Customer Review

139 of 168 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More your little brother's FPS than dad's RPG, February 12, 2010
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Mass Effect 2 - PC (DVD-ROM)
I tripped across the original Mass Effect at EA's download site recently, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Using basically the same engine and game mechanics as KOTOR I and II, it plays pretty much like the third installment of that franchise, minus the licensing fees. I downloaded the deluxe edition of Mass Effect II, ready to continue the saga of Commander Shepard.

The Good:
- You pick up where you left off in ME. You can import your character model, and the decisions he/she made, though no experience or skills transfer.

- The writing and voice acting are excellent.

- The universe of the original ME is still here, but expanded and enriched.

- Where you aim is where you hit.

- Graphics have been kicked up. Models are higher poly count, and textures are more detailed.

- You can customize your cabin now, as well as your clothing and armor color. It isn't essential to the plot, but it adds more personality to the game. Remember to feed the fish.

- Bypass and hacking mini-games are a little more contextual, and less forced than the "circular frogger" mini-game of ME.

The Bad:
- This is a different game engine than ME, and as others have said, many of the RPG elements have been stripped down. There are fewer skills, with fewer steps. Ammo types are now a skill, and after you've used one skill, you have to wait for the recharge time to use any other. So if you decide to switch ammo types in a fight, find a place to hide before you can use AI hack.

- Levels are smaller, and linear now. There is little or no 3rd person exploring. You will proceed from one "shoot house" (with liberally distributed cover, a few exploding barrels, and a few breakable boxes) to the next. Lather, rinse, repeat.

- Squad mate AI has taken a step back from ME. I've got to babysit my team mates in ME2, while in the original ME, they usually provided effective support without me having to micromanage their actions.

- Inventory is simplified, and abstract. Upgrades now affect everyone in the group, weapons choices are paired down (though you can still pick different weapons for each team mate), and figuring out the difference between different weapons is reduced to comparing text descriptions (or going to the wiki). I liked the stat comparison feature in ME better.

- Your squad gains back health during combat, as well as barriers (shields), so combat becomes a rate game. Do damage at a faster rate than you take it. ME's weapon mechanics were a refreshing change, forcing you to manage heat buildup with tactics and modifications, sadly lost with ME2's regression to ammo clip mechanics.

- Looting lockers/crates is largely gone, along with trying to find a set of MercVIII armor that fits a Quarian. I miss customizing weapons/armor/ammo/upgrades for each character.

- Combat is FPS standard now, with a few glitches. Cover is essential, but I've occasionally gotten "hung up" and unable to shoot from cover. Hopping over low barriers is possible, but only using the same key used for taking cover. So you have to take cover before you can hop over it. Combat is much more frantic in ME2, and getting lost in the button-mashing can be frustrating. Save often.

- The map function is largely absent now. Maybe this was to preserve the surprise of the next shoot house, but it makes figuring out where you're going (or remembering where you've been) a pain.

- Some of the remaining RPG elements are counter-intuitive, or just random. I'm playing as a Paragon (good guy), which apparently includes jacking people up to intimidate them, and trading my good name for shopping discounts. Who knew Japandering was virtuous? I'm still trying to figure out how I garnered the few Renegade (bad guy) points I've gotten. I think the writers designated some of these points with a dart board.

- Mining resources in ME2 is a mind-trap for anal-retentives like me. Without knowing how much of each resource I'll need to allow for researching upgrades, it's easy to get stuck in the mind-numbing rut of "must...scan...last...planet...for...Palladium." Give me back the keys to the Mako, please. At least I could shoot things with it.

Bottom line:
ME2 is still fun, but it atrophies a lot of the RPG stuff I found fun in ME, and pumps up the FPS stuff (with cookie-cutter FPS mechanics) I didn't think needed pumping up.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 17, 2010 9:10:34 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 18, 2010 2:11:22 PM PST
Vappour says:
Remember how great it was to loot a suit of Colossal medium or heavy armor from a crate after a battle? And where's the Omni Gel?

Posted on Feb 26, 2010 10:55:42 AM PST
Really great review . . . one of the best I've read.

Makes me hesitate, perhaps I'll buy Mass Effect first, and then if I really like it I'll by 2.

