Carrying on immediately from the events of Mass Effect, Bioware’s hit Mass Effect 2 takes graphics, gameplay and storyline up a gear. Setting itself up as a gaming rival to George Lucas’s Star Wars in scope and intricacy, the Mass Effect universe is a well constructed, cleverly thought out and detailed to an astounding level.
As with the first game, Mass Effect 2 may be played as either gender, with a customisable main character (so you can create yourself, or an idealised version thereof, if you should wish) and there is an option to import your character saved from the first game. The opening sequence of the game see the player character and main protagonist, Commander Shepard, killed in enemy action. But don’t fret, two years later Shepard wakes up to find an old adversary, the shadowy Cerberus organisation, has spent a ridiculous amount of money and expertise to bring him back from the dead, apparently in the belief that only Shepard can save humanity. And that is where this chapter begins. Players must overcome insurmountable odds to assemble a crack team able to confront the latest greatest threat to life in the universe: the Collectors. Billed as a suicide mission, players must use all their skill, diplomacy, grit and determination to best prepare their team.
With a vast galaxy to explore, peppered with star systems with hundreds of planets, a variety of alien species and a deep back-story, players can loose themselves for tens of hours with the side missions and exploration alone. Players can dip in and out of the main story as often as they like and the rich tapestry of the universe created by Bioware will make you want to do just that.
The main gameplay mode is very similar to that of the first game, where Shepard chooses two other characters from his team to accompany him on missions, which are displayed in the third person shooter format. The AI has been improved and the computer controlled characters are less likely to run into an incoming missile and more likely to take appropriate cover and assist you as you battle through the levels. The graphics have been improved and the cinematic sequences are visually stunning. As a form of interactive story telling, Mass Effect 2 is an absorbing gaming experience that only suffers from the odd glitch in the graphics and sometimes painfully slow loading times. Clearly a middle act in a story arc, Mass Effect 2 is challenging, fun and entertaining. Completion of the game will leave you desperate to play the sequel; sadly we’ll have to wait a couple of years for that.