Mass Effect 2 May Be the Best Game Ever Made

23 Mar

Today I woke up, eager to play the new, free DLC pack for Electronic Arts and Bioware’s epic RPG shooter Mass Effect 2. Of course, all I got was an error message from Microsoft saying I couldn’t download the pack, which led me to Bioware’s online forums. There I found many other users experiencing the same issue. As I perused the forums I started to notice a disturbing trend of posters who were listing numerous complaints about the game, many saying it wasn’t as good as the first, or that it wasn’t a good game at all. To be frank, that is pure and utter bullshit. Were I to say that on the forums I would be banned and called a troller, but the truth is, anyone who speaks such blasphemy is a total idiot. I’m not joking- if you think ME2 is a bad game, or that it’s worse than ME1, you’re an idiot. You are not worthy to call yourself a gamer. Your Xbox should be taken and smashed to pieces in front of you. You should be banned from online gaming forever. You should never be allowed to play an RPG ever again. You are scum and I hate you.

A little harsh, I know, but allow me to explain. For starters, the long, lengthy post I read on bioware.com listing everything that was wrong about ME2 was written by a kid who said, and I quote: “Halo takes the crown as best gaming experience on any console.” Hah. Hilarious. You see, that statement alone means any opinion you ever have on any videogame is totally and utterly worthless. If you truly think Halo is the best game ever, than you’re probably an uneducated, potentially racist Southern dork who doesn’t know a great story when it hits him in the face. Now don’t get me wrong- I love Halo- it is without a doubt one of the greatest videogame series of all time, a shooter who’s quality is really only challenged by Call of Duty. But that doesn’t mean it’s “the best gaming experience on any console.” How could it be, when it has such an incredibly cliched story, a nonexistent protagonist, and the lamest resolution to a trilogy this side of The Matrix Revolutions? No, I’m afraid “Payne by Name,” if that is your real name, your opinion is totally moot. You did bring up some good points in your forum post- the mining mechanic is pretty boring- but everything you said was rendered inert the moment you declared Halo the king of all games. Because it’s not. You know where Halo is on my Top 100 List? Number 19. You know where ME2 is? Number six.

Now, allow me to explain why Mass Effect 2 is such an amazing game. There are so many reasons I could probably write an entire essay about it, but I think I can sum it up by saying ME2 is one of the most immersive experience on any console right now. A lot of developers use the word “immersive” to describe their games, but more often than not it doesn’t actually apply. In ME2, it applies in spades. Not only do you feel like you are Commander Shephard, but you truly feel like you are exploring a rich and unique world, filled with colorful characters that are as multi-layered and interesting as anyone in Star Wars. The story is fantastic, and while I’ll agree that the climax isn’t quite as thrilling as ME1′s epic space battle, it’s still one of the more original and intelligent yarns you’ll see in a videogame today. What’s even better is the way the story of ME2 is influenced by your actions in ME1. There are a near limitless number of ways the stories of both games can turn out, depending on what actions your Shephard takes. For instance, I have no idea what ME2 would be like had I saved the Citadel Council instead of sacrificing them for the greater good in ME1. Even characters from random side quests make appearances in ME2, and their fates are solely dependent on how you interacted with them in ME1.

I understand gamers’ fondness for the first game, but it’s really foolish of one to say ME2 is not as good as its predecessor. It is better in nearly every regard. The combat is so much better I don’t even see how someone could argue against it. Yes, it’s much more similar to Gears of War now, but Gears is awesome, so who cares? Besides, you can’t toss a guy across the level with a biotic power or spontaneously burst your enemies into flames in Gears. The combat is more streamlined and realistic, the AI more intelligent, and the reload mechanic far superior to ME1′s overheat mechanic. I actually saw a guy on the forums who had the balls to claim the music was worse in ME2. Heh, heh- you must be joking. Jack Wall really outdid himself in ME2, and created a score that seamlessly blends the synthesized arpeggios of the first game with a more epic, orchestral score. This scene, which is one of my favorites, really shows off how great the music is, and how it makes the experience feel incredibly cinematic.

If you watched that clip you may have noticed two of those characters were voiced by Martin Sheen and Seth Green. Great voice acting is another hallmark of the Mass Effect series, and Bioware pulled out all the stops for the sequel. A veritable host of sci-fi actors lent their voices to the game, including Carrie Ann-Moss (The Matrix), Tricia Helfer & Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galactica), Michael Dorn (Worf from Star Trek TNG), Adam Baldwin (Firefly), Claudia Black (Farscape), Keith David, Shoreh Agdashloo and Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck) who even provides her likeness to principal female character Miranda. These actors’ performances would be nothing if the writing wasn’t excellent, which it is- on par with any movie or TV show. I actually saw gamers complaining about how many crew members you have to accumulate in the game, which may be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. There’s a certain faction of gamer out there who no matter what, will never be pleased. He’ll tell the developers he wants more content, and when they give it to him, he’s disappointed. Sure, some characters are better than others- Mordin, Garrus, Thane & Miranda are my favorites, and I’m not very fond of Jack, but what’s great is that the game allows you to pick and choose amongst the crew.