Isn't it odd how publishers just can't leave well enough alone. They did the same thing in FEAR, which even though it was absolutely linear, it had a great story line and I loved it, but FEAR Perseus Mandate, and extraction point just got worse and worse.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2010 1:01:53 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 3, 2010 3:21:05 PM PST
Vappour says:
Whatever the reason, it is a very good idea to play ME1 before ME2. If you start with ME2, many of the important basic decisions about your character and what he did in ME1 are already made for you (whether you agree with them or not). In short, ME2, whatever its shortcomings, is much better with an imported character (you have a far better idea about the "universe" in which you're operating.) You also get a chance to compare stories and see how much the ME2 "RPG-lite" style differs from ME1's more traditional RPG style. Keep in mind that both games involve making decisions/choices and then living with the consequences. These choices and many of the NPC's involved are all (mostly) brought forward from ME1 into ME2 and make ME2 a much better game.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 9, 2010 8:23:36 AM PST
Jack Dashing says:
YOU: - Squad mate AI has taken a step back from ME. I've got to babysit my team mates in ME2, while in the original ME, they usually provided effective support without me having to micromanage their actions.

I disagree with the statement above COMPLETELY. i had to babysit them in ME 1...in ME 2 they're actually SMART and have had a character in battle die because of stupidity 3 times in the ENTIRE game. and do fine on their own. though, i still like absolute control...but i find my squad easier to work with this time around. maybe you need the right mix in your squad also.

YOU: and getting lost in the button-mashing can be frustrating. Save often.

^ I experienced no need to buttom mash in this game. it was all rather tactful imo. I played a vanguard. i would pull enemies towards me, have Thane use his area effect explosion attack while group of pulled enemies came flying toward me. and Tali for AI hacking and drone summoning. When i could add an aditional skill i used Morinth's Organic control attack. Also when you get to choose an additional weapon for shepherd (vanguards can't use assault rifle or sniper base), i chose sniper rifle...total awesomeness. so throughout most of the game i had ABSOLUTE and uncanny control of every fight with ease...no frantic or button mashing here...guess it comes with using your brain and being smart in your approach :P.

Other than this, i agreed with most of your other statements.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 11, 2010 7:42:44 AM PST
Shanghaied says:
I'm with Mark on this. I felt that my squad AI was waaay more competent in ME2 than ME1. I play both games on the hardest difficulty and in ME1 it was pretty much a given that my squadmates were going down whenever I got into a moderate firefight. In ME2, they still fall sometimes, but not as often. They also provide meaningful cover, and the interface to control their powers/ targets is easier to use. In ME1 I almost never utilized my squad or their abilities and pretty much ignored them, in ME2 I rely on my squad every single fight.

Again, the inventory aspect of this game seems to be one of the most controversial aspects, and I will strongly disagree with anyone that believes ME1 did it better. Spending 10 minutes clearing out my inventory/ turning it into omni-gel was not fun, nor was picking up 50 items on a mission that would've been useless to me 10 levels ago. Perhaps ME2 didn't get it completely right, but at least inventory management isn't a mind-numbing, tedious exercise in repetitively gelling/selling my inventory.

Also, the reviewer was only partially right about your level in ME1 not affecting ME2. Lvl 55+ characters start ME2 at lvl 3, and import characters at lvl 60 start at lvl 5.

Posted on Sep 7, 2010 5:13:17 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 8, 2010 3:05:50 PM PDT
Matt VW says:
wow, sounds like as big of a let down as Deus Ex 2. EA must have had a much larger role
I can't stand when sequels strip down all the RPG elements.

edit:
yeah, after playing, I'd have to agree with most of what the reviewer said, ME2 was really watered down, over-simplified, streamlined, etc.

the recruiting and Elusive man made for an easy and lazy plot device to allow you to tour their grand galaxy. there is no intriguing main plot arc to speak of, and no atmosphere, no sense of the gravity of the situation, the impending doom and horror.

the new characters (and their missions) are numerous and largely uninteresting, and their powers all too redundant and boring as well.
the missions are all idiot-proofed, whatever or whoever you have to find next is always 10 feet away.
the levels are all modular, no open spaces, and no open fighting, mostly hallway fighting, always from behind cover, usually there for no other reason than to provide cover.
the fight scenes in the beginning, middle, and end of the game seemed mostly the same, the upgrades, powers, and characters did little to diversify the fighting experience. the upgrading process was odd, convoluted, and the actual effects hardly noticeable.

inferior to ME1 in almost every way that it could have been, I especially missed the open area fighting, the truck, and those Geth that jumped all over the place

Posted on Oct 15, 2010 5:43:37 PM PDT
Actually, the map is still there. You just have to hit left shift to view it.

