Mass Effect 2 begins a couple of years after the tumultuous events of the first episode of the epic sci-fi RPG. Humanity’s place in the galaxy seems stronger than ever, but all is not right. Entire human colonies have been disappearing across the solar system without a trace of violence, and it’s up to you and your intergalactic team of cold-blooded killers, zany scientists and political activists to find out what the hell is going on and put a stop to it.
Once again donning the body armour of a newly rejuvenated Shepard, who has spent two years being put back together Humpty Dumpty-like by the mysterious pro-human organisation, Cerberus, and its eccentric leader, The Illusive Man, after a mysterious attack left his ship, the Normandy, in pieces. It isn’t too long, however, before our hard-boiled hero is back doing what he does best: zipping around solar systems, investigating all kinds of strange goings-on and shooting bad guys, while assembling his team of human and alien experts to get to the bottom of the disappearances.
In truth, shooter fans will find themselves frustrated by the game’s RPG elements, as there’s as much conversation as combat, but if you allow yourself to be drawn into the labyrinthine plot, involving a new dastardly race called the Collectors as well as our old foes, the Reapers, Mass Effect 2 has much to recommend it.
The game looks great, with superb character models, satisfyingly varying locations and cracking cut-scenes, while the voice acting is near-perfect (even the Jar Jar Binks-like scientist Mordin Solus remains irritation-free). As an action RPG, this is a highly engaging, often stunning, game, but casual players beware: unless you’re willing to really commit time and energy to Mass Effect 2, it could prove a frustrating experience, with the feling that you’re not really getting anywhere.
This is truly epic in scope, and even hardened gamers will have to set aside huge swathes of time to make any headway, as Shepard and his allies traverse the galaxy, exploring uninhabited planets for precious metals and chemicals, curing plagues, visiting alien nightclubs and even signing up as mercenaries, all in order to get the job done. For hardened RPG fans and those ready to set aside the next few weeks.