of ME2? It feels like a bad scene from an Austin Powers movie. What a total lack of imagination. This game is a epic failure. My copy is on e-bay if anyone wants it.

Combat

Just curious, but for those who have said that the combat is improved, how so?

I faintly remember the combat from ME1 being unspectacular and derivative and nothing about ME2's combat system strikes me as particularly innovative or memorable. It's the same "hide behind object and shoot" system that's used in a billion other games, except your weapons feel grossly underpowered by comparison and firefights take way too long (unless you simply run up to enemies and torch them with a flamethrower... problem solved, albeit hilariously).

I can't agree more.

Exactly, man, you wrote my mind out. Fortunately, I think the game is this way because it's just an opening for the third part, as is any other middle part of any trilogy. I think the ending gave me the feeling I was longing for the entire gameplay. And I think it was necessary to get to know the new characters, because, imho, these guys will come with us to the grand finale.

The first game had flaws in it's RPG elements too

Godheval wrote:

The game was dumbed down, streamlined, and made into a skeleton of its former self all to appeal to the mainstream gamer who can't be bothered to put too much time into things like inventory management and character customization.

the character customisation wasn't cut too drastically in my view. There wasn't quite as many skill available but in my mind that forced you to more carefully allocate your squad's abilities to complement the areas in which your main character lacks strength. Plus the removal of charm and intimidate and tying these dialogue options to your paragon/renegade scores was a gteat bit of streamlining.

While I would have preferred a few more options for modding weapons and not had weapon buffs tied to the eventually tedious scanning minigame I think that, despite its flaws the new system is better than that in the first game.

You see the problem Mass Effect 1 suffered was that it had just too many loot. You picked up so much stuff from the myriad of crates in the game (all of which were preceded by a minigame that was even more turgid than any of the efforts in ME2 - something which many people with rose tinted specs tend to forget). The sheer amount of stuff not only served to clutter up the shockingly clunky inventory system but also meant that you quickly built up a ridiculous amount of money; which in turn unlocks ridiculously powerful weapons a mere halfway through the game hence making anything you pick up redundant and actually destroying the fun of inventory management and customisation rather than enhancing it. Then the only options were changing ammor types and armour upgrades of which a few were obviosuly more useful meaning again that the majority of items you picked up just became useless clutter. It was an ill judged system showing a lack of restraint.

In my view the second game is much better at limiting the amount of money you have access to and hence actually forcing you to choose between buying certain upgrade - it's this sort of forced decision limited by what you can afford which is actually in my mind the fun part of RPG style customisation.

While I agree that perhaps they streamlined the system a bit too much and would have like some more customisation options to imply that the first game had it entirely right is in error. Although I enjoy the Mass Effect series more than Dragon Age I would say that Dragon Age is far superior to M£ in handling the loot/inventory reward sweetspot that makes gear in RPGs such a compelling distraction.

Having dedicated such a load of time to talking about equipment though I'd like to add that this is just a part that enhances a game for me and a game will live and die for me personally on whether I enjoy it's world, characters and story and on whether the gameplay is fun. Mass Effect 2 delivers on all aspects. It removes some of the niggles from the first game and delivers a nice tight comat experience with some really compelling characters. The overall story of the first may have been ever so slightly better but the characterisation in the second is superior and the combat is much more enjoyable.

It's a superbly done action adventure game and the RPG vs shooter debate is rather irrelev ant for me on a personal level. I enjoy action adventure and RPG elements really can help to add to this (see also Deus Ex). Even if they are simplistic compared to a traditional RPG they still help to raise the game above being an average shooter.

Anonymous wrote: People who

Anonymous wrote:

People who complain about the intentional design decision to shift focus from clunky and tedious RPG elements who constantly clashed with a console interface in ME1 to a streamlined loadout and vastly improved combat are probably the same who hate Fallout3 for its drastic progression beyond its two predecessors.

A review thats openly saying "I had become quite concerned that the game changed to be more widely-appealing" and marks it as a negative baffles me. Do you really expect the developers to ignore all feedback and make conscious decisions to impair the experience for a larger part of the players? Do you even notice how egoistical that assumption is?

I agree, I don't see how pertaining to some well established "action game" elements can hinder this game and make it less accessible and enjoyable.
Some one noted that the RPG elements of the game lacked depth, and there was instances of dialouge tree looping, and that characters had, "nothing better to say" after you completed thier loyalty quests. First of all, the dialouge looping can be seen as a game mechanic to refresh the memory of certain gamers that may need a reminder into the purpose of certain plot lines, and mission briefings. Remember folks this is a game, not real life. Secondly, the fact that your crew doesn't have much to say after completing their loyalty quests, is on the one hand wrong, you can go back and they will thank you for completing the quest, and or not thank you, and on the other hand, there is a limit to the capabilities of the writers and voice actors playing the roles of these characters. They can't possibly create an infinitely branching dialouge tree for each character, thats to much to ask. Once again, Remember folks this is a game, not real life. And what a game. ME2 has undergone drastic changes in combat balancing and role playing that make for a much more accessible and streamlined experience. You won't be stuck in your inventory screen for two hours figuring out witch damned weapon or piece of armor each party member needs to be using, mind you in certain circumstances this is entertaining eg:D&D

But why a 7.5?

I do have a comment or question. . . reading the review I don't know why this game received a 7.5. Most of the negatives of the game were given in comparison to Mass Effect. Is this a 7.5 on its own merits or a 7.5 because you view it as not as good as its predecessor?

Your complaints (while valid in my opinion) don't describe an average or mediocre game. . . just one that isn't focused on RPG equipment customization or exploration. As such, it sounds more like you are downgrading the game because it doesn't do what you wish, rather than evaluating the game for what it does. I can see giving a lower score because the game isn't a 9.8 compelling -- but even your own review does speak well to the story and the like. You don't describe an average game, but you give it an average rating. Thus I think your own disappointment makes your review lower than it should be.

A 8.5 -- sure, I can see that. But 7.5 for a game that has interesting combat and a fine metaplot seems unduly harsh.

Can't please everyone

He didn't like it so he rated it down because it's not what he wanted in a game.
If you're part of the 98% of people who don't agree with him, who cares about his review?

Hi Eric, Thanks for being

Hi Eric,

Thanks for being polite in your response. = )

Contrary to what most of these people leaving comments seem to think, being rude or insulting actually doesn't do anything for you, nor does it make the critic receiving these comments more inclined to listen to what you have to say.

Anyway, I'll do my best to answer your questions.

>>reading the review I don't know why this game received a 7.5. Most of the negatives of the game were given in comparison to Mass Effect. Is this a 7.5 on its own merits or a 7.5 because you view it as not as good as its predecessor?

It's both, really.

First of all, I think it needs to be clarified that here at this site, we use the entire 1-10 scale, meaning that a 5 is a perfectly average score. A lot of people seem to be confused by this, and honestly, I can't really say that it's surprising since most of the industry seems to think that an 8 is where every “pretty okay” game needs to fall. If you go back into our archives and filter by reviewer, you'll see that I've awarded plenty of games a score of 5 or below, so we really do take advantage of the lower numbers. Taking that into account, a score of 7.5 is actually well above average.

If you converted into the typical “stars” scale, ME2 is 3/4 stars. That's pretty good, right?

>>Your complaints (while valid in my opinion) don't describe an average or mediocre game. . . just one that isn't focused on RPG equipment customization or exploration. As such, it sounds more like you are downgrading the game because it doesn't do what you wish, rather than evaluating the game for what it does.

When reviewing a sequel, it's always a bit of a juggling act how the reviewer weighs the merits of the game on its own, and also how it relates to (and hopefully builds off of) its predecessor. In both regards, I found it lacking for the reasons I outlined in the review.

To recap the issues I saw: hallway levels with totally predictable combat, reduced emphasis on exploration, too many cast members with not enough depth, unfocused story that doesn't really get going until almost the end, scanning is awful, the elimination of the mako and severe reduction in skills/equipment systems, dialogue trees that didn't flow or feel as natural as they did in the previous game, and levels (Citadel, Krogan homeworld, etc) that were basically little more than large rooms instead of the sprawling environments that the first ME had.

To me, this is a pretty *substantial* list of problems, and to frank, I wasn't really enjoying the game very much for at least the first half or so.

As I stated in the review, things got better once I collected all the teammates, started doing the hidden missions, and the game got back to the main story dealing with the Collectors and so on. The ending was very well-done and exciting (except for the boss, which was pretty stupid.) When ME2 started doing what it does best, it was great. However, it didn't really come together for me until almost the end.

Taking all those things into account, my gut feeling was that this was a 7.5 game once you look past the great graphics and improved combat/AI. It was like two steps forward, three steps back as far as I was concerned, and I honestly didn't feel like I could score it any higher in good conscience.

Obviously, there are a lot of people who disagree with me (although I think they disagree with the *number* more than anything else) but everyone's entitled to their own opinion.

I hope I've answered your questions and explained in greater detail how I came to give to give it the score that I did.

Thanks!

Brad Gallaway wrote: To

Brad Gallaway wrote:

To recap the issues I saw: hallway levels with totally predictable combat, reduced emphasis on exploration, too many cast members with not enough depth, unfocused story that doesn't really get going until almost the end, scanning is awful, the elimination of the mako and severe reduction in skills/equipment systems, dialogue trees that didn't flow or feel as natural as they did in the previous game, and levels (Citadel, Krogan homeworld, etc) that were basically little more than large rooms instead of the sprawling environments that the first ME had.

Heh, I was right with you up until "sprawling environments that the first ME had."

When has any Bioware console game other than Dragon Age ever had "sprawling" environments? Aside from the Citadel, the first ME had very small, linear environments as well, no? Unless you're talking about the very empty Mako driving areas.

But I'm nitpicking. I still completely agree with you about your qualms. I just wish you had realized ME1 had most of these same problems back when it came out! ;)

Compared to what we got in

Compared to what we got in ME2, I'd say they're pretty 'sprawling'.

Of course, we're not talking GTA levels of size, but the Citadel was large and full of people/places. The individual levels themselves were much more open and sizable as well...

