Mass Effect 2 is a different beast from the first. It moves with more urgency, there’s a larger team to recruit and get to know, and loads more of the galaxy to explore. With the Legendary Trilogy released this month, I have had the joy of blasting my way through these games for the first time in nearly a decade.
While I gave a slight plot overview in the previous post, I’ll be delicate here because a lot happens in the opening couple of hours. Suffice to say, Commander Shepard is roped into investigating the disappearances of several human colonies on the edges of space this time around. It’s up to the player to assemble a team of new operatives and familiar faces from across the galaxy to help the mission.
What set this game apart from other games I owned back in the 2010s was the ability to import your character from the first into the second (and eventually the third). This meant your character and their decisions- big and small- could be carried over and expanded upon in subsequent Mass Effects, changing aspects of the experience between playthroughs. Some characters might survive or die in one game based on your decisions, with that effect being felt somewhere down the line. It’s also interesting running into an NPC from ME1 that remembers who you are or how you treated them in the past, or if you were responsible for saving or killing their colleagues.
I like the amount of choice that you’re given in here, with your armour being customisable this time around as well as your ship having upgrades available for crafting. There’s a heap of content in the form of side quests and loyalty missions, as well as all the gathered DLC too. You feel like you have control over readying the crew of the Normandy for the final push and that every side quest is worth it, even if it’s just for a couple of damage or armour upgrades.
The combat in ME2 has always felt more sleek and loose compared to the slight clunkiness of the first. The guns don’t always feel like they pack a punch though, and I find that overall the enemies tend to be more bullet spongy. The vehicle sections are gone and surveying planets is done from the comfort of the ship, which is neither a positive or negative change really; the Mako was quite infamous for pissing off players of ME1 but I find scanning planets over and over again instead to be more annoying sometimes.
All in all, Mass Effect 2 is a great game that’s just hampered by one or two odd design choices. It’s difficult not to weigh it against its predecessor, but I think it stands well on its own two feet and delivers a darker story on a much grander scale, one that is all too happy to remind you that your choices have consequences.
Plus, all the DLC is woven into the experience as well. What more could you want?