Mass Effect 2


Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 2
MassEffect2 cover.PNG
Developer(s) BioWare
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Director(s) Casey Hudson
Designer(s) Preston Watamaniuk
Writer(s) Mac Walters
Drew Karpyshyn
Composer(s) Jack Wall
Series Mass Effect
Engine Unreal Engine 3
Version 1.02 (PC)[2]
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Xbox 360
PlayStation 3
Release date(s) Microsoft Windows & Xbox 360
NA 20100126January 26, 2010
AU 20100128January 28, 2010
EU 20100129January 29, 2010
JP 20110113January 13, 2011
PlayStation 3
NA 20110118January 18, 2011
EU 20110121January 21, 2011
AU 20110127January 27, 2011
JP 20110623June 23, 2011
[3]
Genre(s) Action role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player
Rating(s)
Media/distribution Optical disc, download
System requirements

See Development section

Mass Effect 2 is an action role-playing game developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The game was released for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 on January 26, 2010 and for PlayStation 3 on January 18, 2011.[7][8] It is the second chapter in the Mass Effect trilogy of video games.

Gameplay in Mass Effect 2 is influenced by decisions from the original Mass Effect. Many aspects of the game have been changed and refined, including the removal of long elevator rides, the Mako and a complex inventory system. Conversations with the A.I. have been given a more cinematic touch and players are now able to use a context-sensitive interrupt system. In combat, players now have ammunition and regenerable health.

After the events of Mass Effect, the Normandy is attacked by an unknown starship and Commander Shepard is killed. Shepard's body is recovered and he/she is brought back to life by Cerberus, a human supremacist organization led by the Illusive Man. Shepard eventually learns that the Reapers were responsible and working by proxy through an insect-like species called the Collectors, and that they are responsible for entire human colonies disappearing throughout the galaxy. Shepard must recruit and gain the loyalty of a diverse team in order to defeat the Collectors in a suicide mission.

A critical and commercial success, Mass Effect 2 shipped over two million copies worldwide in its first week of release,[9] and has received universal critical acclaim.[10] It is currently the third best reviewed game for Xbox 360 and the 14th best reviewed game of all time, according to GameRankings.[11] The game holds over 70 perfect scores and has an average score of 96 for the Xbox 360 and 94 for the PC and PS3 on Metacritic.[12][13][14] In July, 2011, IGN named Mass Effect 2 the best game of the modern console generation (2005 - present).[15] In 2010, the game was included as one of the titles in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.[16]

Contents

Gameplay

Certain decisions made by players in the original Mass Effect impact Mass Effect 2 in some form or another.[17] When starting a new game, players are given an option whether to import saved files. If they choose to import a file, a summary of each one is given to help them decide which one to use.[18] Imported Commander Shepards can be started from scratch if desired.

Players can dictate whether Shepard will die at the end of Mass Effect 2 based on their choices throughout the game. While exploring, recruiting squad members and hunting the Collectors, players can gather enemy intelligence and resources to purchase various upgrades for the Normandy that will have an effect on the final mission.[19] If a player's Shepard dies at the end of the game, he/she cannot be imported into Mass Effect 3.[20] Team members are affected by the player's decisions as well. Players will have missions to gain the loyalty of their squadmates. What the player does during the mission will determine whether they gain the loyalty of the squadmate. Gaining the loyalty of the squadmate will unlock a special power and also help in the final fight on the collector ship. Endings range from the entire team surviving to the entire team being killed, and everything in between.[21]

The galaxy in Mass Effect 2 is more in-depth than in the original Mass Effect.[citation needed] Uncharted worlds, which the player could only explore for "cheap thrills" in the first game, are now smaller but much more detailed.[22] The Mako - used for planetary exploration in the first Mass Effect - was not included in Mass Effect 2.[23] A drop shuttle is used instead, directly transporting the player to areas of immediate interest.[24] Long elevator rides, used to disguise loading times in the original Mass Effect, were removed entirely, replaced by loading screens.[25]

During conversations with the A.I., camera positioning has been improved. Previously static, the camera now moves around to provide a cinematic touch.[19] Another new feature during conversations is a context-sensitive interrupt system; in addition to neutral, Renegade and Paragon dialogue options, Shepard is now able to interrupt the conversation when prompted with on-screen controls.[26]

When the player starts losing health, a red ring will begin to form around the screen. Ammunition is also shown in the bottom left corner. Both are new features from the original Mass Effect.

