Mass Effect 2 Preview

Written by Joe Martin

December 21, 2009 | 08:22

Tags: #collectors #mass-effect-2 #mass-effect-2-preview #reapers #screenshots #shepherd #subject-zero

Companies: #bioware #ea #electronic-arts

Massive Attack Effect

While Shepherd’s new crew does include a few familiar faces – Tali from the first game and whats-her-name-the-spy from that atrocious iPhone shooter, it’s the newcomers who are proving the most interesting.

Unfortunately though, most of them are attracting attention for all the wrong reasons and while characters like Subject Zero, the tattooed “badass biotic b*tch” definitely point towards that darker tone that Bioware seems to want to evoke with Mass Effect 2, it doesn’t hint at the maturity required to pull it off.

Having a bald, tattooed woman who swears doesn’t make a game edgy. It just makes it a bit silly. Seriously compelling characters are the ones who reveal their stories slowly through well-paced and natural exposition, not the ones who wear it on their skins – and we’re a little concerned that Bioware has forgotten that and has fallen back to celebrity voiceovers to disguise the issue.

Granted, having the voices of Michael Dorf, Carrie-Anne Moss, Tricia Helfer and Martin Sheen (to name a few) onboard does give the game a certain geek appeal, but it doesn’t indicate increased quality. All too often celebrity voiceovers do more harm than good. After all, if the number of recognisable faces attached to a game was any barometer of quality then the latest C&C games would be inarguably the best things ever created.

Mass Effect 2 Preview Mass Effect 2 Impressions
99 problems and this badass biotic b*tch is one

On the plus side though, as the trailer link above also shows, Mass Effect 2 is getting a massive overhaul when it comes to the combat side of things. Some of the other changes we haven’t yet mentioned include a much larger range of weapons that includes new subtypes of each category and the removal of grenades.

Most interesting of all though is the fact that weapons now have to be reloaded, though with heatsinks instead of bullets. It’s Bioware’s new take on the idea of overheating weapons and it seems a lot more preferable to the old method of having to wait for guns to cool down. We will admit to being slightly worried about the idea of having universally reloadable heatsinks though – it seems a bit too familiar to Deus Ex 2, if you ask us.

Mass Effect 2 Preview Mass Effect 2 Impressions
Resistance = Futile

The dialogue system has been shaken up a fair bit too, with more cinematic cameras panning across characters as they talk and Shepherd getting more distinct dialogue options than ever before. A second playthrough of the original Mass Effect for us revealed an astonishing number of places where selecting a Paragon conversation choice resulted in the same speeches as from a Renegade option. Now that Mass Effect 2 has been expanded enough to warrant a second disc though, we’re willing to bet that won’t happen any more.

As always with epic RPGs (especially the super-epic ones that Bioware usually make) it’s hard to really come to any sort of firm judgement without sitting down to play the game to completion. There’s simply too much content for us to wade through and too options to evaluate; the scant few hours we’ve spent with the game isn’t enough to form any real conclusions.

Still, from what we’ve seen Mass Effect 2 is shaping up pretty well and though we definitely have some reservations regarding some of the characters and the way the game has been so utterly refocused on combat, we’re willing to give Bioware the benefit of the doubt for now. If nothing else then the introduction of the Collectors will help shift the story away from the clichés that Bioware has been accused of overusing in the past.

Mass Effect 2 will be released on January 26th for the Xbox 360 and PC. It will be published by Electronic Arts and you can discuss it further in the forums.
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October 14 2021 | 15:04