Why Mass Effect 2 Failed to Live Up to Its Predecessor

Spoilers for Mass Effect 1 & 2, and you probably need to have played those games to understand what I’m saying.

IGN recently released its list of the top 100 modern games (that is, made during the current console generation), and, to my dismay, Mass Effect 2 topped the list. The ranking wasn’t terribly surprising; the Xbox version of ME2 currently holds a spectacular 96 metascore, received a glowing 5-out-of-5 star review from Brad, and won innumerable Game of the Year awards last year (including Giant Bomb’s). Personally, I consider Mass Effect 1 to be one of the greatest games ever made (and my personal favorite), but ME2 has always left me disappointed, and if you’ll bear with me (this is gonna get long), I’d like to explain why.

 

 Let’s start with the games’ openings. From the outset, I could tell that the first Mass Effect was something special. The first moments aboard the Normandy, devoid of action but dripping with an amazing sci-fi aesthetic, were like a statement of intent; as if the game was assuring me that it would make good on its space opera premise and RPG pedigree by taking story and exposition seriously – I loved it so much that I dragged it out, exploring the ship and exhausting all dialogue options, so that it took me an hour and a half just to start the first mission and land on Eden Prime. By contrast, the opening minutes of ME2 are spent watching non-interactive cutscenes, and playing out an opening set piece aboard the destroyed Normandy filled with inane dialogue (hmm…should I tell Ashley “Go away” or “Please go away”)  and consisting of a linear walk through the ship, albeit a cool looking one. To be fair, I’d have appreciated Shepherd’s death scene had it not been spoiled for me before hand, but then upon being reawakening, the game forces you through a plain BORING shooting level requiring you to repeatedly shoot robots in the face with a pistol. The entire thing (cutscenes, setpieces, shootouts) felt to me not like the slow burn, narrative-heavy intro of the original, but like some Uncharted wannabe with less flair and lower production values. These are not the elements that make Mass Effect great.

 Saren, on his way to do something totally horrible.

The entire story of the first game is a step above, in my opinion. For one, the antagonists are awesome. Saren, the rogue Spectre, is so incredibly menacing. We’re first introduced to the baddy when he meets up with his friend Nihlus (an extremely skilled warrior spy) and shoots him in the back of the head. Then we see Saren try to blow up an entire human colony, use a mysterious but important beacon to have some sort of crazy revelation, throw a crazy tantrum in his awesome spaceship, and finally convince the leaders of the entire intergalactic government that NONE OF THAT SHIT EVER HAPPENED. Saren is probably the coolest antagonist I’ve ever seen in a game. He’s stronger than you, he’s meaner than you, he’s smarter than you, and he has more guns, training, and troops than you. He needs to be this cool, because if he weren’t, the revelation that his ship has been controlling him through mind control this whole time would fall flat, but instead, it makes you think how strong IS this Sovereign if it can control Saren? Convincing Saren to pull the trigger and kill himself at the end of the game to thwart Sovereign is an incredibly powerful and poignant scene of redemption (easily on par with Darth Vader turning on the Emperor in Return of the Jedi) … and the best part? Making him do that is entirely optional; I even missed the opportunity on my first playthrough. That choice far outweighs any of the decisions made in the final level of ME2 (but more on that later).


The collectors fill Saren’s role as antagonist in ME2, and they’re dissapointing partly because the levels in which you fight them are the least inventive in the entire game. In both Mass Effect games, the premises for most of the individual levels were quite cool - persuade the Citadel council that Saren is evil, help the sick colonists of Feros, investigate the strange scientific experiments being conducted in the labs of Noveria, join a posse to hunt out the outlaw Archangel, etc. etc. The reason I find these objectives interesting is because you don’t just have to shoot everything in your path from A to B; you have to talk to people, compromise, find the truth, deal with bureaucracy - the sorts of things games don’t usually concern themselves with. Well, the collector levels are nothing like that. They are all linear paths from A to B, filled with lame looking, anthropomorphic insects. In fact, the bad guys don’t even talk except for their one-dimensional leader, who you never actually come face-to-face with and whom repeats the same annoying lines about “taking control” in each and every one of their levels. The collectors are boring, they’re gun fodder, and they’re sure no replacement for Saren’s awesomeness.

The last aspect of the story that bears mentioning are the decisions you make. In Mass Effect 1, important decisions come at unexpected times and force you to make hard choices, and there’s seldom a right or wrong answer. You have to choose to save Kaiden or Ashley and, in a gut-wrenching scene, listen to the crewmate whose fate you’ve doomed thank you for being a good captain. You have to choose to spare or kill the Thorian’s accomplice, who’s caused you such grief but promises to repent. You have to choose to kill or let live the Rachni Queen who swears she’s just misunderstood. These decisions are difficult, and promise to have ramifications felt throughout the trilogy.

Did YOU save the Rachni Queen? 

