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It’s fair to say that Mass Effect 2 is a pretty awesome game. So awesome, in fact, that if the ‘net could burst from an overfilling of positive reviews, this is the game that would have doomed the whole damn thing. Going into the experience I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’d finished the first Mass Effect, and while it was a pretty good game I felt like it lacked in a few areas, not the least of which was a dry-as-dirt first quarter spent wandering the Citadel like a chimp on a banana hunt. So it goes without saying, then, that when I approached the new Mass Effect I was pretty much steeled for a dull introduction to what would eventually be revealed as a pretty good game.
I was wrong. Mass Effect 2’s intro is among the most exciting, gripping, well executed game opener’s I’ve ever seen. If it had been a CG cut scene I’d have been on the edge of my seat, but getting to actually play through that explosive, shocking–the list of adjectives could go on for days–introduction, well…had me on the edge of my seat, fiddling with thumbsticks as I desperately tried to save Commander Shepard and her crew from certain doom.
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In a word. Fun!
For a Beta, it’s pretty well rounded with just some minor things I noticed that will probably be fixed before release. I witnessed multiple grenades bouncing up after hitting stairs in at least one level. I’m pretty sure those things are heavy and gravity pulls the other way, as a rule. The four major “classes,” “power ups,” (whatever they’re calling them this time around), aren’t as balanced as they could be, either. The player choses which “class” they’ll play at the beginning of the match and after death, right before respawn, which helps to somewhat balance them out, but it’s easy to see which are more advantageous than others. In their own right each is pretty useful, though the one that stands out as the most useful is the shield. Basically you get limited god mode for a short time; you can’t move but no one can kill you, either (from what I’ve seen.) The next standout is the cloak, which draws attention mostly for its flaws. I say flaws because, as I’d sit motionless in the cloak, I’d inevitably be sniped (headshot) from all the way across the map after having just watched the shooter spawn, after I cloaked… The other two powers sprint and the jetpack, are pretty balanced, each with their obvious advantages and disadvantages.
All in all I’m impressed with the beta so far, and look forward to playing the “gold” version with its various problems hopefully ironed out. Visually the beta has smooth, crisp graphics and familiar gameplay, with a blend of new and old weapons. The biggest problem I have with it is that, like many other online multiplayer games, there is no way to filter out players who have no lives and have spent the last eight years of their lives playing Halo ad nauseum, practicing their e-penis waving skills. The only time they are in any danger of losing is if a scenario works out as a 4v1 and they run out of ammo.
Beta is fun, can’t wait for release!