Mass Effect 2 Review

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The Avatar of RPGs has arrived


As the sequel to one of the deepest, most accomplished and best executed role-playing games since the dawn of digital entertainment, it was a no-brainer that Mass Effect 2 was going to be good. But even with its formidable pedigree, BioWare’s space opera is more exciting than any RPG fan could have hoped for.

In terms of story and characterisation, Mass Effect 2 is stunning, the epic adventure awash with flawed and compelling characters you can interact with in a believable way thanks to the game’s intuitive dialogue wheels, allowing you to swiftly choose a response during important chats or even interrupt the flow of dialogue if the mood takes you. And with a cast of characters that each have their own detailed histories and questionable morals – and voice acting from the likes of Martin Sheen and Michael Beattie that bring the polygonal heroes to life – playing Mass Effect 2 is a thrillingly immersive experience which you’ll happily lose days of your life to over the coming months.

Aside from its engaging backdrop, Mass Effect 2 is also remarkable as BioWare has clearly listened to the fans, and streamlined the gameplay to address a handful of niggling problems in the first adventure. The combat is more intense and satisfying than before, with bigger battlefields that allow for more creative skirmishes and slicker ways to swap between heavy weaponry and special abilities, in turn making every firefight an explosive joy. Minor frustrations from the first game – such as awkward loading spots and tedious side-quests – have also been addressed and enhanced, while a slicker inventory and easier use of special skills also make for a less clunky quest that will appeal to a wider, less-geeky audience.

Best of all, though, is how Mass Effect 2 – despite its grand scale and intergalactic intrigue – quickly becomes a deeply personal and unique journey. Every decision you make, no matter how small, can dramatically affect how the sprawling quest unfolds, an approach that’s even more compelling when you import your hero from the original game, the unfolding plot in turn shaped by your experiences in the first instalment and affecting how characters you met in Mass Effect react to you in the sequel.

Stunning to look at, a pleasure to play and impossible to put down, Mass Effect 2 is a defining moment in role-playing games and resets the bar for other RPGs that will follow in its wake.

See how Mass Effect 2 did on our list of the 100 greatest games.