Such promise turns out to be lost potential. In ME2, if you’ve saved Wrex, he’s the leader of his clan, but if you didn’t, a look-alike, sound-alike Krogan fills the role. The story isn’t altered in any meaningful way. Remember the Rachni Queen? Her only mention in ME2 is when she sends someone to basically tell you “hey, you should remember me because I’m going to be important in the third game”. If you killed her, you’re at least spared that silly, pointless conversation. And, because years have passed between the games, your friendships and love affairs hardly carry over…everyone occupies the same roles regardless of your past experiences with them, with only throwaway lines reminding you of your decisions (mostly, it’s the difference between “it’s good to see you” and “it’s really good to see you”).

The decisions you make in Mass Effect 2 itself are also less impactful. That’s because you don’t manually assign paragon and renegade points in the second game; you are forced to min-max and don’t get to really make up your mind on the best course of action in individual situations. If you try to play somewhere between ‘total jerk’ and ‘nauseously saintly’ you WILL be locked out of dialogue options…and that sucks (during Samara’s loyalty mission, I swear I thought her daughter was going to rape me because of this). Another problem is that the major decisions are all shoehorned into the very last mission of the game (on the suicide mission). Throughout the game you’ve either been upgrading your ship or you haven’t. This determines people’s fates in a single, simple cutscene that shows their death scenes, one by one. Once you land on the collector base, you have to make decisions about which party member is the most capable biotic, technician, etc. and people’s lives hang in the balance. The problem? These choices are too simplistic. Obviously you want all of your party to survive – why wouldn’t you? So the choices basically boil down to “right” and “wrong,” unlike, say, choosing between Ashley and Kaiden, which has no wrong answer. The choices, stripped of their moral ambiguity, devolve into a simple game of “how well do you know each character’s archetype?”

      Remember that awkward        brandy drinking scene with  Space Helen Mirren?

Finally, the concept of the suicide mission itself, while cool, doesn’t make sense within the context of the game. The entirety of ME2 is a lead-up to this mission, and you’re promised that there are hard decisions ahead, and you must build a team to survive against impossible odds. But in actual gameplay, you have only two squad members with you at a time, and Shepherd kills the vast majority of enemies by himself, so having an entire squad of the best soldiers in the galaxy doesn’t really matter. The only time, as far as I can tell, when any specific person on the squad is actually VITAL is when you need a biotic to protect you while you walk down a certain hallway. Oh, and you need somebody to catch you as you jump onto the Normandy at the end…but even I could’ve done that! You didn’t need any engineers, assassins, shocktrooper; Doctor Chakwas could have pulled Shepherd up at the end if she weren’t so wasted on brandy. Oh, and the less said about that end boss, the better.

Fingers Crossed...

I have many other problems with the game, but they seem to come down to personal taste more than my above gripes. I

 liked overheating weapons, floaty space grenades, and the mako from the original. I don’t like cover shooters. I LOVE loot, and playing around with my inventory, and putting different enhancements on different guns, so I was irked when all these features were taken away. I liked the cut-and-paste side-quests of the original (set on overly huge planets) because that’s how I imagine space would be like, and it really sells a sense of isolation. And I would take the bright, expansive maps of the Citadel and Noveria over the dark, closed off worlds of Omega and Illium any day of the week. 

 SORRY THIS POST GOT SO LONG. I’D LOVE ANY COMMENTS OR FEEDBACK!

102 Comments
102 Comments Refresh
Posted by Hate_Machine

Spoilers for Mass Effect 1 & 2, and you probably need to have played those games to understand what I’m saying.

IGN recently released its list of the top 100 modern games (that is, made during the current console generation), and, to my dismay, Mass Effect 2 topped the list. The ranking wasn’t terribly surprising; the Xbox version of ME2 currently holds a spectacular 96 metascore, received a glowing 5-out-of-5 star review from Brad, and won innumerable Game of the Year awards last year (including Giant Bomb’s). Personally, I consider Mass Effect 1 to be one of the greatest games ever made (and my personal favorite), but ME2 has always left me disappointed, and if you’ll bear with me (this is gonna get long), I’d like to explain why.

 

 Let’s start with the games’ openings. From the outset, I could tell that the first Mass Effect was something special. The first moments aboard the Normandy, devoid of action but dripping with an amazing sci-fi aesthetic, were like a statement of intent; as if the game was assuring me that it would make good on its space opera premise and RPG pedigree by taking story and exposition seriously – I loved it so much that I dragged it out, exploring the ship and exhausting all dialogue options, so that it took me an hour and a half just to start the first mission and land on Eden Prime. By contrast, the opening minutes of ME2 are spent watching non-interactive cutscenes, and playing out an opening set piece aboard the destroyed Normandy filled with inane dialogue (hmm…should I tell Ashley “Go away” or “Please go away”)  and consisting of a linear walk through the ship, albeit a cool looking one. To be fair, I’d have appreciated Shepherd’s death scene had it not been spoiled for me before hand, but then upon being reawakening, the game forces you through a plain BORING shooting level requiring you to repeatedly shoot robots in the face with a pistol. The entire thing (cutscenes, setpieces, shootouts) felt to me not like the slow burn, narrative-heavy intro of the original, but like some Uncharted wannabe with less flair and lower production values. These are not the elements that make Mass Effect great.

