I clearly remember that around the same time last year Xbox 360 owners were dancing around holding Mass Effect 2 with all its glory and brilliance. As a PS3 owner I didn’t know what the big fuss was about, but after looking at the game and seeing it in action I realized that I was missing out on a truly unique experience. However, times have changed and Bioware finally released Mass Effect 2 on the PS3. To compensate PS3 owners for the long wait of one of the most critically acclaimed games of 2010, Bioware promised that Mass Effect 2 on the PS3 would be the definite version of the game.
Mass Effect 2 is the second installment in the Mass Effect trilogy. It is the sequel to the original Mass Effect (Xbox360 and PC) and has you in control of the main protagonist of the series Commander Shepard. Shepard’s main goal is to save the Universe from evil forces that are threatening the existence of every living thing out there. If you did not play the original Mass Effect then Bioware has you covered. Since the original Mass Effect was published by Microsoft, it can never see the light of the day on Sony’s console. However Bioware made sure that players getting into Mass Effect 2 on the PS3 wouldn’t be left out from what happened in the 1st installment of the trilogy. They included an interactive comic that spans around 15 minutes explaining what happened in the original Mass Effect and even allowing you to make important choices that were present in the game.
The brilliance of Mass Effect 2 comes from its highly customizable experience. Everything from Commander Shepard’s gender/looks/background/ habits can be customized according to personal preference and play a role in how the story progresses. In addition, the choices you make throughout the game heavily shape the story to the point where decisions can dictate who lives and dies, who you are friends with, who hates you, and most importantly who your love interest is. The thing that sets Mass Effect 2 apart from other similar games with choices and decisions available is that the effects of those decisions are visible and actually effect the game immensely rather than just being a gimmicky feature of no significance. This adds in a whole new layer to the game as you can’t experience everything in a single playthrough which drives you to replay the game several times to fully experience different routes and possibilities.
At heart Mass Effect 2 is a cover-based 3rd person shooter much like titles such as Gears of War and Uncharted. However it adds in several RPG elements that greatly enhance the gameplay experience. You mainly control Commander Shepard in combat but you are assisted by 2 characters from your party throughout your missions. You can’t control those 2 characters directly but you can issue them commands such as what to target or what ability to use. Your characters gain experience points from fighting enemies and completing missions. Once you reach a certain amount of experience points your characters level up. Bioware smartly added a squad level up system instead of an individual level up system. This means that all characters level up at the same time. Hence regardless of who you usually pick to assist you in combat you can always go back and choose other characters that you never used before without the need to level them up individually.