Yes, it’s another post in my ongoing series of “games I play years after they were released, because I heard about them at some point, and they were cheap on Steam”. I was pretty happy with the first part when I played it in December. Overall, that also holds true for the successor. To give the rest of the post some perspective, I’ve played about half to two-thirds through the game so far, I think. I did most of the missions (recruitment, loyalty, and side) up to the Reaper IFF.
Compared to part 1, there is an interesting mix of things that were simplified, and those that were made more complex. Combat, for example: Your teammates seem a lot more durable than in the first part, but maybe that’s because controlling them is a lot easier than back then. Instead of four commands (stay, group up, attack, move to position), you only got two (move, group up), and I hardly ever use them. My teammates seem smarter in their judgment. Overall, combat also feels easier than in the first part. Adrenaline is a very overpowered ability, if it allows someone like me, always bad at FPSs, to kill enemies by headshots more often than not. This time around, I never needed to reduce combat difficulty.
Control still sucks. In fact, it’s gotten worse. ME1 had keyboard hotkeys for some of the useful information screens (journal, squad). Mass Effect 2 again shows the godawful porting that console games get these days. Whenever I want to look at any of the screens that had a keyboard shortcut in part 1, I now have to hit Escape, then choose the desired screen from a menu with my mouse. Eww. The worst offender in that regard was the “Cerberus network” (I’ll probably talk about that and DLCs at a later point). To enter your credentials, you had to click the username field, type in your name. Click on the password field, enter password. Click on “Accept” button. Tab button? What’s this? Consoles don’t have it, so it must suck!
The research system is something I really like. It encourages exploration. If anything, I’d love to have more resource requirements to encourage it even more. I never had to go out of my way to farm resources, could always stay in those systems that I had to visit for missions anyway.
On the other hand, the number of weapons was severely reduced compared to ME1, and armor was completely removed. Yes, most weapons you could buy sucked, so you focused on the few models that didn’t, and which ones you could buy from vendors was luck-based. Still, I liked the choice and illusion of a bustling weapons market. Maybe ME3 could give us larger tech trees? I’d be all for that. But then, I play Civilization-type games, and I’m sure not all ME players do.
The story line is a bit of a dual-edged sword to me. Some parts of the story really irk me, like the involvement with Cerberus (who I try to stab in the back whenever possible), or the main story. I hope something interesting will come of the collector tie-in; so far, the story dawdles along without too much motivation. The side missions are nice, though. You have to do a mission for each team member to recruit them, and later revisit their back story via a “loyalty” mission that gives you some more insight into them. And that’s in spite of the fact I really dislike most of my crew members (or because of that?). But more about that next time.