 Saren, on his way to do something totally horrible.

The entire story of the first game is a step above, in my opinion. For one, the antagonists are awesome. Saren, the rogue Spectre, is so incredibly menacing. We’re first introduced to the baddy when he meets up with his friend Nihlus (an extremely skilled warrior spy) and shoots him in the back of the head. Then we see Saren try to blow up an entire human colony, use a mysterious but important beacon to have some sort of crazy revelation, throw a crazy tantrum in his awesome spaceship, and finally convince the leaders of the entire intergalactic government that NONE OF THAT SHIT EVER HAPPENED. Saren is probably the coolest antagonist I’ve ever seen in a game. He’s stronger than you, he’s meaner than you, he’s smarter than you, and he has more guns, training, and troops than you. He needs to be this cool, because if he weren’t, the revelation that his ship has been controlling him through mind control this whole time would fall flat, but instead, it makes you think how strong IS this Sovereign if it can control Saren? Convincing Saren to pull the trigger and kill himself at the end of the game to thwart Sovereign is an incredibly powerful and poignant scene of redemption (easily on par with Darth Vader turning on the Emperor in Return of the Jedi) … and the best part? Making him do that is entirely optional; I even missed the opportunity on my first playthrough. That choice far outweighs any of the decisions made in the final level of ME2 (but more on that later).


The collectors fill Saren’s role as antagonist in ME2, and they’re dissapointing partly because the levels in which you fight them are the least inventive in the entire game. In both Mass Effect games, the premises for most of the individual levels were quite cool - persuade the Citadel council that Saren is evil, help the sick colonists of Feros, investigate the strange scientific experiments being conducted in the labs of Noveria, join a posse to hunt out the outlaw Archangel, etc. etc. The reason I find these objectives interesting is because you don’t just have to shoot everything in your path from A to B; you have to talk to people, compromise, find the truth, deal with bureaucracy - the sorts of things games don’t usually concern themselves with. Well, the collector levels are nothing like that. They are all linear paths from A to B, filled with lame looking, anthropomorphic insects. In fact, the bad guys don’t even talk except for their one-dimensional leader, who you never actually come face-to-face with and whom repeats the same annoying lines about “taking control” in each and every one of their levels. The collectors are boring, they’re gun fodder, and they’re sure no replacement for Saren’s awesomeness.

The last aspect of the story that bears mentioning are the decisions you make. In Mass Effect 1, important decisions come at unexpected times and force you to make hard choices, and there’s seldom a right or wrong answer. You have to choose to save Kaiden or Ashley and, in a gut-wrenching scene, listen to the crewmate whose fate you’ve doomed thank you for being a good captain. You have to choose to spare or kill the Thorian’s accomplice, who’s caused you such grief but promises to repent. You have to choose to kill or let live the Rachni Queen who swears she’s just misunderstood. These decisions are difficult, and promise to have ramifications felt throughout the trilogy.

Did YOU save the Rachni Queen? 

Such promise turns out to be lost potential. In ME2, if you’ve saved Wrex, he’s the leader of his clan, but if you didn’t, a look-alike, sound-alike Krogan fills the role. The story isn’t altered in any meaningful way. Remember the Rachni Queen? Her only mention in ME2 is when she sends someone to basically tell you “hey, you should remember me because I’m going to be important in the third game”. If you killed her, you’re at least spared that silly, pointless conversation. And, because years have passed between the games, your friendships and love affairs hardly carry over…everyone occupies the same roles regardless of your past experiences with them, with only throwaway lines reminding you of your decisions (mostly, it’s the difference between “it’s good to see you” and “it’s really good to see you”).

The decisions you make in Mass Effect 2 itself are also less impactful. That’s because you don’t manually assign paragon and renegade points in the second game; you are forced to min-max and don’t get to really make up your mind on the best course of action in individual situations. If you try to play somewhere between ‘total jerk’ and ‘nauseously saintly’ you WILL be locked out of dialogue options…and that sucks (during Samara’s loyalty mission, I swear I thought her daughter was going to rape me because of this). Another problem is that the major decisions are all shoehorned into the very last mission of the game (on the suicide mission). Throughout the game you’ve either been upgrading your ship or you haven’t. This determines people’s fates in a single, simple cutscene that shows their death scenes, one by one. Once you land on the collector base, you have to make decisions about which party member is the most capable biotic, technician, etc. and people’s lives hang in the balance. The problem? These choices are too simplistic. Obviously you want all of your party to survive – why wouldn’t you? So the choices basically boil down to “right” and “wrong,” unlike, say, choosing between Ashley and Kaiden, which has no wrong answer. The choices, stripped of their moral ambiguity, devolve into a simple game of “how well do you know each character’s archetype?”

      Remember that awkward        brandy drinking scene with  Space Helen Mirren?

