Mass Effect 2 review

  • Finely crafted story, characters and dialog
  • Ramped up action with better controls
  • Continuing your story with an imported character
  • The mining minigame is a pile of ass
  • Helmet-head intrudes on key scenes
  • Armor and equipment management is too refined

It wouldn't be Mass Effect without romance, which is still present in the sequel but hopefully won't become another target for misinformed culture warriors. In Mass Effect 2, male Shepards have the opportunity to court genetic uber-frau Miranda, while female Shepards can go after hunky Jacob. Jack, aka Subject Zero, is another potential romantic interest. She's a freaky-deaky super biotic with an unbelievably dark backstory that we won't spoil for you here. Whomever you pursue, you'll get the opportunity to consummate the relationship just prior to the start of the final mission. As in the first game, once you've progressed to a certain level of intimacy with one partner the other will reject your advances.


A new romantic twist comes from Yeoman Kelly Chambers, your personal assistant aboard the Normandy, who flirts openly with you and can even be persuaded to join you for a private dinner in your quarters. The relationship stays strictly platonic, though she did offer to feed our fish for us while we were away.

Above: Fish and ships are just a few of the customization options available in the Captain's quarters   

So enough with the touchy-feely crap already!

Mass Effect 2 offers a whole menagerie of stuff for you to explode, and plenty of ways to do it. Devastating biotic powers and the addition of heavy weapons ensure that combat is never stale. Everything is controlled through two selection wheels, one for powers and one for weapons. Pulling up a wheel pauses combat while you select a new weapon or activate a biotic power. You control your squadmates' biotics too, which gives you the opportunity to unleash powerful combo attacks. Another useful update to the 360 version is the ability to easily set separate waypoints for your teammates by simply pointing and tapping on the d-pad (a feature that was in Mass Effect for PC but notably absent from the 360 version). This is especially useful as the battlefields are larger and more diverse than in Mass Effect, so assigning separate waypoints opens up new tactical opportunities. For example, you can send your Krogan charging full bore at a group of enemies while your biotic flanks and you hang back to snipe. In one mission, direct sunlight will instantly deplete your shields so squad positioning and advancement is especially important.

Mass Effect 2 also completely overhauls equipment and upgrade management, throwing out the paper doll for an almost overly streamlined spreadsheet-based system. You won't find yourself endlessly scrolling through scavenged equipment trying to decide what to equip and what to reduce to omni-gel. You pick your loadout on the ship or at conveniently placed weapons lockers, and you very rarely pick up new weapons on the battlefield. More often, you scan found weapons for upgrade data, which you can then build back on the Normandy. Built upgrades are automatically applied to the weapons of your entire team.  This might irk loot-hungry fans who love micromanaging stats and cashing in useless gear at the shops (I found 12 pistols on that mission yay!) and we'll admit we were a little off-put at first.  But as we got our head around the new paradigm, we realized that all the tweaks to loot, inventory and upgrades freed us up to focus on the fluidity of the combat and tactical decision making, which was vastly more fun than Mass Effect’s clunky item management anyway.

More Info

Release date: Jan 26 2010 - Xbox 360, PC (US)
Jan 29 2010 - Xbox 360, PC (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Genre: Role Playing
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: BioWare
Franchise: Mass Effect
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood, Drug Reference, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Violence
PEGI Rating:


  • Twitchytwitch - February 16, 2013 2:49 p.m.

    any idea if theres going to be a 4th one?
  • dontshootthereviewer - November 29, 2010 11:05 p.m.

    I was planning on waiting till I got Mass Effect to play this one but I found it for 5 bucks at target and decided why not.
  • Oney97 - July 9, 2010 6:06 a.m.

    Amazing game, recommend it, and if you import a character it looks exactle the same as the first game.
  • FNG - May 25, 2010 11:39 p.m.

    I hate you I clicked on a link on this website for the etiquette of gaming like a man and I got this Sh*t. F*ck you.
  • aktirak - March 27, 2010 3:50 a.m.

    Mass Effect2 id the perfect game for gamers like that hate dificult items management system, also love how simple is to upgrade the wapons. the only thing that might miss the mark is the armor, it doesnot matter what type of armor or attachment the player use all of them fell somewhat the same. even using the Terminus,Cerberus,Inferno,Dragon Age or Collectors armor I personaly cant tell the diference. the real kicker is the story and how the game feels so cinematic.
  • Ricochet3438 - February 16, 2010 10:09 p.m.

    i absolutey love this game! i definately think GR overreacted about the probe minigame tho. its not tht bad i wanted 2 buy new weapons for the NOrmandy and i needed like 50000 substance zero and i got it in like 10 mins. u just need 2 kno were 2 look :)
  • volrath46656 - February 13, 2010 4:43 p.m.

    I would recommend playing Bioshock 1 and/or Mass Effect 1 first, then buy the sequel based on which game you liked better.
  • CLEIP - February 13, 2010 12:51 a.m.

    Should i buy this game our bioshock 2?
  • volrath46656 - February 11, 2010 5:07 p.m.

