Mass Effect 2 Review

Red sky at night, Shepard’s delight?

By Rupert Higham, February 3, 2010


The original Mass Effect saw BioWare ambitiously attempting to fuse their exemplary story telling abilities with the visceral combat of the cover shooter – a genre still in its infancy back in 2007. Freed from the shackles of the Star Wars licence, BioWare produced an exceptionally rich galaxy filled with danger, discovery and intrigue, setting new standards for story telling and digital acting.

Intended from the outset as a trilogy, it would have been an understandably predictable move to simply go through the motions of adding to the original game as the story arcs towards its ultimate goal – instead they have taken the bold step of gutting the game, addressing each and every criticism levelled at the original, resulting in a finished product is without doubt the most incredible gaming experience BioWare have ever created.

Martin Sheen does his best G-Man impression as the mysterious Illusive Man.

Even the most hardened Mass Effect zealot has to acknowledge the many flaws of the original – the terrible texture pop-in, the infamous lift loading sequences, the repetitive planet exploration, the extremely fiddly inventory system, the questionable combat controls – despite the game’s undeniable quality, it was a flawed work of brilliance. Rather than simply attempt to repair inherently broken mechanics, BioWare have been clinically ruthless in discarding unpopular elements.

Addressing technical issues first, the texture pop-in has been completely eradicated; a feat all the more impressive when taking into account how breathtakingly beautiful the game looks. The original game’s lustrous futurist design and vibrant colour scheme returns, but on a grander scale with a far greater assortment of environments, each with their own individual characteristics. Conservatively uniform structures make way for varied architecture, with wide open vistas offering spectacular views bustling cities crammed full of detail.


As with the original, biotic attacks are used to disable enemy shields and barriers, allowing you to inflict maximum damage.

A transparent attempt to disguise loading times, the lift sequences of the original game have been replaced by far more honest loading screens – you still need to exercise some patience, but load times are significantly shorter and screens dispense vital information while you wait. Attempting to simulate an entire galaxy on a DVD obviously requires a certain degree of wool being pulled over eyes, and BioWare’s method in the original game saw the incredibly dull Mako sequences where you would drive for hours across identical planet surfaces, distinguishable from one another only by their colour schemes. The Mako driving sections have been ripped out, leaving each explorable planet as a completely original designed environment, each with their own characters, objectives and resources, making for a far more varied experience.

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7 Responses to “Mass Effect 2 Review”

  1. Stuart says:

    Great review Rupert, I got this on Friday and hope to finish my first play through tomorrow. Going to start a new character immediately for a second one!

  2. Alek says:

    Was I the only person to notice and hate the repetitivness of the party-member-missions.

    *Every Single One* of the missions that you go on to help the party-members personally… every single one (except Jack’s/Legend) have the conclusion that their father is a massive A-hole.

    I mean, even if you don’t care about that, just the repetitivness of it. Every single one of the stories have the exact same ending, the father of the party member is a massive a-hole and needs to repent. Couldn’t they invent more than one story?

  3. Stuart says:

    I think you took it too far.


    Garrus, Grunt, Zaeed, Jack and Legion (as you mentioned) don’t have family to deal with. Not all of the rest of them have to deal with their father. So, from your story, I’d say 3 of the characters (4 if you count Thane, who has to deal with his son) need to deal with their dad. I don’t know about you, but that’s not “Every single one” to me. Now go and finish the game, and enjoy!

  4. Rupert Higham says:

    Thanks Stuart, you beat me to it. Yes Alek, I definitely did notice that parental issues were a theme in the loyalty stories, but that didn’t strike me as laziness on BioWare’s part. To me it re-enforced the central theme of the game (for me anyway) of responsibility.

    It’s drilled into you again and again that you’re participating in a suicide mission and essentially your role is to shepherd your team to safety – you as the player are completely responsible for the lives of your crew. I can’t really think of a more fitting role of responsibility than parenthood so I’m not surprised that they ran with the theme.

    Also, it’s not like the gameplay ever gets repeated for the loyalty missions. Each one is incredibly varied in both concept and gameplay.

  5. DR Jam says:

    Q: is the decimal rating system completely gone?

    This is clearly one of the very best, if not the best RPG of this gen, and 9/10 just doesn’t do it justice. But I understand, if the website is preserving 10′s for the most technically impressive games.

  6. Peter muller says:


    Love your review. Nice :)


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