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From the beginning, Mass Effect was always designed to be a trilogy. However, when the ending of Mass Effect didn’t offer any clues to what the second game would bring, nobody knew quite what to expect when it released. Not content to offer more of the same, Mass Effect 2 took everything you knew about Mass Effect and improved it: better story, better inventory management, better combat and better characters / dialogue helped solidify this Xbox 360 and PC release as one of the best action role-playing games yet. While Mass Effect 2 does tie into Mass Effect, newcomers will not be lost as, for the most part, no major plot points are contingent on the knowledge learned from playing Mass Effect.

However, for series veterans who have completed Mass Effect, they can import their Commander Shepard into Mass Effect 2. By importing a character, their looks and all decisions made in the first game carry over to the sequel. Every side quest, every character who lives and dies and every romance you’ve had in the first game all impact the sequel. For newcomers, a series of questions at the beginning of the game determine these choices for you.

The combat has seen a complete overhaul, introducing a cover system found in many third person shooters. Also gone are the weapons being able to overheat; all weapons now use a clip system, allowing you to fire as many shots as you want provided you have the ammunition. Combat, which seemed like an afterthought in Mass Effect, takes center stage in Mass Effect 2 as one of the best of the new changes.

Most of your team is compromised of all new characters, each with an interesting back story and personality. For those characters who return, their back story is expounded upon, making every character feel more alive and less wooden like in the previous game.

Both the Xbox 360 and PC versions will be released on January 26th, 2010.

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