Monday, June 11, 2012

Top 50 Video Games: Number 5

Platform: Xbox 360
Absurdly Specific Genre: Chatting, Exploring, and Romancing...also Saving the Galaxy...again
Difficulty: 5
Beaten: Yes

In many ways Mass Effect 2 is a lot like the first game in the series. Great dialog, deep characters, epic 'save the galaxy' plot, guns, spaceships, alien sideboob, and the like.

Note Pictured: Alien Sideboob
The first game was a top ten, though, just being 'a lot like Mass Effect' would be a noble goal, but not something that would catapult a game into the top 5. So what does the second game do better?

* Better controls (my brother played the first game and liked it, he texted me a couple weeks ago saying he was going to start the second game, he texted me not ten minutes later and said "the first thing I notice is that the controls are tons better")

* Changing from an RPG with third person shooter elements to a Third Person Shooter with RPG elements (I know a *lot* of people disliked this change, but this game needed it.)

* No Mako

* About nine hundred other things that I'm forgetting, mostly because the first to the second are fairly subtle, until you've been away from the series for a while, and have to listen to a person complaining about the things they don't like about the first game.

I lent out the trilogy to a friend a couple weeks ago, and he called me to tell me the frustrations he was dealing with in the first game. As much as I loved that game (again... top ten), I found myself constantly having to tell him "yup, that gets fixed in the second game... just trust me". There are so many things that this game does right in comparison to other games, not only in the series, but on the xbox in general, that it's not even funny.

This series is a perfect example of learning from flaws in the prior game's gameplay and building upon it (with one glaring exception that I'll be discussing in a separate post). The ability to keep your character from the first game and have the choices you made there actually matter made the whole experience feel less like different games, and more like episodes of a larger story arc (I would love to see other games take this example - absolutely love it).

There are plenty of other reasons to love this game - The Illusive Man is an excellent character that is perfectly set up for his role in the third game, the side missions (samey as they do tend to feel after a while) aren't just carbon copies of the exact same bunker like they are in the first game, going out and making party recruitment and party loyalty a series of missions, which made the process feel much more personal. It succeeds in everything that it attempts.

Bioware had the unenviable task of following up one of the best games of the console generation, and it surpassed it in nearly every way. Mass Effect 2 is my choice for the best game on the 360, and any game on the 360 or any subsequent generation will have a tough time beating it.

Rest in piece, you abominable piece of garbage
Other Notable Games in the Series:

I'm too close to Mass Effect 3 to objectively place it (I literally finished it the night before I wrote this), but I feel like it would rate somewhere in the top 15. The game itself is great - the perfect synthesis of the first two games. The stakes are crazy high, the choices carry more weight, you're forced to make the types of decisions that define this series. Without spoiling...anything really...the ending really puts a damper on things. I'll probably write more about the ending and the game in general when BioWare comes out with the new ending as DLC, because hell yes, I'm going to play through the entire series again. The game leading up to the ending is probably top 5 - the ending just sours it.

No comments:

Post a Comment