Mass Effect 2: Christina Norman Interview

By John Walker on January 13th, 2010 at 4:52 pm.

He can be a girl too. It's a special power.

You may have noticed one or two trailers for Mass Effect 2 recently. One or two a day. And it’s arriving very soon – the 29th of this month in fact. So we grabbed the opportunity to speak to lead gameplay designer Christina Norman to ask a few questions that have sprung up in the last couple of months. Below we find out a bit more detail about why certain combat decisions were made, why players might choose to die on purpose, whether Jennifer Hale will return as the female Shepard, and the possibility of lizards in bikinis.

RPS: Mass Effect 2 looks even more like a third-person shooter than the original game. Obviously the combat from ME1 was a contentious point for many. How have you balanced the desire for more action-orientated battles without losing the sense of playing an RPG?

Christina Norman: Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2 are both shooters/RPGs. We’ve dramatically improved the quality of our combat. Weapons feel accurate and powerful right from the start. Player control and cover animations are fast and responsive. We’ve added in new shooter features like headshots, and location based hit reactions. All these changes make Mass Effect 2 a better shooter, without detracting from its capabilities as an RPG.

We’ve also added in real-time power usage. In ME1 you’d frequently pause the game to use powers, but in Mass Effect 2, you can play entire levels without having to access the power wheel during combat. You can play Mass Effect 2 exactly like you played ME1, but I think most players will enjoy our improved real-time combat.

It's a big angry robot!

RPS: Do you think it’s necessary to sacrifice a potential section of your RPG audience by taking a strong action focus? (Presumably in exchange for another action audience.) Clearly among RPG players are some very hardcore fanatics – can they be won around?

CN: Our primary RPG audience is Mass Effect 1 players. I don’t think improving our shooter gameplay is going to alienate those players any more than improving our art, sound design, and writing will. Improving one aspect of a game doesn’t have to detract from another. Many RPG players also appreciate good shooter combat (I’m one of them). Those players will enjoy the improvements we’ve made to our shooter combat, and to our RPG systems. Will our improved combat attract new players? I certainly hope so!

RPS: Which of the new biotic skills do you think is going to wow us the most? Do you have a particular favourite?

CN: The biggest wow factor for biotic players is going to be real-time power usage and our fast cooldown system. In ME1, every power had a long individual cooldown. This encouraged pausing, and spamming all your powers in every fight. Now all powers can be activated in real time and every power shares a fast cooldown. This has two benefits. First, you can use powers continually throughout combat. Second, you are rewarded for choosing the right power for the right situation.

As far as favourite biotic powers go, I’m torn between Charge and Singularity. The Vanguard’s Charge power is flashy, impressive and radically alters their gameplay compared to other classes. The Adept’s singularity is a powerful tactical tool to shape combat. I’m still working on mastering singularity.

He is a sad spacepanda.

RPS: There have been a number of changes made to various aspects of using equipment, from the heat sinks for weapons to the removal of weapon and armour skills. How did you go about making decisions over which elements to change?

CN: Our design process involves identifying a problem, brainstorming possible solutions, and then discussing in detail the impact of those solutions. We then quickly prototype the solution (get it in game) and try it out. Fast iteration lets us quickly test and improve changes. Nothing is sacred. If it doesn’t make the game better, it gets axed. We accept ideas from the anyone on the team. Some ideas I was initially skeptical of were proven fun by this process, and made it into the final game!

RPS: Having created a world that’s entirely BioWare’s own, do you find the lack of the confines of a pre-established IP gives you greater freedom? Or can the lack of boundaries make creating and controlling the game’s fiction more challenging?

CN: We have our own IP-experts on team to make sure everything we do fits the Mass Effect IP. It’s nice having these experts on the team. It makes working with them fast and easy. I enjoy working with the Mass Effect IP. It’s rich and inspiring, with endless possibilities for creating cool creatures, abilities and telling epic stories.

Isn't that the glove from Doctor Who?