Virmire was fairly linear, but the Mako driving really gave it the feeling of being huge. Feros had several distinct areas and could be done a few different ways, and Noveria had a bunch of hidden quests and another driving portion. not 'huge', but they all had distinctly different types of architecture and outclass the hallway-with-an-occasional-room philosophy that most of ME2's levels display.

was 'sprawling' a bad word choice? okay, maybe, but still... i think you get my point. ; )

Brad Gallaway wrote: Hi

Brad Gallaway wrote:

Hi Eric,

First of all, I think it needs to be clarified that here at this site, we use the entire 1-10 scale, meaning that a 5 is a perfectly average score. A lot of people seem to be confused by this, and honestly, I can't really say that it's surprising since most of the industry seems to think that an 8 is where every “pretty okay” game needs to fall. If you go back into our archives and filter by reviewer, you'll see that I've awarded plenty of games a score of 5 or below, so we really do take advantage of the lower numbers. Taking that into account, a score of 7.5 is actually well above average.

If you converted into the typical “stars” scale, ME2 is 3/4 stars. That's pretty good, right?

First of all, Brad, I'd like to thank you for facing your critics and standing behind your opinions. You are entitled to your right of free speech. Now, for the sake of that right, I'd like to point out some of the flaws in your argument.

For one, most star scales are out of 5, not out of 4 =), okay I'm being nitpicky there. As for 5 being the average score, a lot of people are baffled by this simply because the statistics contradict that statement. I haven't looked at your personal average but I have checked the average on gamecritics.com. It's 67.56% (courtesy of gamerankings). Sure, it's a historical average and you guys may have changed your standards. However, it is still inconsistent with the rest of game reviewers. Simply put by the statistician in the earlier post, games are rated on a logarithmic scale. Why is this? Because games have to meet at least a certain standard before they can at least go on the market.

Okay, you think, why does it matter if it's inconsistent with the rest of the industry? Well, it brings confusion as you so pointed out yourself. I'm not telling you to change your standards, I'm merely pointing out your inconsistency with others and why game reviewers as a whole don't see 5 as an average rating of a game.

Okay, now I'd like to add my responses to your comments on the game itself.

Brad Gallaway wrote:

To recap the issues I saw: hallway levels with totally predictable combat, reduced emphasis on exploration, too many cast members with not enough depth, unfocused story that doesn't really get going until almost the end, scanning is awful, the elimination of the mako and severe reduction in skills/equipment systems, dialogue trees that didn't flow or feel as natural as they did in the previous game, and levels (Citadel, Krogan homeworld, etc) that were basically little more than large rooms instead of the sprawling environments that the first ME had.

To me, this is a pretty *substantial* list of problems, and to frank, I wasn't really enjoying the game very much for at least the first half or so.

Combat predictability depends on the difficulty you play on. I'm a hardcore RPG fan and I still find myself pausing and spamming my skills on the higher difficulties. The AI challenges me a lot more instead of just mindlessly coming at me all the time so I can shoot them down. Combat just feels a whole lot smoother without necessarily taking away the RPG tactics.

Clearly, you see the mako sequences as a strength of the first game. I think it's pretty clear that most (including myself) would have to disagree with you there. As some have pointed out, those 'exploration' sequences were outright dull and repetitive. I imagine you do recall the copy and paste style of the side quests too.

I do concede the point that the mineral scanning is a step backwards. However, this issue is really minor compared the problems I pointed out above.

As for the story. It is quite clear from early on in the game what the threat is and what you're supposed to do about it. As for the focus on gathering teammates, I think the side stories are appropriate in the context of the main story (people tying up loose ends and so on). As for character development, again most would disagree with you there. There is more dialogue for each character compared to any character in ME1 (and this is impressive considering how many more characters there are). Remember also, that bioware faces a bit of a dilemma here. Logically, a lot of the characters can return in ME3, so they need to leave some room there.

Dialogue loops still occurred in the original ME. As for how natural the dialogue feels and flows, I feel this has been vastly improved (although still room for improvement) by the variety of animations and the number of dialogue lines they've added. Commander Shepard speaks a lot more so it doesn't always feel like a one way conversation (with the NPCs spewing out monologues like in ME1).

If you really look at it, in terms of the skills you use in combat, there's no real reduction at all. Commander Shepard has more skills at his/her disposal. I do admit that there should be more variety in the skills of your squadmates instead of just removing a few to make them more varied (again, this is a minor issue). ME1 had more customisability in terms of the stats you added to your character and I concede that I preferred this system. Again, I emphasise that such a change was overlooked and is not really a step backward in terms of gameplay experience.

The inventory system. A lot of people have made arguments that clearly rebutted this point. I for one don't see how the repetitive annoying management of hundreds of armour and weapons which were practically similar can be classified as "intelligent" at all. I was one who reached level 50 with 9999999 credits and it was annoying sorting through that pile of junk. I can see why you would say the inventory system in ME2 was an overreaction to that. However, in my opinion, the system itself on principle is a good one. I do concede that it lacked a bit of depth in terms of customisability but the skeleton of this system is better and it just needs to be more fleshed out.

Environments. I already mentioned the copy and paste style present in ME1. The 'open exploration' mako sequences were on practically barren lifeless planets so I wouldn't call that sprawling at all. In response to the large room argument, again this is the case on ME1 (with the exception of the dull lifeless 'open' planets). Plus, this is not GTA sci-fi style. Most games are 'limited' and essentially have large rooms in terms of where you can go.

Okay, I've ranted on for quite a while now. I hope you at least see my points. I just wanted to point out that your "substantial" list of problems are nothing compared to list that I can come up with for ME1. My point is that your list is no more nitpicky than the one I listed down for ME1. In the end, those problems you listed just resonated more in your view and in my opinion they were given too much weight in your review and in your scoring. I don't think either ME2 and ME1 were perfect but I enjoyed those two games a lot. The nitpicks pointed out by everyone about both games annoys people to a different degree. It's my opinion that they were more annoying in ME1.

Anyway, thanks again for your responses.

Weaponslayer wrote:Okay,

Weaponslayer wrote:

Okay, you think, why does it matter if it's inconsistent with the rest of the industry? Well, it brings confusion as you so pointed out yourself. I'm not telling you to change your standards, I'm merely pointing out your inconsistency with others and why game reviewers as a whole don't see 5 as an average rating of a game.

Please read this comment I posted earlier about MetaCritic's intepretation of ratings. The key quote is this:

"Virtually all of the publications we use as sources for game reviews (a) assign scores on a 0-100 scale (or equivalent) to their reviews, and (b) are very explicit about what those scores mean. And these publications are almost unanimous in indicating that scores below 50 indicate a negative review, while it usually takes a score in the upper 70s or higher to indicate that the game is unequivocally good."

So Metacritic has determined based on the 80+ sites they aggregate, that everyone "almost unanimous[ly]" agrees that everything around 51 to 74 is generally average. I leave it to the reader to determine what that says about our site relative to the industry.

Mostly agree with review

75% is too low for this game, but imho the game is also not deserving of all the 100% scores it's been getting.

A good game, but not as good as I thought it was going to be. Yes, the combat is improved, yes there are more characters, but I miss my "sunday drives" in the mako; I miss driving up to bases and sniping them from afar. I miss picking up a better assault weapon and going in to the inventory screen to equip it. I miss the more detailed RPG choices of the first Mass Effect game. I miss being on a mission that seemed important, rather than a covert mission nobody seems to know about and everyone other than the humans don't seem to care about. I miss a strong villain like Saren. I miss being able to use all my weapons whatever the class of character I am using. I have a big squad but there doesn't seem to be a compelling reason to choose one squad member over another, unlike the fist game where you had to juggle weapons/biotics/tech. I seem to be collecting squad members forever, but once I have recruited them they just spend the rest of the game sat in the hold. When you collect them they look like the most powerful being in the galaxy, but when you take them on quests they are rather ordinary. The graphical quality of the game seems to have not improved, and the citadel is now a wal-mart rather than the sprawling seat of intergalactic government it used to be. The planetary scanning is a boring flash game. Overall I am thankful of the improvements but they seem to have ripped out the troublesome parts of Mass Effect 1 (slow inventory, inconsistent UI) rather than improve them.

It seems like a lot of folks

It seems like a lot of folks here are just arguing over numerical semantics. And the conflict arises from the (apparent) fact that most review sources tend to grade on a 5 to 10 scale, whereas GameCritics.com grades on the full scale. We choose to use all those extra numbers (strange, I know), while most other review sources don't. So to those who are upset about the score, just tell yourselves: a) it's just a number; b) we use the full range of the scale more than other publications; c) you can always use the following score translator if it makes you feel better. :-)

10 =10
9.75=9.5
9.5 =9
9.25=8.5
9 =8
8.75=7.5
8.5 =7
8.25=6.5
8 =6
7.75=5.5
7.5 =5
7.25=4.5
7 =4
6.75=3.5
6.5 =3
6.25=2.5
6 =2
5.75=1.5
5.5 =1
5.25=.5
5.0 =0

So if Brad had been working at Game Informer and only had a 5-10 score range to work with (I'm kind of kidding, but there is a grain of truth to this), then it would have been an 8.75. But at any rate, just because most other reviewers assign numbers a bit differently, doesn't mean that we should too. Don't focus so much on the number. Read the content of the review to see what the reviewer thinks about it.

ME2 is a great, entertaining game.

I have found, that the older I have gotten, the less time i can spend on gaming. Before ME2 , i never played a bioware game, although I have heard plenty of their story telling. I was always concerened about the time it would take to fully enjoy a BIOWARE RPG, and how complicated they have become nowadays.

After playing ME2, i am utterly blown away by the presentation, production and (RPG purists, prepare to cringe ) action. I agree with Brad and plenty of other posters out there, this is an RPG geared towards the masses. In fact, i think that all quality games in the future are going to follow this model of shooter with a "bit of rpg" element to them. I can understand why Brad might have so much beef with the game. The game was made for a gamer like me, am a serious gamer that does not have the time to dive into inventory systems and customization. There is nothing wrong with these attributes, but we all know that its not the mass appeal. So although i disagree with Brad's score of a 7.5 ( i give it more like a 9.6), i do understand that Brad was expecting a different kind of game. A pure RPG ME2 it is not, and i would be pissed too if my favorite game went ahead an changed genre.

Good point

If Bethesda turned Fallout 3 into a shooter only and dumbed down all the customisation i would howl at the moon.

