Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mass Effect 2

Developer: BioWare
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Jan. 26, 2010
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PC
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Action-packed space conversation.

0:00 Confession time: Despite enjoying the first hour of the first Mass Effect quite a bit, I never actually returned to finish the game. It's a problem I run into constantly with epic, story-based games, where I putter around a bit but can't bring myself to make the time and attention commitment to really immerse myself through to the end. I've heard some ridiculously nice reviews for this follow-up, though, so I'm determined to play it through to the end even if it kills me.

0:01 My sister's Xbox doesn't have HD cables, so I'm playing this in standard definition on a freaking huge HDTV. Looks noticeably grainy compared to what I'm used to...

0:02 I skip EA's "Cerberus Network Registration" because I don't have access to my Gamertag and I'm not using the online features right now anyway. I start a "New game, Male." On the loading screen I see schematics of a sleek, ultramodern orange spaceship rotating around. Choosable difficulties are Casual, Normal, Veteran, Hardcore, Insanity. So Normal is actually below average? That's fine by me... I'm fine being below average.

0:03 "Electronic Arts presents a BioWare production," says the game in its best impression of a Hollywood film. Close up of a burning star. Two figures talk in the shadows. "Shepard did everything right. More than we could have hoped for. Saving the Citadel but leaving the council to die. Humanity's place in the galaxy is stronger than ever... but still it's not enough." They're sending Shepard to fight the geth because the council will accept his help. "He's a hero... a bloody icon." One of these guys sounds exactly like Jed Bartlett from The West Wing. Is that you, Martin Sheen?

0:06 Cut to a different ship. "We're wasting our time," says a crewman. "Four days searching up and down this sector and we haven't seen any sign of geth activity." Three ships have gone missing, and the Captain thinks it's slavers, not geth, that are to blame. Suddenly, another ship comes in on a collision course and fires on them, despite their cloaking. "Multiple hull breaches" says an ensign as explosions rock the ship. It's like a really crappy episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, only I don't know any characters or what's going on.


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