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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pinnacle of the Genre and Video Games in general....
I generally tend to avoid waxing poetical on reviewing video games as I often have a tendency to let my blubbering enthusiasm cloud what I'm trying to get across when writing a review.

That being said however, I can safely say that Mass Effect 2 has quite possibly one of the best, if not best production value and polish of any game I have played within the last...
Published on January 26, 2010 by Andrey Dravinski

versus
42 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A few steps forward, a few steps back.
If you liked Mass Effect 1, buy this game. If you LOVED Mass Effect 1 - maybe this isn't quite for you.

Mass Effect 1 was a great game but had it's flaws. Mass Effect 2 has taken all these flaws away, I do mean all of them, if you can think of a Mass Effect 1 flaw, it's not in 2. Sounds great right? Well not quite. You see it replaced all the original flaws...
Published on February 2, 2010 by FileNotFound


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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pinnacle of the Genre and Video Games in general...., January 26, 2010
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Mass Effect 2 Collector's Edition - PC (Video Game)
I generally tend to avoid waxing poetical on reviewing video games as I often have a tendency to let my blubbering enthusiasm cloud what I'm trying to get across when writing a review.

That being said however, I can safely say that Mass Effect 2 has quite possibly one of the best, if not best production value and polish of any game I have played within the last 10 years. Everything from graphics, sound and voice acting, all the way down to the actual writing and little tidbits that flesh out all sections of the world show that Bioware was exceedingly thoughtful and fairly meticulous with developing a futuristic world upon which we strap on the boots of everyone's favorite Space Marine: Commander Shepard.

Firstly, a bit of intro to the story, without going into Spoilers:

The game picks up 2 years after the first game finishes. The Citadel is recovering from the massive attack that it suffered by Saren at the end of the game. The Citadel Council, in an effort to quell mounting rumours about the Reaper threat, officially claim that the attack was only the work of the Geth and a Rogue Spectre. Meanwhile several Human colonies and outposts just start vanishing altogether. The send Shepard to investigate what they believe is Geth involvement behind the attacks, when something goes horribly, horribly wrong...

Story:

Fantastic on all fronts, particularly if you take advantage of the Mass Effect 1 character import feature. You can definitely see how Bioware took great pains to take many of the choices, even the not-so-obvious ones, and transfer them to the new game. Choices you made in the first game can show up here! Everything from your Love interest, to how you talked down (or talked down to) Conrad Verner, can transfer over and creates a wonderfully rich experience that really shows the results of your actions from the first game. Writing is also top-notch, the writers definitely take a darker tone here with this installment, creating a much more harrowing and "desperate" situation for Commander Shepard and his crew. Each of your crewmates are very well fleshed out and you should definitely take the time to do their story quests to really get to know them better, you'll definitely appreciate it more later in the game. :)

Controls:

Controls have been tweaked a bit, particularly with regards to squad commands and some combat interaction. Overall controls have definitely been tightened up, but there are a few niggles. Namely, you can't toggle crouch anymore, no idea why that necessitated a change (Game is not balanced for lean a la IW Modern Warfare 2?) but you can only crouch if you're taking cover "sticky-style" like the gears of war series. Sprinting also feels a bit more stiff and robotic, but otherwise that is my only real complaint with the combat system. The Tactical Command Screen (Think Pause from Dragon Age Origins) returns and is nicely laid out at the bottom of the screen. Multiple menus collapse within one another, and they really make efficient use of screen real estate. The UI definite got a major design boost here, going for a "less is more" approach that works quite well.

Combat:

Ah yesh, my favorite part. Everything across the board got a nice graphical facelift and many abilities were streamlined and a definite "beefier" feel pervades the majority of the abilities and weapons. The inclusion of the "heavy weapons" systems also adds a nice degree of combat fun that I felt was sorely lacking from the first game (Honestly, the logistics of taking down a Geth Armature with an assualt rifle? No thanks...) Everything, even the pistols and the SMGs feel like the do a great deal of damage thanks to the new flash and sound effects they emit. Enemies also now react with targeted damage, so a headshot will actually mean something now (even on a Krogan! Le Gasp!) and they'll actually react to different hits in different ways. Tactically, the game has also gotten more complex.

