A few years ago (for reasons I won’t go into) I came very close to losing faith in video games. I had never really been much of a single-player kind of guy, while I enjoy a story driven experience… I much prefer putting myself to the test against other players online.

In November of 2007 all of that changed.

What could have made me go back to loving single-player games and at the same time restore my faith in gaming altogether?

Mass Effect.

From the moment I closed that disc tray I was hooked, I had that controller in my hands for 36 hours straight, and when it was all over I was left feeling surprisingly complete and yet at the same time yearning for more. It was like playing video games for the first time all over again.

Now that we’ve had a trip down memory lane, lets get on with the review.

Fans of the original and newcomers alike will find themselves glued to their controllers for the unforeseeable future as the continued tale of Commander Shepard unfolds before them.

Mass Effect 2 Delivers.

Slowly loading textures? Elevator loading screens? Empty planets explored with a click of a button? All of these issues have been addressed and fixed. Nearly every complaint players had about the first game has been replaced and refined, leaving us with a streamlined product that may very well be the game of the decade.

As with the first game, the heart and soul of Mass Effect lies in the inhabitants of the universe, who through an even further refined dialogue system reveal themselves to the player and provide the intrigue and motivation for us to keep coming back time and time again. It becomes quite clear through the course of the game that the people you interact with have lives, lives that can be altered or even extinguished at the drop of a hat because of your actions. Gone are the “Fetch item X and deliver it to person Y” Generic side quests have been thrown out and fixed to the point where every ‘side quest’ feels like an important mission in which your actions will affect the lives of the people you interact with.

To be honest one of the only possible problems I’ve encountered involved newcomers to the series. At points throughout the campaign various references are made to decisions made in the original Mass Effect, some of these plot twists and references won’t have the desired impact on people who haven’t played through the original Mass Effect. While this doesn’t in any way make the game unplayable by newcomers, some of the moments will lack the necessary…weight.

Combat and exploration have also received some necessary tweaks, while combat has become more streamlined (That word is perfect to describe much of ME2, you’ll probably see it used a bunch) and plays more like an action game than in the original game. Exploration has been one of the greatest improvements made between the two games. Exploration in Mass Effect was kind of a joke, in Mass Effect 2 exploration is taken much more seriously, allowing players to fully explore new areas and worlds.

A lot of people I know simply played through the original Mass Effect as a soldier, never really trying any of the other classes because they felt too tedious and impairing. . The redone character classes have been a great improvement to the overall feel that the guys over at Bioware were going for with Mass Effect 2’s combat system, making it feel more like an action game than it’s predecessor from the moment you first step into combat. I guarantee that players will go back and play as various other classes just to experience the infinite amount of ways to deal with various situations. Oh and Biotic Charge is just a bag of awesome.

I’m actually going to have to force myself to stop talking about this game at this point for fear of giving away any spoilers.

From the awe-inspiring visuals to the amazing voice acting, nearly every detail of mass effect is polished to perfection. The level design and soundtrack will keep the game centered around you as a player while constantly reminding you of the importance and scope of your mission as Commander Shepard.

Go out and get this game.

– Dr Strange Lulz

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