I too find myself gravitating toward smaller more casual games lately, although once or twice a year a love playing a really involving (western) rpg.

Chi Kong Lui wrote: So

Chi Kong Lui wrote:

So Metacritic has determined based on the 80+ sites they aggregate, that everyone "almost unanimous[ly]" agrees that everything around 51 to 74 is generally average. I leave it to the reader to determine what that says about our site relative to the industry.

Well I said 5 is not the average. I also pointed out that gamecritics.com has an average score of 67.56% so I was merely highlighting how Brad's interpretation that 5 is the average is a confusion to people. Also, people like me are not saying that you don't use the full scale. The fact of the matter is that there are less games with scores of below 5 than those above that score.

Weaponslayer wrote:Well I

Weaponslayer wrote:

Well I said 5 is not the average. I also pointed out that gamecritics.com has an average score of 67.56% so I was merely highlighting how Brad's interpretation that 5 is the average is a confusion to people. Also, people like me are not saying that you don't use the full scale. The fact of the matter is that there are less games with scores of below 5 than those above that score.

I don't know if this was not clear or you're intentionally misunderstanding, but when I said 5 was the average, that means:

on a scale of 1-10, a score of 5 = AVERAGE QUALITY game.

Anything getting 4.5 or below = below average quality.

Anything 5.5 or above = above average quality.

There's no point in addressing the rest, and I'll also say that continued discussion of the numeric score or our rating scale is pointless and has gone on beyond any possible point of illumination or value.

Anyone with legitimate comments or questions on the topic is encouraged to chip in and post, but any further comments that are insulting, derogatory, or that continue to beat the horse of 'numeric score/rating scale' into the ground simply won't be approved.

Thank you.

(*Note to Weaponslayer: I did get your message and thank you for being polite, but this line of discussion needs to end. No offense intended towards you.)

Weaponslayer wrote: Chi

Weaponslayer wrote:
Chi Kong Lui wrote:

So Metacritic has determined based on the 80+ sites they aggregate, that everyone "almost unanimous[ly]" agrees that everything around 51 to 74 is generally average. I leave it to the reader to determine what that says about our site relative to the industry.

Well I said 5 is not the average. I also pointed out that gamecritics.com has an average score of 67.56% so I was merely highlighting how Brad's interpretation that 5 is the average is a confusion to people. Also, people like me are not saying that you don't use the full scale. The fact of the matter is that there are less games with scores of below 5 than those above that score.

I don't see how the site's having an average score of 67.56% (just curious, where did you get that number) has anything with their rating scale - i.e. 6.5 being the mark for an AVERAGE game. To me, what that means is that as much as the staff here like to rag on bad games, they still have played more good games than bad.

Gamerankings. To Brad: No

Gamerankings.

To Brad:
No offence taken. I value your opinion, which is why I wrote such a lengthy response.

Weaponslayer wrote: I have

Weaponslayer wrote:

I have checked the average on gamecritics.com. It's 67.56% (courtesy of gamerankings). Sure, it's a historical average and you guys may have changed your standards.

Hm... how much do you know about statistics?

As you might notice this site doesn't review that many games compared to other review sites. If gc would make a review of every Wii-shovelware title out there the average review score would be much lower than 67.56%.

That also applies to other magazines. Just look at how many games come out every month and how many reviews there are. Games magazines have a limited staff after all and can't review every game out there.

This sentence sums it up

@Brad Gallaway

This:
"Make no mistake, Mass Effect 2 still has the power to deliver blockbuster sci-fi like no one can, but its developers should know better than anyone that you can't tell a great story if you spend three-quarters of a game introducing characters."

For a company that makes RPGs and thus stories, they dropped the ball on the basics, in lieu of side-character development.

Finally a review of ME2 I agree with

I hyped myself up for this game. I played this game straight through on day 1 basically forcing myself to play because it was Mass Effect 2 damn it and I should love it like I did the first one.
But I didn't love it. And as I watched the reviews roll in all I kept asking myself is, "Are all these 9.5's and 10's for real?".

In ME2 after playing it, I expected some 9.5's and 10's, but also some 7's and 8's. Why? Because the game is just a story now. There is nothing in this for someone like me that loves item collecting, that loves doing all the side quests because it makes the main storyline easier. I fully accept some reviewers will love the streamlined approach focusing on the story. But I couldn't accept that *all* reviewers liked it.

To me ME2 is a horrible game. With a great story. But like this review the ending (last hour or so of gameplay) was very good.

And what sucks is given the reviews (of which I think many were people just afraid to give it an honest score) I picture ME3 to be even more streamlined. Heck, it'll probably play just like Dragon's Lair.

Hrrm...

Two things:

1. The original Mass Effect was an attempt to fuse action gameplay with RPG content. It was a failure (albeit an admirable one) in that regard.

The combat was weak, with shoddy core mechanics and poor, dragging level design, so it wasn't a good action game, and the RPG elements were shallow and poorly implemented, with thoughtless, empty-headed character progression, weak customisation options (oh look, another clone of the same gun/armor/amp I found 3 hours ago), and one of the worst inventories I've ever had the dubious honor of dealing with.

2. Mass Effect 1 isn't very good as a shooter, and it isn't very good as an RPG.

Mass Effect 2, on the other hand, is a very good shooter, with a great deal of variety, and short, punchy level design, that lends itself well to experimentation and replay.

All of those things that ME2 cut out were either shallow, or poorly implemented to begin with, so I really don't miss them.

I consider myself an enormous RPG fan (Fallout 1 is my favorite game of all time) but I'll take a good, focused shooter over a mediocre attempt at genre bridging any day of the week.

Hi Brad

Hi Brad,

Thanks for giving your time in replying to peoples comments.

Although I my only apprehensions with your review and the score I accept this is your opinion. My main issue is that I feel you have overated the first game and have put too much weight on processes of the second game such as planet scanning for example.

I enjoyed the first game but found it far from perfect. I liked the production the graphics, the interaction and the mass effect universe. But I found the main story boring, the mako travelling a slug (as there wasnt much reward at the end of it all) and the side quests frankly a waste of time. I also feel that the story only got going at the end of the game in terms of scale, as for most of the game it was like a bad episode of star trek.

It appears that the general concensus is that ME2 has a more polished main story, better characters (the 1st ME had a very foregttable cast), far better side quests and a ramped up production (as expected). I dont think it is more shooter orientated I just think that personally they needed to maker ME2 more exciting and have clearly acheived that in terms of combat.

It is for these reasons that I feel a 10 for ME1 and a 7.5 for ME2 is unbalanced. The main meat of both games remain the same with systems, gameplay and balance being tweaked between the two iterations. I know this is again referring to the score but do not see how ME2 is 25% worse that ME1. Your points all valid are given too much importance in terms of the overall experience of the game. Most people want to enjoy the ME universe again to engage in its interaction and story and feel. They are not interest in the small refinements made by Bioware.

Thanks for you time.

Is ME2 a good shooter?

I've seen this a lot. But I don't get it. Doing all the quests in this game you probably kill like 250 things total. I've never seen a game with so few enemies. Especially not a "shooter". I wouldn't even say it's very tactical. You are basically immune to anything while taking cover, very few enemies in the game will flank you to force you out from your cover, and overall you just shoot/take cover and kill all 3-5 enemies in the "area".

There were few times when the actual enemies felt overwhelming. Or where I felt I needed to really use skill or planning to overcome the scenario. Basically, the only tactical part I found in the "shooter" aspect was making sure I had enough ammo, which was craptastic to say the least. Ammo management is not fun for me, killing things up is fun.

Shoot even in a game like doom there were more secrets to explore it seemed like. I played as an infiltrator, obviously this favors the sniper rifle. There are 3 different sniper riles in the *entire* game. And all are basically handed to you in the main quest line. At least Doom gave me a secret weapon or two (not a major secret but it was off the beaten path).

So are most of the upgrades. Where is the "secret", or the reward for your effort? There isn't any it seems. Everyone's game plays out the same except for what happens at the end, in scenes that you don't even see or control (OK, you might see one thing, and while your earlier actions effect it, you're not in control of it), and that only matters because it ends up on a save file that will be imported into ME3.

Borderlands is a much better "shooter" and RPG mixture. It just doesn't have the great story telling. But as far as being to pull off RPG elements and a decent shooter, it's doable. I know Brad didn't love it, but a lot do, and it has a good following and months later a large community is still active. Something that won't happen with ME2 I'm sure.

The funny thing is, I've

The funny thing is, I've actually come to realize that on the major sites, these days a 9.1 on a big budget title is quite often actually an indication of mild disapproval - Within the restrictions of the format.

The bottom line is that if something is mass market friendly, will sell, and has expensive current gen graphics, then the scale really only uses 9.1 to 10. I can't think of many cases where a reviewer on one of the larger sites panned a game with big sales and big investment behind it simply based on their own opinion of the game. Really just the one case with Ocarina/Kane and Lynch. With that in mind, you can see why the scores are like they are.

Anything in the 8-9 range is tantamount to admission that the game was overhyped, marketed in a confusing way that mislead the reviewer, or simply was more of a niche market game than the reviewer expected. And that is how readers historically wanted it. I remember being disappointed about Suikoden 2 recieving an '8' and choosing not to buy it initially. That was a long time back, and I'm more informed now, but at the time I had only so much to spend, and appreciated not 'needing' to buy one of the best RPGs on the system.

These days I don't mind a game being niche - I will play a game that falls into the 5-8 range on 'industry standard' scales if it particularly appeals to me. Of course, I'd probably try to wait and buy it used :)

It actually floors me that some gamers will choose to pass over a game they were interested in just because more than 10,000 other people don't agree with them. In my opinion having 10,000+ gamers share your experience doesn't really matter outside of MMO's - or other games where you have a concern about the online portion staying playable. Actually, I just heard MS is discontinuing its online support for some of its successful early Xbox games soon, including Halo 2. So, even the most popular games aren't guaranteed to have the full experience forever!

Anyway I digress. I like the way this site uses a robust scale, and I've really disagreed with them on some other low and high game reviews - but that's the point, right? It seems less like a popularity and cultural litmus test, more like actually evaluating the game experience.

