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Mass Effect 2 screenshot
Mass Effect 2 screenshot
Mass Effect 2 screenshot
Action, RPG
screenshot

MASS EFFECT 2: Jan 2010
DEVELOPER: Bioware
GENRE: Action, RPG, TPS
MODES: Single-player
STEAM RATING: Overwhelmingly Positive

screenshot
screenshot

MASS EFFECT 2: Jan 2010
DEVELOPER: Bioware
GENRE: Action, RPG, TPS
MODES: Single-player
STEAM RATING: Overwhelmingly Positive

MASS EFFECT 2
REVIEW: Played Nov 2010
MASS EFFECT 2
REVIEW: Played Nov 2010

The Mass Effect series is a good example of mixing genres combining all the aspects of adventure, shooting and role-playing in addition to having a pretty good and fairly detailed storyline. The concentration is on character development and through conversations allows you to choose between the path of a paragon or a renegade. The direction you choose to go in somewhat affects the course of the games and gives them great replay value. You can import your Mass Effect 1 character into Mass Effect 2, so you should consider playing that one first. A save file for this should be in your Documents Bioware folder unless you've deleted it.

The setting for the games is the Milky Way Galaxy and your character, John/Jane Shepard, is the commander of a unique battleship called the Normandy. Within the galaxy there are many star clusters and within the star clusters are many planets. In Mass effect 2 there is an overall main mission and in order to achieve it you need to assemble a team of specialists by locating them on specific planets and convincing them to join your cause. Some of these are from the vast array of alien species populating the galaxy and each team member has their unique abilities. Two of these characters are imported from the first Mass Effect. You must also do a special mission for each member in order to gain his or her loyalty and open up a locked ability.

Mass Effect 2 screenshot

Along the way you will also pick up side missions which give you experience points, monetary credits, valuable minerals, armor, weapon and ship upgrades, all of which allows for levelling up both you and your squad members. Shepard's choices of interaction with the team, the crew and those he meets along the way will determine team loyalty and open up romance options.

There is a vast array of information about the races, the planets and technology. Too much as far as I'm concerned, but you don't have to read it all if you don't want to. It's just an added dimension that may give you specific information about the defenses of the enemy that you will be facing during a mission. There is also the rather mundane chore of scanning and mining valuable minerals from the planets, a necessary task in order to purchase certain upgrades.

I thought the combat portion of this game was quite well done. The main defense is to take cover while engaging the enemy rather than adopting a kamikaze style. This is much more realistic and works very well. In addition to weapons, Shepard and his team have accessible biotic and tech powers, which can be called upon in a fight. Although your squad members will use these at will, you can also control when they use them as well as position your team in the battle. For AIs, they actually behave fairly well on their own, although they have a tendency to be mavericks at times which can quickly put them out of commission. Directing the battle yourself by combining the right powers of the team can have a devastating effect on the target.

Getting a handle on picking the right conversations is a little trickier to figure out. Being the thorough person that I am, I like to explore all the dialogue, but the game is not set up for that approach and you can't develop the paragon or renegade characteristics of Shepard by this approach. There is much more importance attached to this than in Mass Effect 1 and it will determine how certain things turn out so you need to pay attention to this aspect. I found trying for renegade a little harder as my instinct is to investigate and I kept getting paragon points when I didn't want them.

The graphics are pretty good for the most part, although in the beginning the use of severe close ups had me wondering, but over time I stopped being so aware of it. I was super impressed with the way they developed Shepard's facial features over the course of the game as he becomes more battle hardened and experienced.

This is a vast game and you can only touch on all its various aspects in a short review. There's no question you get your money's worth and you could be playing this game for a long time. It's packed full of exploration and characters to the point where you really need to keep track. There are also several classes you can assign to Shepard thus extending the value of replaying for a different experience.

The story picks up where it left off in Mass Effect and I would seriously advise playing these games in sequence to get the best from them as there are character and plot references that show up in the second. This is one of these games where you should do a little research first in order to know just the basics of how your decisions will affect the direction of the game. There is also extra free content and by signing up with Bioware's Cerberus Network at Bioware Social (Bioware Social no longer applies - see update below) you can download this as well as buy extra DLC. After this when you fire up the game you will be connected to the site, but you can turn this off in game if you don't want an internet connection running.

There are one or two bugs, not surprisingly, but all in all I highly recommend all games in the series.