Combat

Combat in Mass Effect 2 was radically changed from the original Mass Effect. Players can no longer heal themselves with medi-gel; instead, they have regenerating health and can only use medi-gel to revive downed squad mates.[27] The ability to fire a weapon no longer relies on an overheating system; instead, ammunition is used.[28] Ammunition is universal across most standard weapons, unlike in most other third person shooters where different weapons require specific ammunition.[29]

There are 19 different weapons divided into 6 types in Mass Effect 2, which is considerably less than in the first Mass Effect.[30] Grenades from the first game have been replaced by heavy weapons,[31] and sub-machine guns have been added as a weapon class. Characters are no longer required to invest in weapon skills; instead, they are given class-specific weapons from the get-go and can easily upgrade them fully. Research can be accomplished for upgrades to weapon damage, ammo capacity, and accuracy. Armor restrictions have been removed[32] and players are able to upgrade their armor through research, and through the purchase interchangeable components.

Synopsis

 Mass Effect series chronology 

Evolution
Revelation
Mass Effect
Incursion
Redemption
Ascension
Galaxy
Mass Effect 2
Retribution
Inquisition
Mass Effect 3

Plot

Mass Effect 2 begins weeks after the ending of the first game. While patrolling for geth, the Normandy is attacked by an unknown starship, and many crew members die, including Navigator Pressly. The remainder of the crew is then forced to evacuate. During the evacuation, Shepard tosses Joker into the Normandy's final escape pod before being blasted into space. After a suit breach, Shepard asphyxiates and falls to the planet below. With the help of former squadmate Liara T'Soni, Shepard's body is retrieved by a human supremacist organization called Cerberus and they spend two years resurrecting him/her. Once revived, Shepard awakes aboard a besieged station, where he/she helps Cerberus agents Jacob Taylor and Miranda Lawson escape. Immediately after, Shepard is given an audience with the Illusive Man, head of Cerberus.

Commander Shepard meets the Illusive Man after escaping the besieged Cerberus station. Mass Effect 2's ending is affected by whether players choose to cooperate with the Illusive Man.

The Illusive Man informs Shepard that entire populations of human colonies are disappearing all over the galaxy; he believes the Reapers are responsible, and are working by proxy through an insect-like species called the Collectors. Shepard is convinced of the Illusive Man's theory after visiting a recently-attacked colony called Freedom's Progress, and agrees to help him stop the Collectors by eventually traveling through the Omega-4 Relay, from which no ship has ever returned. Shepard is given command of a new Normandy, piloted by Joker and equipped with an onboard A.I. named EDI.

Shepard recruits four new squadmates – salarian scientist Mordin Solus, former squadmate Garrus Vakarian, convict Jack and genetically engineered krogan Grunt – before receiving intel from the Illusive Man that another human colony called Horizon is under attack. Despite the influence of Harbinger, a powerful Reaper with the ability to assume direct control of random Collectors at will, Shepard successfully stops the attack, though a large portion of the colony's population is captured. Following the mission, Shepard's reunion with former squadmate Ashley Williams or Kaidan Alenko turns sour due to Shepard's alliance with Cerberus.

Shepard continues to recruit squadmates, adding three more – former squadmate Tali, Asari justicar Samara, or her daughter Morinth, depending on the players choices, and drell assassin Thane Krios – until the Illusive Man contacts Shepard about a Collector ship supposedly disabled by turians. As Shepard and his/her squad board the ship, they surprisingly encounter no Collector resistance, and Shepard learns that the Collectors were originally Protheans that were turned into slaves of the Reapers. With EDI's help, Shepard finds out how to bypass the Omega-4 relay before being ambushed by the Collectors. Although Shepard and the Normandy manage to escape the Collector ship, relations between Shepard and the Illusive Man are strained, due to the latter's knowledge of the Collector trap.

After optionally earning the loyalty of his/her squadmates, Shepard visits a derelict Reaper and acquires an IFF transponder necessary for safe travel through the Omega-4 relay, and later acquires an unconscious geth. If activated, the geth adopts the name Legion and voluntarily joins the squad. Soon after, the Normandy integrates the IFF into her systems while Shepard and the squad leave the ship in a shuttle. During their absence, the Normandy is attacked and boarded by the Collectors; only Joker (who briefly becomes a playable character during the invasion) avoids capture.

