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Why Mass Effect 2 is one of the greatest games ever made

Which makes it all the more difficult to deal with the fact that Mass Effect 2 is a suicide mission. Shepard is instructed by the Cerberus leader, the shadowy Illusive Man, to assemble a team to travel through a mysterious Mass Relay (see: giant space portal) that might hold the answer to preventing the Reaper invasion.

There’s no knowing if you’re going to come back – hell, every indication is that you won’t – so Shepard is sent around the galaxy to collect the best team possible, and to convince them to potentially throw their lives away on a giant evil that most people don’t believe is actually coming.

Cue the montage.

Collecting different team members made for an incredibly memorable experience. Each character was given two massive missions to flesh them out, creating some of the most memorable characters in gaming. From the damaged-goods psychic warrior to the misunderstood assassin, each character earned a place in our hearts, which made the ending all the more powerful and horrific.

That ending – oh god, that ending. Mass Effect 2’s conclusion is as brutal and personal as we’ve ever experienced. The promise of Shepard’s endgame being a “suicide mission” was not, in any way, undersold, and the final hour or so could change completely depending on the preparation and choices of the player. Go in without upgraded shields and the Normandy might take so much damage during the initial approach that a crewmember could die before the suicide mission even begins. Send the wrong character back to help escort survivors and it might be the last time you ever see them.

In our initial trek through the game nearly our entire squad died during the mission, and each death hit us like a punch to the gut. We knew, without fail, that anytime we were asked to send someone to do something, there was a good chance that they’d never come back. We were holding back the tears as Jack, Miranda, Garrus, and other squad mates we'd fallen in love with were mowed down by reaper attacks. It was our fault, we were to blame, and no game had ever, ever made us feel that way before.

Though some have issues with the sequel, Mass Effect 2 stands represents near-perfection in the genre. The improvements to the combat, the robust, interesting story, and the absurdly powerful ending made for one of the most memorable gaming experiences we’ve ever had, and one that completely deserves its spot on our 100 best games of all time.

"Why _____ is one of the best games ever made" is a weekly feature that goes through GamesRadar's list of the 100 best games of all time and highlights different titles, explaining why they're on the list, what makes them so amazing, and why we love them so much.

74 comments

  • EwoksTasteLikeChicken - August 8, 2012 12:34 p.m.

    This is definitely my favorite out of the series.
  • Desann - August 8, 2012 12:51 p.m.

    Totally. Mass Effect 2 is... yeah, my favorite game. Ever.
  • Acerlux - August 8, 2012 2:12 p.m.

    Agreed. For me, Mass Effect is at its best when its exploring its characters and universe. ME2 did this better than either of the other games, so even with the lackluster customization elements compared to 1 and the weaker combat than 3, this is the best in the series and my favorite game ever.
  • FellowHerbivore - August 8, 2012 4:07 p.m.

    I totally agree. Such a beautiful game everything about it is pitch perfect, and I had 0 problems with it.
  • fatguy19 - August 8, 2012 1:02 p.m.

    Agreed. The combat was far superior and and the weapons and side quests were far more varied.
  • aberkromby - August 8, 2012 1:08 p.m.

    I never really cared for Mass Effect. I played the demo (for mass effect and 3) on ps3, and just found the gameplay to be very.... average.
  • blasian89 - August 8, 2012 3:01 p.m.

    It's really not about the gameplay though. It's more about the story, the universe they created and the characters that the players invest in. And there are a lot of great characters, difficult moral decisions and epic story moments. I really hope you reconsider giving it a 2nd try. They should be relatively cheap to buy nowadays.
  • aberkromby - August 8, 2012 7:28 p.m.

    Maybe I will, I dunno. It doesn't help that I'm a ps3 gamer, so I never did and probably never will get to play the first game, so I missed out on the hype-filled introduction of the series. ME2 is around $20 (for 'Mericans like me) at gamestop last I checked. Given that space-marine corridor shooter/RPGs aren't usually my thing anyways, I might wait for it to drop a bit more.
  • lazer59882 - August 8, 2012 1:16 p.m.

    this game for me is just like GTAIV, in that while i was playing it i enjoyed the hell out of it, thought it was the best game ever, and completed every side mission i could find. in retrospect though, with both games, my brain tells me they were huge failures, and huge steps backwards for their respective series'. ME2 gutted all of the RPG elements from the original, and when that proved successful financially, bioware went and stripped hardcore RPG elements out of all their series. not only did ME2 set the mass effect series on a downward path, it set bioware on one. i never made it through mass effect 3, after playing the first game 3 times and the second once. i guess it's a problem with most sequels, it's less about making a great, ambitious game, and more about fixing the first game's mistakes. i just recently went back and started replaying KOTOR, and was blown away at how far bioware has strayed from their roots. mass effect 2 isn't even the best game in it's series, let alone in the bioware gameography, and nevermind of all time. (same goes for GTAIV, and rockstar)
  • lazer59882 - August 8, 2012 1:22 p.m.

    ps - for a hardcore RPG completionist, there was nothing remotely suicidal about the "suicide" mission. it kind of sucked that the dramatic tension was killed for everyone except those people who don't do every side mission. and oh yeah, mass effect isn't star wars, star wars is star wars.
  • Golddav3 - August 8, 2012 1:19 p.m.

    The link to "cuttlefish" on page 1 xD
  • Witha3 - August 8, 2012 2:01 p.m.

    "...And the space racism." Stopped reading here.
  • pimlicosound - August 9, 2012 2:05 a.m.

    I assumed Hollander had his tongue in his cheek as he wrote this, because the racism amongst the different races is such an important part of the game it would be ridiculous to have hated it while having still having any love for the series. It would be like saying, "You know, I loved Mass Effect, except for those bits where the humans and turians don't get along, and the krogan hate the salarians, and the quarians had a bit of a quarrel with the Geth. It was the other things that made it great - the guns, and the blue alien strippers."
  • duncanainsworth - August 8, 2012 2:02 p.m.

    As much as I enjoyed this game and think that is the best in the the series I don't think it's the best game ever made
  • nightvine - August 8, 2012 2:02 p.m.

    3rd worst game bioware has ever made 1st being m3 or swtor 2nd da2 did they pay you to say this buy any chance
  • GR HollanderCooper - August 8, 2012 2:16 p.m.

    O_o
  • Ironarm - August 9, 2012 10:47 p.m.

    I'm gonna go ahead and call this the BEST...COMMENT...EVER! It gets Commander Shepard's Seal of Approval!
  • cgriff63 - January 18, 2013 10:57 p.m.

    I mean everyone has their opinions, but really?
  • Alex 360 - August 8, 2012 2:19 p.m.

    I love absolutely ME1 and ME2,but i got to say,ME3 is by far my favorite.A lot of weapons and customization,great rpg elements,amazing story,characters and conversations,fantastic soundtrack.Its also my favorite game of the generation so far.
  • darkraichu34 - August 8, 2012 2:21 p.m.

    I honestly just got around to ME2 about a month ago, and it's the first console game I've ever put more than 200 Hours into. I agree, Story wise, it's one of the best. I love all but a few characters. Gameplay though, I found to be rather standard. Fun, but standard. And some of the locations reminded me of KOTOR, but maybe that's just me.

Showing 1-20 of 74 comments

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