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Game wise, Awesome. Story wise, sucks.
  • Review has been revised since intial post*

When it comes to the actual gameplay part of this shooter, it's a step up from Mass Effect 1, with more intense shooting, a more responsive cover system, vastly improved A.I, and better level design.

In addition, the main world maps are more varied with more NPC's around to help them feel more believable environments, with less of that grey colour that occupied the last game, and the copy and pasta locations a thing of the past.

When it comes to the story and characters on the other hand...

Most of the characters introduced for your party this game are without a doubt some of the most dull (Miranda, Jacob, Samara) and annoying (Grunt, Jack) characters I've ever come across in gaming, I'm assuming the majority of Biowares good character writers were working on Dragon Age because these characters you could mostly fully explore in four conversations, and two of the likeable characters are hold overs from the first.

The main story itself holds up no better, being a step down from the original, with a simplistic story "Colonists have been kidnapped by Collectors, are you a bad enough dude to save them?" that holds none of the intrigue or mystery of the first game, I'm restricted word wise, so I'll sum it up some of my major gripes with bullet-points.

1) Sole Survivor, why you're never allowed to bring this backstory up to any of the Cerberus characters is baffling. 2) The romance paths are very rushed and clumsily written, feels like they were thrown them in to make shippers happy. 3) Nothing is done with the fact that Shepard CAME BACK FROM THE DEAD, all she/he does is make a few snarky lines and the companions are no better. 4) 95% of offworld quests have you killing things, with the most complex story being "BLUE SUNS BASE! KEEL", at least them copy and paste missions kept some interest with it's varied stories and dialogue. 5) The circumstances that allow your crew to be captured at the endgame are blatant railroading if I ever saw it. 6) The final boss looks like the Terminators idiot half brother and is really tedious.

On the whole, while Mass Effect 2 improved the originals gameplay in bounds, it's story and characterisation suffered big time, ultimately, it depends on whether a bad story ruins a game or not.

  • Why did Wilson betray Cerberus?
    • He had a thing for Miranda, but she never gave him any credit or due, so he wanted to sabotage her.

  • Why would the Illusive Man resurrect a Paragon Shepard that had zero chance of going through with his plan?
    • Because he didn't have one. Bringing back Shepard and stopping the Collectors was TIM's only "plan". The Collector Station was as him just trying to take advantage of an opportunity.

  • Why does Cerberus stick their logo on EVERYTHING when they're meant to be secretive?
    • Cerberus isn't clandestine. They used to be black ops, but now they're able to work out in the open because of how powerful they are in the Terminus.

  • Why don't the Collectors have internal sensors, the handwave for that makes zero sense considering the Genre Savvy they've shown to that point and the need to detect hull breaches and what not?
    • Why would they need to detect hull breeches? It's not like they care about a hazardous work environment.

  • Why were the Vorcha helping the Collectors? What did they and the Collectors hope to achieve by killing a good chunk of Omega? Why is this never brought up again?
    • The Vorcha wanted to take over the Blue Suns's territory and the Collectors gave them the perfect means to do so. Also, Mordin himself states that the Reapers were beta-testing a plague designed to wipe out every species in the galaxy except humans—the race they want alive.

  • And most disappointedly the main choice from the last game as to let the council die or not has absolutely no impact on the plot despite all the hype, heck, you could take it out and not have to change a single line of dialogue elsewhere.
    • That isn't true at all. Several conversations go completely differently depending on how this was handled. For example, some aliens (like the turian weapons dealer on the Citadel, the asari detainees on the Citadel, and a few others) treat Shepard differently if they blame humanity for all of the problems that have been occurring since the last game.
comment #5625 KingZeal 4th Jan 11
  • Wilson betraying Cerberus?
    • He was a Shadow Broker agent.
  • Why would the Illusive Man resurrect a Paragon Shepard that had zero chance of going through with his plan?
    • Acquiring the Collector Base was a secondary priority. First priority was always to stop the Collectors. And TIM sent Miranda with Shepard for a reason.
  • Why does Cerberus stick their logo on EVERYTHING when they're meant to be secretive?
    • Considering how everyone and their mother seems to know about Cerberus in the second game, I don't think they really count as secretive.
  • Why don't the Collectors have internal sensors, the handwave for that makes zero sense considering the Genre Savvy they've shown to that point and the need to detect hull breaches and what not?
    • Methinks you don't know the difference between internal sensors and sensors for detecting hull breaches. Regardless, the reason why is outright stated: they didn't expect anyone would arrive through the Omega-4 Relay.
  • Why were the Vorcha helping the Collectors? What did they and the Collectors hope to achieve by killing a good chunk of Omega? Why is this never brought up again?
    • Mordin outright says that they were testing a mutagenic weapon using the vorcha as agents. You would have known this if you actually paid attention during Mordin's recruitment mission, considering it is nearly impossible to miss. The vorcha had everything to gain: tech, territory, etc.
  • Council's death/survival having no impact
    • Bullshit. Pay attention throughout the game, particularly to the news reports. If the Council survives, human-alien relationships take a dramatic turn for the better, whereas if you kill the Council Shepard is subjected to massive specisism and relations between the Alliance and the Citadel species deteriorate. The entire scene with Anderson changes depending on whether or not the Council survives, multiple characters react differently to Shepard, etc.
comment #5628 Zaptech 4th Jan 11
Bullshit. Pay attention throughout the game, particularly to the news reports. If the Council survives, human-alien relationships take a dramatic turn for the better, whereas if you kill the Council Shepard is subjected to massive specisism and relations between the Alliance and the Citadel species deteriorate. The entire scene with Anderson changes depending on whether or not the Council survives, multiple characters react differently to Shepard, etc.

