The insanity of Mass Effect 2

I decided a few months ago that I would attempt to finish Mass Effect 2 on the ‘Insanity’ difficulty level, roughly around the time the DLC for the game was reduced and I picked up a few of the packs that had been released – ‘Kasumi – Stolen Memory’ and ‘Overlord’. I’d finished the game previously and there had been a big enough gap for me to feel like I could play it again, but for fairly obvious reasons I went straight into one of the DLC missions as soon as I was given the option to. Big mistake.

There was nothing wrong with the new missions, I was actually quite enjoying it, but the Insanity difficulty is, rather unsurprisingly, a bit hard. It was a while back, and thankfully I can’t really remember the story, but I spent a lot of time repeating one section of the mission over and over until I turned it off. I didn’t turn it back again. I let my friend borrow the game after that and forgot all about it.

There was another sale on the DLC again some time after and I grabbed another bargain for the biggest DLC pack – Lair of the Shadow Broker – and I felt like playing again. So a few days ago I picked up the game from my friends, and yesterday I gave it another ago, determined to enjoy Mass Effect again. And you know what? The insanity difficulty level is beginning to feel like the difficulty the game should be played at.

It’s still hard; very hard, in fact, but using the combat system well – hugely improved over the original Mass Effect – suddenly becomes absolutely essential. I disabled the ‘Squad powers’ option – meaning my AI squad members don’t use offensive powers unless I say so – so I could organise and control my team more, and it’s brilliantly rewarding.

I can’t recommend it enough; it’s difficult, and you will die a lot during the course of the game, but the feeling of satisfaction having made it through a bit battle somehow seems to scale with the difficulty. It feels appropriate that a battle to save humanity should be difficult, and Bioware seem to have nailed the difficulty. Assuming they don’t change too much, I honestly think I’ll play Mass Effect 3 on this difficulty right away. I can’t wait.

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