I’m on my second playthrough right now, and have probably played around 50 hours of the game, and still I only feel I’ve accessed a portion of the content. Since the game has multiple character classes, and encourages you to play as either a heroic Paragon or a badass Renegade, you could play the same story multiple times and have countless different outcomes. You can import your save data from ME1, play through, then reimport your ME2 character for a second run. You can change Shephard’s appearance so he looks like you, or you can play as a female Shephard. It’s amazing, that’s the best way I can describe it. Games have affected me emotionally in the past, but ME2 sets the bar quite high for the way in which it gets its players emotionally invested. You really grow attached to some of the characters, and since 60% of the game is just talking to people, you can get a very detailed tapestry of the Mass Effect universe should you choose to. Your character can even die, which would disallow you from importing your save data into Mass Effect 3. Is it a perfect game? Of course not. Is anything ever perfect? Mining planets for resources is tedious and I sort of miss the sense of exploration you got in ME1 from actually touching down and exploring each uncharted world. I also miss some of the more hardcore RPG elements, like collectible weapons and armor. But it’s one of the best games ever made, and sure to be the best game of 2009. In my opinion, videogames are the entertainment and storytelling medium of the future, and ME2 really showcases how a game can actually be a work of art. Anyone who thinks otherwise- I’m looking at you Payne by Name- is a fool.

14 Responses to “Mass Effect 2 May Be the Best Game Ever Made”

  1. Nathan J Doran 23. Mar, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    You get ‘em Smokey, crush those pre-pubescent gaming turds. Comment board ire is the spice of the internet.

  2. Payne by name 30. Mar, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

    As I tried to respond on the Bioware forum I might be crazy but Halo, for me, was a great gaming experience. Notice the words experience. It doesn’t matter whether it’s story etc wasn’t as good at what followed or was clichéd. It was how it all clicked – the music, the action, the characters.

    We all have seminal moments on different consoles. Resident Evil or Twisted Metal on the PS One, Max Payne on the PS2. For me Halo was the most powerful of all memories and experiences. I wasn’t putting it in there as a direct comparison but rather to indicate where Mass Effect stood for me in the realm of gaming experiences.

    It is however a little weak to dismiss my thoughts on Mass Effect because I enjoyed Halo. Does this mean if I like pasta, I can’t have an opinion of pizza?

  3. TheHIl 01. Apr, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

    I’ve been playing videogames for a long time. The games that have always stood out for me are those that realize there is more to gaming than just good graphics and blowing stuff up. Granted, that’s all great, but my favorite games are the ones that put just as much effort into their story, characters and dialogue as they do into their gameplay. Halo is sadly, not one of those games. It’s a great game, and a great series. I own Halo 3 and ODST and just yesterday preordered Halo: Reach. So it’s not like I don’t enjoy the series. But in my eyes, it doesn’t hold a candle to Mass Effect, doesn’t even come close. In fact, if you were to strip Halo of the one thing that has made it stand out over the years- its superb multiplayer- it would just be another run of the mill FPS ripping off James Cameron and countless other sci-fi connoisseurs. Every entry in the original trilogy has pretty much the exact same plot- Chief fights Covenant, destroys a Halo ring, saves Cortana, saves the day. Thankfully the creators have started to put more effort into story thanks to Halo: Legends and things like that. ODST was pretty compelling. But Mass Effect is truly original, and blends excellent gameplay with an even better story. Halo’s campaigns are generally good but they’ve never blown me away, and at the end of the day the series amounts to one thing and one thing only: multiplayer.

    It’s this fantastic online experience that has created such a rabid and fervent fanbase, in my opinion. Gamers get high on the sense that they are a part of this grand community, and I think their love for the multiplayer starts to bleed into a misplaced love for the campaign and story. So while I think we can agree that Halo is a great game and that it can be the best gaming experience for some people, you don’t come off as particularly intellectual when you call Halo the best game out there. Halo has no substance, and to try and pretend like it is a more impressive work of art than Mass Effect or countless other games seems somewhat naive.

  4. Theo 12. Jan, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

    First off, ME 2 is amazing. Better than every other game I have played, and the best game in the RPG genre.

    Halo can’t be the best gaming experience on any platform because it isn’t on PC. Everyone knows that the very best genre-defining games are on PC and that the inability to mod games on console makes them a tiny bit worse (or considerably worse in case of Bethesda games).