RPS: BioWare has been very public about the potential for Shepard to die at the end of this game. Bearing in mind that the player will inevitably see Shepard die quite a few times throughout the game, prompting a reload of the last save, how do you go about making a plot-based death feel a valid part of the way the game plays?

CN: Story death is a very real possibility in Mass Effect 2, but it’s different from combat death. Combat death is usually the result of some short-term error made in the heat of battle. Players already understand this kind of death. Story death is different. We don’t just kill the player; their death becomes a core part of the narrative. If you die in Mass Effect 2, you’ll understand why you died, and realize it’s not because of some simple error. Player death is the result of many choices the player has made, and no simple reload will fix a story death. What makes these deaths satisfying rather than frustrating is the overall presentation. Think of it like a movie. Some great movies end with the death of the protagonist. In the same way, if your Shepard dies in Mass Effect 2, it will be meaningful death, and it will make sense.

RPS: Bearing in mind players know a third game is coming, do you think people will be less likely to make a self-sacrificing choice, now they’ve seen how carrying their save of Shepard over can work?

CN: I think most players will want to survive Mass Effect 2, but part of what makes Mass Effect 2 an exceptional game is that every time you play it you get a different story experience. I fully expect that some players will purposefully try to die while playing Mass Effect 2 so they can experience the story events leading up to Shepard’s death.

See, I would notice the watery shimmery lady.

RPS: Can you confirm whether Jennifer Hale will be reprising her role as female Shepard in the game? Lots of us have missed our Shepard in all the promotional material.

CN: Absolutely! The talented Ms. Hale is back, and she’s done an outstanding job voicing our badass female Commander Shepard!

RPS: A lot of people have drawn the comparison with ME2 and The Empire Strikes Back, it being your more serious, darker-themed second part of a trilogy (during which we presumably learn that Liara T’Soni is Shepard’s twin sister). Does this mean we can expect gold bikinis and space teddies in part 3?

CN: Krogan in gold bikinis are confirmed for Mass Effect 3. (Just kidding!)

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107 Comments »

  1. jsutcliffe says:

    Just release the damn game already, people. I can’t take the hype machine any longer. I’m like a kid on Christmas Eve.
    I’m liking the sound of the changes to power cooldowns though — I didn’t like the way powers were handled in ME1 and put most of my upgrade points into non-power categories (weapon affinity, etc), letting the AI squadmates do the biotics for me. With so many nifty-looking new powers being shown off in the trailers I’m quite looking forward to getting my biotic mojo on.

  2. Heliocentric says:

    You can’t take back a promise. Gold bikinis or i start a steam boycott group.

  3. Andy says:

    Thank the lord for Jennifer Hale. My playthrough as female Shep was far more entertaining. She was credited some time ago on IMDB but I’m glad to hear it from the horses mouth that she’ll be reprising her role.
    Really quite excited about this game now although killing off Shepherd in the games ending seems a little redundant given that he/she dies right at the start too….?!

    • jalf says:

      killing off Shepherd in the games ending seems a little redundant given that he/she dies right at the start too

      Well, you only live twice, you know.

  4. Alez says:

    Dudes, seriously…this is ridiculous. It’s not the second coming of jesus. YOU DON’T NEED this much info on a goddamn game.

    • John Walker says:

      What if it were, though? Boy you’d look silly.

    • markside says:

      @ John Walker

      He wouldn’t come back before the game’s out would he?

    • Zaded says:

      Pay no attention to that blasphemous heathen above Mr Walker, we want more Mass Effect 2! Quick, go find some!

    • Alez says:

      Silly John Walker, Jesus will return when Diablo 3 will come out. Funny coincidence, it’s about the same time the action in mass effect 2 takes place.

    • qrter says:

      You don’t have to read it?

      Personally I haven’t read any previews on ME2, skipping most of the trailers (which is quite hard, what with the endless wash of them) but I had to find out if Jennifer Hale would return. RPS got me!

    • Dante says:

      John Walker is steam friends with Jesus.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Quick, let’s complain more about PC Triple A titles!

  5. brog says:

    “Think of it like a movie.”