Gone are the days where you could spam singularity and Lift and casually full auto your assault rifle or pistol into the air like some perverted pigeon shoot. If an enemy is shielded, you can't use Biotics on it(!), if an enemy is heavily armored, you've got to wear down the armor before you can do special attacks on it(!). This definitely makes each fight more intense

They did bring one change that sort of retcons the lore a bit regarding the weapons from Mass Effect 1. This or course, has to do with the introduction of "Thermal Clips". These are basically ejectable heatsinks that do away with the old "Overheat" mechanism that the first game used, and in doing so, does away with the whole "infinite" ammo thing as well. Now you have to police thermal clips from downed enemies or around the levels; if you don't have enough thermal clips, you can't fire, even if you have ammo. Thankfully they are fairly plentiful to make it not an issue.

Update(02/03/10) - Having now beat the game already and I've had time to really digest the game fully, I've come to the conclusion that the thermal sink system could have been handled a bit better with regards to certain firefights.

There are several times where, playing as a class that isn't a soldier, I've run out of ammo with one weapon and have been forced to switch to another less effective weapon simply because I could not police enough heatsinks from the downed enemies (I'd say on average 1/3 enemies actually drop thermal clips), or, there'd simply be more enemies than I had bullets period. (This is particularly apparant with classes that are heavily geared towards using sniper rifles. Most of the sniper rifles only have 10-13 bullets to shoot, and in many encounters, you're fighting against waves and waves of enemies that frequently exceed that amount).

All in all, I'd wish the thermal clips were a bit more plentiful, or give us the opportunity to say, "take the risk" and keep firing the gun without heatsinks and have it have an increasing chance to overheat and go "boom" on us if we're really desperate. Small potatoes all in all, but it definitely came up enough times to warrant a mention.

Atmosphere, Extra Bits, and Fish! Oh My!

Bioware definitely made a concerted effort to really flesh out the world and worlds you travel in. The sidequest planets that were so dull in the first now have also received a complete overhaul and now contain detailed and engaging missions of varying lengths. Many tie back into the central storyline, so taking the time to do them is worth your while.

Update (2/3/10) - I have to say they really did a fantastic job fleshing out the worlds where you traipse about in, however they still feel a bit....compartmentalized...I suppose. For example, The wide open expanse of the Citadel for the first game is replaced with just a few shop districts and the human embassy and...that's it...while it did kind of add to the tedium in some parts during the first game, being able to run around and explore was a nice feature that I feel is a bit missing in this iteration of the series.

You can now customize your default armor with new colors/designs and even upgrade it too! They definitely did away with the old inventory and weapons system in almost its entirety. Now it focuses more on finding a few new models of weapons and gear and doing upgrades directly to the armor system itself.

You can upgrade specific sections of the armor similar to how many fantasy RPGS operate so this is definitely a welcome change here. Ammo upgrades that once were coming out of my ears late game in ME1, have more or less been relegated to skill upgrades rather than items and can be swapped in the Tactical Command screen with but a mouseclick.

Update(2/3/10) - This perhaps I am most torn on my feelings regarding these changes. On one hand, I really did hate the inventory system from the first game. Once you got spectre gear, everything else was literally vendor trash aside from a few omni tools, amps, and ammo mods. After each mission, I'd literally have to spend 10-20 minutes digging through my inventory omni-gelling/vendoring each item one at a time to clear things out.

Now however, there literally is NO inventory system to speak of. You get about 2-3 weapons in each category (heavies I've gotten up to 7), and "items" are more resigned to purchaseable upgrades, for your weapons "systems", the ships "systems", and your armor "systems" (though admittedly, there are a few scattered armor plates you can purchase from shops, far less than I would have liked.) I guess it's going from one extreme of having a cumbersome bloated inventory system to other that extreme of having virtually none at all is what makes it so jarring, I would have preferred a bit more variety in the weapons and more weapon stats to appeal to the tech junkie in me.

Other small things like taking care of your own fishtank in your private quarters (for the truly OCD at heart heh), to tracking how your teammates feel about you all contribute to creating a truly immersive experience that Bioware should be commended for.

Collector's Edition Goodies

So yeah, the collector edition, is it worth the extra 10 clams?

Overall I'd say yes. You get an extra special armor and gun, the making of DVD, a nice little artbook (don't open it for the love of god until you get much later into the game, it's spoilertastic), and the Dark Horse Comic that was released about Liara T'soni Part 1. Overall the items themselves are kinda meh, but for only [...] bucks more I consider it a good deal.

