Mass Effect 2 Review
I'm not going to lie: When it was announced that the Xbox 360-exclusive Mass Effect 2 would be making its way to the PS3, I had one immediate feeling – disappointment. The Mass Effect universe has been near and dear to my heart since I wrote a guide for and reviewed the first game, and my emotional attachment only grew with the release of the sequel and its many bits of outstanding, substantial downloadable content. I even awarded Mass Effect 2 my coveted Game of the Year 2010 award a month or so ago. So why be disappointed with one of this generation's greatest games finding a whole new audience? Well, it was announced that PS3 owners would only be getting Mass Effect 2 (and the upcoming third part of the trilogy), and the first game would remain a Microsoft exclusive.
Who cares, right? Well, one of my favorite aspects of the series has been carrying my Commander Shepard, along with all her choices and consequences, from part one to part two. Decisions made in the first title have a MAJOR effect on how the second game plays out, and PS3 owners will be jumping into the sequel with none of that – a development I see as one that will severely limit the emotional attachment PS3 owners will make with Shepard and his/her crew. Without putting in any spoilers, PS3 owners won't have a chance to fall in love, send crew members to their certain doom and/or decide on the very fate of the universe and it's government – all the aspects that made the first game, and its transition to the second, so great. The ties between the two games are so strong, in fact, that after I finished Mass Effect 2 on the Xbox 360, I turned around and played through both the first game AND its sequel AGAIN, just so I could see the impact of how my choices shaped the overall story. Well, BioWare thinks they have found a way around this by including an interactive comic with the PS3 port, one that will explain the events of the first Mass Effect and allow players to make some of the very choices I mentioned above. Considering that the Mass Effect universe tells, in my mind, one of the best stories ever seen in any video game, the success of this port, and any future Mass Effect titles on Sony's console, will live and die based on how well this interactive comic works. I bet you can't wait to hear my conclusion.
I'm not going to rehash my original review for the Xbox 360 Mass Effect 2 by getting weighed down in story, gameplay, etc. If you'd like to read that review, you can check it out HERE. This review will only focus on how well the game translates to the PlayStation 3 and what seasoned vets and Mass Effect newcomers can expect. The game is awesome, and as much as I'd like to drill that point home again, I'm going to skip it.
First, lets talk about how the game looks, sounds and feels on Sony's console. It passes this first test with absolute flying colors, even eclipsing the 360 version in the graphics department. This version of the game actually runs on the engine BioWare has developed for Mass Effect 3, and it shows. The colors are deeper, the edges are smoother and the animations more impressive. And this isn't coming from one of those gamers who live and die by hi-res textures and the like; the upgrade is immediately noticeable to even casual spectators. The occasional slowdown found in the 360 version is fixed as well. I remember well the chugging framerate during some of the battles on Omega, but this new version is as smooth as silk. Even better is the fact that all this has been accomplished without resorting to a multi-disc game; the PS3's Mass Effect 2 fits onto a single Blu-Ray disc.
Another perk for PS3 owners is that all the DLC offered over Xbox Live and the Cerberus Network comes packed in with the game. The weapons and armor aren't really anything special, but the DLC-based scenarios are all great. Straight out of the box you'll have access to the Kasumi and Zaeed stoylines, the Normandy crash site, the Firewalker tank/hovercraft/thing and the game-changing Lair of the Shadow Broker. Mass Effect 2 is a lengthy title to be sure, and all these add to the hour count without feeling like extra chores. What you might find interesting is that the pieces of DLC weave so well into the game's main narrative, PS3 owners may not be able to pick out what was once DLC versus what was in the original game. And BioWare has announced one more piece of DLC, coming later this year, will tie this game to Mass Effect 3. It's unclear whether PS3 owners will have access to this like their Xbox 360 brethren, but chances are, I'd say, pretty good.