    Obviously they are. What would it take for people who want to make movies to just, y’know, go and make movies?

    • Vinraith says:

      @brog

      Yeah, that focus is a little concerning, and highlights a frequent problem with Bioware games of late (and ME1 on particular). Games are about choice and interactivity. Story exists in direct opposition to those, requiring that player choice and interaction be limited enough to allow for the telling of a set (or at best occasionally branching) narrative. It might be one hell of a narrative, but it still makes for a weak GAME.

    • Pace says:

      She was just making a comparison to movies, I think you guys are reading too much in to that.
      Vinraith; So, what, every game ever made is weak? What exactly are you suggesting they’re doing wrong?

    • Vinraith says:

      @Pace

      Only if every game ever made prioritized story and a “cinematic experience” above game play, which fortunately isn’t the case. It’s not a matter of doing something “wrong,” it’s a matter of making a choice. If a game is focused on being like a movie, it will be like a movie. Movies make piss-poor games.

    • Guncry says:

      @ Vinraith: I think you could broaden your definition of a “game” to something more contemporary.

      Games these days can (at least attempt to) be big blockbuster movies, they can offer challenges and puzzles, they can be simply fun, they can be weird and off the wall, they can provide interactive entertainment or even interaction with other people across the world.

      Games can tell a story just as well as a TV and movies, but they are able to go further than those mediums by allowing us to make our own choices on how that story plays out, or they can forget about a plot entirely and dump you on a huge open world with impossible alien landscapes, physics-defying dune buggies and gigantic death cannons. There’s plenty of room for all of this on the market.

      This is an amazingly and increasingly diverse medium, and that fact should be celebrated in my opinion, not derided.

    • brog says:

      @Pace: That quote was just a stand-out example. The whole discussion of fake-game-death vs. real-story-death-which-is-actually-important-to-us showed where their priorities lie (as does the entire ‘game’ design).

      @Guncry: “Games can tell a story just as well as a TV and movies” – I don’t believe they can.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Guncry

      To each his own. The strength of games, IMO, is interactivity and choice. Story and “cinematic” focus (at least as usually implemented) work against that strength. Movies are always going to be better at being movies than games are.

    • Pace says:

      Vinraith, Brog; this isn’t a Modern Warfare thread. (I’d still argue it in that case, but at least there’d be a point to be made there.) Stories are what make Bioware games. And I don’t think you’ll get far by claiming that the gameplay would’ve been so much better in some game if only the developers had ‘prioritized’ it higher. And still I’d like to hear a concrete example of what you mean Vinraith.

      Right, what Guncry said.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Pace

      “And still I’d like to hear a concrete example of what you mean Vinraith.”

      I think Mass Effect 1 is an ideal example of what I mean, which is exactly the reason we’re having this conversation in this thread. I think it’s very much the case that if Bioware games were a bit less obsessed with channeling you down predetermined narrative paths, and a bit more open (and less repetitive and shallow) as far as exploration and free choice, they’d be better games. You’re free to disagree, of course. The parts of ME1 I enjoyed were the combat, the (too limited) exploration, and the immersion (when it wasn’t being sabotaged by linearity). The linearity of the story (and enormous focus thereon) along with the lack of meaningful choices and profound excess of exposition, are actually what keep me from a second play through.

    • Pace says:

      Well this could go on for awhile, so allow me to be concise: you’re wrong. WRONG WRONG WRONG. I bet your feet smell too, don’t they? Come on, admit it.

    • Chalkster says:

      But isn’t the point of this media blitz that there are many different story paths this time, and most of the mistakes of Mass Effect 1 are fixed?
      Arguing this game’s focus on story is making it weaker as they laud and praise the non-story parts in the media is just silly!

    • skalpadda says:

      To Vinraith:

      It does seem like they’ve spent a lot of effort on improving the game bits this time though, by making the shooting and skills more fun, the interrupt system for dialogues, inventory improvements and so on. I’m hoping they might actually strike a nice balance this time.

