For the last 10 years I’ve resigned to never playing an RPG I loved again. Final Fantasy VII moved me in a way even my favourite films could not. The most impacting films I can remember seeing never gave me an emotion that lasted more than a day — certain events in Final Fantasy VII effected me for a week.

Final Fantasy VIII was a worthy successor that I loved differently, but loved nonetheless. After Final Fantasy IX I decided that RPGs weren’t something I could love anymore. Thankfully, Mass Effect 2 has touched that zenith of love Final Fantasy VII created.

What Mass Effect 2 does that FF VII did so well is take time to explore characters in your party that are wonderfully unique and richly fascinating. As much as I hated Mass Effect I enjoyed my conversations with Wrex, and how each conversation offered me insight into his strange juxtaposed characteristics as a passionate leader of the afflicted Krogan race and a careless mercenary.

In Mass Effect 2 I have Mordin Solus. A brilliant Salarian scientist whose pragmatism creates a race-altering genophage that means most children born result in stillbirth, if the pregnancy even gets that far. He emphatically states he never uses medicine to kill, but he has no problems killing to save others.

Though I’m not yet finished Mass Effect 2 is also showing some of the mission diversity that made FF VII so enjoyable. In FF VII you didn’t just use battles to progress in the story, you also: obtained items to disguise yourself as a woman to infiltrate a whorehouse, played a mini game of tower defense, and did a motorcycle chase where you slashed at enemy cyclists to protect a van from being attacked.

Recently in Mass Effect 2 I played a mission that involved following a target from a higher level of shadowed platforms, just before doing an interrogation. Before I approached the interrogation door I told my teammate, “You be bad cop, and I’ll be good cop.” But when given the option to choke or bash the suspect I couldn’t resist. I hit the suspect so hard and so often that my “bad cop” teammate said, “Careful Shepard, we still need that information from him and can’t get it when he’s dead.” As the next option to abuse the suspect glowed on my screen I hesitated, then gleefully beat him again.

The only thing that’s missing in Mass Effect 2 so far are the adrenaline moments. When Cloud rides down a flight of stairs in a motorcycle before revving, then launching through a glass window onto a freeway, it was easy for non-RPG gamers to get excited, and that was in the first few hours of gameplay.

I sincerely hope Mass Effect 3 will include more missions that don’t focus on standard gameplay, and include more of these adrenaline-inducing moments. The monolithic leap in quality from Mass Effect to Mass Effect 2 suggests that, maybe one day I will play an RPG I love more than Final Fantasy VII.