To wit, IGNPC just ran a second staffer's opinions on some issues they had with the mechanics of how ME2 told its storyline. I had to pick and choose what I could read out of it, but it's worth reading, and nice to see something a bit more editorial from them.

Your comment ftw!

I completely agree with you on your comment about Tali's "adorable"-ness. In fact, I found her storyline in the game was easily one of the most affecting and well-written. In fact, the story of the quarians and geth are fascinating in its implementation, a semi-tragedy where all sides involved are at fault. So yeah, props for straightening naysayers out.

As for this review, lets be honest. I don't think the game is perfect either, hell no game is, though it is a personal favourite. I am willing to admit bias, because I loved both games in the series. But this review, while bringing up some intelligent points, is also affected by the author's love of the first game. Namely, that the first game was one of his favourite and the second is a completely different beast. Thing is, if Bioware decided one making a game that just makes updates the first game, then they could/would be accused of not putting too much effort into it. Essentially the 'sequel argument' that it is just an updated repeat of the first game. I think they were smart in just making a whole new game, because at least it is a wholly unique experience from the first game. After all, if you really liked the first game so much, you could just play it again...

Wow, what a silly comment. I

Wow, what a silly comment.

I can say that I did come from Metacritic and looked at this review specifically because it gave a lower score than most other reviewers. I can also say that I was specifically looking for a review that ranked it lower, because I happen to agree with just about everything the critic wrote.

I loved ME1. And even though I found flaws with ME2, I played it straight through over 2 days. It still left me feeling deprived, though. Most of the reason I played it with so much dedication was that, being two discs, I was *hoping* that collecting squad mates was only the first HALF of the game, not 90% of it. That's when I got really disappointed.

For one, just because players criticized the Mako mechanics and burdensome menus, doesn't mean that they didn't like the intentions behind them. I liked world exploration, the Mako itself just sucked. And even after I got used to it it wasn't that bad. I would've appreciated more fleshed out worlds than just barren landscapes. Instead they just axed all of it, and now you get to scan things. And that's an improvement?

The menus were burdensome. There was no way to organize you're inventory, and scrolling was ultraaaaa slow. There were too many repeated items that had no place in the world (for example, why would anyone purchase phoenix armor outside of a fashion decision?) Complaints focused on the WAY it was implemented, not the WHY. But still, a lot of customization was hugely axed here. And what else, I like LOOT. Hell, its the whole purpose to Borderlands, which shows that if implemented WELL, loot (through reward and customization) makes for a strong gameplay mechanic. Instead of fixing the menu and the redundancy, they just took it all out. Again, I feel like players wanted improvement, not a complete work around.

The good scores keep rolling

Up above, a lot of people are bashing the game for superficial reasons. As for those who say the game has been stripped of its RPG elements that is false. The game uses money as a level gauge more so than exp points. You have limited money and but can spend it on things that will up your offense, defense, cool down times, accuracy, and so on. These upgrades parallel the resource upgrades, so the game is not broken in that sense. Ugrading is done evenly as the game progresses, and they all effect how your player and squadmates perform in combat. To get more money and the big upgrades you have to complete more missions. This is why side missions are important because they too provide funds. Also on side missions you occasionally get an upgrade like a heavy weapon ammo bonus. It all adds up to make a more powerful character en route to the final level.

As for a lack of replay value that too is a flawed argument. Some people claim it is because of the mining game. That I can agree with, but with NGplus you at least get a resource bonus to start, so it helps some. And the mining of resources if done little by little between missions can keep it from becoming tedious.

What really makes the game fun to play through again aside from the branching story options, is the classes. With 6 different classes to choose from it makes for a completely different experience. Moreover, the added difficulty of hardcore and insanity really make the order in which levels are completed and the use of the upgrade system, and skill sets crucial. A lot of players get stuck on insanity because they choose poorly. But its not like they cant play on because the game lets you change the difficulty at any time. The only drawback is losing out on the Insanity achievement.

The combat is also more interesting on higher difficulty. Different level setups will force a player to react in different ways, and many times, duck and shoot is not enough. You also have to rely more on squadmates and their abilities and specific weapons.

In the first game I was never forced to do as much, not even on insanity. Plus the skills set up made it easy to power up what I wanted as my strengths. In ME 2 you have to explore to find upgrades for certain weapon and power types. This game is more challenging, involves more decision making, and overall has more depth than it's predecessor. Most importantly the combat is more enjoyable.

As for story it was not as engrossing as the first, but that is to be expected as a sequel that serves as the middle part of a trilogy. It simply does not have the same impact. But it is still fine. Where Brad knocks the game on character development and depth, his reasoning is erroneous. In ME 2 there is more character depth than what the characters in ME 1 had. You get two character specific missions filled with tons of dialogue, dialogue between missions, and random dialogue while on other mission and in towns. Plus you can talk to everyone after the final mission is completed. Combine it all and you get a specific character with complex motivations and personality. Very few games can match ME 2 in this regard let alone do it for 12 characters.

ME 2 is not a 7.5 game no matter how you dice it. Its too bad if not everyone enjoyed it, but it still remains a great achievement of a video game.

Are you kidding me?

To say ME2's combat requires less thinking is the most absurd statement I've heard in a while. In ME1, my character had an almost unlimited Marksman talent in which I could put Barrier up and stand in the middle of gunfire (on Insanity)and kill everyone with my pistol that had no overheating problems whatsoever as the cooldown negated every shot.

In Mass Effect 2, I have ammo. I can't stand in the open firing blindly at people. I can't hold the trigger button down and spam bullets. I can't shoot a guy with armor and shields expecting him to drop in seven hits. I can't use my powers in less than two seconds.

How is it dumbed down? It's HARDER. It's not as EASY as Mass Effect was.

I don't have to manage my seventeen Ablative Coating VII's anymore because I have seventeen Ablative Coating VIII's and one Ablative Coating IX. I don't have to worry about picking up 300 useless High Explosive Round mods.

I don't have to worry about the Mako breaking and not having enough Omni-Gel to recruit it. I just have to worry about getting blown up as soon as I land, or fighting an Ymir Mech.

I don't have to pick if I want 17% extra Shotgun damage or 17% extra Warp damage.

I DO have to worry about whether I'd like my effects to have an effect on the entire party I'm in or just my character. I do have to worry about if my biotics are meant to nuke just one enemy or use a tactical throw field to affect multiple enemies. I DO have to worry about taking a guy's shield out before telling my squadmates to use Concussive shot. Or I do have to worry about positioning each of them in a tactical spot that will also prevent them from taking fire seeing as how we cannot stand in the middle like Mass Effect and get shot without dying.

This game is in NO WAY dumbed down.

Defence of the Story

*SOME SPOILERS*While I don't entirely agree with a lot of the criticism that appears here (and agree with other parts--mineral scanning = boring), it's the story argument that I'd really like to address, and this seems a good a point as any to force myself into that discussion. If you put aside the character recruitment and cultivation, then it becomes pretty clear that Bioware is treading water until the third game. The plot becomes a shallow echo of the first, with the Reapers using another puppet race to get what they want. Only in comparison to the first game, there's less immediately at stake, and instead of a compelling, fleshed-out villain in the form of Saren, what you get is the Collector General, who is barely more than cookie-cutter figure.

But you can't put aside the recruitment drive when assessing the story. The obvious reason is that how much you invest in cultivating relationships with the characters directly effects how the final mission (and thus the overall story) pans out. More significantly, the side missions and recruitment stories are all directly tied to the thematics of the overall series. The story of Mass Effect is the story of one race, the Reapers, trying to systematically control, dominate, or eliminate all other species in the galaxy, and the role of the main character is to position humanity's place within that struggle. So basically, what you have is an investigation of the technologies of power, choice and domination. Every character's recruitment and loyalty quest, from Jack to Miranda to Tali, is an investigation of these themes from a new perspective that ranges from the individual to the entire society. (It's interesting, btw, from a power and loyalty perspective that a lot of these stories come down to the responsibility a parent owes their child.) When evaluating the story, you can't separate the recruiting from the rest of it because it's all the same story, and the purpose of the stories of the recruitment drives is to show what's at stake in the bigger picture. Though the first one did a better job showing it, Mass Effect II essentially asks a very similar question: after everything that's come before, do you consider the rest of your team as people, or are you willing to sacrifice them as tools, like the Reapers?
Apologies for anyone I've spoiled here; I've tried to remain general, but it's hard to defend a story without describing the story.

Brilliant

Nice to see a videogame critic whose most important objective is not simply reaching agreement with everyone else. If that's the way people expect things done these days, they're doing it wrong. There's nothing wrong with a 7.5 score and it's fairly sad that these days, giving anything less than a 9 to a 'blockbuster' is seen as a sinful act. Bravo to Brad Gallaway for riding out the storm.

I think the reviewer and

I think the reviewer and most of you guys are not taking into account that this is a trillogy, i.e epic story, and in most stories the middle tends to be filled with lots of action.

this is by far the best

this is by far the best review i have read on ME2. this is the first time ive been to this site, but it certainly wont be the last.

Anonymous wrote:

"Its developers should know better than anyone that you can't tell a great story if you spend three-quarters of a game introducing characters".

Ever heard about "The Seven Samurai" by Akira Kurosawa?

i have........ a number of times. it has a 3hr 27min runtime. roughly 1hr (maybe a tad more) of which is character introductions. which still leaves 2hr 27min for the rest of the story......so whats your point exactly? Great movie tho

5 is not an average score

Giving a game a score of 5 out of 10 essentially states that there's something wrong with half of the game...that is a below average game whereas a 7.5 out of 10 is the expected score, its the average, it's the minimum of an average game, it's not anything special but it has it's moments and it's worth playing.

I played through Mass Effect 1 not knowing what to expect since I didn't pay attention to trailers or any of the hooplah surrounding the game's release. It was the best gaming experience that i've had at that time only to be surpassed by Mass Effect 2 a few weeks ago. I used the same approach to Mass Effect 2, no trailers, no previews, nothing, to keep the experience fresh and mysterious. That's how I played games when I was young, and that's how it's best.