Finally, the concept of the suicide mission itself, while cool, doesn’t make sense within the context of the game. The entirety of ME2 is a lead-up to this mission, and you’re promised that there are hard decisions ahead, and you must build a team to survive against impossible odds. But in actual gameplay, you have only two squad members with you at a time, and Shepherd kills the vast majority of enemies by himself, so having an entire squad of the best soldiers in the galaxy doesn’t really matter. The only time, as far as I can tell, when any specific person on the squad is actually VITAL is when you need a biotic to protect you while you walk down a certain hallway. Oh, and you need somebody to catch you as you jump onto the Normandy at the end…but even I could’ve done that! You didn’t need any engineers, assassins, shocktrooper; Doctor Chakwas could have pulled Shepherd up at the end if she weren’t so wasted on brandy. Oh, and the less said about that end boss, the better.

Fingers Crossed...

I have many other problems with the game, but they seem to come down to personal taste more than my above gripes. I

 liked overheating weapons, floaty space grenades, and the mako from the original. I don’t like cover shooters. I LOVE loot, and playing around with my inventory, and putting different enhancements on different guns, so I was irked when all these features were taken away. I liked the cut-and-paste side-quests of the original (set on overly huge planets) because that’s how I imagine space would be like, and it really sells a sense of isolation. And I would take the bright, expansive maps of the Citadel and Noveria over the dark, closed off worlds of Omega and Illium any day of the week. 

 SORRY THIS POST GOT SO LONG. I’D LOVE ANY COMMENTS OR FEEDBACK!

Posted by kingzetta

No one cares anymore

Posted by Hate_Machine
@kingzetta said:
No one cares anymore
sigh 
Posted by NTM
@kingzetta said:
No one cares anymore
That's what I was going to say.
Posted by PaulRevere

I just finished playing Mass Effect for the first time recently and started ME2 a few days ago. I'm not very far in and I already can't stand it. They changed too much and strayed away from great plot design in order to make it more combat oriented I guess. I'm having a hard time going through it because of how much I loved the first game. And your last paragraph sums up how I feel. I much preferred overheating to worrying about ammo and I really miss the inventory.

Posted by warxsnake

Here we go again, things I didnt like about ME2:

No loot, no real sense of progression regarding gear.

Awkward loading sections, undocking from a zone just to get into the normandy to change some equipment, after having gone through 5 loading screens.

Hacking and probing are absolutely useless and dumb minigames only there to extent gameplay length and not quality. (I disabled them with a trainer after my first playthrough)

IQ-of-a-brick teammate AI.

World was very fleshed out visually and design wise, but the super small almost corridor-like environments that have plagued all "nextgen" bioware games is starting to bother me. The worlds you visit need to feel bigger, more open, more alive and more immersive (STALKER, Witcher, AC:B).

Mothafuckin helmets.

Thats about it.

Posted by DeShawn2ks

  

Edited by Petruccio

Let's call it differently oriented. ME2 is amazing game. It jhasn't just met the desired expectations of ME1 fans.
What I hope that if ME1 was original Matrix(Classic), ME2 was Matrix Reloaded(Blockbuster), and ME3 will not fall to Matrix Revolution(to certain extent dissapointment).
In addition to overheating ammo, I liked the circle for aiming. 
I finished first game 3 or 4 times. And the last time I did it before ME2 came out. 
I enjoyed Mass Effect 2 and agree on the game of the year result, but have no intentions to play it again. 

Posted by Petruccio
@NTM said:
@kingzetta said:
No one cares anymore
That's what I was going to say.
If no one cares than no one reads.  
If started to read by accident, no one would finish reading article. 
But if You comment - You care. 
Posted by Slaker117

ME2 was a game I realy enjoyed at release, but when I look at it now, I see a mess of shortcomings. I'm not sure if that's more my problem or the game's, but I rather not think anymore about it now, and just remember how much I initally liked it. Here's to hoping 3 will be good.

Posted by Kyle

In my opinion, nothing that was removed from ME1 going in to 2 served to diminish the experience. Mass Effect 1 was a mess of a game with a bunch of underdeveloped features that have been done better, elsewhere, a hundred times. Planetary exploration was mind-numbing, navigating the citadel was a nightmare, and inventory management was both.

Mass Effect 1 was a cool game with an engaging story and a great universe. Mass Effect 2 is one of the greatest games of this generation, if not ever.

And calling the weapon and armor pickups in Mass Effect 1 "loot" is an affront to loot. You should go apologize to loot. By playing Borderlands or something. Now there's some shooter loot.

Posted by supermike6

My main gripe with ME2 was that they got rid of driving the Mako around planets. I loved those parts. Driving up a fucking mountain is so satisfying, plus I could go to the moon and that was awesome. 

Posted by NTM
@Petruccio: Not true. I think it's up to people to notify the OP that some people just don't care. The only thing I saw that caught my eye because it caught my eye on IGN, was the fact that they think it's the best game this generation. Also, I think this opinion has been said countless times before, so just because I respond, it doesn't mean I care. Otherwise I would have made a bigger deal about it, wouldn't I have?
Posted by m0rdr3d

In some ways this is a matter of preferences.  In other ways people get so connected to certain games they put the blinders on and can't see improvements as anything but negative.  Sure, losing the weapon upgrades sucked a little bit, but there are reasons why so many CRITICS (not the ignorant shooter masses) rated this game so highly and lavished it with GOTY awards.  There is a tiny minority who can't seem to evolve and thus get left behind.  The thing that made ME1 so good was the idea behind it, but it was unpolished and unfinished.  ME2 was the realization of the idea.

