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Anthony Capone
03 Feb, 2011

Mass Effect 2 Review

PS3 Review | BioWare’s massive game finally comes into effect on PS3.
Mass Effect 2, the definitive game of the year for 2010, has finally arrived on PlayStation 3. This iteration of BioWare’s sci-fi role-playing game offers the most complete edition of Mass Effect 2, with all released story-based downloadable content included on the one disc. Though lacking somewhat in context and back-story, Mass Effect 2 on PlayStation 3 offers gamers an exceptional starting point into the best role-playing series to grace consoles.

In Mass Effect 2, players are cast as Commander Shepard – humanity’s foremost soldier on the intergalactic stage. After one of the most dramatic openings seen in a game, Shepard is recruited by the secretive paramilitary group Cerberus to investigate the disappearance of human colonies across the galaxy. To confront the unknown menace, Shepard is tasked with assembling a team of deadly operatives. Mass Effect 2’s narrative is as much about the characters as it is the over-arching threat to humanity. The central plot is delivered skilfully, gradually building the pace to an epic final showdown. Nonetheless, the process of recruiting characters to your cause and gaining their loyalty is perhaps the best part of the story.

Mass Effect 2’s cast of supporting characters is standout, each with their own unique personality and stories. The development of Shepard’s crew over the course of the game creates an intriguing and relatable experience. Players accompany their team on individual side-missions that not only flesh out the characters, but also touch on issues such as family and morality. Mass Effect 2 engages you on a level rarely seen in video games, with countless poignant and genuinely funny moments. Without doubt, you will be hard-pressed to find a more compelling game than Mass Effect 2. The PS3 version of Mass Effect 2 also includes the mesmerising downloadable chapter Lair of the Shadow Broker, which almost rivals the main story in narrative quality.

Shepard’s enemies meet a fiery end.

Shepard’s enemies meet a fiery end.
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Perhaps the greatest flaw with the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2 is the inability to establish the series’ proper context. With Microsoft holding the publishing rights to the first Mass Effect (hence why it well never be released on PS3), BioWare has instead created an interactive comic to bring players up to speed. The comic compensates somewhat, with a 20 minute rundown of events in the original Mass Effect. The comic includes excellent artwork, but just isn’t a wholly effective in conveying the Mass Effect back-story. Furthermore, the inability to import your Shepard means the PS3 version is far from the definitive version of the game. Nonetheless, BioWare has done their best with what is available, and new players are gradually eased into the game, albeit with a lack of context.

Mass Effect 2 is a perfect hybrid of role-playing and action. On one side, players craft the progress of the story. After creating your own male or female version of Commander Shepard with extensive customisation options, you are thrown into a choose-your-own-adventure experience in which every scenario can be approached differently. In a nutshell, Shepard runs the show – you can be righteous or wicked in the vast conversation system and the choices you make during missions. The Mass Effect galaxy is vast, filled with countless characters to interact with and worlds to visit. The story progresses as you see fit, with companion missions and side-quests driving the central investigation into human abductions. Decisions made over the course of the game affect the entire story and relationships you form with supporting cast. The plethora of options available to players makes for a highly personalised role-playing experience. Play your cards right, and a romantic liaison may even be on offer.

Players are also responsible for customising their class of character, weapons, armour and even the Normandy, Shepard’s flagship and base of operations. Some customisation elements are limited in comparison to other titles, and though hardcore RPG gamers may lament the lack of options, it makes for a greatly streamlined experience. The first Mass Effect was notorious for inventory management, but the sequel’s barebones approach saves becoming bogging down and instead advances you straight to the action. Several mini-games are also present throughout the game - hacking makes for a quick distraction, and mining planets is less frustrating than previous iterations thanks to a quickened interface.

Not even Shepard can escape the zombie scourge.

