Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mass Effect 2 takes off to stellar reviews

The blanket of commercials did what they could. The gaming community was taken to the edge of anticipation with trailers, articles and developers videos.

Now Mass Effect 2 is out with Sheppard streaking across the depths of conflicted space continuing in the second installment of the successful series.

Across North America and Europe RPG and science fiction fans counted down the hours until the pre-bought, pre-loaded games could be digitally unlocked and played. Mass Effect peaked at 10,790 players today according to Steam and those who ordered their copy through the popular online service.

Reportedly, within eight hours of the much-anticipated release Tuesday, nearly 100,000 people were playing it online, according to Casey Hudson, BioWare's project director.

The rush of players could be seen in the delayed digital unlocking of the game through online delivery stores and bombardment of EA's site with new account openings slowing their servers down. Many players complained on various forums of  having to wait while new accounts were created and existing ones seemed to take too long to verify.

Hopefully things will settle down for the strong DLC Bioware is planning for Mass Effect 2. Purchasers of the game will be able to activate the ‘Cerberus Network’, which serves as an in-game portal to offer downloadable content and news at no extra charge. The first piece of DLC is available today, featuring a new mission around the Normandy crash site, and BioWare plans to announce more content in the "coming weeks."

But what about the game
So I gave in. The original plan was to make my way through the $5 bargain of Mass Effect to see if I liked the gameplay enough to invest the full price of a new release and a more valuable expense, my limited gaming time into Mass Effect 2.

With one great review after another hitting the web, I caved, preordered and downloaded the game so it was waiting and ready by the time I got home.

I'm glad I did. The cutscenes and in-game graphics weren't bad in ME. The follow-up is just amazing.

I won't discuss the opening storyline as not to ruin any surprises, but an attentive player can see all the current influences and gaming trends sneaking their way into Mass Effect 2.

Fast paced action scenes that lead to the same conclusion, but allow the player to feel as though they have control in the situation is the most promenient addition. The fantastic voice acting is back and the universe the game is set in is as believable as any big screen blockbuster. Although I've only played about three hours into the game, it seems to be an X-Files meets Star Wars.

Where as the universe was a clean, controlled place before, Mass Effect 2 pushes the player through the back alleys of Deep Space.

The developers included instant gratification for the players who can't quite take the slower place of an RPG game. Achievements pop up on the screen, ranging from how many more times a deed needs to be done to reach a particular badge of honor to a mouse click to initiate an action which will influence your renegade or paragon characteristics.

Combat is improved, even if the onscreen indicator for taking damage just so happens to blend tackiness and a degree of gross.

Bit-Tech gave the game a perfect score, Gametrailers slightly less with 9.7, CVG weighed in with 9.3 while Gamespot ,Maximum PC decided on 9, which was still good enough to win the editors choice/Kick Ass awards.

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