Its weird, I agree with just

Its weird, I agree with just about every criticism the reviewer made. But one thing i think is obvious that this reviewer didnt do is go back and play the first mass effect over before playing ME2. I did, and as a package ME2 is much better than ME1. Sounds like this reviewer has a bit of nostalgia based memory loss. In other words if he gave ME1 a perfect score... then ME2 definitely deserves one (although i think ME1 should be a 9.0 and ME2 a 9.5 and hopefully ME3 will be a 10)

10 does not mean perfection

Anonymous wrote:

Its weird, I agree with just about every criticism the reviewer made. But one thing i think is obvious that this reviewer didnt do is go back and play the first mass effect over before playing ME2. I did, and as a package ME2 is much better than ME1. Sounds like this reviewer has a bit of nostalgia based memory loss. In other words if he gave ME1 a perfect score... then ME2 definitely deserves one (although i think ME1 should be a 9.0 and ME2 a 9.5 and hopefully ME3 will be a 10)

Please note that a 10 rating does not mean the game is perfect. A 10 rating is simply the highest recommendation we can bestow on a game. Our ratings and review philosophy are explained here.

Point of clarification: for

Point of clarification: for those who think I somehow see ME1 through rose-colored glasses, I completed a second playthrough (for the express purpose of importing the character) just a month or so before ME2.

I'm not blinded by nostalgia here folks, I just have a different opinion than some of you.

Loved it, but agree

Firstly, I have to say that I absolutely loved this game. AS with all Bioware games, i felt fully immersed in the story and in my main character, and felt for my team mates, especially Tali.
However, I alos agreed with many of the reviewers points. I was disappointed with the stripped down inventory and the removal of the mako (although the space in the cargo bay for a hammerhead seems to suggest DLC re-introducing this). And the scanning of planets was tiresome and pointless. What was wrong with ME1 system of scanning and auto-finding the resources. I mean, thats what all those crew members are there for!!
Despite these factors, the game was still hugely enjoyable, and lasted me a decent amount of time compared to other recent big releases *cough* MW2 *cough*.

damage?

Brad Gallaway wrote:

The Normandy's Back, but She's Taken Some Damage

Hmmm a metamorphosis of focus is probably more accurate.

Like a transformer, where she was a generalist trying to cater for all tastes (oft times succeeding), this incarnation sees her more tuned towards combat, characterisation and scenario setting, less so towards classic RPG devices such as character levelling and inventory management.

On the one hand she's more streamlined, easier to handle, less quirky. On the other, she caters less well for those more critically demanding or those requiring more specialisation.

great review

I enjoyed this review, and I think it is the most honest and thoughful review out there.

While I agree with most of what you wrote, I have to say I enjoy the streamlined RPG elements. They could have added a 'bit more' too them, but I liked the simplifed armor, weapons and perks. The fact they just showing up on my EXTENSIVE crew was helpful since playing paper dolls with three crew is okay, but on eleven is a waste of time.

Simple system for weapons, armor, and items? Yes. Too simple? Nope. You're leading a crew of experts in their craft, right? So, why would you need to hand-hold them? Sure, RPGs have forced that sort of handholding in the past, but that 'feature' is no long really as smart as it once seemed. The way I see it my role is to play Commander Shepard; not to wash, dress and hold the hand of eleven other people. It's the 22nd century, I think my crew can dress and arm for a combat drop.

From my point of view the single greatest need in the game was more dialogue trees for Kelly, Joker, and the Doctor. Yeoman Kelly is standing next to you for half the game, but she loops even less dialogue choices then even the simplest NPC on a mission. Sure I'd like to walk around more on Citadel, Omega, Illium, and Tuchanka; but, 1/3 of the game is on Normandy and nobody will talk to you...that's a mistake.

As I said, great review. I hope BioWare listens and thinks about what you said.

Thank you for an honest and

Thank you for an honest and spot on review. I'm not done...still team collecting, but I agree with just about everything you said...though I haven't played the first game so I have no point of comparison. I bought it on the "hype" and I enjoyed KOTORback in the day so I thought I'd give it a chance.

I must say at this point in the game it's hard to look past how boring the fighting is. I really like biotics but I wish there wasn't repeated skills. That could cut some characters...do we really need Garrus when we've got Zaeed? Planet mining and the lame lame lame level design were the two worst offenders...just awful level design. Combat was like grinding thru paintball arenas. So predictable as well...grunts and then some kind of uber shielded boss at the end, over and over.

As I was playing I thought that Bioware should have implemented hidden squad bonuses or interactions depending on which characters you chose to bring out for each mission. Another great idea would have been to implement paragon or renegade moments using your teammates, and also to have tide-turning moments in combat that involved teammates doing something really heroic or badass, and that gave you extra little cutscenes. Maybe it happens later, I hope?

Anyway...great honest review. I'm not coming anywhere else for my game reviews anymore.

Well done Bioware, no need to listen to minority

I would just like to say that although I can see where some of the points in this review are coming from, I feel that far too much importance is given to them. basically it is nitpicking.

Yes a review should be critical but it should also acknowledge the important improvements.

To summarise this game I would say that the majority of it is spent either fighting and following the main story/side stories (same as the last game).

The other nitty gritty elements are SIMPLY what ties the game together.

BIOWARE HAS NOTCHED UP THE PRODUCTION IMO 200%. This game never gets boring. The first game was incredibly dull at times, why should bioware keep these dull elements? The first game had many good points but FOR THE MOST PART FELT LIKE A BAD EPISODE OF STAR TREK.

ME2 is like STAR WARS at its best. This is what story telling is about. Lets not hide form the fact that the single most important direction of the ME games is its story presentation and cinematics. ME2 is in a different league from ME1 in this respect.

Also as i said earlier, alot of the game is in the combat, why is it such a bad thing that they have made this soo much better? Fighting now feels exciting.

I believe Bioware has acheived what they intended to do at the very start, provide a game that is not restricted to a specific genre, but AN EXPERIENCE THATS LENDS ITSELF TO MOVIES AS MUCH AS THE BEST ELEMENTS OF MANY GAMES OUT THERE.

Well done Bioware.

Ther metacritic score of 96 suggests that virtually all of the professional writers in existence can see how far you have progressed from the first ME. Bring on no3!!

of course everyone is entitled to an opinion but in my opinion (based on metacritic is is pretty valid) this review does not give a true and fair account of this game. If a prospective buyer only read this review he/she would be seriioulsy mis informed into thinking this game is only 'above average'.

My biggest gripe is the fact that the reviewer game ME1 10. I think this is the biggest inconsistency I have ever seen from a review of two like minded games. I guess some ppl are hard to please...

for the Masses Effect 2

I just finished the game...
as is my wont I then re-read the reviews on the few sites I respect to see who got it right - your review was the most accurate. The game is a very pretty and perfectly entertaining 30 odd hour action/adventure that is inferior to ME1 in almost every aspect that isn't technical. It deserves an 8 - which is disappointing from bioware. I also agree with the points you raise in a separate article regarding the romance options (or lack thereof) - it would appear that bioware's best days are in the past following the EA purchase.

I am enjoying DA:Origins however. It's apparent that this game was germinating for a considerable time - much more reflective of what I had come to expect from a bioware RPG!

I rarely post comments on websites - but having read the criticism your review has attracted I was motivated to show support for an obviously honest review (even 'Edge' described the patently tedious planet scanning as "a compulsive minigame" -without a hint of tongue in the vicinity of cheek).

Honest reviews of 'blockbuster' games are important to the maturity of the games industry...

Edge

'inferior to ME1 in almost every aspect that isn't technical'

I am pretty shocked by your comment that ME1 is superior to ME2 is nearly every aspect. can you please shed light on this as I am struggling to find anything of much importance.

Considering ME is a story driven, cinematic action based game with RPG elements I think they have improved the two main ingredients of this cocktail, specifically the story (ME 1 was very very boring)& the story telling presentation) plus the 'action'. Also for all the RPG heads out there the side quests in this game are in a different league to ME1.

I think that ME was all about creating a world from the ground up. They spent so much time doing this and coping woth the technical issues that they forgot to fill the universe with meaningful things to do (the side quests were shocking, the Mako just stretched the game out hence it being dropped).

If you are to refer to another review please dont use Edge as you have made a very bad choice. edge gave ME1 a 7/10 and ME2 a 9/10. To summarise they said that ME2 built on the potential and promised that ME1 offered (ie the great universe but turning it from a b grade start trek episode into something with grander scope ala star wars). I would recommend anyone reading edge's review of ME1 and ME2 as it hits it all bang on the nail for me. Just to quote a snippet

'Shepard’s first outing was, more than anything, let down by inane side-quests which couldn’t hide the thin central plot. Here, extra-curricular elements are a great enhancement, good enough to turn a decent game into an excellent one, as the richer cast combines with sly storytelling to provide the kind of meaty intricacies that were previously banished to the codex menu'

'Ultimately, Mass Effect 2’s greatest strength is in tying its disparate pieces together, binding the gunplay and conversation systems into something that meshes, while creating an action-RPG that knows stats should be there, but that they should never get in the way of a good headshot. The result is a game that’s grown into its obvious potential. With the first instalment, BioWare built a universe of words – a deeply convincing multicultural sprawl you could read about without ever quite getting to touch. Here, you’re inside it from the start – and the view is often dazzling. [9]'

Some ppl who are being negative towards ME2 (which is far more cfritically acclaimed that ME1) are Bioware KOTOR fanatics who need to realalise that pure RPG experiences are becoming dated and have been modernised.

ME2 is the future and deserves the acclaim it has has.

5th Grade

No need for shock Stevo - I think your Star Trek/Star Wars analogy
from an earlier post isn't that wide of the mark - and do you remember how in 5th grade we'd fight over which one ruled?

I like Star Wars as much as the next slacker but I guess I'd rather have a drink with Gene Roddenberry than George Lucas.

Interesting review.

Interesting review. Although I think it views the game as a single entity rather than acknowledging that this is a middle of a triligy.

I for one am happy that they have changed the epace of the game. I feel that for the most part recruiting these team mates is alot more interesting than the bulk of ME1's main story (and definitely the non existent side quests).

The presentation in ME2 is superb, and the combat feels much better. Conversations are punchier and more varied and the locations are far more inspring than the dull worlds of ME1.

I can see why ME2 has received universal acclaim, but also respect why some prefer the first game. ME2 is such a big shift in focus and tome and pace from ME1 that I would be suprised if some people were not dissapointed and let down.