Not even Shepard can escape the zombie scourge.
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The action elements of Mass Effect 2 resemble Gears of War and Uncharted. The third-person cover-based gameplay is highly polished and includes the ability to direct your squad around the battlefield. The class of character selected at the start of the game influences the style of play. For example, soldiers have the greatest arsenal of weapons and can go in all guns blazing. Alternatively, you may choose to be more strategic with tech skills – which, for instance, can strip an enemy of shields – or biotic abilities, that give you Force-like powers such as levitating foes off the ground. These skills, as well as your companions, can be upgraded as you advance levels, making for highly devastating and tactical encounters. With a robust interface for directing the flow of battle, combat is always smooth and engaging, and versatile enemies and bosses ensure the game seldom becomes repetitive.

Mass Effect 2 is a beautifully designed game, with an unrivalled attention to detail. BioWare have expertly created a sprawling galaxy begging to be explored. Each location you frequent is different from the last, from the seedy slums of a criminal space station to the beautiful architecture and inviting atmosphere of the galaxy’s political hub. Between missions, the Normandy serves as delightful home for Shepard and his crew, with a functional galaxy map for navigating the stars.

For every dollar invested, Mass Effect 2 offers countless hours of entertainment. Unlike titles such as Red Dead Redemption, the game is not unnecessarily elongated. Including the bundled downloadable content, Mass Effect 2 can easily take over forty hours to complete, not to mention the vast replay value owing to the number of different character classes and countless story deviations. The only segments to lament in the game are the initial install, which takes over thirty minutes, and the epic loading times. Save files becoming corrupted, for which BioWare is quickly developing a patch, have also been widely reported.

Mass Effect 2 shapes up just as well on PS3 as it did on Xbox 360.

Mass Effect 2 shapes up just as well on PS3 as it did on Xbox 360.
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The PS3 version of Mass Effect 2 is built on an updated graphics engine, but visually, it is mostly indistinguishable from its Xbox 360 counterpart. Nonetheless, even with assets that are over a year old, Mass Effect 2 on PS3 is still one of the best-looking console titles on the market. This version benefits from more detailed textures, making characters and environments appear livelier. However, the frame rate can slow on occasion, and the lighting is off in a few sections. These, however, and only slight blemishes, and are never enough to hinder the overall experience.

Sound remains one of the strongest elements of the Mass Effect series, with the composers creating an immersive and cinematic soundtrack. The music always seems to communicates the correct pace and themes at a given moment. Action sequences are frequently punctuated by resounding orchestral pieces, while memorable soundtracks help create more intimate moments. Sound effects are wonderfully created, and first-class voice acting expertly conveys the sentiments of your fellow characters.

Mass Effect 2 on PlayStation 3 is a brilliantly crafted package, with production values equal to the Xbox 360 version and excellent value courtesy of the included DLC. Technical blemishes and context issues are but minor flaws, with the game conveying an engrossing narrative and featuring some of the most memorable and engaging characters. The polished third-person gameplay, outstanding voice-work and stellar visuals add to the refined role-playing experience, with an entire galaxy of content waiting to be discovered. Mass Effect 2 exemplifies the importance of story in video games, and is obligatory playing for all.
The Score
Mass Effect 2 is a fantastic debut for the series on Sony’s console, with an engrossing sci-fi story, intriguing characters and outstanding production values. Added to the included downloadable content, Mass Effect 2 is the best value RPG on PS3. 9
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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25 Comments
3 years ago
any chance on getting screens of the comic? Or at least an artist name?
3 years ago
Load times.. I hate load times icon_sad.gif

This game most surely stands on its own two feet regardless of the first game though. It is nice to have the continuity from the first but it's far from essential.

Was ALL the current DLC included?
3 years ago
I shamelessly bought this even though I own it on 360 and have it played it extensively. Have to agree that it's far from the definitive version of the game though - not having Mass Effect 1's fantastic story and all of the things which carry over from it is very disappointing, and the comic was far too brief. Still, an exceptional game and recommended for those who can't experience it on one of its other platforms.

