After having played Mass Effect 1 and then jumping straight into Mass Effect 2 (bought both at the same time), I was first impressed by the amazing visuals ME 2 provided. And then the gameplay ended up being... the standard modern console shooter. To put this into perspective, Mass Effect 1 had a neat system of unlimited bullets and overheating. Choosing the right weapon and firing in controlled bursts would prevent overheating, and certain skills overheated weapons (thus, temporarily disabling them). This system was replaced with the "thermal clip" system, which is the standard generic ammo system in every other shooter, even if it doesn't make sense in-universe. Why do heatsinks not cool down outside of battle? Why are they not reusable? Why do heatsinks contain bullets? The second change to gameplay was the "cover" system, popularized by Gears Of War. Unfortunately, they decided to use the same key for "Sprint" and "Take cover". And the game REALLY seems to prioritize the "take cover" command, so I invariably end up sticking to walls when I don't want to. This was particularly egregious on the level where the sun is so hot it damages you- half the time when I sprint towards shade, Shepard ended up sticking her back to a nearby wall in full sunlight. The combat style also results in forcing me into a narrow play style- despite having 6 different classes, all of them have to fight the battles the same way. In ME 1, there was a massive difference between an Adept and an Infiltrator, for example. Now, everyone seems to be primarily a duck-and-cover gunner- all special skills are on the same timer, so you can only use one at a time. Your main damage will always come from firing your weapon. Given how much emphasis there was on the universe created in ME 1, and how much additional information was available in the codex, I think it's pretty sad that they pretty much abandoned almost every gameplay element that made the Mass Effect 1 universe unique to appeal to the masses. A few things were streamlined, like "exploring" planets and Paragon/Renegade dialogue options, which is nice. Still, there's no big surprises in the story (other than the prologue).
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