PlayStation 3 owners are a lucky bunch sometimes – this certainly isn’t the first time we’ve received a late version of a sterling Xbox 360 title with some kickass extras included to compensate for the wait. First we had Bioshock, then Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, and now, amazingly, we have Mass Effect 2.
Mass Effect, in case any PS3 owners don’t know, is a series of superb sci-fi role-playing action games from Bioware, the creators of Dragon Age. The first game told the story of how the player character, Shepard, became the first human Spectre in a galaxy where aliens were obviously favoured for positions of prestige or power. A Spectre, by the way, is a Galactic Alliance operative with the authorisation to do whatever is necessary in the defence of the galaxy – legal or otherwise. Shepard’s mission was basically to recruit a crew and stop the Reapers, an ancient race that wipes out all organic life in the galaxy every 50,000 years or so. As you might have guessed, Shepard succeeds, but has to make a number of critical decisions along the way.
If you know anything about Mass Effect 2 already, then you’ll know that the decisions players made in the first game carry over and inform various events in the second game. But wait! Where does that leave us PS3 owners? We never had the first game, so we won’t be able to make the choices that determine how the second game stars, right? Wrong. EA has thoughtfully teamed up with Dark Horse to create a beautifully-drawn motion comic that fills players in on the events of the first game and lets them decide which of the several critical choices Shepard will make. Strangely, this motion comic doesn’t come on the actual disc, and must be downloaded. Every PS3 copy of Mass Effect 2 comes with a redeemable PSN code to get it for free, and the download is around 650MB. Once it’s installed, it will start automatically every time players start at new game – just after they’ve created their male/female Shepard and tailored their appearance.
But that’s not all, the PS3 version also comes with the three main downloadable missions already on the disc: Kasumi: Stolen memories, which allows players to recruit an expert thief and help her with her personal vendetta; Overlord, a set of four missions about a rogue AI; and Lair of the Shadow Broker, a huge DLC pack that actually hints at events in Mass Effect 3. PS3 owners also get the Blood Dragon armour – a nod to Dragon Age – on the disc, as well as free access to the Cerberus equipment and the newest DLC mission, Zaeed: The Price of Vengeance.
Apart from that, it’s Mass Effect 2 as we know it. There’s hours and hours of chinwagging and combat to be done, dozens of star systems and planets to explore and an irresistibly compelling story to follow. The graphics are amazing, the combat fast and furious and there’s basically no reason whatsoever not to play this game. Right now.