Game Review: Mass Effect Legendary Ed – Mass Effect 2 – PS4

Title Mass Effect Legendary Ed – Mass Effect 2
Platform: PlayStation 4
Genre:science fiction RPG, tactical third person shooter
Date completed:June 2021 (also 2010 or so)
Information on game

Summary review: A remaster of the exact game, but with upgraded textures and sound quality. Some system re-worked, other systems replaced, almost always an improvement.
Graphics: A worthy upgrade and looked fantastic on my 2020-era 4k TV.
Music: The music, what there was, worked really well. I wish there was more. It seemed a bit unbalanced in the way some parts of some missions seemed to have specific a sound track and other missions seemed to not have anything.
Controls: The first time I played this it was on Windows with a keyboard and a mouse. This time on PS4 with a gamepad. I think it took me the entire play through to remember what R1 versus R2 does.
Replayability: This is at least the second time I have played this game so I’m going to with “extremely high” in this category. Although with all the DLC and time since the last time I played it hardly seemed like I had played it.
Total score: 8/10

Introduction

Note: This review will not contain spoilers for ME2, but it will contain spoilers for ME1.

For my thoughts on the first game, see my existing review of Mass Effect 1.

I don’t remember exactly when I first played this game but I know it was shortly after release. I am fairly certain I finished it although by my lack of remembering details I would hardly assume so. I played it for Steam (Origin didn’t existing yet) and never bought any of the DLC to re-experience it.

From what little I do remember I am fairly sure I liked it at the time.

I always thought the cover mechanic of ME 1 was barely functional to broken so this one’s “sort of like Gears of War” mechanic was a welcome addition. And by that I mean the “snap to cover” mechanic alongside the “vault” mechanic allowing for jump-over-cover. I think it works really well in the game. Not as good as actual Gears of War, but then ME is not supposed to be that kind of a 3rd person shooter.

I continued my character from ME 1 and again went with a “Soldier” class.

The Premise

As it happens literally 3 minutes into the game it’s probably not a spoiler: the ship your character has used for the whole of ME 1 with your beloved crew still onboard is immediately blown up by a mysterious force. This is before you even take control of a character. The ship is just blown up. Shepard is 100% entirely dead, his/her body in pieces.

Then there’s a two year time jump.

And you, Captain Shepard, wake up in what appears to be a hospital bed with a voice telling you where to go and what to do and you’re immediately thrust into a firefight with some security robots.

The first time I played, the start of this game is where you could just to swap genders as the first game gave you only a male Shepard to choose from. So if you wanted to become female Shepard you could at that time alongside the normal choices of swapping classes, re-customizing a face etc.

And – also not a spoiler – as it turns out Shepard has been brought back to life by Cerberus. This organization was only really mentioned once or twice in a couple of side missions in the first game. This time they’re front-and-center. So it’s a separate side story arc of choosing to trust Cerberus or not.

The main premise is to accumulate a crew – twelve in total – in preparation for a confrontation of the mysterious force that blew up the Normandy so easily. To do so Cerberus conveniently builds you a new Normandy and tells you you’re trusted enough you can do whatever it takes to confront the threat.

Play Mechanics and…that’s no MAKO?

If you didn’t like the MAKO from the first game then…good news. No more MAKO. Well there are perhaps 3 or 4 missions with a MAKO-like vehicle. But it’s a hover craft, has only one weapon in the form of a rocket launcher, has no health bar or any indication that it might be about to blow up and…it seems like kind of an after thought to me. So ME2 only sort of has a MAKO replacement.

Seemingly in place of the MAKO is the ability to fire probes down to planets: there’s a scanner you start up on a planet and a radio wave-looking strength indicator that jumps up when it’s found a scarce resources at which time you can send down a probe to collect it. This is actually where I think I spent a majority of my play time: just scanning and probing planet after planet. Very rarely I’d stumble across a planet with an anomaly allowing me to land on the planet and do a little mini-mission. Well most of them are only a few minutes. At least one was pretty involved. The problem of course is that I ended up with 800k+ of 3 of the 4 rare resources and nothing to spend them on. Unless I missed a way of selling them (which is possible). These can be spent on Shepard, team and ship upgrades but even maxed out that’s a lot extra rare minerals.

Other differences are that cover/vault mechanic, which I like even if it doesn’t always work perfectly. I like the paragon/renegade system which is only a bit different and I really, really like the improved layout of the Normandy.

Over all almost everything is a noticeable improvement over the first game for play mechanics. Maybe not for story, but for mechanics.