After Shepard's squad returns to the Normandy, they use the Omega-4 Relay to get to the Collector base. They manage to board the base, rescue any surviving members of the Normandy, and fight their way to the central chamber. Here, Shepard discovers that the Collectors have been constructing a new Reaper made from the abducted humans, although EDI is unsure of its true purpose. Shepard destroys the machine powering the human Reaper and prepares to destroy the Collector base. However, before doing so, the Illusive Man contacts Shepard and gives the order to sterilize the base with a radiation pulse so its information can be used against the Reapers. After choosing to destroy or sterilize the base, Shepard destroys the awakened human-reaper larva and - if enough squadmates survived - escapes the base before the bomb detonates. On the Normandy, Shepard speaks with the Illusive Man, who either congratulates or condemns his/her actions.

Humanity now has the full attention of the Reapers. As Shepard meets in the Normandy's cargo bay with the survivors of the mission, the Reaper fleet awakens in dark space, and descends upon the galaxy, beginning the events of Mass Effect 3.

If Shepard did not survive the suicide mission, then Joker instead talks to the Illusive Man who tells him that Shepard's legend will not be forgotten. Afterwards, Joker is seen mourning over Shepard's coffin, but then he returns to the helm. The Reaper fleet is seen awakening in dark space as well.

Characters

In addition to the characters listed above, Mass Effect 2 also features two DLC characters who can be used as party members. The first, Zaeed Massani, is a bounty hunter recruited on Omega, and the second, Kasumi Goto, is a thief recruited on the Citadel.

Downloadable Content

Mass Effect 2 features a variety of downloadable content (DLC), including some that is vital to the series' plot. In Lair of the Shadow Broker, the Shadow Broker side quest from Mass Effect is resolved. In Arrival, Commander Shepard investigates evidence of a Reaper invasion, leading to events that bridge to Mass Effect 3.

Other plot-related DLC includes the loyalty missions "Zaeed - The Price of Revenge" and "Kasumi - Stolen Memory", Normandy Crash Site, Firewalker Pack and Overlord. "Overlord", "Lair of the Shadowbroker" and "Kasumi: Stolen Memories" are already burnt onto the disc of the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2.

Downloadable Content
Lair of the Shadow Broker
Arrival
Zaeed - The Price of Revenge
Kasumi - Stolen Memory
Normandy Crash Site
Firewalker Pack
Overlord

Development

System requirements
Minimum Recommended
PC[33]
Operating system Windows XP with Service Pack 3, Windows Vista with Service Pack 1, or Windows 7
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo E4300 or equivalent AMD CPU Intel Core 2 Duo E4700 or equivalent AMD CPU
Memory 1 GB RAM (2 GB for Vista and 7) 2 GB RAM
Hard drive space 15 GB
Graphics hardware NVIDIA GeForce 6800 256 MB or ATi Radeon X1600 Pro 256 MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT 512 MB or ATi Radeon HD 2900 XT 512 MB
Network Internet connection not required for activation. Required for one-time Cerberus Network activation and extra content download(s).

Mass Effect 2's development was confirmed on February 13, 2008.[34] The game was not presented at the 2008 Electronic Entertainment Expo.[35] On February 3, 2009, Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello confirmed during a conference call with investors that Mass Effect 2 would be released on January 26, 2010 on multiple platforms.[36][37][38]

On March 2, 2009, BioWare and Electronic Arts announced a new development team for Mass Effect 2 was set to work at the EA Montreal studio.[39] The new team's main task was to supplement the teams already working on the game, with around half of the team having worked on the original Mass Effect alongside other new hires.[40] BioWare co-founder and CEO Ray Muzyka said the team was "really excited about it, and we think it's going to be a huge opportunity to tap into the talent base in Montreal while supplementing our existing teams in Edmonton and Austin, which are doing some great stuff on all the other projects BioWare's working on."[40]

Later that month, Mass Effect 2 was shown off at the Game Developers Conference, where Muzyka and fellow CEO Greg Zeschuk revealed that BioWare were using internet, fan and internal feedback to improve the series.[41] The next day, BioWare talked about the game's new design process.[42]

In June, 2009, Mass Effect 2 was finally presented at E3.[43] New features were shown off and for the first time, fans were shown a guided demo.

