You can get various weapon upgrades, such as damage increase. In order to do so, you either find them scattered in a level or buy the plans at a store. Once you have the plans, you need materials to make them.
Acquiring the materials requires scanning planets, which is a total drag. When you have the materials, you can unlock the upgrade or new equipment on your ship.
You can also customize the way your Shepard dresses. There are plenty of color customization options for the armor. Later on you can even give your Shepard a complete makeover, changing the way his or her face looks.
BioWare fixed the terrible frame rate issues from the first game. They were really bad in Mass Effect 1, enough to hamper the gameplay. It’s a relief to see them fixed. You’re also not going cruising in your clunky Mako vehicle either. Planet scanning replaced those missions.
Loyalty & Conversations
Once you recruit party members, loyalty missions will eventually open up. Each part member has a loyalty mission. The loyalty missions are the strength of Mass Effect 2’s story. You learn more about your crew and help with a specific problem from their past. Not only are the story’s great, completing them are crucial to the final mission. When you gain their loyalty, you unlock some new outfits and that character’s unique ability.
The best feature of the series is still in the interactive conversations. There is an incredible amount of dialogue choices. Over the years, BioWare has continued to improve upon their interactive conversations. In certain situations you can interrupt a conversation by hitting the left or right trigger when prompted. Depending on which you hit results in a Paragon or Renegade action.
If your Paragon or Renegade points are high enough, you open special dialogue lines. Picking these lines diffuses a situation and gets you bonus Paragon or Renegade points.
There are sometimes over a dozen dialogue choices for a single conversation. The conversations are deep. With your party members, you can further dialogue after completing a story mission.
It was funny how Shepard can go to each store on the Citadel and give it a plug (for a discount.). Soon every store on the Citadel has Shepard’s voice playing throughout it. Saving the galaxy has to come with some perks.
Of course, the romance element found in Mass Effect 1 is still there. However, the chase is better than the catch. The scene isn’t as steamy as the first game’s, but holds more weight considering the potential outcome of their final mission.
Even playing as a helping-old-ladies-cross-the-street good guy, I found Shepard rough around the edges. You can tell the missions, destruction, and death have taken their toll on him. Some of the paragon dialogue outcomes were snappy, irritated, and in a no B.S. style.
The characters you come across from Mass Effect 1 also changed, becoming darker, and in a sense corrupted. The line between right and wrong has blurred.
The final stretch of Mass Effect 2, aka the “suicide mission”, is what you prepare for the entire game. Your ship’s upgrades and crew member loyalty affect who survives. Yes, the character’s can actually permanently die. The mission is intense. Even if you know where to send your crew, they could still end up dying. The suicide mission is aptly named. While stressful, the result is highly rewarding.
Shield’s are Down
Amidst the greatness, I had a few minor gripes. The loading times were somewhat bad. This time instead of waiting in elevators, you just see a lengthy load screen. They haven’t fixed them. Moving away from enemies is sluggish. If they somehow broke the line and were right in front of you, it’s hard to get away without dying. The potential for frustration is there.
The party member’s AI is at times stupid. Sometimes they won’t even attack, while other times they go all Rambo on the enemies.
There aren’t nearly as many side quests to find on each planet as Mass Effect 1 either.
The scanning/mining was the “worst” part of Mass Effect 2. The lead designer, Christina Norman, said in an interview that she watched TV or listened to music during scanning to get through them. That speaks volumes on how much of a chore they are.
It’s not a game breaker by any means, but they’re seriously annoying. You have to do a lot of scanning to afford all the ship and weapon upgrades. Why they would include this mode is baffling. It’s better than the Mako sessions, but that’s not saying much.
If you bought Mass Effect 2 brand spankin’ new, you gained access to the Cerberus Network. The Cerberus Network is EA’s way of discouraging used game sales. The Cerberus Network grants you access to downloadable missions, weapons, and a bonus character. You have to link your EA account to your gamertag, which can become complicated for a variety of reasons, such as error messages or the user having different emails.