Editor’s Note: Each week in December we’ll be unveiling another nominee for Blast’s 2010 Game of the Year Award, here’s our this week’s — Bioware’s space masterpiece Mass Effect 2. Keep checking back each week until the final week, when we reveal the winner along with all of the yearly award winners.

The release of Mass Effect in November 2007 was the beginning of a cult following and the birth of a wonderful RPG franchise from Bioware. The major aspects of Mass Effect that made the first title shine weren’t just your typical answers like beautiful graphics and fun gun play (some opinions were the combat was clunky). The story of Commander Shepard and the characters that joined you along the way made this title the epic RPG that it was. The universe that Bioware introduced us to had the depth and creative story to suck gamers in and have them wanting more. The announcement that your game save from the first title would have a direct impact on the sequel left the gaming community waiting in even bigger anticipation.

The level of excitement for the release of Mass Effect 2 made me a little skeptical for a few reasons. The promises that Bioware made in assuring gamers a more developed story and revamped combat for the sequel had me worried. The balance between RPG elements and combat are tricky and I was afraid if Bioware went to much in one direction the franchise would lose its RPG roots and epic story. The announcements of voice over contributors such as Martin Sheen and others had me worried as well. I didn’t want to see Mass Effect go the route of say, the Call of Duty franchise, with huge explosions, big name voice over talent, and a sub-par story (not to mention a new game every 6 months). I wanted my thirty plus hours I put into the first Mass Effect to mean something, and for the sequel to blow me away.

On January 26th 2010 Mass Effect 2 was released and Bioware delivered on every promise made with a sequel that I can say, is an almost perfect action RPG. The game was an instant game of the year contender for many reasons. There is one fact that had been true since I had been a young lad and even rang true in the first Mass Effect. When you have an RPG, the combat will be turn based and not as smooth as say, an FPS title. That wall has been torn down thanks to Bioware. Mass Effect 2 has a smooth FPS like combat in a RPG setting. The dreams of gamers being able to duck and take cover after blasting an enemy in the face with a rocket launcher, or look down the sights of a sniper rifle in slow motion in an RPG, were answered. This successfully brought in the interest of gamers that have never even purchased an RPG before. The core fans of the franchise like myself didn’t cringe at this new combat system or the FPS elements either, because of the story and in depth character detailing. The universe that Bioware had developed in the first title was back, and better than ever.

The evolved combat, epic story, or improved graphics are not the only aspects that awarded this title a game of the year nomination by Blast Magazine. The choices you made in the first title had a deep impact in the sequel, just as Bioware promised. This was the first time a sequel actually took a game save from the first title and made you deal with the consequences. For example if you (as I did) decided to have Wrex take a bullet in the first title he would not be around in the sequel. The blank slate that is Commander Shepard and the tools Bioware has given you to mold him or her into your own hero or anti-hero are nothing short of amazing. This game keeps you coming back for replay after replay and just playing as a different class warrants another play through.

The main factor that really sets this franchise apart and brings Mass Effect 2 to the top is the characters you meet that join your mission along the way. There are a lot of RPG’s or action RPG’s out there that have characters that join the main character along the way. These characters help you fight or play a part in the story but in most cases you never really get to know their back story, and many won’t hold your interest for very long. This is what sets Mass Effect 2 apart from the rest; I had such a blast getting to know every character in this game, and their back-stories. The team at Bioware did such a great job with these characters. Besides them having special combat abilities, they also have great stories and you feel a real connection to them. My two favorites were Jack the wild, emotionally-disturbed, biotic-powerhouse, and Mordin the scientist who would talk a thousand words per minute, and even break into song at moments.

. The gaming market right now has so many titles out there that have over priced or lack luster DLC. I can’t tell you how many times I have shelled out 800 Microsoft points for a couple weapons in a game and been highly disappointed. The DLC market in my opinion has felt like a way for developers to make a little more cash, not quality additional content for the gamer to enjoy. There has never been a game that offered armor, weapons, characters, and expansions for such fair prices. The sheer amount of DLC support this game received was phenomenal especially since the game is quite large to begin with.

About The Author

Adam Randall is a Blast correspondent

4 Responses

  1. Floof

    I keep hearing so much about this game and it makes me want to play it so badly. I didn’t get the chance when it first came out (tv/HDTV issues. I have an old crappy one) and this article just makes me want to play it more. I caught a glimpse of the trailer for the third title too, at the VGA awards and it made it look really good. Hearing rumors that the decisions you make in the second one influence the third one has me wanting to play Mass Effect 2 even more. I was never a big fan of Sci-Fi related games but after talking to people about it, I can see that ME2 is more of a Fallout 3/Fable-esque type thing and that has me highly interested. Personally, having not played this game yet, I can still see why it got a Game of the Year nomination. The internet has been a firestorm of comments ever since the game released. I suppose it deserves the GoTY nomination just on that merit.

    Can anyone that has played it tell me a little bit about its story? Is it a really heavily Sci-Fi influenced story? I know that Bioware is usually pretty intense when it comes to storylines. I played Dragon Age and the character development and storyline there was incredibly deep.

    • Adam Randall

      Floof the story is of course a Sci-Fi experience but it puts you in the shoes of human military soldier in a universe were humans are considered the new comers. I know you are probably thinking this is just an RPG with wacky aliens and crazy weapons but that isn’t the case. The story line and universe created by Bioware is top notch and I assure you will have you hooked.

  2. Boogle

    Deep impact of choices? I notice to didnt elaborate on the Wrex choice because it demonstrates how lacklustre the carryover of choices really was.

    If you dont have Wrex alive in your carried over game, he is indeed dead, and replaced by his brother “Wreav” who almost looks, sounds and acts exactly the same, says and does exactly the same things, and pretty much makes sure that only the most minute of changes from Wrex are necessary. Woo. Hoo. Thats some intense carryover of choices their.

    Honestly, you can always tell the journalists who are milking it just that little bit too much when they ignore obvious areas of criticism like that.

    Did you save the council from the first game? Hooray for you. Enjoy their five minute dialogue scene. Did you romance Liara? Hooray for you, enjoy a ten minute hacking quest scene. If you actually want a continuation of the romance, youll have to buy a DLC. Never mind that she might not even rejoin for the final act.

    My advice to anyone reading articles floating around like this: Dont believe the hype. The game has massive faults to it that certain journalists write about as if they are strokes of video game genius.

    The story in Mass Effect 2 for example, is just awful.

    Not what I think should have been game of the year, and certainly not written about like that.

    • Floof

      I think you’re right about some journalists but, to be honest, the hype about this game wasn’t just from a journalistic point of view. Most of the hype I saw generated from it was from me actually talking to people who had played it and talking to individuals on message boards, as well as seeing conversations. I can see why you would be upset though. I feel that sometimes games don’t necessarily deserve the recognition they get. I for one like to focus on what made a game bad, I guess it’s the perfectionist in me. But at the same time, I feel like sometimes I am too hard on things. I have never once in my life come across “the perfect game.” Even games like Mario, and Zelda, the untouched and the golden, have some major flaws. I can understand your anger here but I feel like a few lackluster appearances by decisions you made in game isn’t enough to knock the game out of a nomination for GoTY. To be honest, games in general weren’t exactly anything to flake out over this year. It was kind of a dry run of re-hashed things and copycats..

      You do make some good points though. But I feel that a game shouldn’t be soley judged on a few small flaws in the story. Is there perhaps some mechanical or gameplay defects that you thought ruined the GoTY nomination for it? I haven’t gotten the chance to play it yet so I am curious. No one has said much in terms of buggy gameplay or glitching.


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