The original Mass Effect was one of the greatest impulse buying decisions I have made in my life as a gamer. I knew the company Bioware were the masterminds behind the critically acclaimed Knights of the Old Republic games, and I also knew they were well known for their conversation trees within their games. Aside from that I had nothing to base my buying decision on, as I had not been following the game at all up until that point. Little did I know that this one purchase would unapologetically steal over one hundred hours of my life away.
Nearly everything about this game had me impressed. The graphics were gorgeous (after turning off the obtrusive noise / grain effect). The story was engaging and satiated my Sci-Fi taste buds. Even the characters had me caught up in their stories and lives (a rare feat in my opinion, as I usually don’t get emotionally attached to the pixels dashing across my TV).
It also marked the first time in a game that I felt like the choices I made during my many playthroughs actually mattered. Lackluster games like Fable (and incidentally later on, Fable II) promised that very thing, but both games pale in comparison to some of the gut-wrenching choices I was forced to make in Mass Effect.
Despite my obvious love affair with the game, I did have a few issues with it. The weapons in the game, while unique for the most part, became dull and predictable as you continued to rise in levels. After surpassing the Level 50 mark I was extraordinarily bummed to find out that the weapons didn’t change much, and in most cases nothing new could even be found. This seemed like a glaringly obvious oversight in a game such as this.
My other issue with the original Mass Effect was the menu / combat navigation. While these issues were purportedly fixed during the port to the PC, I didn’t get a chance to experience the new layout, so the issues stuck with me on the Xbox 360. Due to the clunky nature of the menus I never felt inclined to use my special abilities, or make a character that specialized in anything other than direct combat, which severely hurt the chance for even more replayability.
That should all be changing some time next year, as Bioware has formally announced and shown off Mass Effect 2 in all of its glory.
This year we got a few sneak peeks at the game before E3, which left any fan of the original game hungry for more. Bioware wouldn’t disappoint and brought the game to E3.
While I wasn’t able to play the demo as I didn’t attend E3 this year, many people did, and they all walked away with similar impressions; this game is going to be good.
All my gripes with the original game have seemingly been fixed. Tighter controls and gunplay mean that battles will be more intense and satisfying, something that was severely lacking in the original iteration. They also fixed my issue with the weaponry from the first game, even going so far as to admit that they could have done better. There are now more powerful weapons that unleash brutal killings in all their HD glory.
I hope to be able to see more demos of this game soon, or even get my hands on one. Time will tell, but Mass Effect 2 was easily the hottest title at E3 this year.