Posted by h83r

Even though this might not be the popular sentiment, I agree with you. I'm not saying that 2 was a bad game, technically the sequel was significantly better than the original. The graphics were better, the frame rate was solid, the shooting mechanic was polished, it was great and I definitely got my $60 out of it. I'm just saying that Mass Effect 1 sort of had (for me personally), this vibe of like a '70's movie that depicted the future. And for some reason I really liked that about it. Comparatively, Mass Effect 2 was like a Michael Bay joint more than anything, not that there's anything wrong with that. Everyone needs a little Michael Bay from time to time.   
 
But yeah. Overall like many others, I didn't like what they did to the Citadel(it was this amazing, awe-inspiring location in the first one, and only 3 floors in the second one), I hated the Collectors(I thought the Geth and Saren were way cooler), the skill tree was non-existent, the ammo(the whole microscopic metal shavings was such a neat reason to not have ammo in the first game), the removal of the Inventory system, the Collector ship level on Insanity in 2 is bullshit(that's just personal vendetta), and fuck anyone who talks mess about the Mako. The Mako was awesome once you figured out how to use it properly. Loved that thing to bits! 
 
Bottomline, if Mass Effect 3 is essentially Mass Effect 1 with the technical power of Mass Effect 2, it could be the greatest game ever made.

Posted by MariachiMacabre

I personally loved ME2. Playing it, I didn't really miss anything from ME1. I felt the story was a build-up to ME3 and the characters were fantastic. To each their own, though.
Posted by GoodKn1ght

@Petruccio said:

@NTM said:
@kingzetta said:
No one cares anymore
That's what I was going to say.
If no one cares than no one reads. If started to read by accident, no one would finish reading article. But if You comment - You care.

That is kind of terrible logic.

Posted by SirOptimusPrime

While I absolutely loved ME2, I agree that the first had enough spectacle and the setpieces were far more interesting and exciting. The second was well and good in teh story dept. (I literally felt chills down my spine when the Normandy II scene happened - such a fantastic moment), and the characters had enough impact, but ME had more and better instances like these. 
 
I remember feeling the decision of letting Kaidan or Ashley save the crew...even if I hated those characters, it was a truly difficult decision, again even if I could have just as easily said Ashley as Kaidan. It was truly like a novel or film; I felt shit, bro. And there are two other moments in the game that always, always, always spring to mind: The Final Battle and the events afterwards.  
 
Most games end in a crash and burn with stupid final levels. (I assume spoilers are...assumed, so SPOILERS AHEAD), the attack on The Citadel was a fucking beautiful moment and setpiece, and then the outrageous battle on the outside of the damn thing was hectic and bloodpumping, and then the battle with Saren. I was playing a good guy, so the ending was infinitely more enjoyable because you can literally persuade Saren to reach where he ignored, his last shred of sanity. Shepard manages to actually force Saren to see what he did, and I don't give a shit if it's unrealistic or herpdy-derpdy but I was so enthralled, and Saren shoots himself in the goddamn head. It was such a simple moment, and when I saw where the dialogue tree was heading I literally blew up in my brain...it was so good to see something that hasn't been explored in a mainstream game since Fallout.  
 
The actual battle with burnt Saren was dumb and uninteresting, but the climax was perfect. Especially my absolute favorite part of the game; the post-battle. I'm a sucker for sob-stories and comebacks, so hearing the draining dirge and seeing Garrus and Tali look desperately at a heap of shit, only to hear a triumphant backing and a simple melody to bridge between hopelessness and complete badassery. Watching the wreck shift and Shepard miraculously struggle up to the leitmotif that follows you the whole game...so good. One of my favorite moments in video game history, hands down.  
 
TL;DR: I love ME2 and definitely and infinitely prefer its gameplay, but ME1 is better "artistically, man" 

Posted by Little_Socrates

Mass Effect 1 isn't on the list because it is a rather busted game. I've had texture pop-in take upwards of ten or fifteen seconds which can make combat really difficult, certain sections autosave every three minutes and others autosave every twenty (I, and a couple of my friends literally quit the game for months after losing a half-hour of gameplay on Noveria to this failure,) the Mako levels are tragically uninteresting, and the game just falters in general technically. Its ambition is, I will agree, much, much higher than Mass Effect 2, but Mass Effect 2 is the far more functional game and on a list including Gears of War and Uncharted 2, that kind of matters. If you were a fan of Mass Effect 1, Mass Effect 2 is disappointing. If you wanted to be a fan of Mass Effect 1 but felt the game wouldn't let you be a fan, then Mass Effect 2 is fantastic.

However, I certainly wouldn't put either one at the #1 game for this list. No, that's Deadly Premonition. (nah, it's probably the original Modern Warfare, as much as I hate to admit it.)

