Beware of spoilers!
I recently completed Mass Effect 2 for the first time, quite long after I finished the first game. Mass Effect 1 was a decent game with a well crafted universe. Still, I wasn’t overly impressed but instead felt that there was a great potential with the series and I must say that Mass Effect 2 is a big step up from it’s prequel. To put it simple, Mass Effect 2 does away with the boring parts of the first game while improving the good parts and introducing several new elements.
Shepard is yet again pitted against the terrible Reapers, who this time are acting through the mysterious Collectors. The Council doesn’t feel interested in helping the cause and thus it is up to the transhumanist Cerberus to lend a helping hand. The destroyed Normandy is rebuilt and Shephard must gather a new party to aid him in the struggle. This takes the player across the universe to a multitude of different planets and locations – and here we find one of the first improvements from the first game. Where Mass Effect 1 basically only had the Citadel (and somewhat Noveria) as quest hubs the sequel features three to four of them. These places are also quite varied in style and touch; from the run-down smuggler’s paradise of Omega to the stunning Asari world of Illium. The second game has also done away with the quite tedious aspect of exploring “uncharted worlds” with the Mako and replaced this with planetary scanning and more “handcrafted” planets on which to land.
The number of party members is increased and most of them are quite well written. They all have their own background stories and quests in order to deepen their personalities. Several of these characters and their stories work on two levels; personal and political/lore. This means that the universe is made even more complex and much of the lore is weaved together with choices the player has to make. The story is traditionally written but works quite well because of the level of the writing.
Combat has been much improved and feels more stream-lined, the inventory is gone and has been replaced with research and the ability to choose between a set of fixed appearances – all of this I consider to be improvements.
The conclude, I find myself interested in seeing how BioWare will manage to wrap it up in the last game; there is a chance that all questions posed about Reapers and Collectors might just not be explained well enough. Still, I have faith in BioWare and this holiday we’ll get the answer.
I’ll try and put together a text that deals with some of the themes discussed in Mass Effect 2; transhumanism, existentialism and consequentialism to name a few.