So! for the TL:DR folks at home, here's a summary:

Pros:

-Exceptionally Written, Bioware has raised the bar as far as what an engaging sci-fi storyline should be.
-Well developed characters. You actually WANT to find out more about them, rather than just doing it for another shiney...
-Stunning graphics. Considering they're using the exact same engine as the first, the improvents are quite impressive.
-Very smooth and streamlined inventory management and armor/weapon customization
-Deep engaging game, you'll easily get 30+ hours out of this game, especially on your first playthrough
-I love the connections they made between this game and the first. The character Import feature should be featured on any sequel typed RPG released in the future, it makes your world so much more convincing and enjoyable.

Cons:

-Collector's Edition is a bit meh in content. Yeah it's only [...] bucks more, but I was hoping I could get the soundtrack or some extra out-of-game item rather than more DLC, but that's just small potatoes in my book.
-Movement and combat interaction is a bit clunkier than the first mainly due to combining and streamlining several abilities. This is probably more a case of me trying to get used to the system after playing Mass Effect 1 so recently.
-DLC management, especially for launch was pretty haphazard. There were so many different codes and several of them didn't work for several hours (Cerberus Card, I'm looking at YOU).

Once again, a spectacular game in nearly every respect. Aside from tiny little niggling complaints, this is Video Game Perfection right here.

Update (2/3/10) - Once again, in spite of all the additional niggles I found issue with in playing the game to it's conclusion, I still think it's a masterpiece in nearly every respect. The tension the game exudes on you, particularly when you get closer to the final mission is something that I haven't had in a long time (even F.E.A.R didn't have this much overall tension just more of the BOO! shock value in it). Bioware should be commended for a quality product that they have put out, and I can't wait for Mass Effect 3.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars AN EXPERIENCE JUST SHORT OF A HOLODECK!, January 26, 2010
By 
NeuroSplicer (Freeside, in geosynchronous orbit) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Mass Effect 2 Collector's Edition - PC (Video Game)
Now THIS is what I call immersion!

In the past, Bioware has shown a tendency to surpass itself whenever developing a sequel (remember how much better Baldur's Gate II was compared to I - and the original Baldur's Gate was already excellent). Well, compared to this second installment, the original Mass Effect now seems like a typical space-RPG/Shooter.

Having played the original game will not only help you better insert yourself into Commander Shepard's boots (you can actually import your original character form the first game - choices and all) - but also appreciate the improvements more.

The story is darker and (without spoiling it) the choices harder to live with. Combat has been streamlined, with tactical decisions (using cover, taking the high ground) now being more important, without the game loosing its shooter character though.

Both the visuals and the sounds are exquisite. Not only are the graphics really impressive (and I am running WinXP so that is DirecX-9 mind you) and the sounds dramatic but the voice acting and dialogue integration should be taught in game-design seminars.

In this second installment there is no actual inventory to speak of (more on this later), loading times are shorter and better concealed (remember those endless elevator rides? Now forget about them), and accessing your special abilities menu has been simplified.
In a true BIOWARE tradition, the available companions all come with their own special abilities and personal stories to explore.

The selection of armor and guns has been reduced. There are about 15-20 guns to choose from and very limited loot. The guns I do not mind. Personally, I'd rather have a small number of well designed and fun to use guns at my disposal than a myriad of guns that in the end make no real difference (ahem...BORDERLANDS?).
Having said that, I missed the thrill of looting and upgrading my equipment (not to mention having a real inventory). I mean, that is a great part of the fun in any cRPG! I am not holding my breath but maybe one of the upcoming DLCs could take care of that?
And if I am to open the improvements-request file, how about speeding up those minigames in the next patch?

Finally, you also get a personal apartment aboard Normandy (an excellent idea introduced in FALLOUT-3) which you can equip with various ornaments and personal items (from fish for your aquarium to a...space-hamster - I call mine Boo).

As for the DRM scheme used, the game does contain SecuROM but (similar to DRAGON AGE and FALLOUT-3) it only uses a disk-check. MASS EFFECT 2 neither requires any online activation nor does it limit the numbers of its installations. It is not the best solution possible but it is a compromise I can live with. If you still find this objectionable, you can now make an informed decision.

This COLLECTOR's EDITION includes a Mass Effect Redemption No.1 comic book, an exclusive in-game weapon and armor, a Cerberus Network card granting access to bonus content, an Art-Book and a DVD on the behind-the-scenes/making-of the game. Is it worth the extra charge? Well, that is a personal choice I guess.