However this is undisputedly the minority who feels this way, I for one feel that a replica of the first games formula would had been the biggest mistep Bioware could have made.

I am pleasently suprised by ME2.

This was thought-provoking.

This was thought-provoking. But in the end, I must disagree with the review. I felt that Mass Effect 2 was a vast improvement over its predecessor in nearly every way. For one, the clunky inventory system was done away with. This meant that one no longer had to futz around with menus trying to update every member's equipment. Secondly, the Mako was done away with, which meant that one no longer had to explore copy and paste environments deprived of anything interesting except for the occasional thresher maw, which was always irritating to fight anyway. Most importantly, combat has been significantly improved, with a cover system that works most of the time actually, and targeting that is smooth and accurate. The story didn't carry the same air of mystery as the first game, but that is the downfall of many sequels, which by definition cannot have the exact same impact. A definite 10/10 for me, but hey, to each his own.

Of course.

Almost every nerd I speak to, including myself, loves Tali. Completing the romance subplot with Tali is totally not a bad thing. If you played a female character (which I haven't tried yet) and went for Solus or Grunt... then I can see some WTF moments, but they just tried to keep it open for everyone. Even people with... odd tastes.

I agree.

Totally agree with pretty much everything said in this review. ME2 was a big disappointment, and a lot of people feel the same as I do.

To the people who say that "95% of game reviewers can't be wrong" (with regards to the metacritic score) - well, guess what buddy, enjoyment of a video game is SUBJECTIVE - everyone has a different opinion. Metacritic is meant to be representative of the opinion of a game on the whole, and this review represents those of us who felt the game was a let-down.

I've never played ME1 (I own it but the disc is scratched and won't play) so I'm not including it in this assessment, but the story in ME2 is the weakest of all Bioware games. The connection you feel to your crew is almost non-existant. Compare this to the other recent Bioware blockbuster Dragon Age and the plot is practically paper-thin.

The world is also not very immersive. The Migrant Fleet, a floating armada made of 50,000 ships moving as one and housing an entire civilisation, is reduced to one corridor, a medium sized room, and 4 NPC's with a grand total of around 30 lines of conversation. I can't recall a single quest that required any actual thought or strategy, or a conclusion that you weren't led to on rails down yet another long straight corridor.

Customisation is so poor to be non-existant. Credits rain from the sky so you can just buy everything in every store you find. You never have to choose between two abilities or items because you can only afford one for now - just get everything. There is NO LOOT! All the upgrades you will ever need are found in areas that you have to walk past on the main quest - so pretty much every player will have an identical Shepard at the end of the game, with the only difference being the class they chose. There are only 3 or 4 different types of gun in the entire game. Each character has only 3 abilities, and most of them are shared by 3 or more characters. Even the ability to choose which ability is best for each enemy is taken away from you as if an ability is not effective on certain barrier types, you simply cannot select it. Here's the thing: It's not a 'Strategy' or a 'Tactic' if the game chooses it for you.

Even the romances feel tacked on, as there's no way to really 'fail' to romance someone. If you're Paragon, whenever you speak to the object of your affection just keep choosing the top right conversation option, or bottom right for renegade, and presto - once you've completed enough missions, freaky alien sex!

Mineral scanning and hacking - oh man, whoever thought this would be fun? Why couldn't Bioware come up with interesting side-quests that award minerals instead?

Also: the plot. What's up with it? I've been playing for about 20 hours and practically nothing of any importance has happened. I'm just running around the galaxy running errands for my crew with no idea what's going on in the Universe as a whole, or what the implications of my actions are. The only relevant plot points to have arisen so far was a 20 minute mission on an abandoned collector ship and a half an hour mission on a planet where the population has been abducted, and the opening half hour of the game. For a game that is supposed to have an "Epic Plot", this is simply not good enough.

My major problem with this game was that it is a sub-par RPG combined with a sub-par shooter. For a lot of people, the high level of polish and the admittedly impressive setting and cinematic quality were enough to balance the below-optimal gameplay. But not for everyone, me included, and I'm glad to see a review that represents what I feel. It's watered down for mass consumption. It's built from the ground-up to appeal to the lowest common denominator. It's been prettied-up to smooth over it's shortcomings. Essentially, it's the Britney Spears of video-games.

I"m not sure I understand...

alright, there are many things I don't like about this review. This is totally unbiased and all, and I've played both ME1 and ME2. I also played ME1 a bit after finishing ME2 to see the difference. Here's what I just wanna say to some points, but not all:

1. You said the story is not good if a lot is character introduction? There are a lot of undoubtedly great movies with three quarters of it not being the actual plot. "It's a Wonderful Life"? "The Ten Commandments"? i can name more

2. the combat is not dumbed down, nor is the roleplaying. the combat is waaay more tactical, infinite ammo doesn't make you just stick with a pistol and all, the cover system is improved, you can direct your teammates where to go, the enemies are smarter, and you have to do a lot more overall. the roleplaying may not be as complex, but it still exists. rather than excessive inventories and skills, they have me making tough and decisive decisions (yes that sounded weird) at the core of your player. the armor system also works better, since you have to choose from different pieces that give different bonuses and the customization of it makes you feel like you are actually "playing the role" and "being shepard", which in essence is really what roleplaying is about

3. don't get me wrong, i loved the first game. before ME2, it was my favorite game OF ALL TIME. but it had its flaws, and wasn't perfect. i havent seen one vital flaw in ME2's structure, and all in all it works amazingly. when i go back to play me1, i feel like somethings missing now

4. the grading system of these things should be like the grading system in schools. a 75 is the average score, not a 50. 50 means that you got half the "test" wrong, which is NOT good, and is failing, NOT average. by your review, it seems like you should be giving it a 8 or 8.5, but of course, i still disagree with a lot

People arguing over reviews?

People arguing over reviews? Disagreeing is one thing, trying to make the reviewer change their score or saying that they didn't do their job is another. How does me2 getting a few points lower on metacritic really affect you?

Second, I'm not very far into ME2, but I'm glad I bought it. Time will tell if I agree or disagree with the review. So far it feels like some of the things I hated in the first game have been fixed; but it also feels that some of the things I loved were ruined.

I really detest all of my work going into creating my party in the first game being wasted, when all of the import character stuff was talked about, I imagined I'd be able to keep at least some of them. I formed a virtually real bond with these people, and now they don't even care about me? I almost would rather have them be killed off than barely acknowledge my existence, or the fact that I have come back from the dead. Really odd storytelling there. Makes me think they couldn't get the same writers as before, and the new writers wanted to trash the original story and write their own.

Maybe the new characterization is better, but my opinion of them is colored by the poor handling of the old characters. Also, why should I care about any of these people, when they will probably do the same thing in the last game.

So anyway, there's that. A game like this kind of relies on it's story to make it through. When the story is such a huge part of the game, you can't review the gameplay alone. The reviewer above has good points. There were slow spots in the first game, but after the geth, and then the reapers, the collectors are quite ho-hum (so far). Working for cerberus? I have a hard enough time deciding what to do when I'm working for someone I trust, so I don't really like that part either.

I'm not far, but I do like the streamlined fighting. But not all of it! They made the guns a bit more unique, and the ai is better, and the cover is better; but all those good things come at a price. The price is the dumb ammo system, very unexplorable terrains (first one wasn't great here either, but each zone felt a bit more open), and much more limited choice in how to tackle each situation.

The scanning minigame was fun the first few times, but it gets as dull as the mako missions. If they want to streamline somewhere, why not eliminate ANY of this crap? Do the characters in star wars go around the planets getting materials? NO. I can't think of one good sci-fi movie, book, or show, that consisted of a large amount of "go to x planet and get materials, go to y planet and get materials, go to z planet and get materials". I have no idea why this is in the game at all. At least it felt like there was some point to the mako missions - running into enemy forces or doing a sidequest. As badly implemented as they were, I could almost justify them being in the game. The scanning is just a waste of time for everybody.

Basically, for everything they made better, they made something worse. But as I said I'm not far, my opinion might (and hopefully will) change.

ME2<ME1

I may be a tad late in this message, but I only just purchased ME1 and ME2 from the Steam sale.

Having played both extensively, I too agree that ME1 provided a far superior experience to ME2, asides from some rare technical issues that can easily be forgiven.

IMO, what cannot be forgiven is the complete turnaround in developing characters, relationships, player interactivity and narration emphasis in ME2.

I miss the elevator scenes from ME1 and even the docking of the Normandy. It was all part of the dev's high production values that are absent from ME2. Ratehr than exploring an open and diverse Citadel, palyers are forced to explore it's segments bound with loading scenes and unnecessary selection menus. The increased reliance on pre-rendered cutscenes has stripped aware from the atmospheric immersion that was in ME1.

While there is a nice return of characters from ME1, many characters in ME2 feel simply 'dished out' at the player. I couldn't feel any emotional attachment to ME2 characters as I had in ME1. Furthermore, many of them are simply unlikeable to say the least. Loyalty missions were fun (esp combat) but the whole setout of relationships and character development seemed a tad too formulaic.

Perhaps the buggest detractor, however, was the focus on characters as opposed to story. Now I know that the story is about making a team etc, but the end result is players fighting through admittedly fun sequences but with little motivation or lasting attachment to the broader Mass Effect 'universe.'I think the first game had just the right balance, which ME2 seemed to have lost.

Yes I hope Bioware returns ME to the great feel of the first title. Better graphics/combat is one thing, but it should not be at the expense of story, interactivity and player immersion.

I just finished the ME2

I just finished the ME2 storyline. Went and bought Overlord then. I think Aite is precisely what is missing from the main game. Too many of the planetside missions were tiny little arenas. As odd as the mako was, I find I miss roaming, discovering mineral nodes, and junk. I particularly hate not being able to get in and out of the Hammerhead at will and how getting out often insta ports you into the target building. Really? Have we become a society of ADD children who can't pay attention to a game long enough to walk their character 10ft between fights?

The change to weapons and armour I feel was an improvement, while the levelling up and spending of skill points wasn't. Overall, both games leave me with the impression BioWare couldn't design a good interface if their company depended on it.

