And here I am, a week later. The Xbox home screen is patiently waiting for input, and as I put the controller down, my eyes drift towards the left, towards the closet where I keep my Xbox games, ordered according to which I find the best. Out of excitement, I had put the Mass Effect 2 box in the prime position when I bought it, but now that I’ve finished the game, I can’t help but take it down a few pegs – behind Mass Effect 1, behind Dragon Age, but just above Fallout 3. I find it hard to admit, but Mass Effect 2 failed to meet my (admittedly) insanely high expectations.
Clearly the Middle Child: Mass Effect 2
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2010-02-02 4:44 pmhollovoid
I remember the good ole days when I could ignore things I don’t find appealing… wait…
2010-02-02 5:26 pmboldingd
Just to note, Ars Technica — which I’d hold up as the shining example of tech journalism on the Web — also does game reviews. I don’t really see what’s so objectionable about it. Many technical professionals — at least, in my generation, I suspect — are also avid gamers, so this is content that’s of interest to what I’d guess is the primary demographic the site’s going after.
2010-02-02 8:50 pmWorknMan
Just to note, Ars Technica — which I’d hold up as the shining example of tech journalism on the Web — also does game reviews.
Unfortunately. I guess everybody assumes that just because you’re interested in tech, then you must, by extension, be interested in video games as well. Maybe they should also do porn reviews here too …
2010-02-02 9:35 pmThom Holwerda
By Keelah, are we going to go through this EVERY FRAKKING TIME?
If you don’t like a story, you can *shock gasp horror* SKIP IT. Just try it, just one time. Just, see how it fits you. See if it works for you. See if it floats your boat. See if you can resist that compulsive urge to whine about EVERY story that is slightly off the beaten track.
I promise you, the feeling will be rewarding. You’ll feel liberated. I’m talking Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets kind of liberated, people.
Just without Helen Hunt’s tits.
Very good review of it, I like the tough honesty about the game, this will definitely be loading from steam soon (not an xboxer, got a ps3)
I’m a shooter player, not an RPG player: this game was enough like the shooters I love to get me to buy and play it – and I have enjoyed and, and I do think it’s a very good game – but as a shooter, it’s not nearly as good as TF2 or Unreal 3. Or Gears or Halo, for that matter.
I have some issues with the setting. ME1’s depiction of space combat was much different from the SPACE RAY GUNS AT TWO HUNDRED METERS type settings you usually see, in a good way. Heavily shielded starships slugging it out with more-or-less rail guns at extreme range, stealth based on constraining emitted radiation signature (esp. heat signature), heat build-up being the limiting factor in combat, “most naval battles being a draw,” as ships build up way to much heat before they fight each other’s shields down… Then, how does ME2 open? With a giant alien starship showing up right on top of the Normandy out of nowhere and tearing it to shreds with a GIANT SPACE LAYZOR. Not an auspicious start.
“Semi-real physics” is also used spottily: at one point, Shepherd jokes about idiots asking “why the ship is turning around when we’re only half-way there.” That would be funny if ships in the game actually turned around for deceleration burns! ME2 features the same friction-in-space, “ships move while the engines are on and coast to a stop when they’re not” unrealistic model of space that the joke was mocking! And the game adds Sci-Fi Lay-Zar Beam Rifles, which… I did not find amusing. And the Normandy’s quantum radio… I will get banned if I type my response to that thing. I was screaming. Or was I crying? Can’t remember.
My reaction to Jack wasn’t much better, altho that was more laughter than nerd-rage. She’s just so… comically ridiculous, exagerated, and unconvincing as a character. Had I known was I was getting before-hand, I’d never have bothered to go retrieve her: as it is, she’ll be spending most of the game on the Normandy II, and I may never bother to go visit her down at the bottom of whatever hole in the bowels of the ship she finds to crawl in to. I am ambivalent towards Grunt: he’s not poorly done, but neither is he very well done or interesting. Garrus and Morden I do actually like. (Simple-minded hick that I am, I find it highly amusing to have my enemies suddenly burst into flames in the middle of a fire-fight. Thanks, Morden!) And that’s about all of the team-mates I’ve retrieved so far (I, ah, haven’t come near finishing the game.)
