Good intentions only get you so far in life, you actually have to follow through on them.

Over the past couple days I have intended to update my blog with an entry centering on Mass Effect 2. Sadly this never came to be as one thing or another got in the way and my general pittance of energy wasn’t enough to sit down in front of my computer to pump out an entry. Fortunately things seem to be in order now and my energy levels have normalized to make this entry possible.

So let’s get this started, shall we?

It’s a shame that I didn’t take my annual break from online gaming sooner to spend more time with Mass Effect 2. Trying to sandwich in as much ME2 time before Final Fantasy XIII’s release hasn’t allowed me the opportunity to fully enjoy just how epic ME2 is. Bioware has crafted an experience with Mass Effect 2 that has captured my heart unlike the original and has given me reason to go back and play the original when I get the chance.

Mass Effect 2 is quite simply the greatest TPSRPG I’ve played and I haven’t even gotten all the way through the game yet. Okay, I might be jumping the gun a little on showering ME2 with praise having not yet finished it, but the first 15 hours have engrossed me so thoroughly that I can confidently place it in the company of Panzer Dragoon Saga and Final Fantasy X. Yes that’s right, X is my favorite Final Fantasy ever, or at least so far.

It isn’t without fault, however, as there are a couple issues I have had with the game. They are, mostly, small quibbles such as the cross-eyed conversations and the frequently reused pacing animation during in-game cut-scenes. Bioware still has a few things to learn to humanize character interactions in a more believable and natural way, but they’re getting there.

Mechanically the game is pretty solid, but I have had issues with how the game handles the sniper rifle scope. Most of the time the game does handle the sniper rifle decently enough for me to score impressively quick sniping shots, but occasionally I found myself grossly off-target when zooming in. There also has been one occurrence where I became stuck on top of a ramp’s railing when attempting to use the side as cover.

I haven’t encountered another game-breaking bug, but I have encountered an incredibly obnoxious bug where I’ve lost the ability to use Grunt’s Fortification ability after completing his loyalty mission. His status shows he is loyal and I have access to his alternative outfit, but his fortification ability remains grayed out. While this may not be a game-breaking bug and doesn’t occur for everyone, it is exceptionally disappointing that Bioware allowed the game to ship with this bug.

As a quick aside I’m positive Bioware knew of this bug prior to release but couldn’t nail down the cause and deemed it not important enough to fix. I did work in QA as a tester for Namco and can confidently state that 90-95% of all bugs that go live are found by the testers. They just don’t get fixed because at some point the time investment to squash every bug isn’t worth it, especially if it isn’t a game-breaker.

My biggest gripe with Mass Effect 2 is with the load times, especially when reloading after a critical mission failure. I simply do not understand why I have to sit through a ~20 second reminder of my failure. I can understand epic loading times when switching between areas, but most games are able to restart at the last checkpoint without need to reload the entire area. Maybe I just need to harden the fuck up, but because of this issue, I definitely will not replay the game at anything higher than the normal difficulty.

There will definitely be multiple playthroughs of Mass Effect 2, I can guarantee that. I am going through the game as a paragon infiltrator, but I intend to go through as a renegade after finishing the game. Then of course I’ll probably play through a third time after I go through the original and import my character. I just need to decide upon the character types for each playthrough. That and finish Final Fantasy XIII ^^;

Oids, so much gaming goodness.