I didn't enjoy the stop-start, the continual breaks in missions. The method of moving around Illium was particularly awful, with the game forcing you to continuously return to the planet after each side mission. Omega's main entrace area is exceptionally emotive, but the taxi here/taxi back, please-wait-while-we-port-you-the-other-side-of-this-door, destroyed any sembelance of an intergrated world. Monotonus as the ME1 elevators were, it isn't until they were taken away that you realise how well they created the illusion of one giant space station.

This returns to the reviewers opening remarks of overreaction - they didn't need to take them out cmpletely, but once the next level was loaded, it should have cut us straight to it. Loading screens, mission complete screens, anything that stops you looking at what your character is looking at is just an intrusion into the immersive experience that makes a good game great.

Most disappointing moment: watching a loading screen instead of getting to drive the krogan battle vehicle to the next game area while on Tuchanka.

More vehicles, I say. A nice bike!

I disagree

Now this may sound like an interlude into some hate filled spew fest. However, I won't do that. I will put this simply. I honestly disagree on most of your points. I have stated many other places how I loved the first game, despite there only being 3 buildings and 1 spaceship design. About how each planet only had 5 different things you could possibly find on it. About how the customization was largely an illusion as was the exploration considering every planet had the same sized operational zones. But again, I loved the first game. So much so that I played it through about 7 times now. I even replayed it recently to refresh my mind of the story. That being said I enjoy the second one more because it got rid of things I felt were a bit lackluster and added things that I felt were awesome. I'm currently playing Mass Effect 2 for the fifth time, and enjoying it. I enjoy it more because the first one had great groundwork for the universe thus making the setting in Mass Effect 2 more familiar.

So what I was getting at is that when I saw the "low" score (even though in the grand scheme of things this is not low at all) I was expecting some non sense and hate mongering. This was only exacerbated when I saw your comment to the effect of "Who wants to have sex with aliens?" However, I am relieved that you were honest to people about how you felt about the game. Even more so I am glad you had the integrity to stick to your score. So while I disagree with you, I respect the points you made and understand it wasn't what you wanted. Neither game is perfect, but together I think they make a top notch experience that if you are a fan of RPG's and TPS's then you should give it a shot. Unless you don't like stories, there's always competitive online games for you guys.

Also despite me not agreeing I will defend this review because it was well reasoned and level headed. Not many review sites do that, and I sincerely hope people will stop focusing on numbers and statistics. No matter what someone thinks it shouldn't greatly shift your perception of the game. If you enjoy it then keep on enjoying it and playing it to support the developers. If you don't like it try to explain why without giving off handed remarks that put something down without actually advancing any real discussion. So all I have left to say is, well done Brad. You've done what any decent reviewer should do. You stayed true to yourself and that's all that really matters.

Thanks very much for your

Thanks very much for your comment, AA. It was very appreciated.

Good critical review

I have to commend you, Brad, for posting such an excellent review. This is one of the few Mass Effect 2 reviews which doesn't bow down to the hype behind the game and distills the purpose of a review down to its core: to critique a game for its playability and "funness factor" which, to me, ME2 was definitely overrated in. Bravo and keep up the good work.

I agree that mass effect 2

I agree that mass effect 2 messed up a lot of what made the first one so good, (leveling up, inventory, sense of exploration, larger worlds, and so on) that being said they did get a lot right with the second one (graphics, smother game play, more action) in the end for me I prefer the first game with it's glitches and mako over the second game with it's polish and planet scanning.

I hope bioware goes back to the core of mass effect on the third one and makes it more RPG than Shooter, and also focus more on a few quality characters and keeps the main story line the focus.

Mass effect 1 is probably the best game I've ever played, mass effect two is probably in my top 10, maybe top 5.

wow this is STILL going! I

wow this is STILL going! I think it's pretty clear that there is fanboyism going on on both sides of the table. I can remain impartial and see points on both sides. In my opinion, ME2 is the better game, but thats not to say that the reviewers remarks arent mostly correct (I disagree with the part about the loss of the Mako ruining immersion... though valid, me spending hours on inventory is far less immersive. I hated planet scanning, but the patch helped with that... though I'd like to see that gone from future iteration!). But others who say "Thank you for at last making a REAL review" are in fact just as bad as the "Your review is total shit! your opinion is different from mine, and therefore wrong!" I'm willing to bet EVERY review for ME2 is a real review. The fact that this review is lower than the rest doesn't make it wrong. Whereas some, like I, may disagree with the score, it is in fact an opinion. Abject opinions are just as important as ones that validate our own. It seems the reviewer leans more towards the RPG elements, and thats his prerogative. I am both a massive RPG fan as well as a shooter, and preferred the combat of ME2, but wanted some of ME1 aspects (like the awarding of XP and more intricate levelling up, more involving story) returned. Never have i seen a game divide an audience up this much, and thats the problem with hybrid gaming. Bioware are struggling to find a middle ground. I believe it's the intention of the developer to try and create the perfect middle ground. You cant please everyone, but with the middle ground, maximum agreeability can at least be achieved. Me1 leaned more towards RPG, but because its a hybrid game, the heavy inventory was out of place, but RPG fans loved it. ME2 was more shooter biased... RPG fans got upset!

So if BW are to learn from reviews, this review is just as important, if not more, than the high praising ones. taken as criticism, as long with other sites appraisals, the general consensus is that ME3 should keep the shooter aspects, but have a damned site more customization to all armours, weapons and stats. Also, the story needs to be more on par with the first. This wont fully appease the reviewers concerns... and wont fully appease others who loved ME2 and hated the first... but would all lead to a better overall game.

So great review, regardless of whether i agree or not, and others should really think about what they're writing before they trash this guys/other reviewers opinions that dont match their own.

Damn it, Brad! You hit the

Damn it, Brad! You hit the nail dead on head. I'm not sure what transitioned between this game and its predecessor, but I wasn't as impressed as I thought I would be. For one, as you mentioned, a majority of the game is spent retrieving a slew of diverse teammates. Retrieving your crew members isn't so bad, but getting them to become loyal becomes astoundingly tedious. Almost all the loyalty missions play out the same, with some psychotic family member or revenge killing/destruction being the order of business. And all you get from this is a new suit, special ability and a response that reads like: "Thanks Shepard! Now....Uhhh....Can we get back to the mission?"

Furthermore, I hate that decisions aren't more complex, since it's blatantly obvious which lines will make you a renegade or a paragon. There is no "Wow! I didn't see that coming!" moments until you reach the final mission, and these can be easily avoided. Speaking of obvious moments (to reiterate what you said), you automatically know what areas enemies are going to spawn at; it's almost telepathic (short walls, big objects at fixed angles = combat)

Also, as stated, planet exploration is a chore, as is maintaining your fuel and probe stock. Who thought such tedium was a good idea? Squad customization is a joke, as is the weapon selection when one reflects on the options presented in ME II's predecessor. Also, would it kill them to make the environments feel slightly more open-ended? The Citadel is supposed to be a giant space station housing millions, but the experience translates into three-to-four levels, and a cramped environment. Nice.

I'd rate it an 8.

Soundtrack and Such

Wow, this comments section is huge. Now I guess I'll add to it...

1.) I agree with a lot of the negative points in this article, but I would still put ME2 over most other games I've ever played. It certainly doesn't deserve that low of a score. Most of those negative points don't detract enough from the experience to warrant a score like this.

2.) One point of contention for me in the game, however, that you didn't mention is the change in musical direction between ME1 and ME2. ME1's music was by far my favorite music in any game ever. The title screen alone got me excited to play the game every time, and when that theme briefly comes back once or twice in ME2, it still had a strong effect on me. By comparison, ME2's music was WAY too symphonic and dramatic. I liked the whole Blade Runner-esque analog synth-based music of the original, so adding in full orchestra and *gasp* piano (for the Collectors' theme) is kinda ridiculous.

3.) It's funny that you criticize the team building aspect of the game, as I found this was actually the main improvement over the first, especially considering the main mission in ME2 lacked a true sense of urgency, regardless of how much time was spent building your team. BioWare's strength is in making you feel connected to the characters in the game, and having really developed squad member missions like this added to the game instead of subtracting, IMO. Plus, that main mission and the Collectors story was WAY weaker than the Saren/Reapers bit from the first game. It seemed SO tacked on, just to create a sense of doom.

4.) To be fair, I don't think anything they could have done could have surpassed my absolute love affair with the original. Just being in the Presidium alone, walking around learning about the different species in the game was enough to get me hooked. There was simply no way they could have made me fall as hard for this game as the first because I already knew the world and the species in it.

Anyway, pretty solid review though. Let's hope ME3 manages to swing a bit more back to ME1, but even if it's closer to ME2, I'll still be happy just being in that world again.

Opinions

ME1, was unique, because it was a new world and a fantastic one. I reed every piece of information on codex, engage in dialogue with every character available, and couldn't wait for the next mission. So comparing ME1 and ME2 just based on technicalities or details and in the end choose the one I liked more is very hard.

I can understand the viewpoint of those who criticise ME2, but I don't agree, there were a lot of improvements. Some topics:

- The Mako: I agree it was very frustrating nut the scanning thing in ME2 is just wrong and unreal, of course EDI could do it for you! Bring the Mako/Hammerhead back in ME3.
-Inventory: I also like to customise the team, but not on the battlefield! The inventory in ME1 was totally unreal, we needed a truck following the team to carry all that equipment. In this point ME2 wins but a compromise between the two would be welcome (having an inventory but only available in the Normandy).
- Ammo: no discussion here, shooting people without saving ammo is laughable. Huge win for ME2.
- Combat System: Sheppard is expected to kill the "bad guys" right? So a proper combat system is needed for a full imertion on the game, IMO. In ME1 the combat felt really wrong (auto-aiming thing) and the team-mates were really basic.
- Landscaping and playing spaces: Although is more polish and pretty, ME2 lacks the fantastic settings and freedom offered in ME1 like the Presidium.
- Main Story: I can't go around here, ME2 is the middle, and I'm sure some of the twists in the recruiting/loyalty missions will be very important in ME3 main story, so maybe they were not sidequests at all. I've to agree there are to many "friends", but maybe there's a reason for that in ME3. On the other hand the story in ME1 was almost perfect and made me love the game and also love ME2, but the characters in ME1 were a little shallow (Ash mainly because she was a main character) IMO, in ME2 we have Thane (my favourite), A properly developed Tali, Miranda, even "cliché" Jack all great characters.

