Finally, we reach the game that took the number 1 spot in our top ten games of 2010, Mass Effect 2. A sci-fi, action-RPG masterpiece, this game well and truly deserves the top spot and all the prizes for everything it got right and the distinct lack of anything it got wrong.
Mass Effect 2. Wow. Just, wow. Never have I played a game that crammed practically all of my favourite things into one fantastic, explosive, brilliantly told game. Picking up where it the story left off in Mass Effect, the sequel places you right in the shoes of Commander Shepard on the Normandy, only to be thrown headlong into an amazing, intense action scene; nothing boring about the start of this game – or any other part of it throughout, for that matter – that’s for sure!
I have been captivated by the entire universe of Mass Effect since the very beginning, and to see the background and main story of it all get strengthened even more by Mass Effect 2 was fantastic. To be able explore even more beautiful locations with the huge cast of main characters and even ‘extras’ throughout the galaxy made the whole thing an brilliant experience. Feeling like these characters all played a real role in the life of the worlds and stations they were a part of, and like their lives really mattered in the grand scheme of things, was so much more than you could expect from a lot of other games out there. Choosing whether to save a person’s (or alien’s) life or to leave them to die gave you a great feeling of power, and when nothing stands in the way of your rendition of Commander Shepard, whether your methods may be considered good or bad, kind or tough, Mr. Nice Guy or Mr. Hardass, the lives of key characters and even the lives of many others can all be dictated and altered due to every decision you make, and every influencial conversation path you choose.
The gameplay mechanics of Mass Effect 2 are absolutely nailed this time around, and a vast improvement in every way over its predecessor. Combat is a blast, with every shot feeling like it really counts, and every power or team-mate command making that all important difference to the tide of battle. I found myself completely engrossed in the heat of conflict every time a dangerous situation would arise, and with many battle scenes springing up due right after tense, tough-guy talk with certain mean players of the galaxy, it only gets you even more hyped to kick some arse.
Fantastic characters, awesome design, beautiful gameplay, and superb story, all make Mass Effect 2 my definite favourite and most memorable game of the year. Roll on, Mass Effect 3! No seriously, I need it. Like, now. HURRY THE EFF UP!
One of the best features of Mass Effect 2 was the option to import an existing save file from the original game. I had grown very fond of my Shepard and the fact I was able to continue her story made the game a far more personal experience. Every choice she had already made carried over to Mass Effect 2, and the result was a truly personalised version of the story which I felt completely absorbed into. There are lots of little moments which reference a decision I made during the original game’s events, something no other game of this scale has done before.
It was a tough call between Bioware’s excellent sequel and Rockstar’s wild west masterpiece, but where the open-world cowboy sim presented some of the years most hilarious bugs, I found Mass Effect 2 to be a near flawless technical experience, and thus deserving of claiming the top spot. Improving a couple of features is something I’ve come to expect from any game sequel, but here was a sequel that went above and beyond any expectations. The revamped combat was brutally satisfying and fun, the inventory system was streamlined and much easier to understand, and the new Normandy ship felt like a second home – I genuinely felt like I was commanding a ship full of my own personally-picked team of professionals, and on the occasions when it is under threat, I felt real fear for it.
This was probably most notable in the grand finale sequence. Everything you do throughout the game leads to the final situation, and the outcome will vary greatly depending on how much you bonded with your team. Its not something I’m willing to ruin by going into too many details, but suffice to say I found it to be one of the most memorable endings I’ve ever experienced.
I cannot praise this game enough, and simply reminiscing about it for this article is making me want to go through it all again. And the funny thing is that’s exactly what I will need to do before Mass Effect 3 comes out, thanks to a PC hard drive failure which erased my save files late last summer… I must get my Shepard back! I can’t wait to go through it all again, frankly.
The wait for Mass Effect 3 has already been agonising, but at least we have the recently released teaser to drool over for now…enjoy: