Preview: Mass Effect 2

BioWare have been in the business of creating RPGs for quite some time, and they have developed a knack for creating grand scale stories and highly detailed in-depth games that never fail to amaze. Mass Effect is undoubtedly one of their top releases, sharing success on both the Xbox 360 and later on the PC platform. Setting an exceptional standard, the BioWare team is back for a sequel that promises to bring back the familiar elements of the first that we all came to enjoy, and also vast improvements in the form of new features.

Let us take a look at how the story will progress, some of the new features that we can expect, and also a big spoiler for you at the end.

One of the major areas in Mass Effect was the epic story line that had us all addicted to battle out till the end, and also develop some emotional attachments to our characters. The sequel is set to take place two years after the events of Saren and the Geth. Commander Shepard is back to explore why human colonies are mysteriously disappearing on outer planets. As always, your character (Shepard) is a leader and set to command a squad as he did in the first. If you created another character in Mass Effect you will find that this character will come across to continue on in Mass Effect 2. How is this possible you say? Read on to find out.

The storyline is so intertwined with the first Mass Effect that Project Director for BioWare, Casey Hudson, has confirmed that we should keep our save files from Mass Effect. Apparently, our character creations and the decisions we have made from the first adventure will continue to influence our story in the sequel – unlucky for those who decided to kill Wrex in the first part.

As mentioned before, the squad based system gameplay is back with Shepard travelling across the vast galaxy to recruit up to twelve squad members this time around. We will be able to explore locations such as the Asari colony, the World of Illium, and Omega, a space mining station in the Terminus Systems which harbor’s the worst of galactic society. The game takes a drastic turn and can be likened to the Firefly TV series; a Wild West, space gun slinging approach with crime gangs and warlords ruling many of the outer planets – expect more Chora’s Den style missions.

Mass Effect 2 has also introduced an improved combat system with enemies AI being upgraded – meaning they are hungrier to kill you. Additionally, your enemies will be tougher to bring down with the new realistic damage modelling, for example shoot them in the legs and they will continue to crawl after you and make you wonder why you just can’t be friends. There will be more races to interact with, and also more worlds to find. Instead of some of the worlds that offered just the ‘analyze’ option, we will now be able explore these planets. And before you ask, it is unknown if players can explore the planet Terra (Earth); we can only hope.

If there were any downsides to the first installment, it would have to be the M35 Mako vehicle. At times I found myself swearing at the controls and handling of this vehicle and came to dread some of the sections of the game that involved the Mako. BioWare have assured us that we can expect a new vehicle which will have improved gameplay, and hopefully a steering wheel which was clearly missing in the first Mako.

There will be a huge upgrade in terms of animations for characters. We will see the basic 20 animations brought up to 200 animations per model. With added camera movements on cut scenes and the new plethora of character animations, it will add a more realistic cinematic touch to the entire game. Now for the big spoiler – please don’t read on if you are squeamish.

Big *Spoiler* Alert

In Mass Effect 2 we have been told that there will come a point where your decision will mean life or death for our hero Shepard. The path you take for this outcome to take place will be obvious, Casey Hudson has explained. So yes – this means that you can potentially finsh the game with your main character eating the dust.

End Big *Spoiler* Alert

A release date has not been set in concrete yet, but power up your shields and equip yourself for early 2010 January – March.

About the Author

Nightshadow is an avid PC gamer, but occasionally strays off to the Xbox360 for some console action. Frequent writer for Gameolio - he has a strange obsession for uniquely flavored soft drinks such as Cherry Coke, Passion Fruit, and Buzz Monkey. Currently Playing: - Mafia II - Age of Conan - Red Dead Redemption