Game of the Year 2010 - Mass Effect 2Publisher: Electronic Arts
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Bit-Gamer Score: 10 out of 10 - Excellence Award
As we said on some of the gaming podcasts
way earlier in the year, there was little doubt in our mind from the moment it was released that Mass Effect 2 would be one of the best games of the year. We weren't wrong either, as proved by the fact that Mass Effect 2 accrued a full 20 per cent of the reader vote - putting it far, far ahead of the nearest competitors. From the moment the first vote came in, Mass Effect 2 never left the top spot.
Mass Effect 2 continues the story of Commander Shepherd, a human spy whose job is to police the galaxy and protect the universe from a race of sentient machines called the Reapers. Waiting in the empty space between galaxies, the Reapers are plotting the demise of all biological life in the universe, at which point they'll reseed worlds with genetic potential and begin the cycle again.
Shepherd is all that stands between the Reapers and their goal, which means it's a big problem when he/she dies in the opening minutes of Mass Effect 2 - especially as the various military organisations of the worlds work to cover up the whole affair.
In the end, it falls to the human terrorist group, Cerberus - an oft-encountered enemy in the first Mass Effect
- to step in. Resurrecting Shepherd and kitting him out with new gear takes two years, but players are eventually returned to duty and again tasked with saving the universe. Handily, a new lead has also shown up in the form of disappearing human colonies. Shepherd goes to investigate, eventually tracing the enemy back to its base and launching an all-out assault in a quest that Bioware affectionately calls 'The Suicide Mission'.
More than anything, it's this final quest which left the biggest impression on us when we played and reviewed Mass Effect 2 back in January. Over the course of the game Shepherd builds a party of followers that we couldn't help but become attached to - the hyperactive, genocidal scientist Mordin Solus and the forceful, lethally attractive Morinth, for example. Mass Effect 2 works hard to make these relationships meaningful, providing options for romance, redemption and regret along the way, and then it funnels you towards a mission where you're forced to risk it all.
For once, the idea of 'risking it all' isn't just an empty gaming promise either, as every single character is put at risk of dying permanently. The fate of your crew is in your hands and the game refers back to your previous decisions and current tactical choices to decide who lives, who dies and who'll be left behind to mourn. The moment you see your first crew member fall to enemy fire, or fail to report in, is one that will stay with you.
Naturally, there's all the other good stuff on top of that emotional impact too. Mass Effect 2 would be a good game even if it had an end-boss as crappy as the original BioShock
. The combat is slicker, the interface is much more accessible and there's a greater variety of side-missions and locations too.
In fact, the only fault we can pick with the game is that Liara's voice acting is a bit flat, but that's only an issue if you're playing the new Lair of the Shadow Broker downloadable content. Aside from that, it's hard to deny that Mass Effect 2 deserves the Game of the Year 2010 award, as well as its place in our Hall of Fame
, where it's currently rated as Best RPG.
As you can imagine, we're pretty excited about the recently announced Mass Effect 3
, which should be launching in time for Christmas 2011...
Gutted that your choices didn't get the ranking for which you were hoping? Let us know your thoughts in the forums - and congratulations to Ross Hirons, David Long and Ian Cowley, who were our randomly chosen winners. Expect a pack of staff-approved mince pies in the post shortly!