Posted by SSully

If you seriously wish that Mass Effect 2 had the horrible navigation of the citadel, the archaic inventory system, and the painfully redundant loot then I feel sorry for you. I loved Mass Effect 1 when I first played it, but I really had to push myself to get through some parts because of how bad things like the inventory and other poorly designed gameplay systems. I have tried to go back and play Mass Effect 1 multiple times just so I can relive the story, but I literally quit sometime during the Citadel every single time. It is so drawn out, boring, and littered with long load times and bad design that I cannot push myself to finish it.

Mass Effect 2 essentially cut the fat from the first Mass Effect and amplified everything that was awesome about Mass Effect 1. That is the story, the world, and most importantly the characters. The beauty of having to go all over the galaxy recruiting squad mates and gaining their loyalty is that you get to see a lot of great stuff along the way. Everywhere you go has a unique hook to it, and brings the world to life. Mass Effect 1 did this as well, but in a much worse way. Also your crew in Mass Effect 1 was so damn generic and boring.

I could go on but I really dont want to. I respect your opinion and can kind of see where you are coming from. I fell in love with the world of Mass Effect during the first game, more so then I have for a game in a very long time, but after playing ME 2 I dont think I will ever be able to go back to ME1 and face some of the horrible design flaws. Lets just hope ME3 offers enough to satisfy every ME fan.

Posted by W0lfbl1tzers

  

Posted by ajamafalous
@Kyle said:

Mass Effect 2 is one of the greatest games of this generation, if not ever.

If I were drinking coffee I'd be spitting it out right now.
Posted by Lothars

I will preface this by saying I love Mass Effect 1 and think it's a great game but I don't think it's as good as Mass Effect 2, both games are not perfect and I wish Mass Effect 2 would have had some more RPG elements which it looks like Mass Effect 3 will have but I've played both games recently and Mass Effect 1 is fun in some aspects but really janky and unfun in others, Mass Effect 2 is great in most elements but seems to be missing something, I also feel that Mass Effect 1 is a game that blinds people with nostalgia and makes them not see the short comings.

I am excited for ME3 and think it will change alot of minds for the positive that seem to hate ME2.

Posted by Aronman789

I wish Bioware would let me bone a human that wasn't a bitch/crazy. Why are all the good characters things I would never let near my junk?

Posted by Teddie
@Hate_Machine said:
Saren is probably the coolest antagonist I’ve ever seen in a game. 
Play more games.
Online
Posted by Jimbo

You make a compelling case, though I still thought ME2 was much better personally. Question for you: had you played KOTOR before playing ME1? I get the impression that ME1 made a much bigger impact on people that hadn't already played KOTOR.

Posted by afrofools

This was a great read. so thanks.

I played ME1 on release (or close to it), and played the demo for ME2 whenever it came out. When I played the demo I was not very impressed at all. I decided to play ME2 a couple of months ago. I actually enjoyed it despite my feelings regarding the demo. But it was incredibly painful as you mentioned that you can't get all speech options when you alternate between good and bad choices throughout the game. It also pissed me off I couldn't win back Miranda's loyalty. The big decisions I had to make at the end of the game also annoyed the shit out of me as I didn't understand what they even were, so I'll probably delete my save for when I play ME3 so it doesn't carry across. Also that awkward drinking scene with the ship's doctor as you mentioned made the game look stupid and I was actually laughed at when that scene played. Anyway I knew the game had quite a few flaws and now that you remind me what ME1 was like the flaws seem worse because it's a more than a couple steps backwards. Despite all that I really enjoyed it.

Posted by kingzetta
@Petruccio said:
@NTM said:
@kingzetta said:
No one cares anymore
That's what I was going to say.
If no one cares than no one reads.  If started to read by accident, no one would finish reading article. But if You comment - You care. 
I didn't the first post at all, suck on that.
Edited by imsh_pl
@Hate_Machine: Very well written post. Don't let the jerks saying 'no one cares' discourage you, they propably didn't even read your work.
 
Looking back at ME2 I actually agree with you - the antagonists in ME2 were not interesting, the plot was weaker and the moral choices had less impact. However I still loved ME2 mainly due to the depth of the characters and their complexity. True, their proclaimed 'awesomeness' wasn't really reflected well in combat but I still enjoyed talking to them and exploring their personalities.
 
That and I prefer the lack of a complex loot system, but that's just a gameplay preference.
Posted by iam3green

i thought mass effect 2 was great. i enjoyed the game a lot. i thought it was better than mass effect 1. it was boring for me to play that. 2 felt better too me.

Posted by WinterSnowblind

I think most of the changes were for the better. The first game didn't feel like it was any less linear or open (other than the Mako sections which were completely flat and boring), the inventory was completely pointless, clunky to navigate and served only to break down everything but the best gear into omni-gel.. and the combat itself was bad. I loved ME1, but too many are seeing it with their rose-tinted glasses on.