Not really, the sidequests happen the exact same way, with aliens hating you either way (Council saved = They hate you for humanity's increased presence, Council died = They hate you for taking over) and either way, the old council AND the new council blow you off.
Methinks you don't know the difference between internal sensors and sensors for detecting hull breaches. Regardless, the reason why is outright stated: they didn't expect anyone would arrive through the Omega-4 Relay.

Which is the handwave I was referring to, the fact that they suddenly become so genre blind by this point just seems to be a contrived coincidence to stop the player being overwhelmed as soon as they head in.
Why did Wilson betray Cerberus? He had a thing for Miranda, but she never gave him any credit or due, so he wanted to sabotage her.

Where is this stated?

He was a Shadow Broker agent.

Is that in one of the DLC's, cause I don't have any of them, no Xbox Live see.
Considering how everyone and their mother seems to know about Cerberus in the second game, I don't think they really count as secretive.

Regardless, slapping a logo of a hated organisation that half the galaxy hates on your ship, uniform, etc doesn't help you once during the game.
Mordin outright says that they were testing a mutagenic weapon using the vorcha as agents. You would have known this if you actually paid attention during Mordin's recruitment mission, considering it is nearly impossible to miss. The vorcha had everything to gain: tech, territory, etc.

And the Collectors gained....what? Why would they need a virus? They clearly don't need one, I mean if one Reaper can take out half of the Council fleet then the rest of them shouldn't have any problem moping up
comment #5631 Dobbytheelf 4th Jan 11 (edited by: Dobbytheelf)
  • Why did Wilson betray Cerberus? He had a thing for Miranda, but she never gave him any credit or due, so he wanted to sabotage her.
  • Where is this stated?
    • When you're escaping from Lazarus station, there's a data pad right where you meet Jacob. Listening to the recording reveals that Wilson was harboring deep resentment for Miranda.

  • Considering how everyone and their mother seems to know about Cerberus in the second game, I don't think they really count as secretive.
  • Regardless, slapping a logo of a hated organisation that half the galaxy hates on your ship, uniform, etc doesn't help you once during the game.
    • Even if that were true, hiding who you're working for is actually a Renegade option every now and again. Paragon Shepard typically admits to his/her relationship with Cerberus, but is quick to add that they're the only ones with the resources and willingness to help. That aside, helping Shepard save the freaking galaxy with a Cerberus logo plastered everywhere is damn good publicity.

  • Mordin outright says that they were testing a mutagenic weapon using the vorcha as agents. You would have known this if you actually paid attention during Mordin's recruitment mission, considering it is nearly impossible to miss. The vorcha had everything to gain: tech, territory, etc.
  • And the Collectors gained....what? Why would they need a virus? They clearly don't need one, I mean if one Reaper can take out half of the Council fleet then the rest of them shouldn't have any problem moping up.
    • The games make it clear that the Reapers are masters of unconventional warfare. Yeah, Sovereign took out the citadel fleets, but only after the relays were closed off to reinforcements and he struck in a surprise attack. Even Vigil states that Sovereign can't possibly win a war against overwhelming odds. Even if the Reapers are nigh-indestructible, they have a track record of doing whatever it takes to completely cripple an enemy's chances of fighting back by whatever means are available. Psychological, biological, and guerilla warfare tactics are not beneath them.

