A year ago, Xbox and PC gamers got their hands on the second installment of one of the most engrossing game series this generation, Mass Effect 2. Now, finally, the PS3 players can experience this amazing game for the first time, with a few added bonuses.
For those of you living under a rock for the past four years, Mass Effect is a Sci-Fi cover based shooter mixed with RPG elements set in the distant future. You play as Commander Shepard, an elite human soldier working for a galactic council that has hopes of keeping peace between the races of the universe. He is tasked with stopping a rouge elite soldier named Saren from releasing an ancient alien life form into our galaxy and destroying all life as we know it. Now, all of this plotline is what happens in the first Mass Effect. I tell you this because the PS3 version has an interactive comic that allows you to make critical decisions that you would have made in the first Mass Effect that will transfer over to Mass Effect 2 and have effects on your play through.
Mass Effect 2 takes place a few weeks, then two years after Mass Effect 1. Commander Shepard was killed during an attack on his ship, the Normandy, and has been brought back to life by a mysterious organization called Cerberus. Shepard, now working with Cerberus is tasked with finding out why human colonies are being attacked throughout the galaxy and who are behind them. He will gather up a team of mercenaries and soldiers to help him take on the evil life forms know as The Collectors.
The game features a well balance of role playing as well as third-person shooting. Shepard can use a variety of weapons that range from sniper rifles to sub-machine guns, all of which are determined by the class you choose at the beginning of the game. There are also special powers called Biotics that allow characters to use telekinetic energy to take down barriers, disrupt shields, push back enemies and even remove gravity from them making them float in the air. The combinations are almost endless when it comes to combat. The RPG elements come into play through stats and abilities; you can level up your characters and increase their stats to certain attributes, increasing their health, weapon power, and biotic enhancements.
The combat puts you and two of your teammates in a squad. You can choose to stop the game at anytime and select individual commands for your teammates to execute. You can tell them to move and take cover at certain spots, use a certain weapon, or use a select power. This opens up new venues for developing the best strategy when taking on enemy forces.
One of the biggest pulls of the game is the classic BioWare karma system and dialog trees. Half the game revolves around dialog and decision making, some of which can determine the outcome of dire situations as well as help or hinder the player. You can choose to be the upstanding hero or the relentless anti-hero, all of which come in through the choices you make. So, some situations could result in a fire fight, but if you play your cards right and say the right things, you could easily talk your way out of a violent situation. It’s all well done and played through completely voice acted exchanges that really keep you interested in the story.
The game allows for a good amount of exploration throughout the galaxy. You can travel to different planets and space stations and acquire new missions and quests, meet and recruit new teammates and allies, and obtain new weapons and abilities as well as gain experience for leveling up. Once the game opens up, you can choose to do both story missions and side mission in the order of your choosing.
The interactive comic book is well done and handles all the major decisions you made in the first game. It’s drawn nicely, and has Shepard narrating the story telling his accounts of the search and battle with Saren. It only takes around 10 minutes to complete and it gives a good idea as to what happened in the first game to all the players out there that have never played it.
The PS3 version also comes with all the DLC that the 360 and PC owners got, all for a cheap $59.99 package. There’s at least 7 hours worth of content in the DLC missions alone where you can recruit new squad members, obtain new weapons and gain more back story to the Mass Effect universe.
The game is also running on what will essentially be the Mass Effect 3 engine. The new engine boasts a smoother experience in combat and movement, but I think, suffers in the quality of the textures and cut scenes. The game also has a few bugs that need working out. There were a few times the graphics would glitch out and become distorted to the point that I didn’t know what was going on. There were also a few times where I fell through the floor during some of the out world exploration mission using the Hammerhead hover craft. It’s the small things like these that really hinder the player especially when you haven’t saved in a while.
Mass Effect still proves that it is one of the best game series this console generation. The story, characters, game play, and overall presentation are one of pure quality. For the price of a standard game, you get a deal worth around $85 and you can easily sink a good 40 hours into the main story and side missions. Even with the technical problems that exist in the PS3 version, I still would have to recommend picking up this title, both for the Mass Effect newcomers and veterans. It is a game that will go down as one of the greats.
Review copy provided by publisher.