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SummaryA great RPG that is only slightly weaker than the first one
The GoodMost of the good things about the first Mass Effect still apply, so I'll just focus on the changes made from the predecessor. The first noticeable thing is that the shooting is much better, and the biotic/tech powers also feel more precise. Even though I absolutely loathe Gears of War and most of its imitators, Mass Effect's combat is improved by the fact that you at least keep moving, weapons feel powerful enough and your teammates are much more useful than in most games.
Also, the loyalty missions are great. I disliked the idea at first, but dedicating the bulk of the game to them actually works, because it makes us love these characters even more.
Of course, some of the glitches from the first game and the awkward pauses in conversations have been eliminated.
And hey, just about everything said by Garrus, Mordin, Legion or Kasumi apply. The dialogue is still great and there's much more humor in ME2, most of it funny.
Like the first time, the graphics are great, the music is memorable and the game has a lot of replay value: two playthroughs can be completely different from each other, thanks to the multitude of dialogue options and morality choices.
The BadAfter being bought by EA, it seems that BioWare has been forced to pander to the shooter crowd that plays mostly Gears of War (yuck!) or Call of Duty (eugh!). Though the inventory in the first ME was bad, BioWare's idea of fixing it is apparently to remove it completely. Now you can't customize weapons anymore, but what's even worse is that you can't customize armor, either. So I will be forced to look at the horrible uniforms given to Jack, Miranda and Samara. At least I can make Jack wear a shirt.
And what's with the barrage of fanservice, anyway? There's nothing wrong with sex appeal, but Mass Effect 2 goes through the tasteless, "pander to the teenage boys" route instead of the mature route. Just look at Miranda's uniform.
The advertising campaign talked about how much "darker" and "more mature" this game is, but that was just marketing-talk. If anything, the game feels more immature, with characters like Jack, Miranda and Grunt being shoved to our faces.
And what's with the RPG elements being whittled down? I know it sounds like I'm making a big deal out of this, but now the characters besides Shepard only have three active powers each, which feels like an artificial limitation.
Eliminating the Mako seems like a mistake in hindsight. Now there's very little variety in the game: most of it is just shooting and dialogue, especially shooting. Even on Casual, you're blasting your way through hundreds of nameless enemies, which gets boring after a while. I would have preferred seeing more missions like Thane's and Samara's loyalty missions. Though the side quests have better environments this time around, they mostly consist of shooting your way through a hundred mercenaries. That's what they call evolution?
Finally, the main story: Cerberus and the Collectors. Well, I don't want to spoil anything, but the ending and the final "boss" seem awkward and rushed, despite the epic music and action. The main story just doesn't seem as good as the first time around, and the Collectors are boring enemies. The game could have benefited from a clear-cut antagonist like Saren.
But, while I complain, the game is definitely one of the best ever, just not as good as the first one.