It's hard to watch television these days without being hammered with ads for the second installment in BioWare's space-loving, alien-sexing, sci-fi action-RPG series, Mass Effect. In fact, one of the most striking things about Mass Effect 2 is how/why Electronic Arts is standing so heavily behind it. The advertising campaign has been relentless, blanketing a number of different networks and demographics. Having now finished the game, it's clear why.

Mass Effect 2 transcends genre expectations. It's not just a cut-and-dry role-playing-game with a sci-fi skin to it. If you want it to be a third-person shooter, it's a third person shooter. If you want it to be a team-oriented, tactical RPG, it can be that, too. If you want it to be a story-driven continuation of ME1's adventure to save a universe on the precipice of decimation at the hands of an alien race, well, it's that as well. Indeed the most ambitious aspect of ME2 is how malleable its various play-styles can be while still falling under the umbrella of dense science fiction filled with meaningful relationships and storylines.

That ambition, however, is also its weak spot. In an attempt to make a product that could be marketed to a bigger swath of gamers, BioWare inadvertently lost sight of what made the first Mass Effect a resounding triumph; mainly that it was a totally geeked out RPG that played perfectly to the customize-everything wants of RPG players. ME2, on the other hand, is a bit more linear in its attempt to appeal beyond the RPG consumer base.
categories Reviews, Sci-Fi