Just to note, I think it’s a pretty solid game, and I am enjoying it, it’s just… very far short of “one of the best games I’ve ever played,” and probably not even “game of the year.” It is merely a “pretty good game, that’s fun and worth the price.” Which isn’t bad.
Edited 2010-02-02 17:21 UTC
I happen to be both an RPG and an FPS nut, so I get to be frustrated by the oversimplification while still enjoying the combat.
I had the same complains as you. Dumbed down skill system, dumbed down inventory system, lack of character depth (mind you I’m still in the middle of the game and I didn’t read part 3 of the article). But what I found most frustrating was that there isn’t a lot of combat (yet?) compared to the overhead. I don’t know if it’s because I’m on the PC version, but the loading times were huge. So, after 10 minutes of fighting, I would go back to the ship and spend half an hour looking at loading screens and bland conversation. Add to this the planet scanning and it just feels that the actual game is so small compared to the overhead. I normally consider skill/item management and character development part of the game and not of the overhead, but sadly they are too dumbed down in ME2 to do so.
Still an enjoyable game, but I was expecting so much more, especially from Bioware.
2010-02-02 7:16 pmjabbotts
I got that same feeling from Dragon Age initially; far more watching rendered discussions then actually doing anything let alone roaming about hitting things. It did open up into more of a roaming game but still with the feeling of NWN2 Storm of Zher without the walking on the world map.
If they where going for a similar development with ME2, it will hopefully become less of an A to B to C guided game.
I find them to be a more satisfying break from working with computers all day.
I’m currently playing Darksiders which is a perfect mix of Zelda and Devil May Cry.
I tried getting into the original Mass Effect but I thought the moon buggy missions were lame. I’ll give ME2 a try when it is in the bargain bin.
I believe you’ve missed the point of the loyalty system. I will compare it to the system in Dragon Age.
In Dragon Age, getting the esteem of one of your companions is for its own sake – if you don’t get along with X, you only miss out on X’s story. The system for getting a relationship going is complicated because it is one of the game’s main foci.
In Mass Effect 2 however, the “loyalty flags” are simply ten of the many choices that have non-immediate consequences;
I’d argue that these choices is what Mass Effect 2 is about – and, as the middle child, it can both show the consequences of earlier choices and propose choices that will have unknown (for now) repercussions.
In short: in Dragon Age, companions have a complex game system because that’s one of the game’s objectives – in Mass Effect 2, companion relationships are simple because these relationships are only one of the factors that track the player’s actions and determine the game’s outcome.
Aside from that, I suspect that the relationship with the characters in ME1 is “special” only because they were part of ME1, not because they are objectively better. Among the newcomers, I loved Mordin and Thane quite a lot, though I liked Garrus better – but I am prejudiced, just as everyone is.
I wish more video game reviewers were as thorough and honest as you were. Reviews these days are so flowery, they almost always need to be taken with a grain of salt. We could use game reviews like this more often.
Speaking of games, I’m curious, have you ever tried Demon’s Souls, and if so, what did you think of it?
We’ve got our own ME2 review up at http://www.zoopy.com/video/36vr/mass-effect-2-game-review?hd=1 , though our conclusions are a little different.
…when it is built up by a bombardment of outside influences or by your own thoughts over time, it often ruins the event when it occurs. :/
If I see a movie that looks good, I try to avoid external input regarding that movie… but people did that to me with Avatar and now I just don’t even want to go and see it because I am sure it won’t live up to all the hype.
For games, I follow some gaming blogs and see what they say. ME2 was met with some luke warm reviews… so I know that is $49 I won’t spend… When the price drops $10 or $20 I’ll buy it. I hope BioShock 2 lives up to its hype.
I had the same vibe, that this games story was missing something. I haven’t played Mass Effect 1 in a while, but I can remember it was more interesting, having more twists and turns and well being a better game. This game is no KOTOR, nor is is NWN, its just a good game.
Because it is more polished and the action is way better.
It is alot more fun to play. ME1 was annoying at times, ME2 wasn’t.
The story is not as epic and new, but that is really hard to accomplish in part deux.
I will pay ME2 again before ME3 is released. I won’t do that with ME1. That alone makes it the better game. It is just more fun to play. That for me is what games should be all about.
I remember the good olâ€™ daysâ€”when this site was worth something and discussed the future of computing. Now, video game reviews? Wow.