      I agree that the whole “cinematic experience” stuff is a little worrying, but on the other hand I felt the worst part in ME1 were the ones with too little story; the side missions. Although the main disappointment was dull and repetitive mechanics (bloody Mako scavenger hunts) it showed just how weak the game was when there wasn’t a continuous story there to prop up the gameplay. So let’s hope they manage to deliver lots of both in an engaging way :)

    • CMaster says:

      My experience of Mass Effect was somewhat disappointing, along the lines that Vinrath is discussing. I’d heard various people talking up the choice and power of choice and so on in traditional RPGs. I’d never got into them due to a mixture of dislike of Fantasy settings and clunky games. For me, Deus Ex remains the peak of player choice in anything beyond pure-sandbox. Anyway, so I came to ME, being by a classic RPG developer as offering me a lot of ways of doing things, especially with the many different classes etc.

      What I found was an enjoyable linear shooter with lots of quite good talky/story bits in between. My choices seemed to boil down to very little really: whether to shoot people or use magic (tech/biotic) on them (more often both); whether to shoot a couple of extra people (renegade) or convince a couple of them they didn’t want to get shot (paragon); whether to talk nicely to people (P) or nastily (R); and what order to do the first 3 corridor shoots in. Oh, and whether to completely waste my time going and shooting fish in a barrel/clicking the “scan” button for unnecessary side rewards.

      Now it did all these things pretty damn well, with the exception of vehicle sections (oh god, bouncy car!) and side missions (select AoE attack, fire, identikit building cleared out), so I had no complaints, especially for a game that cost me £5. But I did have to think that ME was barely any more RPG than Borderlands and a lot more restrictive and predicatable.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Chalkster and skalpadda

      I’m not saying ME2 won’t be better, I very much hope it is (and suspect it will be). I was simply agreeing with brog that their decrees of “it’s a more cinematic experience” aren’t addressing the things that really needed addressing from the first game. In short, I already know they can make a good “cinematic experience,” we’re just hoping they’ll make a better game this time too. Some of the press leading up to this one indicates that’s likely, I certainly intend to keep an eye on it to see if it is. ME1 was good despite its flaws, a bit more choice and somewhat better gameplay and ME2 could be completely amazing.

    • Lilliput King says:

      “I think it’s very much the case that if Bioware games were a bit less obsessed with channeling you down predetermined narrative paths, and a bit more open (and less repetitive and shallow) as far as exploration and free choice, they’d be better games.”

      I hear that. On the other hand, it’s more than possible to go too far. Games are in a brilliant position to mix interactivity with narrative to create immersion.

      But that’s exactly what’s required for a good RPG – a little of both. An immensely interactive world with nothing interesting going on is a pretty poor game, while a purely linear game doesn’t really play to the genre’s strengths. Creating a ‘cinematic’ experience is missing a trick, and I think it indicates which side of the narrative/interactivity spectrum ME2′s team is going for, but that doesn’t bother me so much. I found King’s Bounty and Oblivion pretty dull – I think they fell so far into the interactivity spectrum that action ceased to be meaningful.

      The key to it isn’t ‘more interactivity = better RPG,’ anyway. We’re too far down the rabbit hole for such simplistic rules.

    • Wichtel says:

      “I think it’s very much the case that if Bioware games were a bit less obsessed with channeling you down predetermined narrative paths, and a bit more open (and less repetitive and shallow) as far as exploration and free choice, they’d be better games.”

      I think the polar opposite. Game-worlds are not responsive enough (at least till now) to stay believable if they open up. A give you an example why: Someone is building a village for our world and she has a week to write the characters. If this village has 7 characters living in it, she can devote a whole day to each of them. If the village has 100 characters living in it, he has maybe 2 hours for a character. the same can be said about places, quests or choices. You are running down a predeteremd path anyway, the only thing one can do is hide that you are. And I think it’s better to have a narrow but nuanced path, than a bland open world.

      PS yeah what Lilliput King said ;)

    • jalf says:

      To each his own. The strength of games, IMO, is interactivity and choice

      That’s a pretty narrow definition. It makes Portal, HL2 or any other shooter bad games too. As well as every RTS ever made. And Super Mario, Tetris and Pong, while we’re at it.

