Damage type (strong against shields but not armor, etc.) is unique to each weapon which keeps the player engaged, constantly switching weapons based on the current threat and the wheel now only consists of those weapons that a character can use, and not 2 extras just for the fuck of it. Shepard in fact is given an extra heavy weapon that is hers alone, gets awesome upgrades and can really turn the tide in battle. There was at least one moment where I was surprised and delighted by what one of the heavy weapons did once I pulled the trigger and that’s pretty cool to be taken off guard by a weapon function in a game with so many other weapons.
Besides the core aspect surrounding using guns, everything else is great too. Headshots matter, enemies play the game right and look to flank or maintain distance based on equipped weaponry and Biotic and Tech powers work just as before while requiring tactical usage on the battlefield to be truly effective (such as aiming a power just above an enemy’s cover location to yank them out).
Everything works so well together to take what was a very unique third person shooter that kinda sucked (but it’s an RPG, it’s ok if the shooting sucks, right?) to a plateau the first game couldn’t even imagine.
This all might sound like the needless pandering Chris Rock likes to make fun of (You’re supposedto have a good third person shooter aspect you ignorant motherfucker!) but if you’ve played part 1, or hell, many of the other shooter styled action RPGs out there as of late, as well as many of the third person games with shooter aspects out there, it becomes apparent that Bioware should be commended for going beyond accepting the inferior nature of ME’s combat and creating something that could stand up on it’s own while partnering it up with the best writing that RPGs can have today.
The best at what it does: Mass Effect 2 does what Mass Effect 1 did so well, provide engaging conversations with meaningful and sometimes rather entertaining options of dialog. The dialog in Mass Effect is the most important gameplay aspect and it is the same in ME2. Every conversation is a way to delve deeper into the game, solve problems, create new allegiances and create new possibilities where there seemed like none existed.