All in all, I found MASS EFFECT II to be a beautiful RolePlaying Movie of a game, an immersive cinematic-action shooter with limited loot and more story than equipment choices. In other words, MASS EFFECT 2 may not be a pure cRPG or a cRPS experience (Dragon Age: Origins and Fallout 3 still rule those segments) but nevertheless it is an experience well worth its admission price.

Go for the light-sensors Boo! Go for the light-sensors!!
(no, I am not explaining that...)

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must get title!, January 30, 2010
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Mass Effect 2 Collector's Edition - PC (Video Game)
Although I bought the game from Gamestop rather than Amazon because I wanted the Terminus armor/Black Storm gun, I felt compelled to write a review on Amazon, as I usually do my online shopping here.

This game is absolutely incredible! The story sucks you in like a black hole, and hours can pass by without you noticing it!

The gameplay in ME2 is FAR superior to the original game, with a greater emphasis on real time combat, but without sacrificing the great story elements that made the original a classic.

Graphics are noticeably improved as well, with more detailed textures and better lighting and shadow effects.

The only complaints I have are minor, such as not being able to toggle your helmet, and the game not having AA as an option..

Overall though, this game is absolutely incredible and I highly recommend it..
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fate of the Galaxy Depends on You..., February 9, 2010
By 
D. Blizzard (New York City, NY, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Mass Effect 2 Collector's Edition - PC (Video Game)
Mass Effect 2 (ME2) takes place roughly two years following the original. Fans of the first Mass Effect (ME1) enjoyed the game because the combat was faster than a standard RPG and the story was very deep. Mass Effect 2 continues this, but goes deeper into the shooter genre than the first.

Differences ME1 and ME2: There are several differences between the two games. Experience points in ME2 work a little differently than in the first game. In ME2, you are not awarded points through taking out enemies or cracking codes. Instead, you get them at the end of every mission, this means the developers choose when you get to level up and how often. So, if you have a choice between running into combat and sneaking around, there is no real benefit, in terms of experience, with either option. Skill points are also different. In the original Mass Effect, each character has several skills they can level up all the way to ten. The higher the level, the more effective the skill. In ME2, there are only four or so skills each with four different levels. There is also greater differentiation between the various classes, so the skills can be vastly different. There is also an ammo system in ME2. In ME1, as you discharged your weapons, they would heat up requiring a cooldown period to avoid overheating. In this game, there are thermal clips which are used in every weapon with the exception of heavy weapons which use power cells. The clips are universal, but the number each weapon has varies. The sniper rifle has maybe ten, whereas a submachine gun has 700. As you pick up clips after battle, they are added to all weapons. So, if you pick one up, it adds ammo to all guns. The inventory system is also completely gone. This means you cannot heal using items during combat and the armor you choose is based largely on appearance since there are about six or so pieces and none increase your stats that much. You gain more substantial stat increases through research, purchasing schematics, or scanning items while on a mission. Also, most planet-side quests from the original game are gone as are their generic maps. In its place are N7 missions that occur in unique locations on various planets. Paragon and renegade choices still remain, but there are interrupts based on these that you can trigger during a conversation. For instance, if an NPC you are talking to is injured, you press a button at the right time to heal him while you are talking. Or, if you come across a long-winded enemy, you an shoot a gas pipe in front of them, which is a renegade action, to get rid of them and start combat.

Story: Mass Effect 2 takes place directly following the original game. If you played the first game, your saved game is imported into this one. Depending on your level from the first, you may start with some bonuses and actions you took in the first game carry over. If you don't remember what you did in the first game, any time an event based on actions in ME1 occurs, you are reminded of what you did. This leads to some interesting story events and will, obviously, alter how many events in the game play out. Bioware is known for its in-depth storytelling and ME2 is no exception. This is a highly cinematic game, more so than the first, and the story is largely non-linear once you get past the initial first few missions. The individual squad mates also have their own stories to add more depth to the characters. Doing these specific missions will affect gameplay in more ways than one.

