First off I'd like to say that the Mass Effect series is epic. The idea of a GTA like free-play system in an expansive galaxy is brilliant; Bioware did it right.
I don't agree that they made it more into a shooter; yes they took away some RPG like elements but the game is almost exactly like the first; it's still an RPG just a little less expansive.
With that said, Mass Effect 2 is on some accounts more amazing than the first. Bioware truly took everything that was buggy or problematic from the first game, and either improved it or revamped it to make the game much smoother. However, Bioware did of course add in several new aspects which in turn have their own buggy problems. Not to mention some of the elements they removed which made the first game what it was.
Cue in the cover system; a new feature that is obviously designed to work almost exactly like the cover system does in GOW. The player hits a designated button and the character takes cover behind or against the nearest object. In ME2 it doesn't work quite so smoothly however.
Combat can be aggressive and hectic at times to the point where things get confusing; and between the short pauses and strategic movements your character generally spends most of his time hopping annoyingly behind the wrong crate which just so happens to be lying right next to a large group of enemies. I can't count how many times I saw the spinning "game over" screen with that eerie futuristic music and subsequently found myself thinking "how the hell..."
Where is the inventory system??? It completely vanished. Why Bioware? Inventory is a critical piece of the RPG genre. Instead players are forced to swap out weapons and load-outs at specifically placed weapon crates. Bioware has also added a special wheel (similar to the pause wheel from the first game) for swapping weapons, it was of course in the first ME but I'm mentioning it here because its structured a little differently.
The idea that the game is completely customized to me is awesome; but I wish they would have mentioned this sooner. I played the original on a PC; and bought ME2 for my xbox. Shame on me. Had I known my save games were going to carry over I would have stayed with the same hardware because your choices from the first directly impact the storyline and outcome in the sequel. Still, the feature is pretty cool and makes for different gameplay in certain situations.
The ME2 storyline is decent; but not overly fantastic. The ending is somewhat of a let-down, and the cutscenes are not quite what I expected from a ME sequel. Mass Effect 2 still is one of those games that you just have to play. It is possible to rent ME2 and experience most of what you should in the game as the main storyline does not take too long to beat; I personally own the game and will probably keep it instead of trading it in because it will be a great game to revisit.
I don't like leaving number or percentage ratings because its pretty much a matter of preference. However, Mass Effect 2 is certainly worth the $60 price tag.
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