Mass Effect 2 PS3 Review

Publisher – EA – Developer – BioWare – Genre – Action RPG – Players – 1 – Age Rating – 15+ – Other console/handheld formats – Xbox 360

The original Mass Effect wasn’t released on the PS3, but because they didn’t have the same restrictions as said original, EA decided to bring the sequel to Sony’s console. As many that are aware of the series will already know, your story decisions from the first game can be carried over to the second in the Xbox 360 version, so how have BioWare got around this in the PS3 version? Well, fortunately decisions can still be made on events from the original game, and this is all thanks to a digital comic on the disc from Dark Horse Comics.

Obviously, making decisions in this manner is not a great substitute to playing the original, but it’s a much better method than BioWare making the decisions for you would have been, and is certainly an admirable inclusion. Still, there are some small events in the story that are followed through in the sequel which may not make sense to PS3 owners new to the universe, given that the comic skims over these more minor moments.

The Mass Effect 2 story is excellent, and this is due in large part to a cast of truly memorable characters. The gist of the story is that you are building a team to take on the alien Collector’s, and every single character that you recruit has their back-story and personal goals. Yes, it’s a very character driven story and, being that your responses to certain situations can alter this story, you as the now famous Commander Shepard are also much more than a simple bit-player. You did save the galaxy and hope to do it again, after all.

It may look like an ordinary third person shooter, but it's not quite.

While you can be a very pure leader, it’s not possible to go down a path as a truly evil character, but that’s not to say that some of your methods of dealing with certain situations can’t be highly questionable. As a renegade Commander you can still attempt to save the galaxy, but you can be quite ruthless and cold hearted whilst you are doing it. Button prompts even appear in the story at times, in which pressing the button will perform a Paragon or a Renegade action, obviously me wanting to mostly be a nasty Commander, I chose not to carry out any Paragon actions and swaggered down the renegade path, preferring to be a ruthless, hard to like idiot instead. But there’s nothing at all to stop you from being somewhere in-between, if you so wish. That’s the beauty of such non-linear storytelling.

The story is a very important part of the Mass Effect universe, but you do actually get to do some shooting when you’re not making big decisions. As an action RPG, Mass Effect 2 is a game that feels very much like an ordinary third person action game that comes complete with a cover system (which works really well here, it has to be said) and recharging health. Less typical for third person shooters is that headshots aren’t instant kills, but here they do more damage, and you also have access to special skills (you can pause the game to fire them off from a radial menu or they can be mapped to buttons for quicker access), which are determined by the type of class you choose at the beginning of the game.

As for you and your team, you level up and are given points to spend on your skills throughout the game, of which can be later evolved into one of two more powerful versions. Various research upgrades can also be found scattered around the many places you’ll visit in the galaxy, in which building them back on the Normandy (the ship that is your base of operations) will allow you access to their perks. These upgrades can be everything from increasing the damage of your weapons to making your armour more efficient.

You’ll be accompanied by two characters for the majority of the game (the AI is pretty good, but they do need revived all too often, particularly on the higher difficulty levels), of which you can choose and mix and match as much as you like as well as order around. You can better earn the trust and loyalty of these characters by completing missions to help them out, allowing them to focus on the larger task at hand, and nothing but that task. It’s another aspect that makes the characters and universe feel very much alive, and I certainly felt like I had lent a hand with closing the book on some of these stories of trauma, revenge and mystery.

The planet scanning will, like the Xbox 360 original, either be liked or loathed. It has you mining planets for their materials.

This PS3 version of Mass Effect 2 is also the complete version, which means when you buy the game you’re buying everything: the original release with all of the downloadable content included on the disc. So, the previously downloadable weapons and armour are in there and you also get high quality missions such as Lair of the Shadow Broker and Overlord, along with briefer content such as the Firewalker vehicle missions and an opportunity to visit the crash site of the ship that goes down at the beginning of the game. All of this certainly gives the game plenty of additional play time on top of the already lengthy original release.

Visually, Mass Effect 2 on PS3 is running on the Mass Effect 3 engine, and whilst there is a slight noticeable upgrade and the game largely looks gorgeous, there’s occasional slow-down and some horrid looking textures from time to time in this port. As for sound, the stellar voice acting, whether it’s the very minor or the truly major players in this wonderfully put together universe, really brings each and every character to life, and the music just couldn’t fit the game better than it does.

Mass Effect 2 has the future universe, the characters, the mature open-ended story, while also playing very well as a game which combines action with RPG elements. There’s so much to like here that PS3 owners may not be yearning for Mass Effect 3 any time soon, and it’s those same PS3 owners that get the best and most complete version of Mass Effect 2 yet.