on July 5, 2012
Download was easy for me, but then I always keep my software up to date, so YMMV. Only real pain is the the process of DLC content and weapons through Bioware's own website that is not the best. Does this in ANY way reflect on gameplay? I've already forgotten about it. This game is the best in the series bar none for sheer story power, still great looking visuals (as of 2012) without the need for an obscenely high end machine, and a streamlined interface vs ME1 that mostly makes the game far more enjoyable. Part of me misses the ME1 inventory, but not so much that I care. Combat is faster, and far more intense. The music is up there with the best you will find, hands down. The characters inspire actual feelings from you and if your bad choices get them killed (it can and will happen if you don't make the right calls) you should and will likely feel bad about it. Old friends are back, new characters are revealed; particularly some who will play prominently in the final chapter. A great many more details will come to light on the enemy you face and what is to come. I won't say any more than you will not be disappointed. I picked this one up on sale, but it's a great deal at about any price you find it for.
on April 30, 2012
This one of the most popular space related RPG's on the market with an epic story being told while you play, from the intro of the game, your instantly glued to your seat, you have to play it through.
I got lucky with the collectors edition being on sale for one week under $9 (finally got the better of EA), I was hoping for an ultimate edition or game of the year, but this will do nicely.
Watching and waiting for Amazon to pull another fast one with ME3 Collectors Edition.
I highly recommend buying this game, the story is immersive, characters are enjoyable, your choices will effect the outcome of certain characters and some of the third game. Don't just jump straight to the third game, you wouldn't just read the last third of a book.
on June 23, 2012
I normally do not include problems with distribution and installation with a product review, but this needs attention. The download from amazon was flawless, I had my problems while installing the game.
For those of you trying to install on Windows 7 64 bit, make sure you have Adobe Air installed, the latest divers for your graphics card and nvidia physx up to date.
Ensure that you are restarting your computer before the installation of ME2.
I spent 4 hours installing this game (excluding download). So far, game play is as good as ME1. I'll update my score later if the game score needs adjusting.
on September 25, 2014
Mass Effect 2 is just a great game, with very few draw-backs. If you haven't played the first Mass Effect game, go play it! It is not required to understand or become invested in Mass Effect 2, but it will help in the course of the game (like when one character says, "Just like old times" - referring to the first game). The game plays out like a film, with intense combat and emotional drama. Sometimes the drama and choices feel scripted, but mostly the game is engrossing and intense.
The game begins with Commander Shepard scouring the Terminus Systems for any remnants of Saren Arterius' Geth allies (this is a reference to the first game). Something goes catastrophically wrong, though, as a surprise attack from a dormant-but-suddenly-active enemy results in an abrupt mission abort. Saying more spoils the adventure, because exactly who this enemy is (and their motivations) is important to the suspense of the first act. Presumed dead by the Alliance, Shepard is given backing by the human-first extremist group Cerberus to investigate a strange phenomenon: whole Alliance colonies are simply disappearing.
Investigating the disappearing colonies and the strange new enemy are the primary missions of the game that stretch from beginning to end; it's the core narrative that makes the game work. Within that framework, you as Shepard put together a combat team of the galaxy's most elite operatives - literally a sort of intergalactic "Dirty Dozen." Assembling the team follows a pattern: receive dossiers from the head of Cerberus, known only as The Illusive Man. Go to the planet specified and complete a mission to persuade the operative to join your team. After a while, you will be presented with a "loyalty mission" for that operative. Complete it, and the operative is now a loyal member of your team (loyalty is important, as you'll see). Rinse and repeat for each member of the team you choose to pick up (with the DLC, there are indeed 12 total team members). Certain ones are required for the final mission, but not all of them are.
The final mission is a masterpiece of programming and pacing. You'll want as many squad-mates as possible. Who is loyal and who isn't is a crucial factor in determining who lives or dies. Choosing the wrong squad-mates for support duty or support missions as Shepard and 2 others fight the (very creepy) final boss can result in more deaths. Decision making and laying the groundwork (ie loyalty) are crucial. Choices made throughout the game were never more consequential.
Bioware did a good job making each character have unique back-story (though some characters are much better written than others). The recruitment and loyalty missions all have a unique feel to them, even if some level designs might be re-used on occasion. One mission happens on a jungle planet surrounded by mentally ill survivors of a ship crash (with ship debris scattered everywhere). Another involves fighting / shooting your way up a pair of skyscrapers in pursuit of an elusive assassin. The variety of environments is incredible. Tuchanka, Ilium and Omega are all fantastic places (even if, like me, you sometimes wish there was just a little bit more to explore, like in the first game). And, squad members who survived the first game will make appearances, though maybe not in the way you expect!
The squad-based combat is back from the first Mass Effect. Squad AI is still not that good, unfortunately. If you don't give your squad-mates orders, expect them to go down fairly quickly. Character movement is more fluid and enemy AI is quite good. Like in the first game, sprinting only lasts for short distances. Added is the ability to leap over low cover (very useful, but tricky if you leap when you don't want to).
Weapon choice is greatly slimmed and modding is gone. Now you just have weapons to choose, and improvements you can "research", but the different ammunitions, cool-downs etc from the first game? All gone (some ammo abilities are now assigned to specific squad-mates). Same for the armor. The first Mass Effect had dozens of different armors you could equip and customize. There are a few different armors in Mass Effect 2, but unless you spec the default N7 armor, forget about customizing. So on the equipment side, Mass Effect 2 disappoints. The addition of Heavy Weapons is welcome, though (including an awesome flame-thrower that just crushes krogan enemies!).
The graphics still look great for a 2010 game. The music soundtrack is awesome. There are some new minigames, like hacking wall safes and datapads. Both are fairly easy and don't slow down game-play that much. Scanning planets for resources, quickly devolves into a chore; you have to do it, though, to research improvements for your ship, guns, and armor. Planetary exploration via the Mako Rover is gone, which was disappointing to me (even with the frustrating controls and behavior). There are a LOT of side-missions, which are great if you just want to tool around the galaxy looking for stuff to do. And, yes, squad-mate romance is back. An added bonus are some fantastic actors to voice important characters, including Martin Sheen as The Illusive Man (yes, THAT Martin Sheen!), Yvonne Strahovski as Cerberus officer Miranda Lawson (from the TV show Chuck), and Carrie-Ann Moss as Omega gangster / ruler Aria T'Loak (Trinity from The Matrix).
While the first Mass Effect was a great RPG, Mass Effect 2 focuses more on the story at the expense of customization. It's like watching a favorite movie play out, except you are IN the movie, making the choices. A great story-based and combat-based RPG with high replayability. One of my all time favorites!
A note about DLC:
The Digital Deluxe Edition includes the Cerberus Network Add-on. The Cerberus Network provides access to the following DLC:
Zaeed - The Price of Revenge
Normandy Crash Site
Cerberus Arc Projector
Cerberus Weapons and Armor
Of the DLC, there are a variety of weapons and appearance packs. The essential story-driven DLC that add to the Mass Effect 2 experience are:
Zaeed - The Price of Revenge (you get a new squad-mate, Zaeed Massani + his loyalty mission)
Kasumi - Stolen Memory (new squad-mate, Kasumi Goto + her loyalty mission)
Lair of the Shadow Broker (4-6 hours of additional gameplay in new locations including a fantastic shoot-out on the exterior hull of a spaceship)
Arrival (1-2 hours of additional gameplay; sets the stage for Mass Effect 3)