Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mass Effect 2

 Mass Effect 2 Review

Kid Safe: Low (2.5  / 10)                             Game Quality: Very High 9.0 / 10)

Genre: Third Person Shooter / Open World RPG
-          This game is characterized by the viewpoint and the weapons used in the title. In a third person shooter, you are looking over the shoulder of an individual that is armed with a variety of weapons. On top of this, players are able to explore a "world" where choice is everything; rather than providing a dead-set story that a player has to follow, they are provided a world that they can explore. Finally, as an RPG, or "Role Playing Game", players are given the ability to customize the appearance, weaponry, special skills, and abilities that their character uses in order to create a unique individual.

Internet Requirements: Low
-          Mass Effect 2 features relatively low internet requirements. While it does not offer any kind of multiplayer functionality or score-tracking service, this title does offer the ability for players to purchase and download additional content to get more gameplay out of this game.

Story Summary: In Mass Effect 2, you take the role of Commander Shepard, a former member of the
special forces group, the Specters. You pick up Shepard after he has been dead for two years following the surprise attack on his space-vessel, the Normandy, by an unknown enemy. Resurrected by a humans-extremist group known as Cerberus, who is lead by the enigmatic "Illusive Man", Shepard is called upon to investigate the disappearance of a number of human colonies on the fringe of known space. They don't care how you get it done, just do it. Players will then get to explore the entire universe with dozens, if not hundreds of planets; going anywhere they so desire and gaining friends along the way as they try and solve the mystery of the Collectors.

Kid Safe: Low (2.5 / 10)
-          Foul Language: High
o   Mass Effect 2 features a high amount of foul language in the form of the following words: "d*mn", "h*ll", "b*tch", "a*s", "f*ck", "p*ssy", "b*stard", "p*ss" and "f*ggot". These words are not commonly used except by a handful of certain characters, most of them tending to be of a rougher and unsavory nature. Two of the characters that commonly use cuss words are your ally "Jack" and your other ally "Grunt". They will commonly use foul language as a part of their regular speech patterns without any real reasoning during both cutscenes and gameplay. Most everyone else will usually only use foul language during scenes of extreme emotion, frustration, and anger.

-          Violence and Gore: High
o   Mass Effect 2 features a high amount of both violence and gore. To start off, as a third person shooter, players will be using a wide variety of weapons that include, but are not limited to, space-age pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, rocket launchers, lasers, artillery cannons, assault robots, and more. Players will also be able to use a variety of other worldly powers such as fireballs, ice-powers, and telekinesis. Players will be fighting a number of different enemies that include human beings, human-like aliens, robots, and a variety of monstrous alien creatures. Enemies and individuals that players can attack are generally always hostile and attempting to attack and kill the player, however there are some situations during cutscenes where players might attack and execute innocent individuals if they are deciding to be evil.

o   When in combat, players will be encouraged to shoot and kill their enemies. Shooting an enemy will generally produce very little blood unless the enemy is shot in the face with a high powered weapon, such as a sniper rifle; this will result in a large red spray around the face area. Shooting an enemy will result on blood spraying on walls and items behind them. Occasionally, if using an explosive power like a fireball or an explosive weapon like a rocket launcher, the enemy will explode in a spray of red, sending chunks of flesh and gore in every direction; this is not overly common. When an enemy is killed, they will stop and slowly fall down rather realistically. Once dead, enemy bodies or gore (in the instance of a fatal explosion) will quickly dissipate and disappear, leaving no mess behind.

o   While exploring the galaxy, players will stumble upon a number of gory sights, although they are not overly common. While adventuring through several different derelict space stations and cities, players will stumble upon bodies laying here and there; however there are no obvious signs of pain, suffering, or injury. While exploring the Collector's space ship, players will find a massive heap of corpses that have been experimented on by this alien race. Yet again, while fighting through an enemy stronghold, players will find roughly a dozen corpses that are all covered by sheets that were used for medical experimentation.