There are two very notable changes in this game:

First when traveling between star systems there’s actually fuel. You have to pay to fill up on fuel. And in some cases you have to upgrade the Normandy to have a higher fuel capacity to make it to certain systems. There’s this little map of the cluster you have to steer your ship to the next system while burning off fuel. You never land on a fuel station and nothing ever goes wrong with one. Nothing interesting ever happens. It’s just an extra thing to worry about.

Secondly this game has something equivalent to ammunition. They don’t really call it ammunition but there is a reload function and you do expel what looks like a casing each time you reload. The first game you kept firing until the gun over heated. Which could compensated for with heat sinks and other things. This time you won’t spend any time customizing each character with the best armor, weapons and ammunition types. They just have what they have for armor and are upgraded as Shepard levels up.

And ultimately I never really ran out of ammunition. It was always plentiful.

You’re doing it wrong, man

I think I did the missions/tasks in the wrong order: I saved the Citadel missions for very last for some reason and did a lot of grinding for resources in between missions where really I should have visited the Citadel as soon as I was given the option to do so. I probably should have also put a lot more emphasis on getting all 12 crew members as soon as possible so I had them through the whole game.

As I did it I think I confused the game some how. I still got the gist of the plot though. And it’s not really a repeat of the plot of the first game. I’m just pointing out there does seem to be a “wrong way” to do it.

Lets gather the team together

For me anyway this entire game can be summarized as “gather the 12 crew members”. Then go through a special mass effect gate and blow some shit up. That’s it.

Or to elaborate on that a little: there are quite a few story missions to make it through and some optional side “tasks” to go on. But since there are not only twelve team members to collect and all twelve have their own individual missions to go through in order to make them “loyal” it seems like that’s where I spent a majority of the time.

I know at least one of those 12 is a DLC character which I wish I had obtained earlier since it would have made the play through a lot more interesting. She’s on the Citadel and she just pops up as soon as you visit and says “Hi, I’m on the team now”. Another reason to visit the Citadel as soon as possible.

All I’m trying to say is probably 2/3 of this game is collecting the 12 crew members and going on their loyalty missions, that’s all. Seem excessive some how. And I have a feeling you won’t even get to keep them all for the next game. Making me wonder if there’s a point other than it’s fun and interesting.

Speaking of the twelve characters individual “loyalty” side missions: there is at least one incentive to do so: each individual team member has a unique power or ability like “distract organic with pain” or “levitate and slam”. You can choose one of those powers for Shepard only after that character’s side mission. The character loyalty I think does have some bonuses when going on missions as well but I didn’t read the codecs close enough to know what they are. And there’s probably something at the very end mission as well. Though it didn’t do me much good to have all 12 loyal.

As an aside, the facial movements and “uncanny valley” is far and away better in every way in this game. There’s still some jumping around when an NPC has to choose a reply in a conversation but considering the disjointed eyeballs look of ME 1, this is far superior.

Now some negatives…

I don’t think there’s a to complain about for this game.

I didn’t really understand the ending of the story all that much.

The story itself isn’t that compelling.

Grinding to harvest rare resources via probes is ultimately a waste of time.

The MAKO-like hovercraft seems like a bit of an afterthought and the few missions that it involves don’t seem well thought out or worthwhile.

Conclusion

It’s still a fun game and I’m hoping it ultimately serves its purpose as the connective tissue between ME 1 and ME 3.

This game just makes me want that much more to play the games again with different choices: play a female shep from the start, go full renegade, and play something more exotic like an engineer or biotic class rather than relying on guns.

Ultimately, I did enjoy this game and I don’t think I was ever bored playing it for that 53 hours it took me (remember, I spent a lot of time launching probes at planets).

It helps that I would turn down the sound of game and play an audio book or podcast while playing those parts that involve probably planets. No exciting music or dialog anyway. It’s a good way to “zone out” after a day at work.

I do kind of wish I could play through ME 1 with the game engine of ME 2. I think that would be fun.


Metadata

Method of control used Regular PS4 gamepad
Controllable via both one analog stick or digital four-way (“HAT”) n/a
Hardware requirements: n/a
Supports 21:9 aspect ratio screens?n/a
Device(s) tried on PS4 (non-pro)
TV2020-era 55″ 4k TV with HDR specialness
Initial setup required No setup needed.
Sound setup5.1 surround system/receiver
Total time to completion~53.5 hours
difficulty level“Normal” difficulty
Random assortment of meta data

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