Benza wrote
any chance on getting screens of the comic? Or at least an artist name?
Benza, you can 'play through' the comic in its entirery here:
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-masseffectcomic
3 years ago
light487 wrote
Was ALL the current DLC included?
PS3 version has;
- Kasumi's Stolen Memory
- Overlord
- Lair of the Shadow Broker
- Blood Dragon Armor

PS3 version doesn't have, but can be bought seperately;
- Firepower pack
- Recon pack
- Alternate Appearance packs
- All the other minor content
3 years ago
Every review says the game has great graphics and textures but it seems really "fuzzy" to me is this what they were going for or.....?
3 years ago
Turn off film filter or something in options.
3 years ago
Are the included DLCs is part of the disk or requires downloading?
3 years ago
Kasumi's Stolen Memory, Overlord and Lair of the Shadow Broker are all included on the disc. However, to access the Cerberus Network and get the interactive comic, you need to download about 600 MB of data.
3 years ago
I do not see this game being as good as it can be without playing the first. The first set everything up about the universe etc and I usually do not like sci fi stories but this was an exception.

The second seems more about the certain characters obviously since recruiting is the main goal and I advise everyone to play the first somehow whether its at a friends house or on PC to get the real experience. Do not see comic being enough.

Playing the first straight through without side missions should not take long at all
3 years ago
I recently played Kasumi's Stolen Memory, Overlord, Lair of the Shadow Broker.

It's just so god damn good. ME3 cannot come fast enough.
3 years ago
FFS, stop calling this an RPG! It's a squad based cover shooter with a few stats. It may be a good game, but as a long time RPG gamer, it really upsets me to see the dumbed down rubbish they're calling RPG's these days.

If this is an RPG then so is COD.
3 years ago
While I think its fantastic that this got bought to PS3, I have to agree that you are missing out with not playing the first game.

The Comic does a good job of recapping and you have major choices to make in it, which is fine. But its when you are on the ship getting questioned about your past, which would be confusing for anyone who hasn't played through the first. It was fine for me, cause I knew what happened, but for someone new to the series, it would be pretty confusing.

It's a great package with the DLC and I will say that the comic art is fantastic, they did do a great job with that.

The booklet you get with the game sucks though, its a 3 or 4 black and white page book with 1 page of controls and the rest is just credits/warnings etc. Terrible effort with the instruction manual.
3 years ago
AlaCarcuss wrote
FFS, stop calling this an RPG! It's a squad based cover shooter with a few stats. It may be a good game, but as a long time RPG gamer, it really upsets me to see the dumbed down rubbish they're calling RPG's these days.

If this is an RPG then so is COD.
Uh... I don't even know were to begin with this.
3 years ago
AlaCarcuss wrote
FFS, stop calling this an RPG! It's a squad based cover shooter with a few stats. It may be a good game, but as a long time RPG gamer, it really upsets me to see the dumbed down rubbish they're calling RPG's these days.

If this is an RPG then so is COD.
Sure, let's just ignore the role that having players dictate the the flow of narrative has in the role playing game genre.
3 years ago
Benza wrote
AlaCarcuss wrote
FFS, stop calling this an RPG! It's a squad based cover shooter with a few stats. It may be a good game, but as a long time RPG gamer, it really upsets me to see the dumbed down rubbish they're calling RPG's these days.

If this is an RPG then so is COD.
Uh... I don't even know were to begin with this.
Indeed. Indeed.

Let's see..

RPG = Role Playing Game.

It's easier to say that this is an RPG than it is to say that it is an "Action/Adventure game with RPG elements". There is character development, there is interactive "role playing" where your choices and decisions have not only an immediate effect but also far reaching and long term effects, there is, to cut a long story short, many reasons why this could be considered an RPG. It may not meet with the "purist" idea of RPG but that doesn't mean it isn't an RPG to rest of the population.

Interactive Movie/Story.. no.. that's too shallow of a term for this..

If it's not an RPG, what is it?

I believe it is an RPG but not of the kind that purists consider to be an RPG.