Resuming, I don't know who I like more ME1 or ME2, but this I know, I really would like to play ME1 in the ME2 engine and not the opposite. Two great games and I'm counting the days to play ME3.

It's basically Dead Space with Mass Effect skins

I agree with the reviewer 100%. All of the foibles I've came across in ME2 are the exact same ones this reviewer has picked up on. It's nice to see I'm not the only person left in the world who does not suffer from ADHD.

The gross overreactions of the developers (removal of inventory and dumbing down of skills) can pretty much guarantee I won't be buying ME3. ME1 was an RPG, first and foremost, with a clunky but workable combat system which got easier the more skilled your character became. ME2 is simply an over-the-shoulder shooter with all (that I can see) RPG elements completely cast aside.

I'm going from first impressions alone here; I am still at Freedom's Progress, and every time I look at those moronical teammates (who the Shepard I made in ME1 would have rather died than worked with) all I can think is "Where's your god damn helmet?"

I take it I can safely assume that with the removal of the inventory system and the dumbing down of the skills I'm not going to be impressed by this game at all. ME1 was ground-breaking. It was by far the best sci-fi game ever made. ME2 has, as you say, fell off the tight rope and I really hope for number 3 they bring the series back towards role-playing and away from the incredibly underwhelming cover-to-cover shooter garbage that the second one seems to be all about.

Planetary Scanning vs. Mako Scouting-a Smidge of Planetary Astro

I couldn't tell you how irritating it was to sit there scanning planets, for it took an appalling number of hours. My one consolation was to be able to compare features of the planet I was scanning with my knowledge about planet astronomy and geology. I was taking planetary astronomy at my university last September when I got ME2. I was impressed by how far the developers went with the detail and accuracy in many of the planetary descriptions, but detail became irrelevant fast in the face of such a tedious, frivolous task as scrolling across one of the multicolored globes.

The reviewer is spot on when he says

"players groused about exploring worlds in the Mako, a skittish all-terrain armored vehicle that definitely needed work with its implementation. Rather than adjusting it and trying again, BioWare chose to remove planetary surface exploration completely and replaced it with an incredibly tiresome (and necessary) "scanning" mechanic which has players passively combing planet after planet with a giant cursor. I can hardly think of anything more offensively dull."

The process of acquiring resources was so "offensively dull" that it occurred to me one should only tolerate such nonsense if there is some remuneration for the loss of time. This wasn't how it turned out of course.

The following statement perfectly sums up the ME2 experience for me:
"Players who can look past the lack of drive, annoying decisions, and a general stripped-down, dumbed-down feeling can (thankfully) still look forward to some truly spectacular moments and unforgettable action before credits roll".

I played this game before playing ME1. Had I played ME1 first, I would have been shocked. However, the conclusion of ME2 was a lot of fun.

Combat & Immersion (e.g. Elevators and Docking)

COMBAT was definitely superior in ME1, but the ability to move team members individually was an improvement made in ME2. Let me elaborate on the combat and compare the two games. In ME1, the combat is much more like a shooter where accuracy is not perfect. In ME2, there is an unbelievable steadiness. The ability to toss grenades is interesting and occasionally useful in ME1, whereas this is totally lacking in ME2. Crouching is allowed in ME1, improving accuracy and reducing cross section, while assuming cover in ME2 (as in the Band of Brothers knockoff Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway) is the only way to avoid fire and does not affect accuracy--it couldn't, the 3rd person crosshairs in ME2 are unnaturally constant. Though combat never rises to the level of the Battlefield level, the experience in ME1 is more challenging and active than that of ME2. I have literally walked away from my controls and allowed ME2 combat to continue for minutes at a time without my character dying.

IMMERSION of ME2 is a lot less than that of ME1. I played ME1 after playing ME2, and I was blown away by the Citadel environment of ME1. The Noverria (spelling?) environment was cool too. The closest thing in ME2 to the environments of ME1 is, well, there isn't any...

Bringing planetary exploration back would be nice in a hypothetical Mass Effect 3. I would give players the option of wheeled, aerial, or by foot. That would be more complicated, but if the developers restricted themselves to fewer environments, it could be possible.

Quality over quantity, I say. Fewer environments, fewer main characters, and more overall depth in both areas would improve the next game.

Score Too High--Cry Havoc!

I think the bloody score is too high--just my opinion. And the average ME2 score is even higher? I could not give it more than 6/10. Each of the 3 or 4 collector missions attempts to tie the game together, but to do so would require perhaps twice that number at least. I had just played Fallout 3, the latest FEAR game, and the entire Halo series (I only last year became an Xbox owner, my first new console in eight years) before playing Mass Effect 2 last year. After those experiences, I loved ME2. ME2 is second only to ME1 in my list of RPGs, but that doesn't mean I don't have reasoned complaints and misgivings about the way the storyline, combat, and environmental interfaces/interactivity were put together and what goals they have.

On another point, it's totally apt to be cynical--not a wretched whiner or pudding headed, mindless consumer. If there is something that makes the game less enjoyable to the consumer, by gum, then the consumer has the duty to help obviate it in future games. The gravamen of this review holds that the entire Mass Effect experience is based on the story and characters, whereas the team building and planet scanning tend to detract from the Space Opera. On the whole and in most particulars, I agree with this review.

One might question the amount of time I put into this response, but after playing a plethora of games, it seems like time well spent.

Just my opinion

I think you actually highlight the reason why so many others are believing the game to be "superb" -- the much more linear and Gears of War focused tint to the game. It's somewhat annoying but true that most any game that looks nice, includes guns, and requires little thinking will be an instant success in the world of gaming, and BioWare have merely jumped aboard to exploit that fact. It's just a shame that paid reviewers are no different to the typical gamer, as they also seem easily pleased by basic gaming design that does little to advance and define either the RPG or third-person shooter genre(s). This is what I meant when I highlighted the film industry, as most top film critics would likely find fault and review Mass Effect 2 just as you have it it were a movie, but as it is the game now sits atop gameranking sites as an example of superb design. *Sigh*

Mass Effect 2

Brad, this is a good review. I disagree with it completely, but I respect your take on the game.

You've gained no small amount of infamy for this review. Having never played the ME series until recently -- I'm about 20 hours into ME2 as I write this -- I never really gave it much thought. Reading it now, I'm not sure why it generated so much controversy. 7.5 out of 10 is a good score, certainly not the 5 or 6 I was expecting to see.

I think you overrated ME1 severely. ME1 is a wonderful, yet severely flawed game. ME1 creates a captivating universe that is deep and rewarding, and populates it with excellent characters. That universe is so compelling that I completed it despite flaws that would render any other game unplayable. The planetary exploration is tedious. Sure, finding an occasional artifact or mineral deposit is fun, but ultimately inconsequential, nothing more than checking off an item on a sidequest checklist. The sidequests take place in drab, endlessly reused environments. The Mako controls are clumsy and frustrating. The RPG elements are underused and ultimately inconsequential. Many of the powers, particularly the tech powers, are useless or only marginally useful. The combat system is the strongest single element of the game, and even it is clumsy and cumbersome.

ME2 threw out the stuff that didn't work in ME1 and fixed the good stuff. Yes, it's true that the combat borrows from Gears of War, but you say that like it's a bad thing. Gears of War is one of the most polished action games of this generation. ME2 even takes inconsequential elements of ME1, like planetary exploration, and makes them consequential: planet scanning pays for upgrades. It might be repetitive, but it's far more streamlined and less tedious than the Mako.

Most importantly, it keeps the focus on what made ME1 so great: plot and characters. I disagree that the volume of characters in ME2 somehow makes them all less developed. Each character in ME2 receives far more attention than the characters got in ME1. Indeed, these loyalty missions aren't just "sidequests"; they really are part of ME2's narrative experience. They're not just one-off quests; they're meaningful and memorable.

Finally, I disagree that ME2 simplifies character development. ME2 doesn't have as many character abilities, but the ones it keeps are more effective. And with the Advanced Training perk and loyalty missions, Shepard is actually more customizable, not less.

ME2 focuses on character. In the process, it loses a bit of the enormous scope that ME1 seemed to have, even though ME2 has much more content. But I think that's just the nature of ME2's character-focused narrative.

"Widely-appealing" is synonymous with "generic", not "good".

It's perfectly valid to say that a sequel suffers by appealing to a broader audience. Game developers should always give weight to the feedback they receive on their games when making sequels, but not to the detriment of the core elements that made the original game worth following.

Mass Effect 2 does bring in a larger number of players with its broadened accessibility, and hence, greater revenues for Bioware. The problem is that they purchased their new audience with the vision and originality that defined Mass Effect. Much like Fallout 3, (a title I had eagerly anticipated for an entire decade) the technical execution of the game was leaps and bounds beyond sprite animation, but the incomparable setting and depth of story just wasn't there anymore. By cutting out all those "clunky and tedious RPG elements" to appease complaints of excessive character management, they undermined the "greatness" of the franchise.

I don't remember much of the room-after-room combat (which still exists) from Mass Effect; I remember joyriding in a tank on some backwater planet on the edge of the galaxy and driving over a Prothean artifact that showed me the birth of human intelligence on Earth a million years in the past. I remember being awed at the scope of a space station that held entire atmospheres on the insides of gargantuan panels. All I saw of the awesomeness of that station in Mass Effect 2 was the short and unimpressive docking cutscene.

nice work!

Just finished ME2 (yeah I'm a little behind). Then I went to read the reviews. This is the one review that most reflects my experience. Thanks for telling it like it is. I can't believe all of the "perfect" reviews out there.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Code of Conduct

Comments are subject to approval/deletion based on the following criteria:
1) Treat all users with respect.
2) Post with an open-mind.
3) Do not insult and/or harass users.
4) Do not incite flame wars.
5) Do not troll and/or feed the trolls.
6) No excessive whining and/or complaining.

Please report any offensive posts here.

For more video game discussion with the our online community, become a member of our forum.

Our Game Review Philosophy and Ratings Explanations.

About Us | Privacy Policy | Review Game | Contact Us | Twitter | Facebook |  RSS
Copyright 1999–2010 GameCritics.com. All rights reserved.