Gameplay: This game follows the hybrid RPG/shooter dynamic the first game had. People who played the original game and thought the RPG mechanic was weak may be disappointed with ME2 as it slants more towards the shooter genre than RPG. The characters go from area to area, taking cover behind conveniently placed boxes and pillars. You then try and wipe out the enemy with all your skills and weapons. You control Shepard the entire time, directing him in and out of combat. However, you do not have any control over the squad members aside from ordering them where to go or overriding the AI and manually choosing which skills or weapons they can use. You also don't control their armor, they play the entire game with what they have. As mentioned earlier, you perform research projects to unlock upgrades, these include weapon, armor, Normandy, and prototype upgrades. The majority of shield and health increases come from these projects as few skills substantially increase them passively and armor is largely pointless. The other upgrades are vital as well. The Normandy upgrades aren't apparent, except those related to fuel, surgery, and probes, but have a major impact during the final mission. The story is broken up into major primary missions (dossiers) and secondary missions (N7 and minor quests). You must complete all of these missions to level up and have an easier time beating the game. Expect to change your play style in ME2 from ME1. In combat, tactics you used in the first game may not work in this game. For instance, in the first game, I got every piece of armor I could and equipped anything that could increase my shields, I also increased skills that raised my shields before going for any others. This meant my shields rarely went down and I could use my sniper rifle wihout worrying about them collapsing before I got off a shot. As such, my squad mates provided cover fire while I took enemies out and I rarely had to use my normal rifle. In this game, armor is largely cosmetic and few skills, which I didn't have, increase shields passively. This means I usually got gunned down before I could get off more than one shot from a sniper rifle. I opted for a submachine gun and relied on the incinerate skill far more frequently, especially when I got it to level four and used blast incinerate.

Technical: Mass Effect 2 uses the Unreal Engine 3.5 and looks good, better than the original Mass Effect. However, the game does not have anti aliasing controls built in as of this review. This means the game will be filled with jagged edges which stand out in a game known for its clean lines and futuristic environments. The only way to enable this is through your graphics card drivers directly. Also, there are graphical bugs like popping and flickering textures and the camera focus. If you are able to get anti aliasing turned on and raise the graphical settings as high as they can go, ME2 is very beautiful. The game does have some other minor bugs but all are not showstoppers. Like Dragon Age: Origins, this game interfaces with the Bioware Social website and uploads data from time to time. However, that site is also filled with bugs and other technical issues so none of it is viewable. For now, any achivements you earn are only viewed by you though the game. The game has a disc checker for DRM but you also connect to the Cerberus Network using a key found within the game. This key can only be used once and if you sell your game, know that the purchaser will need to spend $15 or so to get it. The Cerberus Network allows for news and DLC, which Bioware says is on its way.

Misc.: This game is more of a shooter than an RPG, but this may not be much of a bad thing. The shooter aspect makes the game even more fun, with the "go here and collect this" RPG filler removed. This, to some, can be a negative. Most RPG's have a large amount of fine tuning one can do with the characters and the world. Bioware sacrificed many of those actions in favor of a more streamlined approach. There is still the tedious nature of planet scanning. In order to do research, you much collect resourses found on planets. The problem with this is there are well over 100 planets in the game, each rendered beautifully, filled with resources. In fact, you can get so many resources, that you will have far more than what you can spend them on. Any planet can be mined, which sort of breaks the whole scanning process. Most of the resources you gather are divided into four elements, three of which are heavy. You can find these on even Jovian planets, colonized worlds, and planets bought by mining companies. None of those worlds should be minable, gas giants may have metals but not in large quantities and they are often deep within a planet, colonies don't want a ship from a super-secret organization known for cruelty and ruthlessness firing probes at the planet, and mining companies don't want others leeching off them. This means mining should be limited to non-gas worlds unsuitable for large-scale mining or colonization. Once you get enough materials for all the projects, you can essentially ignore the mining mini game. Overall, I had a blast with Mass Effect 2. It's darker than the original and many of the RPG elements I enjoyed, like the level-up mechanic, are gone, but the game still shines like the first Mass Effect and can better appeal to a wide audience. For me, it was 40 hours well spent.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Great Game- Even if you are new to Mass Effect, February 17, 2010
By 
J. Belmont (Lincoln, NE USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Mass Effect 2 Collector's Edition - PC (Video Game)
Mass Effect 2 is one of the best games I have ever played! First, this is a great game in general, but especially for anyone who is a fan of RPG's, SciFi, or shooter games. This game uses an over the shoulder, 3rd person aiming style similar to the Uncharted games for Playstation or Gears of War for XBox. Besides using guns, each character is also able to use various special powers that give them a more unique fighting and support style.

About the game: I am new to the Mass Effect universe with this game, yet I felt right at home in Mass Effect 2, picking up knowledge of the past game and characters through dialogue. The story for this game is interesting with Shephard building an expert team to take on the Collectors- a race of advanced aliens that is, for some unknown reason, kidnapping whole human colonies. Along the way, there are numerous side quests and loyalty quests that develop the story and give the player more information about the characters and makes you feel as if there really is stuff going on in the galaxy besides the main quest.

