Mass Effect 2 is the follow up to the Xbox 360 exclusive Mass Effect 1 and picks up where we last left Commander Shepard and his crew on their ship the Normandy. Bioware has relaunched its high profile game on the Playstation 3 not to mention adding in all the bonus content, all for the same retail price of its original release on the 360 (sweet).
In the game you mold the destiny and face of your character by choosing a name, gender, history, as well as his/her skill sets. From there you are thrust into the wide open territory of the galaxy to explore and complete missions given to you and assignments you pick up along the way. Bear with me in my review as I’m trying not to say too much about the story to give it away or ruin the possible outcomes that may arise based on your decisions throughout the game. This is what makes Mass Effect so appealing, the weight that your decisions have on the lives of people and even entire species. It makes you feel that you aren’t just playing along but really carving a path of your own, a great achievement indeed. Being that Microsoft owns the publishing rights to Mass Effect 1 Playstation owners will never get to see it on their consoles. Bioware’s work around is giving you an interactive comic to “bring you up to speed” on the happenings in Mass Effect 1 and have you make decisions that will carry through to your play through of Mass Effect 2.
Shepard is assigned with putting together an elite squad to take down the "Collectors", a group of alien beings who are attacking human colonies and “collecting” them for purposes unkown. Your job is to find out what it is and stop them at all costs, it’s a suicide mission but Shepard and his team must be up to the task at hand for the sake of not only humanity but the galaxy as well.
Mass Effect 2’s gameplay is your basic cover based shooter but underneath it beats the heart of your traditional RPG as it has elements of a good story, deep involved characters, character customization and leveling interspersed with tactics as you decide ally placement and issue orders of what abilities they should use. May sound complex with all these options for battle, but Mass Effect does a brilliant job of making it all gel and manageable in the heat of battle with their action wheel. When you want to choose an ability to use you hold R2 button and the wheel with abilities for you and your characters pop up stopping the action and giving you time to decide your next move. The neighbouring L2 button controls your choice of weapon, and these are only limited by your character class, of which Mass Effect 2 has a wide range to pick from all granting different tactical advantages and allowing you to play to your own personal play style.
Besides the immediate story though there are side quests to fulfill, which further lengthen your gaming experience not to mention new systems to find worlds to explore, scan and mine for precious minerals that contribute to the leveling up of weapons and ship functions. The decision making is very pivotal in Mass Effect 2 as your decisions have consequences not only on the story but also on whether people in your party are loyal or just normally following you around. If you gain their loyalty then you unlock a special ability dedicated to that character, and that power may just be the edge you need to survive in a big battle, so choose wisely how you decide to answer along your quests. The gravity and weight added to your decisions forces you to contemplate and really think before you leap and your trying to get the best effect (pun intended). What also comes out of it is the replay value of wanting to see how it would play out if you chose something else, and that's one of the charms of Mass Effect 2 getting to see how your choices play out.
The presentation is top notch and benefits from the new engine that will power Mass Effect 3, but there aren’t any major noticeable upgrades visually for the PS3’s Mass Effect 2 from its 360 counterpart. The sound quality is great and the voice acting is exceptional. And the best part of this release on PS3 is (as mentioned earlier) that you don’t have to shell out extra money for the downloadable content, because it’s all included. There are a few glitches and clipping issues that happen during gameplay and I’ve come across slow downs and an actual freeze of the game, to be honest the game only froze on me once in my 50+hours of gameplay. One of the better games of 2010, Mass Effect 2 is a welcomed edition to the PS3 library, and having all the DLC bundled with it makes it the BEST version to get if you haven’t gotten it yet.