This game is by far one of the best sci-fi games out there. It's different than ME1, but I feel like they took out the extraneous, unneeded stuff.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2010 11:50:37 AM PST
Teahouse Fox says:
Oh god no... the inventory system in ME was ghastly. You hit that magical 150 item limit and you HAVE to gel something you JUST picked up. Sometimes, everything you just picked up. Too bad if you really needed that armor. You be gellin' like a felon. And you couldn't sort anything. You look at armor for Wrex, and you have to wade through all the human stuff. I do miss the more detailed level/points system for skills from ME.

Squad AI was frustrating in ME - It was kind of a crap shoot when you sent someone to take cover in a particular spot you wanted them to defend. You tell them to goeth forth, and maybe they goeth, and maybe they damn well goeth not, depending on how the mood struck them at the moment. On the flip side, in ME you could huddle up behind cover with the squad and everything was good. All three of us would squeeze in behind an object if necessary and stick together. In ME2, if a squaddie is behind cover and you take the other corner of the same box, they would vacate a good spot and get their butts shot at.

ME2 did have a couple of opponents that forced you to leave cover and fight in the open, but they were few and far between. The Scions, the praetorians, the eye-thingy in the engine room. I think that was it.

Posted on Jan 29, 2011 8:19:36 PM PST
J. Yu says:
I need to point out that the first game and second game run on the same engine. The second's is just optimized.
While I agree that the RPG elements were brutally and entirely stripped out, that doesn't make Mass Effect 2 a worse game. It just makes it different. The conversations, writing, story, decisions, the things that are really the most important aspect of any truely good RPG are actually improved. Besides, the original had an abysmal inventory management system, and while I miss picking up a shiny new super-armor or getting the spectre weapons, I don't miss the ridiculous menu hassle and management that came with it.

You have a valid point on the linearity of the levels. I wasn't pleased by that particular design choice. Nevertheless, it's a valid one (and it works fairly well). It's also worth noting that the first game was largely linear as well in the main quests, with a few exceptions.

I could do without the hundreds of clone weapons. I did like the stat comparison, but the new ones have distinct combat roles and "feels" to them that make them so much more fun to use.
In fact, the combat really does feel more tactical. The original had really crappy power/class balance and combat handling, ME2 has very distinct and unique powers for each class that all feel useful and satisfying.

I completely disagree with squadmate AI. I hated how teammates in the first game would stand in the open and shoot at walls, but Mass Effect 2's squadmates do a decent job of power usage, shooting, and positioning. Not great, but way better than the first's.

The Paragon and Renegade system wasn't designed to be generic good/evil. It's more grey, and players are meant to be able to be a good guy and still take a brutal line for the greater good. The meters are independent of each other, as you may have noticed.

In summary: The changes do make Mass Effect 2 much less of a traditional RPG. However, that doesn't make it a worse game, just a different one. As a whole, it really is a major improvement over the first in everything but the RPG mechanics. The game being more of a shooter does not justify the unfair score you have granted it.

Disclaimer: I've played every single Bioware game since KOTOR (and loved all of them). I've played (and still play) Oblivion. I love traditional RPGs, but I don't mind a breath of fresh air.

P.S. No matter what anyone's opinions on the RPG mechanics are, I think 99% of us can agree that the Mako and the uncharted worlds genuinely sucked. The thing handled like a bouncy rubber ball (albeit a bouncy rubber ball with mass accelerator weapons).

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 23, 2011 6:56:03 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 23, 2011 6:57:02 PM PDT
G. Parnell says:
J. Yu, I've made this comment before (Gamespot and others) but I have to make it again. Normally I'm the one who sucks with transports in games, but I found I could rock the Mako. Racing games? I always (always!) come in last. I hate racing games of all flavors. I'm just completely inept. But the Mako? For some reason I'm the only person on earth who loved it. To bad there's not a Mako related racing game. I'd actually have a chance to win a few laps.

As for dude's review, It's evident he meant what he said. The subsequent comments merely confirm his initial premise. I, too, am an "old school" rpg gamer. I date back to the '70's pencil and paper, and, brother, that's old school. Polyhedron fates, baby. Let 'em roll!
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