    My argument is quite simple: game developers, the good ones, made games for PC. Valve, Bioware, Bethesda – these are the developers at the forefront of gaming. Respectively they released some of the most important games ever made in terms of, well, everything. Half Life 1 & 2, Baldurs Gate/KotR/ME/DA etc., The Elder Scrolls/Fallout. All these games have had huge impact on the genre. What has Halo done for shooters? It made no progress with plot, voice acting, immersiveness, graphics, physics.

    I think that BioWare truly outdid itself with ME 1,2 and 3. It is the first REAL trilogy where choices in the previous game have influence on the next. It has broken new ground with the Renegade / Paragon action (press ‘x’ when symobl appears), it is so thoroughly detailed that it can be played so many times. I finished it yesterday for the first time after 30hrs and thought “Holy …., I must play this game again”. So I am.

    Linear shooters lack that. They are so quickly outdated because they rely on graphics and other ephemeral technology that while CoD 7 may be great this year it will be outdone by the next shooter. RPGs, the really immense and expansive ones from Bioware, are much more survivable because they have beautifully executed plots, music, replayability and more.

  5. TheHil 13. Jan, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    While I’m glad someone agrees with me about the over-appreciation of “Halo,” I’d have to disagree about the PC vs. console bit. Though I know Valve’s president said “PCs are where the true innovation is,” I personally think it’s more a matter of taste. Do you prefer controlling your characters with a mouse and keyboard or a controller? I know some people plug controllers into their PCs, and in that case it’s probably about the same experience, but the truth is most people can’t afford the kind of PC that’s powerful enough to provide a satisfactory gaming experience. Though an Xbox 360 may not have the graphical capability of say, the most top of the line Alienware PC, it is entirely devoted to gaming and therefore gives pretty damn good visuals that go straight to your TV. I play games both on my Mac and my Xbox, and would agree that certain genres work better on one platform or the other- for example, RTS games don’t work to well on consoles, FPS games are better with a controller. But honestly, is there any major difference between “Fallout 3″ on PC and “Fallout 3″ on console, since you brought up Bethesda? Or Half-Life 2 for that matter. I think it’s just different strokes for different folks.

  6. Kendu 12. May, 2011 at 2:40 am #

    Fuckin XBox idiots. Pc is the optimal gaming experience. And FPS are not better with controller, you actually have more control over movement with a mouse… Think about it for a min.
    Halo is bullshit. But then again I’m over online games, ESPECIALLY FPS. If any, I’d recommend crysis (best damn FPS graphics), metro 2033, battlefield, and proly condemned. But even those are still the same damn game over and over.

    Mass Effect is The greatest work ever put out for any electronic device. Luckily you Xboxers got it first, but now you’re down-playing it for rudy poo FPS games. You don’t know what you’re missing. I see FPS the same way I see madden, and skateboarding, and racing. They’re all super streamlined. A new one every year proves how greedy and uncaring they are. They may be fun, but far from a true gamers game. Let’s think outside of the XBox for a min. Console games came about for convenience and streamlining… Correct? Pc’s that can handle good videogames ARE expensive right? Well there u have it, that separates true gamers from everyone else. If you’re stuck on consoles, you’re stuck on very streamlined games.

  7. TheHil 12. May, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

  8. TheHil 12. May, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    Honestly, I’m so tired of the “PCs are better than consoles” douchebaggery. If you have the gall to say that, it shows you’re the kind of uber-nerd that lives in his mother’s basement and is a total asshole. Consoles and PCs both have great games, why can’t we leave it at that? Why does it have to be a dumb fucking competition? And why the FUCK do people who exclusively play PC games think they’re somehow “better” gamers? You’re not. You’re just assholes.

  9. TheHil 12. May, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    To make sure none of you ass wipes ever bring up this “PC vs Console” bullshit ever again, please read this article on Game Informer and then fuck off and die.

    http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2011/05/10/the-return-of-darth-clark.aspx

  10. ME Fan 14. Aug, 2012 at 3:08 am #

    This post about Mass Effect 2 is one of the best I have ever read. Any and every opinion I have ever had about Mass Effect/Mass Effect 2 has been expressed in this review. Mass Effect 2 is in my opinion, the best game ever made (as far as I know, considering I haven’t played every video game ever made.) What Mass Effect 2 does is beyond the realm of the average video game and gamer. It transcends the long accepted concept that video games are just for fun. Mass Effect is a work of art. It provides the most important thing that any great work of art can- To Tell A Story. It is an amazing story, a cinematic experience, and an extraordinarily entertaining game to play. In all my years as a gamer, I have never encountered a video game that can speak to me on such a literary and cinematic level. I would even go as far to say that Mass Effect 2 tells a story as effectively and brilliantly as any other critically acclaimed novel or film. I have found myself on many occasion beginning to write an essay on how great Mass Effect 2 is. The epic story of Mass Effect 2 will be an inspiration to me for the rest of my life.

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