Reader Review: Mass Effect 2

Do you have what it takes to get a review published right here on Kotaku? Justin does, as he says "Wrex." "Shepard?" "Wrex." "Shepard?" "Wrex." ad nauseum.

Yes, that’s right, we’re now publishing reader reviews here on Kotaku. This is your chance to deliver sensible game purchasing advice to the rest of the Kotaku community.

And thanks to the very kind chaps at Madman Entertainment, purveyor of all kinds of cool, indie and esoteric film, the best reader review we publish each month will win a prize pack containing ten of the latest Madman DVD releases.

This review was submitted by Justin Robson. If you’ve played Mass Effect 2, or just want to ask Justin more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Mass Effect 2 (360, PC)

The first Mass Effect did a lot of things right. Mass Effect 2 definitely lives up to its name, and does more things even, uh... righterer.


Aesthetic: ME2 is an incredibly beautiful game, and not just from a technical standpoint, it’s a work of art. The environments seem endless, and the lighting engine and the overall level of detail create an atmosphere that sucks you right in and doesn’t let go. There’s more jaw-dropping moments in ten minutes of ME2 than there are in the entirety of most games.

Story/Dialogue: ME2 rivals Hollywood, and it’s hard to say that lightly. There are a few stiff responses from Shepard him/herself, but aside from that, Bioware have made it a top priority to create movie quality cinematics, and it shows. You might just find you have a small audience looking over your shoulder while you’re playing.

Combat Pros: The combat is greatly improved over the first. The game feels more like a shooter now, with less RPG formalities holding you back. Most of what you need you’ll find on the way, and checkpoints are a lot more lenient this time around.


Combat Cons: Teammate AI is somewhat sloppy. They sometimes don’t take any notice of you or the enemy. There’s no switching between teammates either, so when Shepard dies, that’s it. The clunky cover system doesn’t help; in cover you might either not have an angle, or you just can’t shoot at all. There’s also a disturbing lack of blindfire. The combat isn’t necessarily bad, but it lacks the polish of most recent shooters.

Loading/Disc Swaps: The 360’s drive is definitely beginning to show some noticeable limitations. Load times are excruciating, and disc swaps, depending on where you go, happen a bit too frequently.

More Story Than You Can Handle: You kind of need to have paid attention during the first game. If you missed out, or just skimmed over it, you may want to consider brushing up.

Mass Effect 2 is a deep and engrossing experience, and while there are more than a few imperfections in its technical execution, the good almost makes the bad seem like nothing.

Reviewed by: Justin Robson

You can have your Reader Review published on Kotaku. Send your review to us at the usual address. Make sure it’s written in the same format as above and in under 300 words - yes, we’ve upped the word limit. We’ll publish the best ones we get and the best of the month will win a Madman DVD prize pack.


    I haven't really had to swap discs at all.. I did once, fairly early on, but I haven't changed from disc 2 since. Are other people switching a lot?

      I suppose it would depend on what order you do the missions on, and whether you spend much time going back to early locations. Having said that, I'm pretty sure some of the content is on both discs.

    I really don't understand disc swap arguments - getting off of the couch isn't that big a deal surely?
    I normally swap discs more than a game requires anyway as I'm watching DVD's or playing other games...not like I'm playing through an RPG in one sitting...

    I cannot speak about the disc-swapping myself. I've gone back to complete ME1 again so ME2's Sheppard is the way I WANT it to be - but from what i played of ME2 with a game save i'm going to delete, i hadn't had any disc swaps.

    I didnt give it much thought - but it does sound like a stupid idea of a certain planet or side-quest (no matter how early or far into the main story) requires a disc swap.

    I'm no technical expert - but couldn't they have put the exact content on each disc. For example... all side-quests (ones that are unlockable to the halfway point of ME2) on the first disc and all locations/planets etc... accessible on both discs and then the the second disc has the later half of the main story and side quests.

    That may not make much sense - but for a certain quest or planet to be explored requires a disc swap cause that content is on the other disc, seems like a bit of a pain really! Especially if it could happen so early into the game. At least with a game like FFXIII, i would presume a disc swap is only necessary once up to a certain point in the game.

    Bottom line is: Is it possible and could Bioware have made each disc come with the same content minus side-quests and main stories and just divided the storyline and quests so it doesn't intefer and that the latter disc's side-quests are only accessible after a point of the main story that is located on the second disc?

    The one thing that really frustrates me about Mass Effect 2 so far (not been playing long, still collecting the last couple of crew members), is that you can always tell where, and when, there is going to be a fire fight.
    See that area/room up ahead with all the nicely laid out boxes/crates/walls etc. You know as soon as you get there, enemies are going to appear. Every. Single. Time. (so far!). You can generally tell where from as well, due to the layout and linear environments.
    (Although Mass Effect 2 isn't the only cover based TPS that is a culprit of this)

    But outside of that, a real lack of character control when sprinting, the tedium that is scanning planets (as bad as exploring in the Mako IMO), and the even more bland 'inventory/upgrade' system, it's a fantastic game, and a vast improvement over the original.

    (Sad, that it looks like I won't be able to create a permanently invulnerable soldier this time around either!)

    Oh, and nicely written review too Justin!

      Both the running issue, and the planet scanning you mentioned would certainly make my hated list.

      As to the cinematics, besides the faces the animation is just awkward to watch. Stiffest bodies ever!

    I installed both disks and don't really notice and bad load times.

    on another note however, I can't understand why people think this is such a better game over the first, why is 'more like a shooter' a good thing? I miss all the weapon stats and upgrades, and ofcourse the Mako.

    This game isn't drawing me in like the first one.

      Not gonna miss the Mako - worst vehicle controls ever created in a game. Take a leaf from Halo, Bioware!