o   There are also a number of slightly disturbing areas such as a room where there are claw marks on the wall from individuals who, while dying of a plague, tried to claw their way out. Likewise, another example includes a video that features a human-alien woman who, having barricaded herself in a room, is telling her daughter that she loves her just before the other creatures burst into the room to kill her and the screen goes blank.
-          Sexually-Related Content: High
o   Mass Effect 2 features a high amount of sexually-related content in the form of both sexual reference as well as some minor sexual content and partial nudity. Starting off with sexual reference, there are a number of scenes and dialogues between characters that make note of sexual activity. When players are talking to other characters, they will have the option to, if friendly with them, lightly flirt back and forth. This flirting can make reference to several things including "letting off some steam" and "filling them up". There are also suggestive comments like "If this is just about sex, maybe you should ****ing say so." and "Oh my, she really is quite...flexible". Finally, there are also sexually related situations such as a mission where the captain of a ship which crash landed apparently killed or exiled all of the male crew members in order to keep the women as a harem.

o   As far as sexual content and nudity goes, let's start with nudity. First, allow me to establish that there is NOT any blatant nudity. The most players will see is underwear and lingerie. While exploring, players will occasionally venture into bars and exotic dance halls where they will see women dancing in partially revealing outfits which tend to reveal buttocks, but little else. Likewise, players are able to pursue romantic relationships with their allies which will result in sexually suggestive scenes. These scenes will show characters flirting, kissing, caressing, embracing, and partially disrobing; however these are not sexually explicit in any fashion, all characters are at least partially clothed with no blatant nudity, and after these initially scenes of intimacy, the cutscene will fade away and fast forward to the characters clothed and embracing on a bed. These scenes are generally more romantically focused than sexual and only one character has a truly "lustful" depiction: the character "Jack".

-          Use of Drugs and Alcohol: Moderate
o   Mass Effect 2 features  a moderate amount of a drug and alcohol usage that takes place primarily through reference to illicit drugs and scenes of using tobacco and alcohol. Starting off with the references, there are several missions and discussions which concern drug use as well as the addiction to or trafficking thereof. There are also discussions in which characters make reference to having been on or using drugs; examples provided "The asari injecting so many drugs into me was terrifying" and "He had me so drugged up, I can't even remember what you said to me."

o   Aside from the illicit drug use, players will witness a fair share of tobacco usage, especially from one of the main characters; the Illusive Man. This individual, quite literally, is smoking a cigarette in every scene that you see him in. There are also a number of other characters throughout the game that are scene smoking cigarettes. The same is to be said about alcohol. Players will very often witness characters throughout the game drinking alcoholic beverages. If players wander into a bar in this title, they are often able to order drinks from the bartender. There is no obvious limit placed on the number of drinks they can order and doing so results in a slightly blurry and shaky screen for roughly a minute. Past that, drinking offers no ramifications, bad, good, or otherwise.

Game Quality: Very High (9.0 / 10)
-          Graphics / Visuals: High
o   Mass Effect 2 offers up a rather amazing experience that is visually very well done. To start off, one of this game's major strengths is its imagination and focus on varied environments. As you explore the galaxy, you will notice a wide variety of different places. Not only will you be walking the halls of human, alien, and robotic buildings and ships, you will also be exploring a number of alien planets, lost worlds, and crumbling ruins. Every planet and alien race has a very unique appearance and feel to their design and the worlds that you explore reflect this nicely. The galaxy feels fully realized and complete, filled to the brim with nooks and crannies that are just waiting to be explored.

o   The other notable visual experience in Mass Effect 2 is in the design of the characters. To start off, the game is very dialogue heavy, and players will very often be talking back and forth with other characters. The focus on facial features and expressions across the alien races are top notch and generally well done, offering up a multitude of realistic emotions and expressions. Likewise, the range of motions that characters exhibit while moving through the world is rather impressive. Not just counting stuff like running, strafing, turning, etc., characters will often react to things like flame and explosions, shying away from it realistically, and showing signs of unease and lack of balance.

