‘Mass Effect 2’ revives RPG genre

While the first "Mass Effect" was a great game, it was far from perfect. The game was plagued by long loading times, empty planets to explore and generic side quests, but developer Bioware took the time to fix negative complaints from the first game. "Mass Effect 2" brings improved combat game play, engaging cut scenes and a unique personal touch.

"Mass Effect 2" is a role-playing game (RPG), a genre that allows the player to assume the role of the character and develop the personality, abilities and skills as the game progresses. The genre allows customization of the characters.

When beginning "Mass Effect 2," the player has the choice to import saved game data from the first game or start completely from scratch. This decision is important because each choice will create a unique experience. Decisions the player made in the first game can change the story of the second and even the eventual third game, which is expected to be released in Jan. 2011.

The decision-based personalization allows the player to create their own unique story and game experience, which creates lasting appeal. The game was created in a fashion that easily introduces newcomers, but still satisfies veterans of the series.

"Mass Effect 2" continues the saga of Commander Shepard, the game’s main character. This time he is battling an alien race, Reapers, who are hell-bent on wiping-out life in the galaxy. The player’s plans involve convincing the best warriors from different alien races to fight against the Reapers. These characters drive the game and create a sense of realism.

Each character added to the party brings a set of unique flaws and a unique personality. This allows the player to have a pseudo-connection with each character, a feeling that very few video games seem able to pull off. Even the citizens of the galaxy are unique and leave the player wanting to explore every nook in an attempt to not miss anything.

One significant change from the previous title is the redesigned experience system, which is used to raise the level of characters.

Players now receive experience through missions, instead of the previous game’s technique of slaying foes. The looting system has also been refreshed so that the player will find occasional loose weapons and ammo, instead of only being found on corpses.

Upgrading equipped weapons and armor is another improvement over the previous game. "Mass Effect 2" simplifies the upgrade system and allows the player to customize their armor’s color, style and pattern.

The first "Mass Effect" gained cult status, even though it was plagued with a number of problems. "Mass Effect 2" not only fixes these problems but is also able to improve on the classic RPG formula.

Once in a while a game is able to come around and redefine a genre. Bioware pulled this off with "Mass Effect 2" on the Xbox 360 and PC.