Of late much of my idle time has been spent working my way through Mass Effect 2, which I pickup up (aggravatingly) before it went on sale on Steam.
I’d posted last week, after playing it for five hours or so, that I wasn’t been feeling the love for it yet. I’m happy to say that my reservations at that time were somewhat unwarranted. ME2 does indeed feel like it’s on rails at times, and opening up the galaxy to you takes a bit longer than it did in ME1, but it does happen.
The combat is pretty much just better than it was in ME1, fun in its own right and not just something boring you do between the cool story bits. Some of the RPG elements, like inventory management and large chunks of the character development system, were dropped between games, and by the end I didn’t really feel the lack of them – although I would have preferred handling both under the old system – ME2’s skill system is very granular, such that I’d often end up waiting multiple levels to build up the points to increase anything, and the ME1 inventory system, while imperfect (though improved from the 360 version,) at least didn’t force me into the minigames.
Speaking of which, ME2’s minigames are a mixed bag; the bypass and hacking minigames are okay once you get the hang of them, but they’re unexplained in-game and the guidelines are sketchy in the documentation; I had to resort to the wiki to figure them out. Planet scanning was neat for a while, but got to be a chore before long – thankfully, you can get all the upgrades you need to complete the game even dropping it midway through the main story, which I did.
The story itself seems a little leaner than that of ME1 if you consider the ‘build your team’ and loyalty missions to be side quests – which the game doesn’t, but it felt like that to me for a while. However, the whole thing is spectacularly well-done and the final climactic sequence has a deliciously complex web out outcomes dependent on your upgrades and the loyalty of team members – and not just the ones in your squad at that moment.
One other feature is that you can keep playing after completing the main storyline – cleaning up leftover missions or exploring the rest of the galaxy, for example, or doing DLC. I will get to this eventually – Lair of the Shadow Broker is definitely on the list of things I’d like to play through. But I think I’ll wait a while – Mass Effect 3 is on the horizon, and I think I’ll wait until it’s closer to whet my appetite for it.
All in all, I loved Mass Effect 2. In some ways I liked it better than the first game, in others not so much, but it was a very satisfying experience, probably better overall than its predecessor.
Now, on to Dragon Age Ultimate.