  • Not really, the sidequests happen the exact same way, with aliens hating you either way (Council saved = They hate you for humanity's increased presence, Council died = They hate you for taking over) and either way, the old council AND the new council blow you off.
    • Nope. I just played two different games with two different outcomes just this week, and if you saved the Council, the hatred for humans is a lot less than if you let the Council die. In the latter, some people refuse to trust you, some people blame humanity for everything that's gone wrong. In the former, those same people may still have problems with humans, but they're willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, since humans did so much to help.
comment #5632 KingZeal 4th Jan 11 (edited by: KingZeal)
Nope. I just played two different games with two different outcomes just this week, and if you saved the Council, the hatred for humans is a lot less than if you let the Council die. In the latter, some people refuse to trust you, some people blame humanity for everything that's gone wrong. In the former, those same people may still have problems with humans, but they're willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, since humans did so much to help.

....Where? I completed two playthroughs with both endings and NOTHING changed save a few irrelevant news reports, everyone I talked to reacted the same way, those bits with both Thanes personal mission and the Asari sisters were unchanged with that Turian politician elicting support thanks to feelings that humans are taking over and the sisters also blaming humans for their problems.

I do apologize if I come off a douche who doesn't except criticism, but I'm honestly not seeing it
comment #5634 Dobbytheelf 4th Jan 11
Again, talk to the turian gunshop owner on the Citadel and the asari having trouble boarding a flight. How they react to Shepard is significantly different.
comment #5639 KingZeal 4th Jan 11
It's nice to see a review address the visuals of the game. The thing I hated most about the original was its bland settings that didn't look lived in at all. Grey polished corridors and sparsely furnished rooms are boring to look at. don't people interior decorate in the future? Is there a galactic law against putting carpeting and curtains on a space ship? No critic seemed to ever mention this issue, despite it bothering the hell out of me and taking me out of the game.

I'm pleased to hear that the visuals have been improved. Tell me; do places look more personalised and detailed in this game than the previous?
comment #5656 maninahat 6th Jan 11
Hell yes, despite my reservations about the plot, the graphics people must of defintely worked overtime, Omega is grimy, dark, cramped, gives off a sense of decay and despair, The Citadel is more packed with people, which is fitting considering the part you land in appears to be more of a downtown area with hordes of shops, while it is bathed in blue, there's still plenty of brights colours (Them future folk sure love their lights). While Tuchanka is pretty grey and grim, but that fits because it's a post nuclear wasteland, and the colours actually help that along with the rubble and general destruction.

Does that help?

I'm on a different computer.
comment #5657 194.81.151.145 6th Jan 11
Very much, thanks. It has been the one thing holding me back from buying the sequel (that and the price - I'm a cheapskate who never spends more on a game than I would on a book).
comment #5663 maninahat 6th Jan 11
Not really, the sidequests happen the exact same way, with aliens hating you either way (Council saved = They hate you for humanity's increased presence, Council died = They hate you for taking over) and either way, the old council AND the new council blow you off.

No. Again, pay attention to the news in the background. Depending on whether or not you saved the Council, humanity is either hated or respected. There is some resentment for the increased presence, yes, but there is a lot more appreciation for humanity and Shepard and a lot more cooperation, i.e. the Hierarchy engaging in reparations for Shanxi.

Which is the handwave I was referring to, the fact that they suddenly become so genre blind by this point just seems to be a contrived coincidence to stop the player being overwhelmed as soon as they head in.

I don't see how this is Genre Blindness. They have a nearly-impossible to bypass accessway that is heavily-defended by combat drones and a massive cruiser that has enough firepower to kill any ship in the galaxy. They have no reason to have external hull sensors designed to prevent intruders.

Is that in one of the DLC's, cause I don't have any of them, no Xbox Live see.

Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC.

Regardless, slapping a logo of a hated organisation that half the galaxy hates on your ship, uniform, etc doesn't help you once during the game.

And? It doesn't hurt you either. Most of the locations you travel to are neutral or criminal locations, and the ones that aren't are friendly to Shepard.

And the Collectors gained....what? Why would they need a virus? They clearly don't need one, I mean if one Reaper can take out half of the Council fleet then the rest of them shouldn't have any problem moping up

Again, I have to ask if you paid attention. They're not after a weapon, they're after a mutagenic virus that is designed to alter genetic structure. Remember that the Collectors and Reapers are all about the genetic potential of the species they conquer, and Harbinger is dismissive of any species that isn't humanity because they don't have the potential to be harvested into another Reaper. The whole point of the virus is to alter the genetic structure of "lesser" species in order to make them more suitable for being harvested.
comment #5798 Zaptech 13th Jan 11
New reports which effect nothing plotwise, it's superficial, the sidequests themselves happen near enough the same way, as does the council meeting, only diffence being whether they agree to see you and whether you're reinstated or not (Which also effects nothing)

Also what about the pre Collector Base mission where you control Joker? Why can't you stay on board? Why do you take EVERYONE with you? Where are you going, you just head into the shuttle and disappear, you're not given any info, why doesn't Harbinger just blow up the Normandy (Again) while it's disabled? It'll harm Shepard far more than nicking it's crew and make getting into the Relay impossible, where are the Marines? The ship clearly has a marine presence as evidenced by one appearing when you pick up Legion so where's the rest of them?

