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Platform

Playstation 3

 

Genre

Role-Playing / Action

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

BioWare

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

January 18, 2011

 

 

- Looks great

- Dialogue, weapon switching, squad tactics... gotta love the radial menus!

- Character development

- Great balance between shooting and role-playing

 

 

- Some load times so long I thought the game had frozen

- Instances of stuttering

- Induced a high level of anxiety!

 

 

Review: Heavy Rain (PS3)

Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops (PS3)

Review: Mafia II (PS3)

 

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Mass Effect 2

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

mass effect 2          mass effect 2

 

This review of Mass Effect 2 is a very difficult article to write. There's so much I want to say, so much I want to talk about that putting it into any kind of sensible order to produce a cohesive piece of writing that I've suffered complete writer's block.

On many levels, Mass Effect 2 is very gamey. I leveled up my character, Shepard, and my crew, collected and implemented upgrades to the ship, mined worlds for various elements, took part in long dialogues, dodged for cover during intense fighting that often involved ordering Shepard's small squad around, invoking biotic powers, and swapping out ammo types for more effective death dealing. The whole

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game manages a great balance between action and more traditional role-playing elements. It's very good. I like the action parts and the stats/upgrading parts weren't deep enough to lose me.

But the game managed to continually terrify me from moment to moment with it's dialogue choices and the seeming permanence of most choices. Selecting a choice is as easy as

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picking an option from the dialogue wheel. Then a button press. On a number of occasions, I found it necessary to pause the game to really think about the choices laid out before me and what the ramifications might be. It actually induced the kind of stress I last felt with Heavy Rain. I haven't come across anyone else with the same difficulty.

"A button press, whatever, time to shoot things."

That's not how I played it, especially during the loyalty missions, where Shepard gets to earn the loyalty of his various crew members by completing a task, which typically adds nothing to the overall story progression but it does really develop the characters and fills out information about how Mass Effect 2's universe works. And every decision during these missions especially was met with the closest thing to a full-on anxiety attack.

 

mass effect 2         mass effect 2

 

That might actually speak to matters I'm coping with in life outside the game, but just by way of an example, early in the game there's a "pure" krogan held in stasis that can by activated, which releases the krogan, or jettisoned into space because the krogan could be unstable and prone to extreme violence. As Shepard stood in front of the pod holding the krogan, I opted to exit from making a firm decision. I saved my progress, turned off my PS3, and went for a walk to clear my head.

It took me three days to make a decision. So maybe you can see why translating that kind of experience into a mere game review was such a daunting task.

 

mass effect 2          mass effect 2



Mass Effect 2 also does this horrible thing where "Paragon" (good) and "Renegade" (bad) actions become available during dialogue or a cutscene. An icon pops on screen, with only a couple of seconds to respond. It definitely makes it a more "organic" experience because there's no pause in the action, but those scenes made my heart race. I never wanted to make the "wrong" choice!

Mass Effect 3 is scheduled for a late 2011 release. Hopefully by then I will have healed enough to play it without too much anxiety.

- Aaron Simmer

(March 10, 2011)

 

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