January 31, 2011

Mass Effect 2 Review

If there's any video game that has all the fictional planets with the coolest names ever, then it's Mass Effect 2 (ME2). It's probably the only game that made me read the short stories about its fictional planetary settings. I admired all the beautiful exoplanetary landscapes and terrains, and the views of cities that set my minds on worlds beyond. ME2 made me pay attention to the dialogues between the characters because it matters; getting to know each of the characters that make up your team is crucial to the success of the final mission.

What’s great about Mass Effect 2 is that the storyline is not exactly the same for each player. Meaning, no two players can experience the exact same events that unfolded during their game play. For example, here’s how my own storyline went: Legion, my favorite Geth sustained a fatal headshot in the final mission. I felt really bad losing him because I loved talking to him. Legion was the only casualty in my team. But other players did not lose a single team member. Or some lost two or more.

Another example is that Miranda was totally pissed at me. Thus, I ended up with ‘Jack’ on a rough scene below the deck of Normandy, not with Miranda in the engine room that some players brag about with a wide grin.

Another thing I love about Mass Effect 2 is that it touches upon so many human aspects. Here’s some of them; Emotion: Miranda shed a tear after seeing her twin sister, and Kazumi keeps a memory of a loved one. Romance: Go figure. Humor: Mordin sang (he's my least favorite because he resembles Jar Jar Binks). Philosophy: My conversations with Legion the Geth was very interesting as it dealt with existentialism. Aggression: Grunt just wants to crush every body. Psychology: Thanes was pretty deep with his Zen quips. Politics and Ethics: Tali, keeps a secret, Zaeed wasn’t too happy with me for foiling his revenge in exchange for saving lives. Morality: The “Renegade” (bad cop) and “Paragon” (good cop) feature has a bearing on the outcome of the game. Apparently, ME2 has something for the evil within you, and it will show up in your face.

As you can see, the scope of the game reaches deep into the humanity of the player while managing to touch upon larger topics such as: Exploration: the quick bits of story and context behind the in-game planets were very good. It was fun reading through the narratives behind each planet. Science: Loads of astrophysics were integrated into the stories behind each exoplanet. It made me think that an astrophysicist and astrobiologist were consulted in this game.

The writers really did a great job of appealing to the different dimensions of the human psyche, and the narratives were well written. All in all, I consider Mass Effect 2 as a masterpiece.


This mini-review is long overdue. I actually dug this from my google.docs and hurriedly posted it, hoping that some items from my wish-list could get to the game developers in time to get implemented in the upcoming Mass Effect 3, which is due this year 2011. Also, since I am now getting immersed in a new high-adrenaline game, I needed to get this out prior to posting my review of Dead Space 2. So, hey Bioware, please take a look at my wish list below:

Wish list:
1) Mass Effect should work with Kinect!
2) “Game-within-a-game” (unlocking and hacking) should be more diverse and varied than just pattern matching and memory game.
3) Multi-player mode
4) Should have more references to Astronomical objects. I already love the inclusion of Eagle Nebula and Crescent Nebula, and so on. I wish there were more. Perhaps add Orion Nebula...
5) Mining the planets made me fall asleep several times (so i let my son mine minerals for me) Not sure if mining could be made more exciting

1) Lack of Mass in planetary properties
2) Text is too small and unreadable. I had to get HDMI cable to read the short stories about the planets
3) Some bugs: (I was unable to move in some spots. This happened around 4 times)
4) Mordin eerily reminds me of Jar Jar Binks. Could you please change his face or change the way he talks?