A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mass Effect 2 is for mature audiences only. The subject matter is adult-like, including violence (with blood), profanity, drug references, and sexual imagery and discussion. This game takes place in the future, throughout space and with aliens, and has a fantasy setting. Players must make moral and ethical decisions and live with the consequences of those decisions.
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What's it about?
MASS EFFECT 2 continues the heroic space adventures of Commander Shepard in the 22nd century, but introduces many new characters, weapons, and plotlines. Therefore, you don't need to play the original Mass Effect to understand and appreciate this sequel, which takes place two years after its predecessor, though you might get more out of it as it's part of a larger story arc. In fact, you can import your saved game into this seuqel to continue as your own Commander Shepard, retaining his customized look, attributes, and personality. Speaking of story, the fantastic tale in Mass Effect 2 revolves around a mysterious new threat to humankind and Shepard's reluctance to work with Cerberus, a ruthless organization (bordering on terrorists, says Shepard), in order to stop "The Collectors" in their path of destruction. By previewing a huge 3-D map of the galaxy in his starship, Shepard can fly to various worlds to handpick an elite team of fighters to ensure a well-balanced squad (and you can preselect team members before each mission, too). As with the first game, there are also love interests, betrayals, mini-games, and numerous side-missions that will also affect the story.
Is it any good?
Mass Effect 2 is very, very good. More so than the first game, third-person combat plays a huge role, with many character classes to choose from (including a brute soldier, tech specialist, or stealthy infiltrator), multiple futuristic weapons and powers to choose from (all of which are upgradeable), and different ways to fight based on your preference (real-time combat or pause the action to make weapon/power selections or assign squad commands). The enemy artificial intelligence (A.I.) is smart, quick and ready to peg you off as soon as you break cover.
A few issues, remain, however, including a hard-to-see weapon and power wheel interface (where you must make a selection) and some anticlimactic moments when the dialogue builds up to a short fight. Shortcomings notwithstanding, Mass Effect 2 is an extraordinarily fun and great-looking action RPG for the Xbox 360 and PC. Sci-fi fans, rejoice — Mass Effect 2 is well worth the wait.
Platform Note: Despite some minor interface differences, the two versions of the game are the same.
Online interaction: The game lets you download bonus content but there is no multiplayer options in this game.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the moral and ethical decisions the protagonist must make and how it affects the story. Is it a good idea for game designers to put in consequences of actions?
Do you like games that let players choose between a noble or ruthless path? Or should there not be a darker side of the main character because it might promote negative behavior in real life?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.