Mass Effect 2 Review

Red sky at night, Shepard’s delight?

By Rupert Higham, February 3, 2010


Mass Effect players will be pleased to discover plenty of old faces, though depending on your decisions in that game, others will be notable by their absence if you let them perish.

The conversation interrupt system that allows Shepard to interrupt with either a paragon or renegade response during critical moments is expertly implemented. In lesser games mechanics like this amount to little more than a short cut to the “correct” predetermined response, but every situation in Mass Effect 2 requires real consideration as you weigh up the legitimacy of being firm and decisive or diplomatic and patient.

Moral dilemmas in videogames are typically only a GameFaqs click away from enlightenment but Mass Effect’s trilogy-spanning sequence of cause and effect gives genuine weight to these decisions. When faced with moral quandaries, you have no way of predicting the ramifications further down the line leaving you with only your judgement as a guide, leaving players that are fully drawn into the story agonising over what their choices will mean for the future, and offering a thoroughly authentic take on the decision making process.


The new Normandy makes organising your squad significantly easier than the first game.

The save data transfer from ME1 to ME2 doesn’t radically affect the over-arching story, but the consequences of your choices are evident throughout your journey, and in a theme that runs for the duration of the series, lives will depend on your choices. This concept would fall flat on its face if BioWare hadn’t crafted some of the most complex characters seen in a game. Yes, the story follows the fate of a band of rogues overcoming a danger that threatens all sentient life in the universe, but ME2 succeeds on a personal level, concentrating on the minutia, developing characters with a range of fears, anxieties and personal issues that affect their relationships, allowing you to identify with each of them on a personal level.

Mass Effect 2 succeeds ultimately on the strength of its world and BioWare have created one of the most beautiful, fantastical, consistent, comprehensive and coherent universes seen in science fiction, let alone video games. There is still some fat to be trimmed for Mass Effect 3 (the resource mining is a real grind and is far too slow and the disc juggling can be a little irritating) but ME2 is a shockingly improved sequel to an already brilliant game and shows that BioWare have no intention of slipping into lazy genre habits in their quest to push the medium forward. If you haven’t played the first game, it’s worth persevering with to fully experience possibly the best RPG this generation.

9 out of 10

Massively disaffected? Take a potshot at our scoring guide. And feel free to flamestrike our forum.

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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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