    Thank you, ChiefLethal, for noticing and commenting on the reviewer's mistake of saying Mass Effect is better than Fallout 3. This is not the first time a GR reviewer has made a similar grievous error (Dragon Age better than KOTOR? WTF?). I have played and finished both games (ME2 and Fallout 3), and they are on totally different ends of the videogame spectrum. While both RPGs, the two are so drastically different in terms of what they offer the player that to say one game is better than the other is a pretty narrow-minded analysis. Where Fallout succeeds Mass Effect fails, and vice versa (and this is an argument that could go on for hours). The same goes for Dragon Age comparisons. While Mass Effect might be more engaging in terms of storyline presentation and originality, the universe crafted around the Grey Wardens is a much deeper gameplay experience (again, just my opinion, but I feel like tweaking with the Combat Tactics options in DA is a game within the game). I did not use my teammates in Mass Effect 2 - the Vanguard is a ridiculously overpowered class - but in Dragon Age, I couldn't pass a single boss battle without having a well-designed team to back me up. Basically, I feel like ME2 is a step forward in interactive gaming, but a step backward for traditional RPGs. The ability to import and continue a character from the first game is awesome, as is the fact that your protagonist actually speaks; and the universe crafted around the game is awesomely deep. For every awesome feature, though, one equally terrible exists (i.e. pointless minigames, dumbed-down leveling-up, limited weapon/loot options - which sucks for both shooters and RPGs). Please, PLEASE, don't jump to rash conclusions like "Mass Effect 2 is better than Dragon Age and Fallout 3!" That decision is ultimately up to the player - each of the three games is awesome in its own way. And am I the only person who misses the Mako? Upgrade it, don't scrap it!
  • AliasAce - February 7, 2010 8:43 a.m.

    This game sucks horribly! So much reading and small words plus this game is slow! I didn't like the 1st one and the second one just sucks even more! I give it a 5 for it's graphics. I already traded mine back in and got back 20.00! What a waste of a DVD ROM and my cash!!
  • sprog - February 5, 2010 3:02 p.m.

    This game IS amazing. All I'll say is they had better make the romantic decisions you made in this one actually MATTER in ME3!! Still, this was an emotional rollercoaster. I've never been so hesitant in embarking on a final mission in my life.
  • ChrithGame - February 4, 2010 10:51 p.m.

    I want the game it looks awsome
  • Morethan3words - February 3, 2010 7:13 p.m.

    Overall I love the game, but improvements for ME3: the _systems_ customization of your character(s) are pretty good, but sorely lake in depth. I love that we could change our casual appearance, but only 4 costumes? Actually, I would say that overall variety of appearances, whether they be main characters or random NPCs, was sorely lacking. I mean, why does every stripper in the galaxy look exactly the same? I never once saw someone wearing red clothing, or yellow, or purple, or green. We go to bustling cities and the capital of the galaxy and everyone is wearing some combination of blue, black, brown and white. I actually think that they should bring back some of the free-form style of exploration that we had in ME1. I mean, I think ship travel in ME2 is a lot more fun and does a better job of conveying how remote some places are, but the on-planet side-missions don't feel remote. Driving around on the mako, while annoying because of the controls, did a much better job of showing us how this tiny little outpost was literally the only thing on that planet, which made it look and feel a lot more remote than just showing up on top of the outpost and leaving straight from it. More customization of our party members, especially in appearance. Two costumes per character? Not enough, I would like to see both casual and armor customization for all the party members. You've already got us buying fish, model ships and hampsters, would it be so crazy to give us a few clothing stores to peruse? Overall the stores were a little disappointing, in the first one I could run to each one and pick the one or two things from each store I wanted, and buy those. But in ME2 I felt like I needed to buy every single item in every single store, which made it so I didn't even look at what I was buying, I just ran to each store and hit A a lot. In general these are minor issues, but I think could be huge improvements for either DLCs and/or ME3.
  • Ashermeister - February 3, 2010 1:39 a.m.

    As much as i loved this game, i couldn't help but feel slightly disappointed. Mass effect was known for it's incredible story telling, but faltered in the gameplay elements in some places (combat and mako). Luckly in mass effect 2 the mako parts have been taken out and the combat has been massively upped in scale. But i felt the story was much much weaker than the first and felt rather cheated by the end level. Don't get me wrong, i enjoyed doing the personal missions and everything, just it didn't add a whole lot onto the story as i had hoped. Maybe i was looking foward to it to much.
  • WalrusFromHell - February 2, 2010 5:15 a.m.

    needs more guns and armor
  • Jasonp107 - January 31, 2010 6:16 p.m.

    In case anyone here DOESN'T already own Mass Effect 2, you can win a copy (for whatever system you use) from now through the next two weeks over at
  • Smeggs - January 31, 2010 5:45 a.m.

    From The Citadel to Tuchanka in order categorical. :P
  • GrandMoffBubbles - January 30, 2010 10:11 p.m.

    I deleted my 1st play thru (lvl 40) and played again up to lvl 50 and was surprised to see that both were there to import. As long as you finished the main quest line the game will remember that you played it regardless whether you think you deleted the 1st playthrough or not. Pretty smart game.
  • GrandMoffBubbles - January 30, 2010 9:40 p.m.

    The "Chuck" babe is soooooo awesome for not only lending her sweet voice to the game but her likeness as well. I've always had a weakness for the lovely ladies with Aussie accents. Now my favorite game coincides with my dream girl. Woo Hoo!
  • Samael - January 30, 2010 4:56 a.m.

    @Just96 It enhances certain side-quests, but there are no new quests made because of them. @maynardj You're talking about Mass Effect 1. While I loved it and disagree with your opinion on it, ME2 is a completely different game. You don't need to worry about micromanaging equipment and the combat is completely overhauled.

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