Publisher:Electronic Arts Platform:Xbox 360, PC Release Date: January 26th 2010
A lot can happen in two years it seems – and we don’t just mean emotionally either. Judging from what we’ve seen of Mass Effect 2 BioWare’s cast of characters have definitely changed a lot, but one thing that’s being slightly lost in all the hype is how much the actual combat mechanics have changed too.
There’s two year between the events of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2: Massier Effects and in the interim humanity has apparently uncovered the secret of almost-immortality, among other things. That’s our elaborate way of saying that Mass Effect 2 now sports a regenerating health mechanic, just so we’re clear.
Rapid self-repair isn’t the only advance that the galactic community has made in the gap between storylines either. Much of the weaponry and technology that Shepherd’s squad has been fundamentally altered too, with new ships and Mako buggies getting rolled out alongside enhanced pistols and rocket launchers.
I make this look good
Shepherd and his newly assembled squad of soldiers and biotics are going to need every inch of that improved arsenal on their latest mission though, which seems to have diverted subtly away from focusing on the Reapers. Rather than dealing with the race of colossal, sentient, brain-washing spaceships that live outside the galaxy and have been carefully plotting our extinction for millennia, Mass Effect 2 spotlights a new race of aliens; the Collectors.
Incredibly secretive in nature, the Collector’s have only previously been revealed in the (remarkably good) [eurl¬=http://www.bit-tech.net/bits/2008/11/17/on-our-desk-14/6 ]Mass Effect tie-in novels[/eurl] and are a race of insect-like kidnappers who traffic in…well, everything they shouldn’t. They’ve avoided all interaction with the Citadel Council and, according to Mass Effect lore, make sure that anyone who deals with them promptly disappears. Suddenly the Collectors erupt onto the galactic scene by staging mass kidnaps of entire colonies – and it’s up to Shepherd to investigate, obviously.
That task is made more and more difficult by the Collectors’ methods though, as they use thousands of stinging hornets to render all their victims unconscious before moving in. Combine that with the fact that nobody knows anything about the Collectors and they become a quarry that’s unusually difficult to track down.
The Collectors are an evil bunch
Nor are the Collectors the only antagonists on the scene. Shepherd may have previously defeated Saren and his robotic troops, but the Geth are still a force to be reckoned with and the remaining Reapers are still waiting in the darkness beyond the edge of the galaxy, patiently plotting the extinction of all organic life.
With the odds so massively stacked against him (or her, if you created a female Shepherd), it’s no wonder that Shepherd finds himself pushed into an unlikely alliance with the mysterious Cerberus ogranisation who played a recurring but minor role in the first game. Further explored in the novels, Cerberus is a secret society of technologically minded human supremacists who share a thirst for power and a talent for infiltration and deception. Led by the Illusive Man, Cerberus has agents everywhere and fingers in more pies than a particularly unhygienic baker. Let down by the military and Citadel Council, it’s to this group of radicals that Shepherd has to turn in order to get the information he needs.
Unfortunately, militant supremacists tend not to keep the most pleasant of company and so Shepherd quickly finds himself introduced to all sorts of unsavoury characters, some of which he recruits into his newly formed squad of warriors with a deathwish.