      But the upgrade system i was really let down - FPS fans who may come to the battle of Mass Effect 2 surely ain't that stupid to not know how to read an upgrade system.

      It gave you more control and freedom to upgrade what you think is best with your character. I believe the Class is better though with the ones selected.

      ME2 is already one of my fave games of all time - as is Assassin's Creed 2 - but i can still point out a lot of negative areas i believe are present in those games. I guess its my LOVE for that game, that i can get over them but still notice them. ME1 had the problem of every building being the same as another just the boxes stacked differently. It had poor design work with its interiors, but i still loved it.

      ME2 has done a lot of things right outside of the, i would put it, non-travelling/fighting department. The upgrade system is weaker, scanning planets etc... but i just love the combat and guns blazing enough to be over those already.

        In regards to the Mako, I thought the driving controls were ok for controlling a tank from 3rd person view (this was on the PC), but what made the Mako sections so bad was the completely horrible and incredibly thoughtless planet terrain. It bloody relief to land on a planet and discover that it had (relatively) flat terrain.

      I share your feelings about the lack of RPG leveling. There was far less motivation to level up in this game than in the first. It's been turned into just a shooter with a (albeit awesome) storyline.
      There was nothing more satisfying for me in the first game than using an assault rifle at peak accuracy.
      Also, the lack of companion customisation was a downer. Can't even augment their armour like you can with Shepard's?
      Speaking of armour - in the first game, Shepard removed his helmet when in conversations. What happened to that feature?

      Overall, I think I preferred the first game in every way except for the visuals. I don't really miss the Mako at all, though.

    The disc swap is not that big of an issue.

    Here's how it works:
    The game's opening and ending are pretty linear so they are on Disc 1. The rest of the game's middle section is all open world so that is on Disc 2. So in effect, you would start with Disc 1 and play through the opening then swap to Disc 2. When you reach the ending it requires a swap back to Disc 1.

    That's it, just two swaps in a 30hr+ RPG. Like I said, not a big deal.

    Disc Swapping a Con? Is that a joke? 2 Times and people are complainging. I am agreeing about the load times if you don't install on your hard drive but if you do then they are regular load times simular to other games. But i know that the load time are most likely a direct result of the people complaining about texture pop-in. Lets face it you are either going to have texture pop-in with shorter load times or you can wait longer on loading screens for a more seamless experience. Personally i prefer the later.

    Also in regards to Story being too much to handle? Seriously - this would only be a problem if you are importing your shepard since there is no catch up video unlike where you start a new ME2 shep. If you haven't played ME1 in 2 years since it was first released and you plan to import then sure a replay would be great to get yourself familiar but i think there are greater "cons" then that...

    This guy clearly likes shooters more than RPGs. Pro- More like a shooter. Con- Too much story? Really? it's supposed to be about the story and the more story and content to do with the galaxy the better imo.

    As for disc swapping, it's hardly worth noting on any game, unless it was like a 4 disc game that only went for 10 hours. As a general rule every disc swap should have at least 10 hours of gameplay(or equate to that overall) and if it meets that then there is no problem by me. When I was a kid I loved disc swaps because it meant the game was a big game(usually).

    Too much story as a con?


    Honestly they could have cramed in more story and I still don't think it woudl have been enough. The refrences to the first game and esspecialy your decisions in the first game are what makes this game so awesome.

    Seriously why are you even playing this on a 360? Disc swaps? Pathetic. I don't care if you only have to do it twice throughout the coarse of the game, if you want to fully level up your Shepard or just go back for replay this would get really tiresome. Whoever hasn't bought this yet it is definitely inferior to the first game and all originality has been lost. The PC version is WAY cheaper so if you have to play it I strongly recommend you choose the system that actually makes playing it half decent.

    Anyone going into an RPG, specifically a bioware game, should expect it to be very heavy in story. I would seriously be surprised if the original ME wasn't heavily referenced in ME2 due to the fact that its a planned trilogy. Its called a sequel for a reason, not knowing the back story would be like watching/reading LOTR part 2 without Fellowship.

    I'm yet to play the sequel but I can't imagine bioware scrapping the original plots to please new comers whilst pissing fans off. I hope anyways. So imo that con in the review would be a pro.

    Not really understanding how swapping disks is a con either unless people are just lazy, it takes 30 secs give or take.

      I wasn't dissing your review either, I agree with most of your points. I'm not really happy about the loading times if they are that bad. They changed the elevator rides to a loading screen I think I read somewhere, which is even worse, least the elevator rides had conversations.

    *shakes umbrella and takes off raincoat*

    That was a hell of a shitstorm! ...this is my most discussed submission now, thanks guys =3

    He didn't say he hated the story, in fact he listed story and dialogue as the 2nd point in the "loved" section of the review. I guess what he's getting at with the "more story than you can handle" comment is that ME2 makes a ton of references to ME1, and if you haven't played that game, you might feel that you're missing out on something. I don't necessarily agree with this; I think the references are integrated well enough into the setting that they won't stick out if you don't know their context. But I can see where he's coming from.

      This is correct.

      And it's very difficult to get your whole point across in 300 words. I had to shave it down from about five hundred. Also, I was bored out of my brains when I played ME1, and I gave up on it after a few hours... ME2 is a lot better for me, 20 hours in even... and the "too much story" comment was more directed at all the references to the past that I missed. I can't fault the story/cinematics...

    if you are choosing between pc and xbox,
    pc has almost instant aload times.
    graphics are heaps better and this has to be the best optimised game i have seen. my old q6600/4gb/8800gts512mb pc run ME2 at 1920x1200 at highest details. Looks awesome and smooth.

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