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.

Brad Gallaway

Brad Gallaway

Brad Gallaway has been gaming since the days when arcades were everywhere and the Atari 2600 was cutting edge. So, like... A while.

Currently, he's got about 42 minutes a night to play because adulting is a timesuck, but despite that, he's a happily married guy with two kids who both have better K/D ratios than he does.

Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody at the office is looking, and his favorite game of all time is the first Mass Effect -- and he thought the trilogy's ending was Just Fine, Thanks.

Follow Brad on Twitter at @BradGallaway
Brad Gallaway

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128 Comments on "Mass Effect 2 Review"

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bobby brown
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bobby brown
4 years 2 months ago

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.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
4 years 5 months ago
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… Read more »
sleeve
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sleeve
4 years 5 months ago
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… Read more »
marketing course gold coast
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5 years 2 months ago
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… Read more »
Ken U. Blather
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Ken U. Blather
5 years 2 months ago
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… Read more »
William
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William
5 years 2 months ago
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)… Read more »
William
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William
5 years 2 months ago
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… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
5 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
5 years 11 months ago
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… Read more »
MudVarnish
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MudVarnish
5 years 11 months ago
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… Read more »
Googoo24
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Googoo24
6 years 11 days ago
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… Read more »
Darkwun
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Darkwun
6 years 18 days ago
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… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 27 days ago
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… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 27 days ago

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.

Brad Gallaway
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Brad Gallaway
6 years 1 month ago

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

Anonymously Anonymous
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Anonymously Anonymous
6 years 1 month ago
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… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 1 month ago
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… Read more »
A4especiBOT
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A4especiBOT
6 years 1 month ago
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… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 2 months ago
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… Read more »
Sylin Mino
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Sylin Mino
6 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Spiffy
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6 years 5 months ago
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… Read more »
Ken Atkinson
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Ken Atkinson
6 years 5 months ago

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.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 5 months ago
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… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 5 months ago
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… Read more »
mell'on
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mell'on
6 years 5 months ago

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.

Stevo
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Stevo
6 years 5 months ago
‘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… Read more »
mell'on
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mell'on
6 years 5 months ago
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… Read more »
Stevo
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Stevo
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
blueberry dookie
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blueberry dookie
6 years 6 months ago
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?… Read more »
MonkeyKing1969
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MonkeyKing1969
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Alv
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Alv
6 years 6 months ago

[quote=Brad Gallaway]The Normandy’s Back, but She’s Taken Some Damage[/quote]

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.

Leeroy
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Leeroy
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Brad Gallaway
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Brad Gallaway
6 years 6 months ago

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.

Chi Kong Lui
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Chi Kong Lui
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Anonymous]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)[/quote] Please note that a 10… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 6 months ago

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)

Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
JMorris
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JMorris
6 years 6 months ago

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.

[quote=Anonymous]”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?[/quote]

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

Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 6 months ago

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.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 6 months ago

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.

Person of Consequence
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6 years 6 months ago
*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… Read more »
Eddie B.
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Eddie B.
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Justin
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Justin
6 years 6 months ago
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,… Read more »
Darius
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Darius
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
KCalder
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KCalder
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Stevo5678
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Stevo5678
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Kerghan
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Kerghan
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Stefan
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Stefan
6 years 6 months ago

@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.

Li-Ion
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Li-Ion
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Weaponslayer]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. [/quote] 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… Read more »
Weaponslayer
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Weaponslayer
6 years 6 months ago

Gamerankings.

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

shun
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shun
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Weaponslayer][quote=Chi Kong Lui] 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.[/quote] 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… Read more »
Brad Gallaway
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Brad Gallaway
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Weaponslayer] 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.[/quote] 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… Read more »
Weaponslayer
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Weaponslayer
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Chi Kong Lui] 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.[/quote] 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… Read more »
Shane
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Shane
6 years 6 months ago

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.

Live from NYC
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Live from NYC
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Brandon Erickson
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Brandon Erickson
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Chi Kong Lui
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Chi Kong Lui
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Weaponslayer]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.[/quote] 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,… Read more »
Weaponslayer
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Weaponslayer
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Brad Gallaway]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… Read more »
Brad Gallaway
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Brad Gallaway
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Matthew Kaplan
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Matthew Kaplan
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Brad Gallaway] 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. [/quote] Heh, I was right with you up until… Read more »
Brad Gallaway
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Brad Gallaway
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
The WolfMan
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The WolfMan
6 years 6 months ago

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?