o   The game's major visual issue comes in graphical glitches. There were several instances where characters would stop "walking" and suddenly just start hovering and floating, standing perfectly still. There was one comical example where one of my characters, Miranda, suddenly went stiff as a board and floated around me and the other character Jacob in a circle, almost like a mannequin orbiting a moon. Likewise, there were a number of other issues where I would walk over an invisible "break" in the graphics and suddenly get caught in places that I was not supposed to go. Examples include an instance where I was merely hovering over a massive hole in the ground or when I walked forward and suddenly walked "up" where I walked through the ceiling of the room I was in. These were uncommon, but an annoyance when I found them.
-          Audio: Very High
o   An all-star voice cast, high quality sound effects, and an excellent musical score make the audio in Mass Effect 2 a treat. Starting with voices, Adam Baldwin, Keith David, Seth Green, Martin Sheen, Quinton Flynn, and Phil LaMarr are just a few of the names that make this game a Grade-A hit. Every line is nailed, every inflection perfect, and every bit of dialogue truly carry this story driven game along. As for the music: again, top notch. With a wide variety of pieces that range from slow and calm to heavy and fast paced or soft and creepy, all of Mass Effect's music is specially craft just for the game and always sets the tone for whatever mood or action is going on at the time.

-          Gameplay / Playability: High
o   Mass Effect 2 has some of the most enjoyable gameplay to date with a pretty high level of playability. Starting off, as always, with playability. The game does a decent job in introducing all of the controls and functions that you will need to use. Introducing everything in a slow paced, action environment, the game progressively displays all of the control buttons that you need to know, followed up by when and how to use a variety of things like squad commands, special powers, medical kits, and more. Likewise, should you ever forget how to use any of these powers, or you just haven't used them for a while, the game will display a prompting telling you how to use said power or command during regular gameplay.

o   The one major problem with playability comes, again, from a number of glitches that I experienced. I'm not sure if this had something to do with the PC/Computer version of this title or what, but a couple of these glitches were incredibly frustrating because they forced me to reload the title. Falling back on the same examples. In an instance where I got stuck hovering over an open chasm for no apparent reason, the game would not allow me to leave. No matter what I tried to do, I could not go back onto solid land. Likewise, when I suddenly started hovering up to the ceiling, I was never able to get back down. These glitches forced me to start over at an earlier part of the game.

o   However, the gameplay is a much different story. If you are wanting a heavily story-driven title with a variety of things to do, this is the game for you. Obviously, as the genre implies, there is shooting; but that's just the half of it. Players will constantly be dealing with hundreds of different characters throughout the game. They get to decide how they want to be perceived...kind and caring or brutish and arrogant, strict and understanding or completely unforgiving. How you act towards others will progressively unlock different features, powers, and capabilities, not to mention a host of different possible endings to the game. Plus, as you explore, players will constantly be trying new and different activities such as hacking doors and consoles to unlock them, scanning and probing planets to harvest rare materials, bypassing security networks, upgrading weapons and equipment, wagering on alien monster fights, defending food stores from space monkeys using an artillery cannon, and so much more. Not to mention that every choice you made in the first mass effect will influence the entire world in Mass Effect 2. All of these features blend together seamlessly into an exceptional and enjoyable experience.
-          Dollar-Value: Very High
o   Overall, Mass Effect 2 has a very high dollar value. So long as you are ok with the mature themes that this game has to offer, this game has somewhere in the range of 30 to 40 hours minimum of gameplay. I would keep in mind that, while this is certainly not the most violent or suggestive game, the title may be less appealing to some younger players due to the incredibly heavy focus on story and dialogue. While it makes it an excellent choice for an older audience, the long periods of talking might bore a younger player. Nonetheless, given the game is quickly approaching bargain bin costs, this massive game and exceptional game is worth just about every penny.

-          Not too many games can really come close to the complexity of Mass Effect, however we do have one or two recommendations. If you are looking for a less mature rated title, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic would certainly be an excellent choice. Other, more mature rated titles, might include Alpha Protocol and Dragon Age Origins.

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