And who on earth decided to lock Jack up with a control that unleashes EVERY SINGLE PRISONER IN PURGATORY, WHOSE "SMALL TIME" KILLED 20 ODD PEOPLE?
comment #5848 Dobbytheelf 15th Jan 11
  1. Taking your entire crew was an unquestionable Idiot Ball for the sake of the plot. No question there.

  2. The Collectors don't want to kill Shepard if they don't have to. Harbinger continuously tells Shepard things like "SUBMIT NOW" or "FLEE WHILE YOU CAN". Their goal, after Shepard's return, is to capture as much of the human crew alive as possible.

  3. The Marines all fight and are all taken. Don't forget that you only see ONE Marine suited to guard Legion, and the Collectors boarded faster than anyone anticipated. Probably most of the crew you saw getting dragged off were marines who just didn't have the chance to get into Full Battle Rattle.

  4. No, Shepard decides to unlock every cell to get Jack out because he/she doesn't know how to work the controls and there was no time to attempt hacking. Letting everyone loose was the fastest way to achieve his/her goal.
comment #5857 KingZeal 15th Jan 11
Why though? Considering Purgatory is filled with some of the most murderous loons out there, wouldn't it have made more sense to give us a choice, deciding whether or not it's a required evil to let her out while unleashing them.

Also I wasn't quite clear, I meant that why doesn't he destroy the Normandy while Shepards out for lunch or....whatever the hell she/he is doing, so all they have to deal with is the shuttle, making catching Shepard easier
comment #5929 92.30.189.69 17th Jan 11
1. Because you can't control everything? Being Shepard tends to make players forget that not every single individual choice is in their hands.

Besides, Shepard came for the most powerful non-asari biotic in the galaxy, and the warden tried to double cross him/her.

2. And how would they know Shepard wasn't there?
comment #5933 KingZeal 18th Jan 11
Just watched the scene, everyone says that hacking the controls will unlock every cell on Purgatory, which strikes me as being more suited to a Master Control system than just the controls to Jacks cell, also, this is supposed to be a RPG, and Shepard is meant to be your character, why shouldn't you get control over a major thing like this? Deciding to keep Jack in cryo so that hordes of psychos don't roam the galaxy could have been an interesting choice. If only so she doesn't bug you so much
comment #5937 194.81.151.145 18th Jan 11
Once again, this is a recruitment mission for a special-ops team. Shepard is a soldier, and it's pretty obvious that the Purgatory was more a slaving operation than a legit prison.

Hell, the warden even tells you point-blank that he extorts worlds by catching criminals and then threatening to release them. You're not doing anyone favors by keeping Jack locked up with everyone else.
comment #5939 KingZeal 18th Jan 11
I just noticed...you changed your review to complain about things other than the things you complained about initially?

Wow, just, wow...instead of acknowledging that you may have been mistaken about some things, you just decided to alter the review so that it could still be scathing?
comment #5997 KingZeal 21st Jan 11
Besides, if you really want to discuss plot holes, we have the JBM page for a reason.
comment #6052 74.168.26.130 25th Jan 11
You're review is quite possibly the most unaccurate one ever. In the History of Video Games.
comment #6338 MrDidact 10th Feb 11
Just... just stop.
comment #6407 SomeDeadGuy 13th Feb 11
It's almost amazing how much fail is in this review.
comment #6411 150.212.50.120 13th Feb 11
1) While you can't reference it directly, I think this actually makes a lot of sense. Shepard doesn't angst on or openly talk much about his/her past service record much regardless of what it was; s/he has to actually have someone else bring it up. Shepard strikes me as the sort of person who has moved beyond that part of his/her life.

2)Really? because I thought they were quite nuanced and interesting - particularly the ones for Jack, Tali, and Garrus. If nothing else, they're better than the romance options in the first game.

3) Shepard doesn't have time for metaphysical questions. There's Reapers to punch in their mechanical scrotums. S/he can reflect ont he ressurection after the galaxy has been saved. You're trying to project angst onto a character who, by their very nature, doesn't angst.

4) Bullshit. Several of the N7 missions offer interconnected storylines, including two that are all about puzzle-solving. And all but two of the UNC missions in the first game required you to kill to complete them.

5) Agreed.

6) I disagree on the "idiot" part, and found it quite intense. As for it being tedious, it's not if you know what you're doing. If you don't exercise some miniscule brain power and use weapons and ammo suited for killing armored targets, that's not the game's fault.

comment #6447 66.21.192.226 17th Feb 11
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