      All were strictly linear with not a trace of “choice”.

      Pretty much any game other than Dwarf Fortress and The Sims are bad games then.

      I prefer to think that the strength of games is entertaining and involving the player. Which ME1 did pretty well. As do purely skill-based games like Tetris. Or free-form sandboxy “choice” games like Dwarf Fortress.

    • Vinraith says:

      @jalf

      Your definition of “choice” is too narrow, but since you’re missing my point let’s focus on “interactivity,” which I note that you ignored. If Portal’s gameplay had sucked, its cleverness wouldn’t have saved it. If Half Life 2′s shooting had sucked, its atmosphere wouldn’t have saved it. When an RTS’s underlying strategy mechanics are garabage the best cinematics in the world spliced between missions are meaningless. Interactivity is more important than story in a game, because a game without interactivity is a movie.

    • jalf says:

      I don’t see your point. Are you saying that ME1 sucked because its combat sucked? What does that have to do with choice and interactivity?

      Or are you somehow saying that the shooting in HL2 offered more interactivity than the shooting in ME1? In which case… I don’t really see why.

    • Vinraith says:

      @jalf

      If you read over this thread you’ll see very clearly that I didn’t think ME1 sucked, I just thought it could have been better, and I’ve pretty clearly outlined the way I’d like to see ME2 improve on it. But I’ll summarize for you, anyway. You said:

      “I prefer to think that the strength of games is entertaining and involving the player.”

      I agree that this should fundamentally be the goal of any game. When it comes to RPG’s, I am “entertained and involved” when I am immersed in the game world and given the sense that my choices are meaningful. ME1 wasn’t very good at that, it was more fun as a corridor shooter than as an RPG because despite the unspeakable volumes of exposition I never really got the sense of making meaningful or substantial choices. It’d be nice to see either more choice, or at least more illusion of choice, in the sequel.

    • Dante says:

      I think you’ve got the wrong end of the stick entirely Vin (yes, that is your nickname now).

      By saying “It’s like a movie” they’re not saying that they’re prioritising story over gameplay (although this being Bioware they probably will and indeed should), they’re pointing out that ‘downer’ endings are so rare in games.

      There’s plenty of films (and books, and plays etc) which have sad or bittersweet endings, where the protagonist dies or fails in some way at the end, but because it’s seen as a ‘fail’ state, there a very few games which do this. If games are to ever have the narrative depth of these other mediums then at some point both developers and gamers are going to have to learn to accept a powerful sad ending instead of a trite victory. Not that happy endings are always trite and dark ones meaningful, but when a genre offers nothing but happy endings it’s going to lose some of it’s power.

      If games are ever going to be art, then we’re going to need to accept this kind of story death, and I’m glad Bioware are experimenting with it rather than playing it safe.

    • Dante says:

      Oh, and surely Mass Effect’s greatest triumph was it’s merger of both the ‘cinematic’ and ‘choice’ sides of this argument it’s fan-bloody-tastic dialogue system?

      It had all the cinematic angles, graphical cleverness and paced delivery of a non-interactive cutscene, while retaining the dialogue choices and interactivity of the RPG. I honestly don’t think anyone has ever done ‘cinematic’ dialogue better before or since.

    • zipdrive says:

      I actually really enjoyed ME1 and found the combination of (mostly) real time combat and talkiness refreshing.

      Regarding the “real death” thing- I think she made it overcomplicated – the only way a “real death” would work in a game is if it was a player’s choice. “Am I willing to die on this dustball of a planet to allow qwitZZ the pretty lady to escape the jaws of the evil IUkkK or not?”. Tying it to an earlier decision would be a mistake (a bit like the loss of one of your companions in ME1 where they appeared to die fighting a combat not much different to the doezens you’ve already won earlier.

  6. Azradesh says:

    squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  7. Heliosicle says:

    Playing through the game for a 2nd save I can convert, I’ll have my renegade soldier woman, and my paragon vanguard woman.