Eric
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Eric
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Anonymous]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?… Read more »
Alan
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Alan
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Godheval] 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. [/quote] 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… Read more »
MishKonn
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MishKonn
6 years 6 months ago

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.

Matthew Kaplan
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Matthew Kaplan
6 years 6 months ago

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).

Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Chi Kong Lui
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Chi Kong Lui
6 years 6 months ago

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.

Godheval
Guest
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Stevo5678
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Stevo5678
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
stevo5678
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stevo5678
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Xjum
Guest
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 6 months ago

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.

Chi Kong Lui
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Chi Kong Lui
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Alv]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?[/quote] 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… Read more »
Alv
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Alv
6 years 6 months ago
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,… Read more »
Matthew Kaplan
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Matthew Kaplan
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Soumynona] 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.[/quote] 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… Read more »
Soumynona
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Soumynona
6 years 6 months ago
>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… Read more »
Brad Gallaway
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Brad Gallaway
6 years 6 months ago

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

Kyle
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Kyle
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Smilebit
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Smilebit
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Mike
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Mike
6 years 6 months ago

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.

Matthew Kaplan
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Matthew Kaplan
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Alv]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[/quote] 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… Read more »
Al Batross
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Al Batross
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Disagree
Guest
Disagree
6 years 6 months ago

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.

KCalder
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KCalder
6 years 6 months ago
> 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… Read more »
Anony Mouse
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Anony Mouse
6 years 6 months ago

[quote=Zelazny7]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.[/quote]

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.

Joe
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Joe
6 years 6 months ago

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.

Zelazny7
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Zelazny7
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Anony Mouse]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.[/quote] 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… Read more »
Tim Spaeth
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Tim Spaeth
6 years 6 months ago

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!

Anony Mouse
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Anony Mouse
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Crofto
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Crofto
6 years 6 months ago

[quote=Zelazny7]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![/quote]

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.

Li-Ion
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Li-Ion
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Zelazny7]… 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?[/quote] 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… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Li-Ion
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Li-Ion
6 years 6 months ago
I’m not Chi but: [quote=Alv]Metacritic uses a NORMALISED score already, so it really shouldn’t matter if other sites use logarithmic scales.[/quote] 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!). [/quote] 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… Read more »
Zelazny7
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Zelazny7
6 years 6 months ago

… 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?

Alv
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Alv
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Steven F
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Steven F
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Anonymous] I’d rather pick up and use ammo like every other game, because if it’s not like Gears or Halo, why play it? [/quote] 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… Read more »
Chi Kong Lui
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Chi Kong Lui
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Alv]”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.[/quote] 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… Read more »
Alv
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Alv
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Alv] 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.[/quote] i) Meant to say my gut feeling is that historic data will… Read more »
Alv
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Alv
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Demiath
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6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
deiseach
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deiseach
6 years 6 months ago

[quote=Chi Kong Lui]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.[/quote]

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

Chi Kong Lui
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Chi Kong Lui
6 years 6 months ago

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.

Booban
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Booban
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Matthew Kaplan
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Matthew Kaplan
6 years 6 months ago

[quote=abfackeln]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.[/quote]

This.

abfackeln
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abfackeln
6 years 6 months ago

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.

shun
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6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Anonymous]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,… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 6 months ago
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,… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 6 months ago

“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?

Chi Kong Lui
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Chi Kong Lui
6 years 6 months ago

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.

Steven F
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Steven F
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Shane
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Shane
6 years 6 months ago
“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… Read more »
Steven F
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Steven F
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Zelazny7
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Zelazny7
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Dale Weir
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Dale Weir
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Matthew K
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6 years 6 months ago

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.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 6 months ago
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?… Read more »
Li-Ion
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Li-Ion
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
John
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John
6 years 6 months ago

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.

Zelazny7
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Zelazny7
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Crofto]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).[/quote] 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… Read more »
Crofto
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Crofto
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Zelazny7]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.[/quote] 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… Read more »
Zelazny7
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Zelazny7
6 years 6 months ago
[quote=Crofto] 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.[/quote] 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… Read more »
Crofto
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Crofto
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 6 months ago

I really hope your “grotesque” comment wasn’t aimed at Tali, she’s adorable.

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