I’ve written everything I’ve wanted to write on Mass Effect 2 (or so I thought). But after finishing playing and writing out my thoughts, I decided to read other reviews to see how everyone else thinks. The biggest surprise to me was the view on the story.
Personally, I felt it was fine but I don’t tune in especially hard to the big story details while I play. Items that irk everyone else usually register as nothing more than little blips in the back of my brain that I largely ignore. I’m more about the fun and the moment. But then I read Twenty Sided’s three-part assault on the story. Here are the links: part one, part two, and part three.
I’m not going to respond in full to the criticism but I will quickly say that a majority of his points are right on; I’d guess only a few could be debated. The sections that resonate the most with me are the Reboot, the Illusive Man, and the Final Boss. As for the Reboot, I have to admit that BioWare missed a great opportunity to have Shepherd dying at the end of game one in a sacrificial manner to set up the intro of ME2. I think that might have felt more seamless.
Speaking of sacrifices, while reading reviews and comments I came across one that wrote that the more you care about your henchmen, earning their loyalty and upgrading them, the more likely they will all survive and that stretch of the game’s story will come off as a little flat. The less effort you put into the henchmen and their stories, the more likely they will all die (perhaps Shepherd included) — but you won’t care. Phrased like that, the end sequence comes off as a bit of a failure on BioWare’s part, especially when placed against ME1 and its Ashley/Kaidan decision.
And speaking of loyalty itself, one person wrote that BioWare should “make loyalty harder to get. Make the things you have to do to gain loyalty much more distasteful, like Zaeed’s one. Less loyalty translates into more death in the end game, and that’s good.” Another person added, “And there should be conflicting goals of your companions. To gain loyalty from one might very well mean losing loyalty from another.” I think that ties in with the idea of the ME1 Ashley/Kaidan decision, and represents a better solution to a potentially flat end sequence.
Thinking on these comments makes me realize that we’ve just been introduced to “loyalty” and that BioWare games of the future will likely both incorporate and evolve this system. That’s a good thing.
One thing I have to say as I jot down this post, ME2 sticks with you — just as Dragon Age and ME1 stick with you. I don’t think any of these comments would exist in relation to a lesser game.