Mass Effect 2 Initial Impressions

Mass Effect 2 is awesome…that is all….

I suppose I should back that up a bit, eh? I’m gonna warn you though, in the interest of full disclosure. I’m a bit of a Mass Effect fanboy, and therefore my views may be a bit biased. So, take these impressions for what you will. For that reason, I won’t be doing a full review on this game either.

This game is such a huge improvement over the first. I won’t lie and say the game is much different overall. It still feels very much like the Mass Effect we’ve grown to love. But, what Bioware has done is they practically took every single complaint about the first game, and either removed it, or fixed what was wrong with it. No more randomly driving around planets in the Mako. No more horrible inventory management. And no more long elevator rides!! There’s a lot more that they improved/changed, but to me, these were the big glaring problems in the first. The rest of the problems, for example framerate (which they fixed this time around) wasn’t so much a problem because of the style of game.

I’ll expand of these 3 things in particular…

First of all, the planet exploration bit it totally gone. Well, maybe not totally, but it’s completely changed. Instead of driving around on every planet you can land on, you now fly (actually control your ship) from system to system, planet to planet, and scan the planets, one by one. The scanning only takes 2 seconds, and if you happen to come across an anomaly, the system will alert you. You can then choose to land, and you’ll be placed on a very specific mission, with totally different environments every single time. No more cookie-cutter warehouses. You can also choose to scan the planets for natural resources, which are used in upgrades….I’ll go into that next.

For the inventory system, they’ve scrapped the entire system from Mass Effect 1, and have gone with something completely new. You don’t pick up individual guns anymore. Instead, you pick up sort of these blueprints for the guns. These blueprints are sent up to the Normandy, and you can now equip any team member with that gun (as long as their trained to use that type of gun). For armor, you no longer equip individual teammates. You can only customize your own. You can purchase armor upgrades for your own armor at the various stores, but all are variations on the stock N7 armor (unless you got some of the collector’s edition or pre-order armors). As for the upgrades, you can buy the upgrades (or I guess I should say the right to upgrade), and then use the raw materials from scanning the planets (as I said above) to actually unlock the upgrade, which is automatically available to everyone. Really, really slick.

Oh, and no more elevator rides either. In the first game, the long rides were used to mask loading times, and loading times still exist, but they’ve gone and created a custom load screen for almost every situation in the game. I won’t go into much detail here, but it’s just an incredible amount of detail and polish….just awesome. They even make fun of the old elevators during once scene. Hilarious.

Well, I suppose I’ve spouted on long enough for now….I’ll post again in a few days with some more impressions.

Until next time….