UPDATE 2017: Buying Mass Effect DLC is a bit of a nightmare. You must first buy bioware points (see gog discussion which spans 2 years Gog) You need to buy Bioware points from Origin, which come in denominations of either 800 for $10 or 1600 for $20. The cost of the DLC will of course not correspond to Bioware point denominations thus deservedly adding to EA's negative reputation. (now available in Origin store without Bioware points - see Update below)
If you have a Steam copy, the easiest way to access the DLC store is to register your steam key with Origin. Apparently, the DLC will not show up on Origin unless you have the game in your library, but I can't vouch for the veracity of this. In order to import the DLC to Steam, you need to download and run the Bioware Social Network installers. (See Update below.) I told you it was a nightmare.
UPDATE Dec 2017: You can now buy the Mass Effect 3 and the Mass Effect 2 DLC Bundle on Origin without Bioware points. There is also new information about installing the DLC to a Steam copy Steam Community. The old Bioware Social is no more and the new social Bioware seems to be a mess for actually finding any useful information on it - at least, not without signing in, which I didn't try. You can find a list of both free content and paid DLC here. Clicking on the links will download the files. You may have to install them to your game manually. If you haven't bought them, they will just show up on the Cerberus network for sale.

Game Issues Experienced

These are a few of the bugs I encountered
  • Shepard gets stuck in places - play around with the movement keys till absolutely sure you can't get him unstuck before reloading.
  • It crashed in one or two places, but the game resumed okay. Often there is no discernible reason for these things.
  • You can't save during the dlc hammerhead segments and replay puts you back to choosing a team where you can't exit so you need to nail these missions.
  • If you Quicksave before conversations and then decide you want to change your actions, Quickload won't undo some of your decisions, so do a regular save instead.

Development Note

Mass Effect was created by the Canadian studio Bioware, which was acquired by Electronic Arts in the year 2000. Bioware had a reputation for producing top-notch role-playing games such as Baldur's Gate and Planetscape Torment, followed by Knights of the Old Republic.

Since its inception, Mass Effect was intended to be a trilogy and work began on the second game before the first was released. The focus of this game was not so much the main storyline, but the development of the side stories, which concentrated on the gathering of Shepard's team. It was also more action oriented than the first Mass Effect game.

Upon release, the game was well-received and garnered numerous awards. The fact that you could import your save from Mass Effect gave the impression of one continuous game where your choices had an effect on the overall story. Fans took this very seriously, many becoming immersed in the smallest details of the universal lore. The impact of such fan dedication would come back to bite Bioware in Mass Effect 3.

The history of Bioware is a long one, but suffice to say many of its original employees are gone and it is not the Bioware we used to know, which is evident in its latest game in the series, Mass Effect Andromeda.

NOTE: For the vast majority of PC games, many digital distributors will offer "Online" CD keys that can be added to your Steam Library
WHERE YOU CAN PURCHASE
MASS EFFECT 2
Other games in series:   Mass Effect
Mass Effect 3   Mass Effect Andromeda
GAME SPECS & REQS
  • Genre: Action, RPG, TPS
  • Developer(s): Bioware
  • Publisher(s): Electronic Arts
  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360. PS3
  • Release: Jan 2010
  • Mode(s): Single-player
  • Media: Download, Optical Disc
  • DLC Available: Yes
  • OS: WindowsXP SP3, Vista SP1, Windows7
  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 1.8Ghz or AMD equivalent
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Hard Drive: 15GB free space
  • Video: NVIDIA GeForce 6800, ATI Radeon X1600 Pro or greater
  • Sound: DirectX 9.0c compliant
  • Shader Model: 3
  • Input for PC: Keyboard & Mouse, Controller
  • DRM: Securom basic disc check, Steam, Origin
NOTE: Minimum requirements are those officially published at the time of the game's release.
AROUND THE WEB
Official Site - Origin
Achievements: wiki
Patches:
EA help
Fileplanet
Steam, Origin, Auto Update
Mods:
MOD DB
nexus
CAN I RUN IT?
To indicate what kind of performance you may get, compare your specs to the system this game was played on. You can also try  Can You Run It
screenshot
  • Version: Steam Download
  • OS: Windows XP SP3
  • CPU: Athlon 64x2 4200+ 2200MHz
  • Ram: 4GB
  • Disk Drive: DVD/CD
  • Video: ATI Radeon 4830
  • Shader Model: 4.1
  • DirectX: 9.0c
  • Resolution:  1650 x 1050
  • Input: Keyboard & Mouse
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