Console differences

Mass Effect 2 spans two discs. Although it had previously been announced that only one disc change would be required on Xbox 360, BioWare later revealed that a second disc change is required during the final levels of the game.[44][45] For Windows users, both discs are required for game installation, but only the first disc is needed for gameplay. Following the example of Dragon Age: Origins, the PC version of Mass Effect 2 does not use SecuRom digital rights management software, but instead opts for a standard disc check.[46] The PlayStation 3 version uses the same engine the developers are using for Mass Effect 3, rather than the Windows and Xbox 360 version.[47] Unlike the Xbox 360 version of the game, the PS3 version is able to fit on one Blu-ray disc and thus does not require any disc changes.

Because the original Mass Effect will not be released for PS3, Bioware, in collaboration with Dark Horse comics, created the interactive comic Mass Effect: Genesis. The comic allows players to understand the plot and make six key decisions from the original game that will affect the player's Mass Effect 2 experience.[48][49] It is now available as a DLC for all three platforms.[50]

Audio

Mass Effect 2 contains 90 voice actors who play 546 characters and speak over 25,000 lines of dialogue.[51] Mark Meer, the voice actor for the male Commander Shepard, said that voice recording for the game took twice as long as the original Mass Effect.[52]

Music for Mass Effect 2 was composed by Jack Wall, as well as Sam Hulick, David Kates, and Jimmy Hinson with additional editing and in-game implementation by Brian DiDomenico.[53][54] The game's soundtrack was released on January 19, 2010.[55]

Release

Mass Effect 2 was released in North America and Europe on January 26, 2010 and in Australia on January 28, 2010 for both Xbox 360 and the PC. Originally, the game was planned to be an Xbox 360 exclusive,[56] but at the Game Developers Conference in Europe on August 17, 2010, BioWare confirmed plans to release the game on the PlayStation 3. Regarding whether the original Mass Effect would be released on the PlayStation 3 as well, Microsoft responded, "the Xbox 360 [is] the only place to get the full Mass Effect experience."[57]

Marketing

The first teaser trailer for Mass Effect 2 was released on February 20, 2009.[58] In the trailer, Commander Shepard is declared "killed in action". On May 29, 2009, the first full trailer for the game was released.[59] It confirmed that, despite rumors to the contrary, Shepard would be alive and playable in Mass Effect 2 and only at the end of the game could he die permanently.[21] In the months leading to the game's release, BioWare launched six class walkthroughs narrated by Christina Norman[60] and released a final cinematic trailer.[61]

Cover art for the Collector's Edition of Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2 was released in multiple editions. Alongside the regular edition, BioWare also released in a collector's edition and a digital deluxe edition, each of which included bonus content and unlockable items. The digital deluxe edition was exclusively available through EA's online store, Impulse and Steam.[62][63][64]

To promote Mass Effect 2, BioWare offered in-game bonuses with the purchase of special products to players who linked their gamertags to the EA website.[65] Players could redeem codes on specially marked Dr Pepper products for one of three pieces of headgear and on registered copies of Dragon Age: Origins for Blood Dragon Armor.[66][67] If the game was pre-ordered at GameStop or Play.com, players received Terminus Armor and the M-490 Blackstorm Heavy Weapon. If the game was pre-ordered at other retailers, players received Inferno Armor and the Collector Assault Rifle.[68] Buyers of the collector's edition received Collector Armor and the Collector Assault Rifle.

A Cerberus Network Card with a unique access code is included with all new copies of Mass Effect 2. The card enables players to download certain DLC packs free of cost and provides access to the Cerberus Daily News, which updates players with current events in the Mass Effect universe.[69] As this code works only once, buyers of used copies have to purchase access to the Cerberus Network for US$15 or 1200 MS/BioWare points.[70] On January 24, 2011, BioWare announced that the Cerberus Daily News would discontinue updates. It included the stipulation that new posts would resume several weeks prior to the release of Mass Effect 3, and for one week before the release of the forthcoming Arrival DLC.[71][72]

Reception

 Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (X360) 95.66%[73]
(PC) 94.48%[74]
(PS3) 93.17%[75]
Metacritic (X360) 96/100[12]
(PC) 94/100[13]
(PS3) 94/100[14]
Review scores
Publication Score
Allgame (X360) 4.5/5 stars[76]
Eurogamer 10/10[77]
Famitsu 35/40[78]
GameSpot 9/10[79]
GameTrailers 9.7/10[80]
IGN (US) 9.6/10
(UK) 9.2/10
(AUS) 9.3/10[81]
Official Xbox Magazine (US) 9.5/10
(UK) 10/10

