Mass Effect 2- An improvement
When one plays a game that one ends up loving, one tends to forget all the tiring nuisances that plagued it. A prime example of this is Mass Effect 1.
I picked up Mass Effect 2 recently, beat it, and then decided to watch my roommate try to play through ME1 the first time (he insists on knowing all the story before advancing to the second). I was floored at the enormous differences between the two games. Yes, they had the same universe, with obvious additions like new locations, new races, and new allies, but they changed the core mechanics of the game in a very fundamental way.
First off, they abolished the hated missions based around the vehicle, as well as the awkward and clunky user interface used to the characters’ inventory. They also streamlined the characters to feel more cohesive as a team. Unfortunately for me, a huge RPG fan, the game was streamlined to a point that I felt that it had gotten away from its BioWare RPG roots. It had become a Third Person Shooter with RPG elements.
That being said, I do not think that the decision to make the game faster was a poor choice. They added in new auto-save points so that players wouldn’t die and have to restart the entire mission. They also allowed the player to skip through dialouge scenes, which is a marked improvement as many major fights start after talking, and dying happens- often.
The story and character design are once again top notch, as expected of a BioWare production, with many story and relationship possibilities branching based on the choices your character makes.
The only real complaint that I have with the game is that the upgrade system is required to advance the story to the best possible ending, but they way that one upgrades is by locating resources by scanning various planets encountered. Scanning involves holding down the scan button until the lode is found, then pushing another button to deploy a probe. It is an incredibly long and tedious process, and I cannot believe that someone approved that game mechanic.
Any minor complaints pale in comparison to the masterwork as a whole. This game is amazing, and if you don’t already own it, buy it or rent it for either Xbox360 or PC. 5 stars.