Mass Effect 2
Genre: Action Adventure
Platform: Xbox 360, PC
Available from: Amazon
The easiest thing in the world for a game developer to do is to repeat themselves. If a game was well received by audiences and critics alike, there's little reason to mess with a successful formula, yet that's exactly what BioWare did with Mass Effect 2. Its predecessor was a winner by just about any metric you'd care to use, but it wasn't as good as it could've been. BioWare read virtually every bit of feedback it could find, from formal reviews to forum posts, to figure out what needed tweaking. The result was a game that merged modern shooter gunplay with classic RPG elements to create a whole that was more than the sum of its parts.
From its dramatic opening - easily one of the best in recent memory - to its willingness to kill off major characters, Mass Effect 2 made it clear that it was not going to be an ordinary run through the galaxy. You might be the hero of this particular space romp, but by no means did that translate into a free pass to success. If you didn't put in the work to upgrade your ship or get to know your crew, your chances of surviving the game's final act were shockingly slim, no matter how talented your trigger finger or how savvy your stat allocation. Sporting no shortage of adrenaline-charged set pieces, Mass Effect 2 also showed it understood the importance of quiet and a sense of humor. Most important, Mass Effect 2 did what every middle chapter of a trilogy should: make us anxious to discover how the story ends.