First Impression: Mass Effect 2

The original _Mass Effect_ has to be my favourite RPG of all time; it’s combination of stylised graphics, space opera drama and actually having a narrative, really captivated me. But it wasn’t the combat or galaxy-wide scale that got me hooked, it was the music. The old-school, 1970s sci-fi soundtrack was fantastic, instantly reminding me of classics such as _Close Encounters of the Third Kind_ and _2001: A Space Odyssey_, and made the game completely unique.

In short, the fact that the _Mass Effect 2_ demo was playable at the Eurogamer Expo was the only reason I went, playing everything else was just a bonus. Having rushed to the demo stand and after waiting for what felt like an age, the controller was finally in my hands and I was playing my most anticipated title of next year.

The demo was relatively short, only about 10 minutes, and regrettably I couldn’t actually hear any of the dialogue. It did make me realise that _Mass Effect 2_ is very much _Mass Effect_: the style was the same, i.e. drenched in film grain like before; the huge range of dialogue options were still present; and it very much felt like the game I’d fallen in love with, so many moons ago. What was noticeably different was the combat. No longer did it feel like gunplay built on dice rolls but instead like a fully fledged third person shooter, similar to _GRAW_ or _Gears_. Considering that this was the only area of the original that was slightly below par, it was fantastic to see the combat being responsive and having the weight that it should have had in the first place.

In addition to the array of weaponry available from the first game, the demo also had a pretty impressive rocket launcher which had limited ammo, a first for the franchise. While all the previous weapons had no limit to how many times you could shoot a poor, unsuspecting alien in the face, _Mass Effect 2_ now has this additional dynamic, bound to add a multitude of new and wonderful tactics to an already deep game. Also present in the demo was the ability to change the ammo that each of your weapons fire; clearly, selecting the right ammo will help defeat certain foes.

With such a short time with the game, it was impossible to tell anything pertaining to the story or new characters but one thing was clear; this game looks fantastic. The scale’s been greatly improved for the cutscenes, which, once bound to nondescript rooms, now encompass hover-car flights across city skylines, and the visual fidelity has had another layer added to it, making the entire experience that much more realistic.

Although my time with _Mass Effect 2_ didn’t make me super excited like I thought it would have, it did make me happy. This game appears to be exactly what I want it to be, pretty much the same as the original but with slight improvements in every regard, particularly with the combat. If Bioware do this, I’ll be a happy man; I don’t want a reinvention, I don’t want unnecessary new features or pointless mini-games, I just want more of the game I know and love.


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