Feature Review: Mass Effect 2


I’m not an avid Bioware fan, but I must admit, I was waiting with bated breath among the Bioware fanatics for the release of Mass Effect 2 — the sequel to one of the most critically acclaimed RPGs of 2008 with exciting shooting elements and in-depth character interaction.

Mass Effect 2, like its predecessor, is a sci-fi role-paying game where players take on the role of Shepard, the first human Specter in a galaxy filled with different alien races. A Specter, in case you don’t know, is a galactic Alliance operative with the freedom to do whatever is necessary, legal or otherwise, to defend the galaxy. After dealing with Saren and the Reaper threat in the previous game, Shepard and the crew of the Normandy are attacked by a secretive alien race known as the Collectors. It’s no secret by now that Shepard doesn’t survive the attack, but is resurrected by a shady organization known as Cerberus and recruited to help solve the mystery of Collectors and their attacks on human colonies.

In typical Bioware fashion, Mass Effect 2 has an entire crew of potential allies Shepard can interact with and recruit as the mission goes on. Shepard’s interaction with them determine the nature of her relationship, whether they’ll be on good terms or bad terms, friends or enemies, or even lovers. It’s not simple either. Each character has a wildly different personality and set of values — so it’s easy to accidentally offend them with a careless dialogue choice when trying to make friends. A nice touch is that each character also has a personal mission or side-story that Shepard can choose to help them with. Successfully completing this mission will usually make the character in question very loyal to Shepard, which unlocks more special abilities for them to use in combat. This highly believable social aspect is one of the things which makes Bioware’s games so great.

This in-depth social interaction spills over into Mass Effect 2’s missions. Shepard can engage in long conversations with just about every important character in the game – digging for info or alternative solutions to missions. Just like last time, Shepard gains Paragon or Renegade points depending on how the player chooses to react to certain events. Paragon points are usually gained by choosing diplomatic, non-violent solutions, whereas Renegade points come from brash, abrasive or intimidating options. The more points Shepard accrues in each area, the more Paragon or Renegade-related conversation options the player will have access to, to the point where they’ll start to affect the flow of the entire game.