Introduction Mass Effect 2 is second game of the BioWare's action RPG game series, and it was released January 2010 for PC and XBox 360. PlayStation 3 version has been announced to be released during January 2011. This review is of the PC version, so there could be some minor differences between my experiences and those experienced with console version. I tried to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but there still is few, so if you want to avoid them don't read any further. Graphics The graphics are good, especially if you happen to have very good video card. They are not the best you can find from games released lately, but sufficient to fulfill their purpose. So far I have seen no graphical glitches besides the strange "jumping" during conversations, and those are caused by the fact that characters suddenly change stances and expressions when you select topic or response which requires them to different from the current one. Story Mass Effect 2 begins where the first game left. The initial threat caused by Sovereign has been removed and Captain Shepard patrols the space with the ship Normandy. At the beginning of the game Normandy is ambushed by unknown ship, and torn to pieces. While trying to safe the crew Shepard is killed and lost in space. After two years since the destruction of Normandy human organization called Cerberus success in resurrecting Shepard, for his skills and knowledge is needed to deal with another problem; small human colonies are attacked by unknown, leaving only empty buildings with no survivors nor even a single body. The council of Citadel, which now has human influence due the the events of Mass Effect 1, is reluctant to investigate the ambushes. It is also revealed at the beginning of the game that the clash with Sovereign has been labeled as "Did not happen" or "Just another ambush of Geths". The existence of Reapers is questioned again, and Sovereign is considered just highly advanced Geth spaceship. Now, the story of the Mass Effect 2 follows the investigation of the ambushes, the revelation of the connection between them and Reapers, and the stopping of those ambushes. The story advances in forms of missions, just like in the previous game, but this time there is more linear feel to it. The feeling is caused by the fact that after each successful mission you get a screen where the causes of the mission is told in short, the resources you gathered during the mission is listed as well as any technology you found and the monetary reward you got for completing the mission. This screen follows every major quest as well as most of the minor ones. So, the story feels a lot more linear. The story itself if interesting, with lots of hooks and surprising discoveries to be made. The histories of Protheans, Reavers, Geths and many other civilizations are expanded through the process of completing missions. It's clear that the developers have put some great effort in the writing. Ever wondered why the Geths are in war with everybody else? The reasons are revealed inside the story. Wondered what happened to your old crew? Those who survived can be found and even talked to. The last sentence leads to the next thing about the story. In Mass Effect 2, most of the major decisions you made in the first game has an affect. Managed to save Wrex? Well, you can find and even talk to him! Did Wrex got killed? You can not find him but the others of his clan will question the reasons why it happened. To actually see the full effect of you decisions in the first game, that is if you ever played it, requires you to import character. If you do not have such character, then the game makes the decisions for you. And this is my first real complain. I had Mass Effect in XBox, which means I can not import my old character to the sequel, or at least I have not find out how to do that. This means my only option is to create new character, and thus I have no power over the decisions of the first game, even though I know exactly what happened and which would have been my decisions. So, I'm forced to live with decisions I probably won't had made. The developers could have added the possibility to make those important decision during the character generation, especially because there was short section where your memories were checked to see if it was really the real Shepard the Cerberus brought back. It could have been quite easy to include the decisions in that section. Quests The quests are the one of the weakest part of the game, in fact the only thing made worse is the resource gathering, which I will discuss later. The quests are more or less quarantined running through areas from sector A to B, then point C and perhaps back to point A. While travelling between the points the game gives you either a fight, which you must clear to proceed, boring travelling to the forward or cutscene which moves the story. At times the cycle is interrupted with running from NPC to another gathering information, but eventually player ends up running that small pipe, fighting hordes of enemies and watching the cutscene. So, the quests are too much the same. There are, luckily, few quests and missions with diverse style. For example, one quests requires you to follow two NPCs walking in Citadel while you are moving along the maintance ledges above. You must not lose the sight of the characters for too long or the mission is over, and the result is something not desired. Another quests requires you to find certain computers, hack them, then located the correct second device in time with the help of distance meter, showing only how close/far you are from the second device. Sadly, the quests like those two are rare. Second complaining about the quests are the amount of those. There is just so few quests, especially when considering the size of the world. And most of the small side quests are concentrated on few specific planets or stations, causing most of the planets being empty and only source of resources. This is very bad flaw especially because most of the minor quests are very short, without any continuation. Lastly, most of the quests suffers from the End Quest -screen I mentioned in the story section. As each major quest are handled separately, after you complete one quest you are telepored back to Normandy, forcing the player to re-enter planet or station again to finish any remaining quest there. This gets especially irritating in cases where the player has several major quests in same area, causing lots of waiting due the loading of area just because of the teleportation back to Normandy. Few times the game offers the possibility to wait before moving back to Normandy, but those times it's just for searching the area for any salvage or ammo and when you are done, back to Normandy.