As for game play, the controls are not difficult to master and allow for a limited or advanced amount of tactical control of your team. I tend to let my two NPC allies act on their own and they are very effective at performing manuevers that allow me to fight effectively still. There is still the ability to control more advanced techniques for others who like to be more involved.

Otherwise, the graphics are among the best I have seen, with the cinematics about the same as the actual game play. The characters and story are unique and interesting with complex lives and back stories. The technology and scientific concepts are very interesting. The music is good in my opinion. Finally, the reason that I think I give this game such a high rating is that everywhere in this game are interesting little events and people that are funny or interesting or beautiful artistically that only enhance the enjoyability of this game. They make it seem as if there really is life outside that of the main character. Also, they show the great attention to detail that the developers of this game put into every aspect of this game.

This game is one of the best and most fun games I have ever played and is definitely a must have game.
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42 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A few steps forward, a few steps back., February 2, 2010
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Mass Effect 2 Collector's Edition - PC (Video Game)
If you liked Mass Effect 1, buy this game. If you LOVED Mass Effect 1 - maybe this isn't quite for you.

Mass Effect 1 was a great game but had it's flaws. Mass Effect 2 has taken all these flaws away, I do mean all of them, if you can think of a Mass Effect 1 flaw, it's not in 2. Sounds great right? Well not quite. You see it replaced all the original flaws with different flaws.

So lets go over the flaws in Mass Effect 1 in order of annoyance, at least to me.

Mako driving sections:

Mass Effect 1 driving sections were at times really annoying due to the touchy Mako controls and the jagged hard to navigate terrain. It was often times a painful and frustrating experience - but it had it's moments. You have to admit driving into a Geth base firing your cannon at the snipers, mowing down the geth infantry with the machine gun and failing that simply running them over was fun. You cannot deny that you had some good times with the Mako. Had the terrain been easier to navigate, had the Mako been upgradable and had the planets been a little more interesting this would have been a great part of the game.

Instead of doing the above Mass Effect 2 has no Mako. This is not an improvement, because as bad as the Mako was it was not as bad as the new Mineral Scanner. You see what you do with the mineral scanner is you hover it over a 3D representation of the planet while watching a bar graph showing mineral content, when it spikes, you fire a probe. Each probe seems to be able to retrieve no more than 2,000 of any mineral. You need 25,000 of Platinum for many upgrades, it's not a common find. At less than half way through the game I have used at least 200,000 Platinum. It takes at least 15 minutes of flying around and mining planet after planet, refueling and restocking on drones to mine 25k of any mineral. If you though the Mako was boring, you better get something to bite down on because this is going to be painful. Expect to spend at least 4 hours of the '40 hours' of game play staring at the mineral scanner.

Replacing the Mako with the Mineral Scanner was not an improvement.

Inventory System & Itemization:

Mass Effect 1 had a lot of weapons, armor, weapon mods. In fact it had so many items that the inventory which was limited to 150 items became a major annoyance near the end of the game. The massive quantity or armor and weapons did need to be cut down, especially considering that many of then weapons and armor in the later part of the game were useless once you acquired the Specter equivalents. Yes the item system and inventory needed to be streamlined.

Mass Effect 2 did away with it. You now have no inventory. I am half way though the game I have a total of 3 assault rifles, 3 sniper rifles, 1 shotgun and 2 pistols I can use. I have a selection of 3 armors and only thanks to the collectors edition and pre-order code. Your team mates cannot wear new armor except when gaining loyalty. In short your team will look pretty much the same from start to finish. This may not bother you, it annoys me. Jack is walking around practically naked, even in combat missions where you're in hazardous environments. So if you liked customizing your team in expensive armors and weapons - forget it. Not happening. You can change the weapons your team uses but once again, the selection is very very limited and only available at Normandy or at the few Weapon Lockers scattered throughout the game. If you've played Dead Space, the itemization system will seem very similar.

Edit: Having now finished the game, the lack of itemization is a major downer.
There is a total of 5 assault rifles, one of which being a collectors only item.
Total of 6 heavy weapons, one of which is a preorder item.
Total of 2 pistols.
Total of 3 shotguns.
Total of 4 sniper rifles, one of which is a preorder item.
Total of 2 SMGs.

Worse yet you will be forced to be selective about which weapons you attain, at a certain point you will be given the option of getting one of 3 weapons.

