|System: X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: BioWare||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 26, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
First, the musical score is tremendous, nicely capturing not just the overall feel of the title perfectly but individual moments, as well. My only regret concerning the melodious accompaniment is that the epic dirge that marked character death in the original has been replaced with a tune decidedly less grand (a quibble even my wife made mention).
Second, the stellar voice acting found in the first entry is more than intact, it's actually superior. BioWare has spun a yarn that the actors obviously feel is important, because the dialogue and character interactions are the best I've ever heard. Mass Effect 2 truly sets the bar in this regard.
Third, graphics have also received a brilliant polish. The characters and environments are all extremely detailed and lifelike. The lip-syncing is impeccable, skin textures look like actual flesh, and planets and structures seem like they're part of a living creation. In general, it's tough to tell whether you're in or out of cutscenes, as the entirety of the game is brilliantly depicted and rendered.
Finally, Mass Effect 2 is quite a stable game technically; something that couldn't be said of its predecessor. The seaming, screen-tearing, frame drops, and texture issues all seem to have been ameliorated with a lot of care. Early chatter across the Internet has revealed that ME2 still does have a few issues (mostly crashing and the sound cutting out). Indeed, another CheatCC writer did experience some seaming and slow-texture loading. However, in my nearly 20 hours with the game, I experienced nothing but a rock-solid and polished gameplay experience. The only minor foible with which I had to contend was when a crew member followed too closely and pushed me on top of a table - an unrecoverable situation that forced me to reload. Fortunately, the game features an excellent, frequently accessed auto-save function (that performs its job unobtrusively in the background), which makes reloading a breeze.
A lot more could be said about this game, but all you really need to know is that Mass Effect 2 is one of the best current-gen gaming experiences around. It's one of those era- and genre-defining titles that core gamers will reflect upon and reminisce about with nostalgic fondness in the future. I commend the development team at BioWare for all the hard work that went into making this title not only shine but feel both familiar and completely fresh at the same time. Great show; I can't wait for the third installment!
CCC Editor / News Director