Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2 is a proper sequel. While you can play this game on its own and enjoy it, it'll be worth your while playing the original first because there's a lot of continuity

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Mass Effect 2 Mass Effect 2 scores high points for creating a proper sense of continuity. You’ll encounter characters from the original, such as the Normandy’s former Commanding Officer David Anderson
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By  Jason Saundalkar Published  March 25, 2010

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When the original Mass Effect was released for the PC format back in 2008 it got this reviewer into serious trouble. The brilliant storyline, gripping gameplay and fantastic production values made it impossible to stay away from. Moreover, because the game had multiple endings - depending on what you did - a fair few weeks were spent with little or no social interaction. Mass Effect 2 is even worse as far as social interaction is concerned because whereas the original had every aspect you'd want in a game dialed up to 10, the sequel turns things up to 20.

One of the best features of Mass Effect 2 is that it has a proper link to the original. Players can import their save game files from the original (you'll need to complete Mass Effect and wait until after the end-credits roll and use the auto-save file that is created at the end) and in doing so, decisions made in the first game actually affect the storyline in the sequel.

If you sacrificed a particular teammate in the original you won't encounter that character this time around. Similarly, if you were rich in credits or were of a particularly high character level in Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2 recognises this (via your save game) and rewards you in different ways. When you want to import a particular saved game Mass Effect 2 briefs you on key decisions you made (this is useful if you played the original in different ways to finish with higher Paragon or as a Renegade and have multiple save files) and the game also allows you to change your class, so you can go from being an ‘Engineer' to a ‘Soldier'.

If you haven't played Mass Effect or you don't have your save game files, you can start Mass Effect 2 from scratch. In doing so the game brings you up to date with the events that have taken place in the series so far. (The next game in the series - Mass Effect 3 - is also rumored to allow players to import their save games from Mass Effect 2, so it's worth keeping the save games from this game when you're done.)

The sequel kicks off in the year 2183 shortly after the events of Mass Effect and once again, gamers take on the role of Commander Shepard, the present Commanding Office of the Normandy. Once again the Normandy serves as your home and mobile base of operations, allowing you to interact with your teammates, manage your inventory and more.

As before Mass Effect 2 offers multiple endings depending on whether you make choices to play as the good guy (Paragon) or as the bad (Renegade). Roaming the universe and talking to various characters is still a big part of Mass Effect 2 and a new addition here is that Shepard can now interrupt conversations with either Paragon or Renegade dialogue options. This makes the game feel more fluid and realistic. In the same respect even combat has been refined so it is more fluid; whereas the original game forced you to thread through a menu system when you wanted to equip alternative ammo in the middle of a fire-fight, the sequel allows you to do this without calling up the cluttered inventory screen.

On the presentation front Mass Effect 2 is, once again, brilliant. While you'll need a high-end rig to enjoy the game's fantastic graphics and sound, rest assured, if you've got the right hardware, you'll reap the rewards. Graphically, while the game's rendering engine creates exceptional, nearly life-like characters along with some gorgeous (and creepy) environments, it really blows you away on the animation front. All of the character animation is superb and like the visuals, are very life-like. The jump in quality here is the result of BioWare giving each character nearly 10 times more animation-movement; whereas Shepard had only 20 different movements for taking cover in the original, BioWare claims he now has over 200.

On the audio front as well its clear BioWare spared no expense because Mass Effect 2's sound effects, voice acting and music are top notch. The musical score creates tension when necessary, compliments brilliant visuals at the right time and ultimately just fits the game like a glove. The sound effects work on every level too whether you consider the sound of weapons fire or the hum of starship engines.

The voice actors that lent their talents to characters in the original, such as Seth Green (Jeff ‘Joker' Moreau) and Keith David (David Anderson), make a return in Mass Effect 2 and they are supported by a new cast including D.C. Douglas as the Geth known as Legion.

For: The various loyalty missions in Mass Effect 2 are excellent. They’re engaging, give more depth to the character you’re helping and also create a real bond between you and that character.
Verdict: Mass Effect 2 is brilliant in every way. This is a game you should start playing only if you can afford to give up your life for a few weeks, have a comfortable playing seat (for the long hours) and can have food bought to your desk without complaints.

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