The Armor selection is even worse, you do get upgrades to your armor but all in all it will look very much the same from start to finish.

Ammo & Heat:

Mass Effect 1 had infinite ammo. You never ran out. Instead your guns overheated and you had to wait for them to cool down or switch. This was great in that you never had to worry about ammo. But annoying in that it often slowed combat down as you were sitting behind cover waiting for your sniper rifle to cool down.

Now you have ammo in the form of "universal heat clips" which would be fine except the heat clips are hardly universal, you can carry a very limited number of them and worse yet they are somewhat rare. This means that during every combat encounter you will run out of ammo for at least one of your guns. Yes, at lest one of your guns, you see these universal clips can't be switched from gun to gun, so you can run out of clips for your sniper rifle but still have plenty for the assault rifle - even though they're universal. You will spend at several seconds after every encounter looking around the area to ensure that you picked up all possible heat clips. It's annoying, it disrupts the flow of the game and it's by no means and improvement over the previous heat system.

Level Design & Feel:

Mass Effect 1 had large levels that you spent a good portion of the time being lost in or backtracking. Sure it was annoying but it made the world feel big, you could run around the Citadel for an hour doing things. Mass Effect 2 citadel can be fully explored in around 5 minutes. There is no backtracking and missions will simply end when objectives are met and you'll be transported back to Normandy. The world feels tiny and is served to you in bite sized pieces. The resulting game feels fragmented and rushed as most missions can be competed in well under 30 minutes.

Most of the depth and detail of Mass Effect 1 has been eliminated. Remember doing side quests to gain access to specific manufacturer licenses to get item upgrades? Remember the multi stage side quests? Remember the main quest forcing you to make difficult decisions on whom to leave behind? Well you best forget all that because none of that is here. Your actions are black and white and you will never need to think hard about your choices. Maybe your choices in Mass Effect 2 will be important in 3, but considering the little effect that Mass Effect 1 had on 2 I very much doubt it. Most of the carry over of the Mass Effect 1 decisions to Mass Effect 2 involve running into old NPC and seeing where they ended up. The NPCs you spared or saved in Mass Effect one at times reward you with tiny 40xp mini quests but other than that serve no value.

Companions:

Your companions have a little more personality to them then in Mass Effect 1, their voice acting and dialogue are better. Yet they all behave very similarly. You will know that you have reached the midpoint of the game because suddenly all your companions will wish to speak to you and ask you to do their very own personal bite sized side quest. After this side quest they'll be your new best friend, even your former team mates like Garrius will suddenly become "Loyal" as if he was not loyal before. The sudden transition from not loyal to loyal feels extremely artificial and forced. Mass Effect 1 simply did it better.

Quests:

There are certainly fewer side quests and they are for the most part far shorter. There are no more multi stage side quests and the sidequests that you do seemingly have very little impact on the game and do not force you to make any choices like they did in Mass Effect 1. It's more of the land, kill everyone, go back to Normandy variety. Sure it's faster but in the end it gets very repetitive due to the fact that your team simply doesn't seem to change due to the lack of variety of weapons, armor and skills.

Plot & Ending:

The plot and ending of Mass Effect 2 are terrible. I do not know why nobody else seems to be addressing this, maybe nobody noticed because the companions are far more interesting than the main story. Yet as fascinating as your companions are, it's odd that none of them notice how dull their main quest is. There is no villain, there is no struggle, there is no confrontation, there is no grand finale, and there is no climax beyond "the suicide mission". Your victory will feel hollow no matter what you do, no matter who dies or who survives. You will not defeat anyone specific like you did in Mass Effect 1. Your actions throughout the game and your final choices seem far less vital never mind that the final mission is far shorter and less impressive than just about any major stage of Mass Effect 1. The confrontation with Saren in Mass Effect 1 was possibly one of the best with any RPG villain and your ability to actually avoid fighting him was a very unique option. No such things here, if it moves, shoot it.

Conclusion:

This is still a very good game, but it's not better than Mass Effect 1, at least not in my opinion. In fact I feel that it's a far more shallow less involving and far less replayable game than Mass Effect 1. The Mass Effect 2 companions may be better but the rest of the world is much more lifeless and the rest of the characters that do not join you are far less memorable than those in Mass Effect 1. So while I certainly would suggest anyone who played Mass Effect 1 to buy 2, don't expect it to be an upgrade or more of the same. You may like it more, you may like it less. It all depends on what you are looking for.

