The former Xbox and PC exclusive is even better on Sony's console.
If you were concerned that PlayStation 3 owners would get the short end of the stick when BioWare decided to port Mass Effect 2 to the console, rest easy. Packaged with all the downloadable content offerings including Lair of the Shadow Broker and Overlord, as well as new characters Zaeed and Kasumi, the PlayStation 3 will offer the most comprehensive version of the game to date.
The engine has been reworked to utilize the PlayStation 3's technology, so if you look closely you might notice the blacker blacks and crisper textures, but you'll probably just think it looks sharp and bright. Placing both versions side by side shows off how much better the PS3 version looks during cutscenes, but during normal gameplay it isn't leaps and bounds better than the Xbox 360.
To make up for the fact that PS3 owners will never be able to experience the first game in the series (Microsoft owns the publishing rights), BioWare got creative. Sandwiched between the opening cutscene of the game and the character customization screen is an "interactive back story comic." What that means is your male or female Shepard recounts the tale of the first Mass Effect against a backdrop of images provided by Dark Horse. The artwork is clean and pretty, but don't expect the characters to look anything like their comic counterparts, especially Wrex whose face seems more smushed than usual. During the approximately 15-minute story synopsis, you'll make a few key decisions that will come into play in the sequel and finale. Who lives? Who dies? Who do you want to hook up with? These are important questions that only you can answer.
Overall, the comic section is well done, though it does skip over some portions of the story you spend a considerable amount of time on in the original game, like the Thorian (an ancient plant with mind-control powers). Also, as someone who played the first game eight times, it is hard not to feel like this comic is an "easy button." After all, I always ensured that Shepard's speech skill was high enough to talk Wrex down from his inevitable emotional freakout, but another person can do the same thing without the effort. Still, despite myself, this something that should have been considered for the Xbox version and needs to be included in Mass Effect 3 to help out the folks who haven't played the previous titles.
Make a Blue Suns merc go"Boom!"
In terms of gameplay, Mass Effect 2 works like most PS3 shooters -- you aim and shoot with L1 and R1 and pull up your armory and biotic/tech options with L2 and R2. There are also a few disparities that most people won't notice; one is that hacking mini-games have been streamlined. During main quests with a sense of urgency like the introductory tutorial, the mini-games to crack safes or terminals have been removed, but are still intact in more leisurely areas. I didn't get a chance to test it out, but I was also told that the planet scanning mini-game moves a little faster now, which is a very welcome change.
The other edit is located in the opening act of Mass Effect 2. The character you romanced in the first game (Liara, Ashley or Kaidan) normally runs up to you for a short scene, but in the PS3 version it's always the same – Liara. If you start up a new save in Mass Effect 2 on the Xbox 360, the game makes a decision for you and chooses either Kaidan or Ashley (depending on if you choose female or male Shepard). The explanation is simple: you're actually able to pick who you want to romance in the comic section, so the game doesn't make an assumption based on your gender anymore.
Mass Effect 2 was one of the best games in 2010, so it's a welcome addition to the PS3 library regardless of its tardiness. Thought it took BioWare a year to get this game onto Sony's console don't fret when it comes to Mass Effect 3 – it looks like the final chapter to this epic space odyssey will release on all platforms at the same time.