Mass Effect 2 - game review
BioWare has never released two games in such a short period of time. The dust after the Scourge's march through our hard drives has not yet settled, and another journey ahead of us - this time to the farthest corners of space. Commander Shepard is back in an experimental, risky, beautiful and brilliant game. Sit back and read, because today you will enter a world you will never forget.
First cats behind fences - RPG fans will feel confused by Mass Effect 2 . Where's the equipment? Where's the extensive skill tree? Where are the statistics, injuries, DPSs, throws, where is the whole mathematical layer of a good erpeg? There is no! If Dragon Age is ArmA II , then Mass Effect 2 is Call of Duty . Simplified gameplay, more focused, better. Yes, Shepard's new adventures are a representative of the genre, at the sound of the name which the orthodox gnash their teeth: RPG shooter. The fight is mostly arcade, and babbling in menus is not here at all. We can call this game "the stripped Witcher " as well as " Gears of War with Talking". It doesn't matter, because the final effect is excellent anyway.
By giving up so many elements that at first glance should be in this type of game, BioWare challenges all RPG fans. What is really important to you: plot or numbers? Because if you value well-told stories and extraordinary characters, in this game you will experience the absolute.
The action begins about two years after the events of the first part. As a result of surprising and deserving silence of twists, Commander Shepard is subordinated to the mysterious organization Cerberus, equipped with an improved version of his ship (Normandy) and sent with the mission to further prevent the invasion of the Reapers on our modest section of the galaxy. The Commander's new employers have a controversial past and are clearly hiding something. We don't know whether to trust them and the game doesn't force us to obey completely. And this is just one of the many conflicts we face.
The main storyline could probably be completed in about 15 hours, which would leave us feeling unsatisfied. It turns out that what Mass Effect 2 is most sparkling with lies somewhere at the height of side threads and conversations with team members. We spend a large part of the game recruiting them - Illusive Man finally assumes that Shepard needs a team of the largest scavengers in the galaxy. And each character whose CV lands in our inbox is a separate thread, a separate conflict, a separate story! There is no black and white in this game. Each hero, like a character in a nice movie, has his past, secrets, fears and errors in his account. A specific salarian scientist turns out to be tormented by remorse after putting his hand to sterilization and extinction of almost the entire civilized race. Our officer will reveal to us the complexities of the relationship with his father, and the professional murderer after closer meeting will ask for help in rebuilding the relationship with his son. The threads of manners mix in this game with action scenes, creating a real space soap opera. There is no better comparison than the "modern" version of the Battlestar Galactica series. Because in this story the most important is the character!
During the game I had the best time talking. Is it listening to the confidences aboard Normandy, or admiring the animation of Krogan's face on their hometown Tuchanka, or rubbing his eyes in amazement at the sight of the camera during the bitter arguments of Object Zero. The system of dialogs is practically the same as in the first part - we choose the theme of our issue, having unlimited time. Instead, Quick-Time Events require reflection, which sometimes appear during conversations and refer to the morality system known from the "one". Put a gun under your nose? We will point as a renegade. Will we comfort the woman weeping after the loss of her daughter, embracing her? Plus five to the "receipt". There are no special surprises here, although QTE could be more. And one important novelty: the path chosen by us has consequences in Shepard's appearance. The more we push towards the renegade, the more the commander's scars will mark. Something like in Fable , but less invasive.
Although the structure of the game branches at many times and we can perform individual missions in any order, the whole was designed in a very "serial" way. Most missions and plots are episodes lasting less than an hour. Thanks to this, the gameplay maintains a very high pace and we don't spend too much time repeating the same thing over and over again. Say what you want, but I was dying of boredom at the end of the mission in the Dragon Age mage tower. There is no boredom here, and the sections "shot" and "talked" intensely intertwine with each other. Maybe it is a pity that the world is clearly divided into zones where we are safe and into areas where we constantly walk with the exposed gun. There is no option for someone to suddenly attack us within the city. It loses spontaneity.