Having finished the game I would urge anyone to wait for the GOTY edition or whatever they will release in a year or so that will include DLCs, more weapons or missions - anything to add depth to this ankle deep kiddie pool of an RPG.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mass Effect 2: The Apex of Gaming, January 31, 2010
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Mass Effect 2 Collector's Edition - PC (Video Game)
If you are thinking about purchasing this game I absolutely recommend it! Don't even think twice, you will NOT regret it! The story is beyond amazing (and even more so if you played the first installment of the series since you can import your Mass Effect 1 character and almost all of the choices you made in the first game carry over!!), the game play is epic and the graphics are beyond description. This game is perfect. I purchased the collectors edition and what was included in the package is worth the price. The game comes in a beautifully designed tin case and you get a bunch of nice goodies!

This game is a must own for any PC gamer!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GOTY in January, February 2, 2010
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Mass Effect 2 Collector's Edition - PC (Video Game)
Just briefly, Amazon.com did a great job with my pre-order. I placed my order for the CE edition a week or so before the release date. I received the package at noon of the date of release, and received the DLC codes a few days after.

This is an amazing game that has set new standards for the whole industry, and will be remembered as one of the best games for this generation of console platforms. I would compare it to the likes of Fallout 2, Baldur's Gate 2, Final Fantasy 7 in their prominence in gaming history, and I have no doubt that ME2 has elevated/will elevate the Mass Effect franchise into the crown jewel for Bioware's empire of Western RPGs.

Speaking of RPGs, this game is genre redefining, and perhaps, some would argue genre breaking. It got rid of the (cumbersome) inventory system that was present in ME1, and most associate with RPG games. It also got rid of experience gain from killing enemy, and only awards experience for completing quests. To me at least, I felt this daring move was completely fitting for the goal that Bioware set out for the Mass Effect from the start, which was to make an RPG/shooter hybrid. By ridding the "traditional RPG elements" such as inventory management, or stat crunching, the game instead focuses on extremely well implemented and fun third person shooter combat, that is seemingly straight up shooter action oriented, but, in my opinion, is still well grounded in RPG principles such as certain skills/weapons being more effective against certain defenses, and has enough nuances and depths to keep most RPG fans happy. I'm inclined to think this blurring of the line between RPGs and shooters that we saw not only in Mass Effect, but also in Fallout 3, Bioshock, is a sign for the future of both genres.

The overall quality and work that went into this game is just amazing, and it oozes with style in every line of dialogue, every cutscene, and even in mundane details like ordering drinks. The voice acting and writing are just amazing, and more or less previously unseen in video games.

Really, if you like games, there is no excuse not to play ME 2.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved It!, February 18, 2010
By 
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Mass Effect 2 Collector's Edition - PC (Video Game)
Often a sequel is lacking in imagination and just re-hashes the same old stuff... Mass Effect 2 was a nice surprise. Although I thought it
was a little too difficult for an "old" gamer like myself, I still managed to play through to the end and enjoyed the game immensely. The
story line was fresh and the graphics were out of this world! Humans and aliens both looked so life like you could truly immerse yourself
into the game. The video sequences were nicely done and of course the music was top notch. I didn't notice any bugs in the game and this
is truly refreshing for an "out of the box" game. Don't forget that the Mass Effect series of games is more of a shooter type game with
RPG elements. I think I said in my review of the original that if you are looking for just an RPG you will be disappointed and if you are
looking for just a shooter you will be disappointed. If you play ME2 with an open mind and immerse yourself in the amazing dialogue with
your crew I think you will be pleased with the game. Oh, and for the most part, the voice acting was superb!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mass Effect 2, February 18, 2010
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Mass Effect 2 Collector's Edition - PC (Video Game)
Mass effect 2 has a great start with action right out of the gate. The story takes you across the universe to places only hinted at in the original. Know you can explore these great worlds with help from many new races and old friends. With mass effect 2 you can import your character from the first game. This allows your character to look the same and have consequences for all your decisions. Hopefully these all lead up to big things in the last installment of the game when mass effect 3 comes out. I loved the game, all the new improvements to combat and weapons. As well as the story. The problems i had were i thought the game was shorter then i hoped it would be. As well as the mining is very tedious. Other then that this game is one of those special games that are fun to play over and over again.
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Mass Effect 2 Collector's Edition - PC
Mass Effect 2 Collector's Edition - PC by Electronic Arts (Windows Vista / XP)
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