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
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bobby brown
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bobby brown

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

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

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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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymously Anonymous
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Anonymously Anonymous

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

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

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

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

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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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

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

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

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

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

‘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

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

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

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

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

[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

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

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

[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

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
Guest
Anonymous

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

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

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

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
Guest

*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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@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.