Tourist attractions of the Mass Effect world are quite obvious. We visit several cities, and in each we find a few shops and some small side missions to smash. Here we will buy decorations for our captain's cabin (space hamster, fish, ship models!), Get valuable information and throw into the immersive ocean space. It is unbelievable how BioWare created a world that is so full of life, coherent, fascinating and tangible. Let's agree, the locations are rather claustrophobic and far from the Capital wasteland. We are talking sooner about the Neverwinter Nights 2 scale. We do not visit all the places where we can learn about it, and some (Tuchanka, Fleet Quarian) simply fail their shallowness. The secret is probably just the project - work done on paper, even before the premiere of the first part of the game. The world of Mass Effect 2 does not use vulgar, post-Tolkien stereotypes, it does not cut directly from Star Trek or Star Wars. It's the * original * universe and galaxy of genius. Krogans - tough guys who were given atomic weapons to play too early. Salarians - intellectuals living only 30 years with accelerated metabolism. Asari - a race of women in which all the space is rocking. I buy it all, take a handful and take care of it. The true beauty of the concept.
In the face of such theses, the fight turns out to be a completely secondary element of the game. It is smooth, light and pleasant. The level of difficulty was set very low, the number of skills and the issuing of orders were limited to the maximum, simply - Mass Effect was turned into a shooter. And these words should not be perceived as criticism, because just shooting, everything is in place. Shotgun is used differently than a gun, individual character classes have simple skills to choose from (in practice, 2-3 active skills per class), from time to time solid boss fights appear. Full assurance, because there is simply nothing to attach to here. The authors decided that they are giving up the erpeg fight convention (although they have left the active pause) and eventually mock the thinking patterns of players who instinctively want to find a better shotgun. Nothing here! At most, we can scan a copy of the weapon found somewhere, then invest aboard the Normandy in such an improvement. The only exception is heavy weapons, we can actually use a rocket launcher, laser, "atomic minibomb" putter - and here the effects of the shot really differ. But the upgrades of assault rifles or pistols are almost imperceptible.
The big disadvantage of the first Mass Effect were schematic, boring side missions. In ME2, the approach to them has been completely changed: there are a lot less of them, but each is unique. And the hopeless control of the Mako rover was abandoned (we don't have any vehicle at all). These most important sub-quests are commissioned to us by individual team members (they refer to their past), but the others are found on our own in cities or we notice by accident scanning star systems. Scanning is an important element of the game in that it allows you to collect raw materials that we later use to develop equipment. We can even improve the armor and equipment of Normandy. For what? You will find out for yourself.
When it comes to our moral choices, the creators mask the script's linearity very nicely by inserting here and there small references to our past behavior. This is also the famous function of importing saved games from the first Mass Effect. Most of our choices are commented on somehow during the game, but the differences are only slight winks to the fans. Example: Leader Krogan says to us like this: "It is because of you that one of our best warriors is dead. We don't like you! Now do the task for us. " The reference is unrelated, and the developers did not have to work hard. What is interesting, however, is the relationship between our behavior in the game and its ending. The adventure finale is very flexible and requires responsible decisions as well as effective team management. It can be felt that there are several dozen possible variations of what awaits us in the epic finale. So take care of your people and do not save on equipment, and maybe you will survive.
Mass Effect 2 is one of the prettiest games ever made. The most impressive is the character animation, especially the face. So once again we see that dialogues are intended the most important aspect of this production. But seriously: in ME2, we look around in delight every now and then, we visit new places just to * see them *, we conduct talks to pay attention to all the details of their animation and implementation. Yes, camera work - a masterpiece. You could admire this game only because of its setting, and yet it offers a lot more. I played the English language version and the quality of the voices made me feel down. Is it Martin Sheen as Illusive Man difficult to figure out, or the sensational Tricia Helfer as a Normandy's on-board computer, or Seth Green as a Joker, or any of the actors playing our NPCs from the team: majesty and perfection. Of course, the Polish language version is not so good anymore, but oh well - the bar suspended by the original was impossible to overcome.
I am sad that you have to wait at least two years for the continuation of Shepard's adventures. At the end of Mass Effect 2, the authors clearly say, "You haven't seen anything yet, kids!" Ashamed, delighted, I offer my obeisance to BioWare. These guys have done something amazing, created the best space-opera in the history of electronic entertainment, surpassing most of this series and movies. One could say that Mass Effect 2 is an excellent game per se, and at the same time an average RPG. But no. This is the future of the genre, shedding heavy chains of mathematics and placing an emphasis on the story line, telling stunning stories. For tables - Excel, for rolls - board games, for characters - RPG games. Sometimes you need a character.
Krzysztof "Lordareon" Gonciarz