I had some free evenings over the weekend, so I used them to power through Mass Effect 2 and just managed to finish it. Spending so long in Mass Effect 2 has completely overwritten my thoughts on the mechanics of Mass Effect 1, so I'm finding it hard to compare the two. I think, in general, that it was a great sequel that expanded and improved upon the first game in the series. It felt a bit more combat heavy than the first, which I wasn't too keen on, but the combat was well handled and there definitely weren't so many occasions of team mates standing directly in front of me and completely blocking my view. I wasn't keen on the ammo limitations in ME2, though. It meant that I spent much of my time wandering round with my head down looking for difficult-to-see ammo cartridges instead holding my head high and looking at the beautiful levels. The environment and world were definitely a lot more rich and detailed. The first game suffered from a lot of cookie-cutter environments - base after base with exactly the same layout - but I didn't see any of that here. They also got rid of those interminable driving sections that plagued the first game. I seemed to spend half my time there trying to judge which parts of mountains the game deemed at the right angle for me to drive up, and constantly getting it wrong and slipping down to the bottom. I have to say, though, that I didn't find the space exploration and resource-gathering sections of ME2 much fun, either. They both just seemed like barriers and distractions to the core game play - I wonder what they'll replace it with in the next game? I felt slightly miffed that the main character I'd romanced and taken on every mission in the first game wasn't really included in this one...hopefully she will be in the next. In fact, I felt the character roster was a bit underwhelming this time around. They'd significantly increased the size of the roster, but you can still only ever take two characters with you on each mission, so there's always going to be a bunch of folk you just never use. Out of my two favourite new characters, one was DLC (included with my version of the game) and the other isn't picked up until the very end of the game, so I'd have been pretty annoyed if I was just playing the vanilla version of the game on release. I'm all for having new characters, but they should have focused on a smaller number of them with better characterisation.
I always spend my time moaning about and criticising games - that's just me, I guess - but I did really enjoy this one and I'm looking forward immensely to the next game and continuing the story. All I know about it is that there was a huge backlash against the ending, but I managed to avoid reading the specifics of it at the time, so I'll see how I feel about it. In other news, I made a little headway into Ishar 2. This one does pinpoint you on the map (yay!), so I'm finding navigation a bit easier. Other than that, it' generally very similar to the first game.