THE YEAR IS 2183. You are Commander Shepard, an intergalactic badass with a license to kill. You have just—albeit temporarily—saved the galaxy from an ancient race of killing machines and made sweet love to a sexy alien, and now you're out to eliminate said killing machines once and for all in the dark second act of the Mass Effect trilogy.
Three years have passed since Canadian developer BioWare unleashed the first Mass Effect, after which critics and fans alike collectively kissed their ass. With Mass Effect—an extraordinary sci-fi RPG—BioWare robbed this reviewer of many days and nights, and with Mass Effect 2, their assault on my social life continues. (The hardest part of writing this review was putting my controller down long enough to actually write it.)
Not content with resting on their laurels, BioWare clearly read the reviews of the original Mass Effect, listening to the aw-shits and the atta-boys from the fans, refining this second chapter to take advantage of the first game's strengths. In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I'm gonna be vague when it comes to plot stuff, but take it from this 1200 out of 1200 Gamerscore Mass Effect fanboy: BioWare has taken everything great about Mass Effect and made it better in Mass Effect 2.
Still present is the original, sophisticated storyline, complete with heartbreaking moments, current-events allegories, laugh-out-loud humor, and an all-star cast (Martin Sheen, Seth Green, that dude who played Worf). The first-person shooter aspects have been fine tuned—ducking in and out of cover has never felt more natural—and the game's RPG elements have been refined as well, requiring players to be more tactical in their plans of attack.
Gamers owe it to themselves to play Mass Effect 2. We've slogged through countless drab storylines and saved however many clueless princesses from generic villains for too long. We've grown up, and—as Mass Effect 2 proves—our games have finally caught up to us. Play this fucking game.