I'd like to see ME3 put a much bigger emphasis on the story and characters, they need to learn that people are fans of the game because of those things and don't just want to play a third-person action game, but I don't think that improving the combat to actually make it fun in ME2 was a bad change.. as long as the focus doesn't completely shift to that. Frankly, I'm just sick of this argument. The game was lavished with praise when it was first released, and it seems recently it's become somewhat of a trend to label all recent Bioware games as "dumbed down" or "combat orientated". Are these honest feelings from most, or are we just seeing sheep following a bash Bioware fad?

Posted by Rolyatkcinmai

I liked Mass Effect 1 more, but Mass Effect 2 is a much better game.

Posted by Brendan

The inventory system in ME1 wasn't "deep" it was just inefficient. The leveling system did not make the ME1 combat any deeper or more satisfying than ME2's in practice, it just made it less open to experimentation by blocking off simple skills such as pistol even if you were supposedly a trained soldier. The many planets you could land on were all cardboard cutouts of each other, with the prefabricated buildings even more so. In practice, meaning in actual gameplay that was not just menus, ME2 is no less deep or satisfying than ME1.

Players don't see past that stuff, think nostalgically about the games they used to play, and see less lists and options as constricting without considering how it actually affects gameplay. What you actually did in ME2 was not in any way held back by having less time consuming inventory and skill leveling, and neither of those things in ME1 actually added anything that was lost in ME2. I'm willing to bet that if ME3 included a far more complex breakdown of skills or inventory but with roughly no affect on actual gameplay, players would eat it up as some greatly improved system. Same deal with how people react to Skyrim. People think they want "deep" because they see complexity, but they don't even know the meaning of the word in my opinion.

Posted by Zippedbinders
@ajamafalous said:
@Kyle said:

Mass Effect 2 is one of the greatest games of this generation, if not ever.

If I were drinking coffee I'd be spitting it out right now.
Thank god someone else caught this.
 
@WinterSnowblind said:
Frankly, I'm just sick of this argument. The game was lavished with praise when it was first released, and it seems recently it's become somewhat of a trend to label all recent Bioware games as "dumbed down" or "combat orientated". Are these honest feelings from most, or are we just seeing sheep following a bash Bioware fad?
Mass Effect 1 was the first Bioware RPG I had ever played. I have no Cranky CRPG gamer in me, nor am I scorned Bioware fan. I personally just felt Mass Effect 2 was designed around everything I didn't like about the first one, namely the shooting. I'll agree with everyone else who talks about the story being less interesting, or the choices less profound or whatever. On the flip side, I even liked that they dropped all the suit and gun "loot" because it was often based around miniscule changes it didn't even fucking matter.  These are all understandable pluses and minuses on both sides of the equation.
 
No, what pissed me off the most about ME2 was that they decided to take the single worst way of interaction in the series, shooting dudes in the face, and make me do more of it. Just like the first game, I had to force myself to play poorly designed 3rd person shooting to get to the talky bits I enjoy so much. I'm simply convinced, from what I've played, Bioware is incapable of making a game thats fun to play, just interesting to look at.
Posted by yinstarrunner

I have some of the same problems with ME2. I went into it from a media blackout expecting a great evolution on the rpg mechanics of the first game and got anything but. Without that interesting progression, it just felt like a 30 hour long shooter to me. I like shooters, but I was getting seriously tired of it by the end of the game.

Normally the story would make up for that, but I found the overarching plot weak, even if half of the characters were intriguing.

Posted by Kyle

@Zippedbinders said:

@ajamafalous said:
@Kyle said:

Mass Effect 2 is one of the greatest games of this generation, if not ever.

If I were drinking coffee I'd be spitting it out right now.
Thank god someone else caught this.

OH MY GOD, YOU CAUGHT ME... with a totally common opinion? ME2 was given game of the year 2010 by a ton of places, and as mentioned above, IGN put it at #1 on their modern games list (not that anyone should put a ton of stock in IGN lists). I'm not saying one of the best games ever like top 5, more like, I don't know, top 50? I can understand if you disagree, but don't act like I'm the fucking bubsy guy.

Posted by Tennmuerti
@Hate_Machine:

Well said, and I agree 100%
A lot of people actually share your sentiments.
But the mainstream sees the technical improvements, streamlined game play and falls head over heel for a more bland experience.
We see it practically all the time in the game industry, sadly.
 
@NTM said:

@kingzetta said:
No one cares anymore
That's what I was going to say.
It's nice to see people being such complete and utter dicks to each other on Giant Bomb. Truly.
Ironically it seems quite a few people care.
Posted by ThePickle

ME2 scores points for not being completely busted. Story can only go so far and ME1 is a great example of a great story mired by some of the worst gameplay this generation. ME2 was a ton of fun to play.

Posted by kingzetta
@Tennmuerti said:
@Hate_Machine:

Well said, and I agree 100%
A lot of people actually share your sentiments.
But the mainstream sees the technical improvements, streamlined game play and falls head over heel for a more bland experience.
We see it practically all the time in the game industry, sadly.
 
