Habboi's Blog of Games Design and All Things Awesome!

A Blog made of Awesome and Kittens. ;-)

Friday, 29 January 2010

Mass Effect 2: My Thoughts So Far...



Now that we're nearly through the first month of the year 2010 I thought it would be a good idea to write about Mass Effect 2 and my experiences with it thus far.

When it first arrived in my post yesterday I was eager to play it but I could not because I wanted to finish up my second play-through of Mass Effect 1 in order to receive the best reward when porting my character over to Mass Effect 2.

You can imagine my desperation as I still had Feros, Virmire and Illos to complete which took me a good three hours. Once I had completed it and listened to the satisfying credits song for the third time I quickly installed the game and jumped straight back into the world of the Mass Effect series.

Immediately I noticed a huge difference in visual presentation compared to the first game and the performance was much better possibly because the game was actually using the full power of my PC unlike older games which were not designed to use Quad Core technology.

From here I'll be talking about a few minor spoilers that take place from start to about five hours in.

Once I gained control of Shepherd I soon realised the controls had been changed and old mechanics had been removed. The changes that effected me the most was the lack of a radar in the corner and the switching of the "shift" and "space" keys on the keyboard. I soon got used to it though and like it more because it means I can rest my thumb on the "space" key and do most of my actions using just my thumb.

As for story I won't go into details as the game is fairly new but some parts such as the return to the Citadel actually brought out an emotional response. I was expecting the council to welcome me back and honour me for what I did in the first game but instead they dismissed all my hard work and the resulting atmosphere was quite sad and frustrating. It was even more effective because hours ago I had saved their lives by sacrificing my fellow humans in the first game.

You have to admit a game that can do that must be very powerful emotionally and I have to praise the story writers at Bioware because so far they've surprised even me.

At one point you meet your old friend Garrus from Mass Effect 1 and unfortunately he gets shot down by an enemy flying aircraft. I literally said out loud "No, he can't die, that's not fair. He's an awesome character..." Luckily he survives but he is scarred quite badly which again made me feel sad because he hides his injuries with jokes to uplift the mood.

Enough about the story though, as for gameplay, I am impressed with how fluid it feels now. One improvement is the weapons which now fire more accurate lasers that actually sound like guns unlike the "hairdryer" sound effects from the first game. Taking cover is easier now and issuing commands to your squad has been fixed so that you use the "q" and "e" keys instead of the out of reach "arrow" keys.

As for space travel they have also improved that greatly by allowing you to drive a "mini" Normandy. You can fly to a planet and use a new scanning mechanic that is a hell of a lot better than landing on it and driving around doing the same missions over and over in the first game. It allows you to scan the planet for resources and send probes that search for minerals which are sent back to you so that you can upgrade weapons, armour and even the ship. Searching for resources is necessary as the game designers have stated that you can die at the end of the game if you are not prepared.

Overall I'm five hours in right now and I already feel attached to the story and the characters that inhabit the universe. This is going to be a long game since I'm taking my time with it and I hope you do too.

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