Posted by: Spacehamster74 | 03/19/2010

Mass Effect 2 – An almost filmic gaming experience

It's been extremely busy and stressful at work lately, so it's nice to be able to kick back and relax when I get home. To blow off steam, I enjoy playing computer games. And for the past month there's only one game I've been playing – Mass Effect 2 (ME2).

What makes ME2 so interesting is how dramatically they've stripped back the RPG elements that were in so prevalent in the first game. You don't gain experience, money and loot by killing enemies, only from completing missions. You no longer have to sort through a vast inventory of weapons, armor and upgrades to outfit your team. I suspect that this approach will alienate a great many RPG fans, because these elements are what they enjoy the most.

This design decision by Bioware's developers is a huge gamble, because the other elements of the game must be strong enough to compensate – especially the storyline and supporting characters. Fortunately, Bioware have done an excellent job at constructing an intricate and a genuinely compelling storyline with some of the most interesting supporting characters I've seen in any computer game for quite awhile.

The combination of the storyline, excellent graphics, sound and music combine to create an almost filmic gaming experience. At times, I felt like I was playing a blockbuster film on my PC, except that the user interface provides visceral feedback and an addictive you-are-there feel that can't be matched by any cinema. 

In December I went to see James Cameron's Avatar in 3D – it was a revolutionary technical achievement. But I felt like a much more quieter evolution was going on inside my computer. Mass Effect 2 was one step closer to combining the visceral fun of computer games with the slick production values of the biggest blockbuster films. It was one hell of a ride.

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