@NTM said:

@kingzetta said:
No one cares anymore
That's what I was going to say.
It's nice to see people being such complete and utter dicks to each other on Giant Bomb. Truly. Ironically it seems quite a few people care.
Well I'm just saying we already had our big ME1 to ME2 controversy. It's not our fault he missed the boat.
The giantbomb forums were already a blaze with this topic and everyone has put it behind themselves. 
Why don't we drag up the whole GTA4 Vs. Saint's row 2 thing again, if you such a fan of old arguments.
Posted by Tennmuerti
@kingzetta said:
@Tennmuerti said:
@Hate_Machine:

Well said, and I agree 100%
A lot of people actually share your sentiments.
But the mainstream sees the technical improvements, streamlined game play and falls head over heel for a more bland experience.
We see it practically all the time in the game industry, sadly.
 
@NTM said:

@kingzetta said:
No one cares anymore
That's what I was going to say.
It's nice to see people being such complete and utter dicks to each other on Giant Bomb. Truly. Ironically it seems quite a few people care.
Well I'm just saying we already had our big ME1 to ME2 controversy. It's not our fault he missed the boat. The giantbomb forums were already a blaze with this topic and everyone has put it behind themselves.  Why don't we drag up the whole GTA4 Vs. Saint's row 2 thing again, if you such a fan of old arguments.
People have arguments about past game on these forums all the time if you have not noticed.
Especially arguments that people feel strongly about or have just played the games in question for example.
None of the above points excuse the douchebaggery a new user got for posting his opinions at a later date.
At least have the decency to read through the topic or not reply at all.
Edited by Loose

I heard mixed opinions about the first game but after hearing such good things about ME2 I figured I'd buy both games and try to get through them. Couldn't get into ME1 at all, the gameplay seemed really dated to me. I'd like to give ME2 a shot (I'm sure that, gameplay-wise, it's much better) but I really don't want to play it without getting through the first game.

Posted by Red

IGN puts out hundreds of lists like these a year. Ever year they revise their "Top 25 games" per platform, and they give each and every game their own bloody page to increase clicks. They also have a girl talking about video games, because guys like that. 
 
Not to be overly cynical, but why the hell does anyone care about an IGN list?

Posted by mr_me

Hope ME3 is good.

Posted by Lothars

@mr_me said:

Hope ME3 is good.

I have no doubt it will be great

Posted by PatVB

I completely agree with this post. I love to first Mass Effect to death, but I thought ME2 had a lot of wasted potential. I actually thought the ME2 intro was one of the best scenes I've seen in a game, and the writing and character development was well done too, but the main quest felt really uninteresting. Plus, they used every second of footage from the suicide mission in the trailers for the game, so they lost a lot of their impact.

Posted by phrosnite

ME2 is better than ME. Stupid internet!

Posted by CptBedlam

I agree completely. I liked ME1 way better for the reasons you mentioned.

In comparison to ME1, ME2 was a pretty forgettable experience except for a few awesome characters. The main-story was uninteresting, the missions boring ("yay, I see cover - I wonder what's about to happen!" - level design was pure boredom). I also liked the relaxing vibe of ME1 way more than ME2's edginess.

Posted by uvschism

I think you're on to something in terms of the lack of impactful choices. I hope ME3 gives you some more of that, though they'd have to pay off in that same game, I guess.

Posted by Azteck

Fantastic write-up and I couldn't agree more with what you say.

I bought ME1 on the day of release and was so immensely hyped for it I felt like I'd explode, and the game didn't let me down once. I even went through it 7 times between the release of the 1st and 2nd game, most of the time going for near 100% playthroughs.

Then ME2 comes out, and I sit there in class with my friend going fucking bananas over how fantastic this game will be. And so I buy it immediately after school’s over, I put it in my 360, I start the campaign and the first thing I look for when I enter gameplay is the skill tree (which as far as I am concerned does not exist in that game) to see what kind of crazy abilities I’ll unlock. Talk about being disappointed.

Now, I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a blast playing the game, because I did. I even finished it on Insanity but even so, it doesn't stand a chance against the 1st game if you ask me. Yes, ME1 had some issues and some of the design choices were poor, but I feel the complaint about the inventory and Mako are completely unjustified because once you got a hold of how it controlled you could do anything you wanted with that thing. The world was yours for the taking. Not to mention the loot and how they all made visual changes. That barely ever happens anymore and I loved putting on new armor even if it only got me an additional 1 armor. (I saved the pink armor for times when I wanted to dress up)

I won’t even go into my enormous issue with ammo, and how it was handled in the 2 game. Not only because it was handled so poorly, but because they packed in a fantastic reason for why they didn’t need it in the 1 game, and why ammo was a thing of the past. Oh wait, two years after that they need it again? What?

I could go on for ages but when it comes down to it, Mass Effect 1 is a game I proudly put at the top of my favorites despite the flaws, and ME2 is not near it’s excellence. I sincerely hope they amp up their game for the 3 game and implement the same RPG elements that were in the first game, but my guess is that it will be an even more steamlined 3 person shooter than the 2 game was.

/rant

Posted by Toms115

agree completely. great write-up.