Mass Effect 2 was released to universal critical acclaim. On its initial release, the game received perfect review scores from gaming publications such as Eurogamer,[77] Official Xbox Magazine UK,[82] TeamXbox,[83] and Hardcore Gamer Magazine.[84] As of April 14, 2011, the review aggregator website Metacritic ranks the Xbox 360 version as the 4th highest reviewed game of all time, with an average score of 96/100.[12] The PC and PS3 versions hold average scores of 94/100.[13][14] Reviews have praised multiple aspects of the game, particularly its improvement over the first Mass Effect. GamingExcellence reviewer Daniel Acaba wrote that Mass Effect 2 “improved from its predecessor in almost every aspect”[85] and Worth Playing called it “an improvement over the original in every way”.[86]

Gameplay in Mass Effect 2 was praised for its accessibility despite being a complex RPG. Eurogamer, in a perfect review, proclaimed that BioWare had succeeded in “making it effortless to understand, play and enjoy on a constant basis, because it has done this in a manner that should prove utterly essential to veterans and newcomers alike”.[87] Other website echoed these sentiments; for example, Games Radar (in-house) said Mass Effect 2 “strikes a perfect balance between intense shooter action and gut-wrenching drama”[88] and MEGamers called the combat “brilliant”.[88] However, some reviewers expressed disappointment with the gameplay, calling it “stripped-down” with a “dumbed-down feeling”.[89]

Graphics in Mass Effect 2 were lauded for their improvement over the first game. Level7.nu, in a perfect review, called Mass Effect 2 a milestone in game design.[90] They paid special attention to the lack of technical issues, and an improved graphics engine. GamePro was also floored by the game's graphics, calling them "stunning" and praising their detail.[91]

IGN gave Mass Effect 2 a perfect score for sound, calling both its voice acting and music outstanding. Martin Sheen's performance was singled out for “steal[ing] the show”.[81] Gamespot was also complimentary of the dialogue and voice acting, calling the voice cast “tremendous”.[79]

Awards

In 2010, Mass Effect 2 won numerous year-end awards, including Best Xbox 360 Game at the 2010 Spike Video Game Awards.[92] AIAS,[93] BAFTA,[94] GameTrailers,[95] and IGN[96] each called it 2010's best game overall. The game won two Golden Joystick awards - one for best RPG and one for best game overall - which were voted on by the public.[97] The game's characters, soundtrack, story, voice acting, visuals and writing have also won awards.

Since its release, Mass Effect 2 has garnered a small legacy. In 2011, IGN ranked the game number one in their "Top 100 Modern Video Games" article.[98] It has been announced that the game will be placed in the Art of Video Games exhibit in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.[99] As of July 10, 2011, the game has accumulated over 70 perfect review scores, making it the highest rated game in the 28-year history of EA Games.[100]

Technical issues

There have been complaints that the game's font-size has been formatted in such a way as to make in game text indecipherable on standard definition televisions.[101] Representatives from BioWare stated that the issue was "a design choice, not a bug" and not to "expect any decisions or a fix in the near future."[101] After investigating the complaints further BioWare released a statement acknowledging that "on some standard definition TVs the smallest text in Mass Effect 2 can be difficult to read."[102] BioWare's final statement about the issue is that:

After investigating potential solutions, we have determined that while this issue does affect a small portion of SDTV owners, we are unable to resolve it for Mass Effect 2 through a title update. However, we have taken note of this issue and will take it into consideration as we plan future games in the Mass Effect franchise.[102]

Mark Barlet, president of the website AbleGamers (which advocates for making games more accessible to the disabled), said that "It's not just the size of the text of Mass Effect 2 that is the problem, it's the coloring of the text" that is the problem.[103]

There were also issues with regards to crashes, video hitching and long loadtimes on single core machines but these were later addressed in a patch.[104]

A concerning number of Mass Effect 2 PS3 players reported that their save files can become corrupted if the game crashes unexpectedly.[105] Community chief Chris Priestly of BioWare responded with:

Just to make it clear, we are aware of this issue and are working to understand what is [occurring] and how we can fix it. If you are encountering this issue, please provide details about your PS3 and your playthrough.[106]

On January 27, 2011, BioWare released the first details of the upcoming patch designed to combat save bugs, game freezes and crashes experienced.[107]

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