Mass Effect 2 Review

Red sky at night, Shepard’s delight?

By Rupert Higham, February 3, 2010


Early on in the game Shepard is forced to make a sacrifice that ends in his death. Fortunately he doesn't let it affect him too much.

One aspect that destroyed the flow of the original game was the needlessly clunky inventory screen that interrupted gameplay every ten steps to wade through page after page of weapons, armours and augmentations across a team of characters for every minor increment. This has been comprehensively replaced by collecting weapons and armour research that can be equipped globally and affects every character in your crew. While some may accuse BioWare of dumbing down the strategic options, you still have every original option available to you by augmenting guns through the power wheel. Freed from the intrusive inventory screens the game flows seamlessly from action sequence to story telling in what is an infinitely more elegant solution.


Previous attempts at fusing story and action led games have always compromised on one of the two aspects and in the original game, the action bore the brunt with an imprecise cover system, fudgy aiming and unsatisfyingly floaty combat. ME2 makes no such compromise with a solidity of combat that rivals dedicated cover-shooters, blended with an extremely tactical ranged magic system that offers plenty of unique attack options, even allowing you to combine biotics attacks between characters. ME2’s robust combat is a genuinely pleasurable experience that shows a massive leap in quality from the original and satisfies on every level.

Gameplay variety is a priority with every mission as Shepard gathers recruits for the suicide mission requiring a different set of skills from the observational to the deceptive to the down right brutal. That they manage to keep this going for 40 hours is a remarkable feat. Even the achievement system has been reworked so that it no longer requires three or more tightly regimented play-throughs that limit your character selection, instead encouraging a conscientious attitude toward character safety.


Your team mates are actually very helpful throughout, particularly with the vastly improved ability to direct them.

Showing great humility in addressing the original game’s faults, one area that BioWare nailed near-flawlessly the first time around was in cutting-edge story telling and ME2 builds on that success. The original game was characterised by the high quality digital acting (aided by some terrific voice acting), the wonderfully realised real time conversations and the in-depth consequences of the morality system. These all return in improved form with memorable performances by Martin Sheen’s inegmatic Illusive Man and near-autistically hyperactive Michael Beattie as Salarian scientist Mordin Solus.

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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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