RPG Defined: "A role-playing game (RPG) is a broad family of games in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting, or through a process of structured decision-making or character development. Actions taken within the game succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines."
3 years ago
Let me throw this out there: the first Mass Effect wasn't that good. The ability to breeze through the narrative without the horrible vehicle sequences and RPG-lite, awkward combat is very much appreciated. Instead I can just play a quality 3rd person shooter without wasting another 20 hours of my life. Kudos to Dark Horse and Bioware for the time-saving, story solution.
3 years ago
It doesn't take that long to play through it. My quickest playthrough of ME was 8 hours and that was doing almost every side quest. Plus I really like ME1 and in a few ways it is better than 2. Still wish they would bring the comic to 360 so I can make new choices.
3 years ago
Dutch Rootsman wrote
Let me throw this out there: the first Mass Effect wasn't that good. The ability to breeze through the narrative without the horrible vehicle sequences and RPG-lite, awkward combat is very much appreciated. Instead I can just play a quality 3rd person shooter without wasting another 20 hours of my life. Kudos to Dark Horse and Bioware for the time-saving, story solution.
I wholeheartedly disagree. The first game was in a lot of ways better than the second, particularly its story, of which you only get to experience a far too-abridged version of with the comic.
3 years ago
Dutch Rootsman wrote
Let me throw this out there: the first Mass Effect wasn't that good. The ability to breeze through the narrative without the horrible vehicle sequences and RPG-lite, awkward combat is very much appreciated. Instead I can just play a quality 3rd person shooter without wasting another 20 hours of my life. Kudos to Dark Horse and Bioware for the time-saving, story solution.
RPG-Lite combat icon_lol.gif You kidding? The combat in the first is more RPG than the 2nd. The comic is good, but it doesn't do the full story of ME1 justice. You really do need to play the first game to truly experience the story.

Oh and Mass Effect was awesome icon_biggrin.gif
3 years ago
Nietzsche wrote
It doesn't take that long to play through it. My quickest playthrough of ME was 8 hours and that was doing almost every side quest.
Jesus really? My every sidequest play through was like 15-20 hours or something.

Thinking back I used to think "Man there are heaps of things that ME1 had that I wish were in ME2"

untill I went back and played it. I missed the open area of the Citadell from ME 2 untill I went back and played ME 1 and remembered I actually fucking hated walking around that insane maze at a slow jog for like 3 hours. While I loved the Mako missions were you just dropped down to a planet to explore, the story missions in the Mako kind of sucked.
3 years ago
That was my third playthrough in quick succession and I was using a guide. I skipped mining completely which speeds the game up a lot.
3 years ago
So you don't actually get to experience playing Shepard as a bad-ass/saint in ME1 or choose his back story? Just the stock story? Sorry, the comic glided over 90% of the events that made ME1 fantastic!
3 years ago
Benza wrote
untill I went back and played it. I missed the open area of the Citadell from ME 2 untill I went back and played ME 1 and remembered I actually **** hated walking around that insane maze at a slow jog for like 3 hours. While I loved the Mako missions were you just dropped down to a planet to explore, the story missions in the Mako kind of sucked.
Agree, ME1 had the better story but the Mako was a bitch to drive on a few of the planets and was really repetitive just driving around shooting random turrets (planet scanning was also boring but at least it didn't need as much attention). ME2 was optimised a hell of a lot better, load times were nothing compared to the first game. Even getting around the place was less painful. ME2 had better characters and the combat was polished to perfection, much better than Gears or most other 3rd person shooters. The inventory was a huge hassle to organise in ME1 as well, hopefully ME3 can find a middle ground between the two games and give the game a bit more of an RPG feel.
3 years ago
yeah turning off the film filter works to improve image quality
Nietzsche wrote
Turn off film filter or something in options.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  27/01/2011 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $109.95 AU
Publisher:
  EA
Genre:
  Shepard
Year Made:
  2010
Players:
  1

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