Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mass Effect 2: I headshot a god!

In under a week, I've finished Mass Effect 2.  It's been awhile since I've played a game so religiously.  Even now, I want to go back in, explore the game some more, but I have other things I really need to be doing.

Mass Effect 2 has been so changed, it's hardly the same game, mechanically speaking.  Bioware called it a "true shooter RPG," and I really see what they mean.  No longer can I just walk out into the battlefield and just shoot stuff till it dies.  Now I need to use cover, watch my corners, and aim my shots at specific locations for extra damage.  Gameplay moves swiftly and smoothly.  The flow of play no longer stops just because you found a new bit of gear, or because you leveled mid-mission.  You have less powers, but they're vastly more useful and come up far more often.  My Infiltrator felt like an Infiltrator, rather than a Soldier/Engineer like he did in ME 1.  He stealths up, ghosts around his enemies, and takes a head shot (I got the Head Hunter achievement by mission 2, I think).

Which isn't to say we've lost the "RPG" part of this shooter RPG.  There's so many choices, so much flow to the game, that like Dragon Age, I found myself "playing the character."  There's so much continuity that it almost doesn't feel like a different game.  It feels like an expansion of the old game.  If I wanted to make a new ME2 character, I would start with ME 1, play through it, and then load up ME 2 and continue.  This fact really reassured me, really reminded me that I'm playing the sequel to the previous.

And the ending... utterly epic.  I'm used to playing games where they show you the trailer, and that's 90% of everything awesome about the game.  Bioware has a habit of showing you a neat trailer that amounts to the first mission or two, and then unfurling the truly awesome stuff later.  It's kind of a sketchy marketing strategy, but I really appreciate it, as it saves the best for last.  The game is spectacularly awesome from beginning to end.

I have only two complaints.  First, I miss the Mako and the ability to actually run around on planets. I know alot of people complained about that, and it's alot of development for a very small part of the game, but I loved looking at alien skylines and discovering yet another strange world to poke around on.  It reminded me of those old Starflight games.  My other complaint: ME 2 is too much of a good thing.  I skipped more than half of it, I'm sure.  There were so many side missions that I eventually skipped them and just raced for the ending.  Hardly a complaint, I'm sure.

I initially played this assuming I would need every NPC available. Now I wonder if it's about having the right mix.  I lost three NPCs, and it wasn't clear why some survived and not others.  The final mission reminds me of both Virmire, and Princess Maker in the sense that there's so many variables going in that it's hard to figure out what will happen.  So, there's alot to explore in this game.  Alot.  Talk about replay value...

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