After playing through both Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 multiple times each, ME is without question my favorite new IP of this generation. In fact, if the freshly revealed third installment hits the same high notes of its predecessors, then it might usurp Metal Gear Solid as my favorite franchise ever.
So why, with my dozens of hours of pre-existing 360 save data and a year after its original release, am I so excited to see Mass Effect 2 make its way to the PlayStation 3? Glad you asked! I can think of five reasons right off the top of my head:
It’s all on a single disc
The reasons to fall in love with the Mass Effect franchise are many, but none are more impactful than the engrossing, meticulously detailed universe that BioWare has crafted; it’s some of the finest science-fiction you’ll ever come across, bar none. Even if the riveting story and believable characters leave you with a few lingering questions, there’s an encyclopedic Codex to teach you about faster-than-light travel and to help you remember the difference between a batarian and a vorcha.
That’s why it was kind of a bummer for Mass Effect 2 to span two discs on the 360. Sure, it was a one-time thing, but when you’re ready to travel to another solar system to take on another life-or-death mission, only to be told to swap discs … well, that’s kind of a buzzkill. It’s sort of like being woken up in the middle of an awesome lucid dream.
Thinking ahead, we can’t imagine the conclusion to the epic trilogy to be in any way smaller than ME2; do you really want to be bothered with being pulled out of such a rich universe to change discs for Mass Effect 3, possibly more than once? I kind of don’t.
An embarrassment of DLC riches on the disc
As if it weren’t enough to put the massive Mass Effect 2 on a single Blu-Ray, all of the DLC to ever release for the game is also there, with no downloading required on the user’s part.
On top of the fact that the value of this extra content is over $30, the amount of extra play time that this adds is pretty significant — the PS3 box art claims 6 hours, but could be more depending on your play speed. Personally, I finished the core game in a little over 47 hours, which is well over the 33-hour average recorded by BioWare a while back. In any case, PS3 players are in for a long ride.
A timely, pre-release demo
Of course, it’s all for naught if you don’t even like playing the game. As unlikely as it may seem to ME die-hards, the game isn’t for everyone. It’s a beautiful thing that with the advent of massive hard drives and broadband connections, then, that there’s a demo available for Mass Effect 2 as we speak.
Unfortunately for PC and 360 gamers that wanted to try the game before committing to it, a demo didn’t see the light of day until five months after release. At that point the game was already a massive success to be sure, but I witnessed two different things happen: on the one hand, I had a friend that simply didn’t bother with the game because of the long wait for a demo; his loss for sure. On the other, I knew someone else that bought the game the following weekend after the demo finally released.
So yea, getting a demo out before the release of your blockbuster game is kind of a big deal. Hell, even I downloaded the ME2 demo despite knowing exactly what happens. In my case, though, I wanted to check out another awesome aspect of the PS3 version:
It runs on Mass Effect 3’s engine
Every Mass Effect fan out there is eagerly awaiting the arrival of Mass Effect 3, and we’ll take every little taste of the game that we can get. Seeing the reveal trailer, along with a lot of other fantastic announcements, was a huge (and probably the only) reason for gamers to tune into Spike’s dreadful Video Game Awards show two weeks ago.
So it came as a pleasant surprise to find that the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2, including the demo up on PSN, runs on Mass Effect 3’s engine. As a result, the game is looking mighty fine. BioWare have gone on record to say that the game looks “as good, if not better” than it did on Xbox 360, and recent comparisons of the demos on XBLA and PSN are consistent with this claim.
Which leads me to my final point …
Missing Mass Effect 1 isn’t a big deal
I’m kind of bummed that the first game can’t find its way to the PS3, especially with the decisions you make there carrying over into Mass Effect 2 on PC and 360. But if BioWare’s own statistics are to be believed, then it’s not nearly as big a deal as you would think — according to the same set of data that revealed the average play time for players, it turns out that only 50% of Mass Effect 2 players imported their data from the original game. So while the feature was a major selling point for the second game on PC/360, it didn’t quite resonate for some reason.
Subjectively, there are other reasons that you won’t miss the game at all. First off, the game has various technical flaws, the most obvious being texture pop-in. It’s nothing game-breaking, but it’s definitely off-putting to see a rock morph take proper form before your eyes whenever you’re planetside. And surely you’ve heard of the infamous elevator rides that stood in for traditional loading screens? The particular ride seen here is almost a full minute long. Mix in clunky inventory management that was mercifully streamlined in the sequel and suddenly what was once magical in 2007 doesn’t quite pass muster.
While not ideal, the “interactive backstory comic” that condenses the story and choices of the first game into 15 minutes will certainly be better than the nothin’ that 50% of PC/360 players got when the game launched.
So what do you think? Am I off my rocker? Another megafan looking forward to replaying PS3 release to death? Sound off below.