‘Mass Effect 2’: Best Video Game Ever

doug_thompsonBy Doug Thompson

Taste is personal. Many will play “Mass Effect 2” and wonder what all the shouting is about. I have no guarantee that if you buy this game, you will like it.

But it’s a great game.

You may view the gaming press as one step removed from the worst sort of fanboy sportswriters. Still, the lowest score “Mass Effect 2” has received from any site or magazine carried by Metacritic, the review tracking site, is from a German magazine that gave it an 88 out of 100. This is out of dozens of mainstream media reviews that are so rapturous that Metacritic did an article about the exceptional amount of praise. The article’s at http://features.metacritic.com/features/2010/mass-effect-2-inside-the-reviews/.

Several of those reviews point out — and as I did last week — the plot is all “save the universe” space opera 101. However, the presentation, the crafting of the characters and the dialogue are all nearly flawless.

It also happens to be one of the funniest games I’ve played since “Sam & Max Hit the Road,” back in the 1990s. The main story itself isn’t funny at all, but when you have a game that lasts almost 40 hours even if you’re relatively quick about it, there’s plenty of time for laughs.

Rather than add to the chorus, let me make a few points for the many people who haven’t played ME1, including parents.

This is a game for adults. That does not mean what it usually means: Lots of sex and violence. There are plenty of both, but the real thing I enjoy as an adult — and would be wary of if letting kids play — is the moral choices the game presents.

Your character is being interviewed by a reporter who’s out to make you look bad. An icon flashes on the screen. If you want to, you can then click the left mouse button and — without missing a beat — punch her in the face and knock her to the ground.

I cite that as the most vivid example of what you can do in this game. As for myself, I’m an insufferable goody two-shoes. I didn’t punch her. You can choose good things as easily and often as bad things.

There are choices to be made about whether to keep the results of experiments done on live test subjects. There are choices to be made about whether to cut a conversation short to get vital information by shoving a pistol in somebody’s face — or, in my case, not.

You have plenty of your own choices to make — and then your teammates, the other characters, start bringing their problems to you.

There isn’t a clear “light side, dark side” here. Some decisions will give you as many “Paragon points” as “Renegade points.” Several other “Paragon” players have gone on forums on this game and complained that they can’t get through one mission in particular without picking up “Renegade” points. I have less problem with that. If I criticize somebody who deserves it in the newspaper, he often thinks I’m unfair and biased. He doesn’t believe he deserves it. Being a “paragon” to some requires being a “renegade” to others.

Can you enjoy this game without having played ME1? Sure you can. It’s all “save the universe” type stuff. You won’t get some of the jokes and many moments will be considerably less poignant, but most people will have a very good time anyway — if you can shoot. A whole lot of shooting is required.

The language is strong, and includes liberal use of the f-bomb, especially if you spend any time with the player known as “Jack.”

It would also be fair to say this game has more sexual wordplay of any game I’ve ever played. It’s well done and not the titillating juvenile point-and-giggle stuff that gets tiring, but it’s definitely adult content.

Great game; good luck out there, saving the universe and all.

Categories: Legacy Archive