    I’m glad theyre getting rid of weapon specialisation, seeing as rifle is the only weapon you ever need.

    • jsutcliffe says:

      Oddly, I never used the assault rifle — my Shepard is a pistol/sniper/shotgun person (thanks to what’s basically “new game+”). However, the pistol seemed to suit for pretty much every occasion — I ended up using the other weapons for niche things (e.g. the sniper rifle was set up to demolish shields, shotgun for organic targets). I never really understood why I had to carry an assault rifle even though I couldn’t use it — why not let me pack an additional pistol?

    • Vinraith says:

      @jsutcliffe

      I, conversely, never understood why I had to carry a shotgun, pistol, and sniper rifle when they were all thunderously useless compared to the assault rifle. I mean, seriously, it’s like dropping the difficulty by a step using one of those things.

    • Pace says:

      It just depended what you trained in. Not all classes could train in an assault rifle for example, so they’d then be useless.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Pace

      Not useless, just markedly less effective, which they are.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Pistol>All

    • Flobulon says:

      Especially with Marksman, pistols are pure pwnage.

    • Lilliput King says:

      I’m glad they’re getting rid of weapon specializations too.

      Maybe I can actually use all the fancy weapons when they’re suited to the job at hand this time, rather than getting my spaceship captain, who’d been in the military all her life, to snipe with her bloody pistol.

    • Aemony says:

      With almost all my characters I always tend to lean towards the pistol for long range and the shotgun for close range. The rifle missed almost every shot for some unknown reason and the sniper was pretty much useless to me.

      No matter how many times I restart and pick another class I always gets the same results in the end.

    • Man Raised By Puffins says:

      I’m quite fond of the pistols, they’re proper meaty handcannons. The high level assault rifles are just ridiculous though. Slap a heat sink into the Spectre rifle and you can continuously spew hot metal death without worrying about overheating or recoil.

    • zipdrive says:

      Finished it using only a pistol as a techie Shepard. I’ve got the badge to prove it, too.
      I hate badges.
      I’m not sure why they’d want to get rid of weapon skills. It would just make all characters less differentiated, won’t it?

  8. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    I’m wondering how the faster-cooling biotics/tech thing will work. She mentioned “spammy” in reference to the powers in ME1, but how will faster-cooling abilities change that?

    • jsutcliffe says:

      It sounds like they share a pool of energy, so while previously you could engage all your powers at once to become uber, this encourages you to decide which is best to use at a particular moment. I could have the wrong end of the stick though.

    • Wichtel says:

      No they switched form a cooldown on an individual skill to a global cooldown. In ME1 you used all your powers one by one till all were on cd for 45 sec and shot some people with your pistol. In ME you can use one power every 6 sec. So If you use throw once and 6 sec later you need it again, you can use it.

  9. fulis says:

    Not getting hyped for this…
    The first game looked amazing pre-release but was in fact amazingly ‘meh’

  10. skizelo says:

    I’m looking forward to the game, and I understand the need to be canny when giving interviews, but I’m pretty sure Christina Norman would fail the turing test.

    • Neut says:

      Definitely reads like a press release copy-n-pasted to fit the questions.

  11. Frosty says:

    Oh good grief. It’s released the 29th? When am I going to get time to play all these bloody games….

    • Corporate Dog says:

      I think I would not be remiss in saying that I will be forced to make Sophie’s Choice.

      Two Bioware games. Competing for my attention. And the Gestapo will take them both away from me, if I don’t choose one to play through.

      Regards,
      Corporate Dog

  12. jsutcliffe says:

    Ooh, Steam preorder is finally up. Now, deluxe or standard? Decisions, decisions…

  13. nabeel says:

    Despite the marketing-speak in the answers, those are some great questions.

  14. Clovis says:

    So, some of your decisions from ME1 are supposed to affect ME2, right? What happens when you roll a new character? I guess you are just stuck with the “canon” storyline from ME1? Or is there maybe some multiple choice way to fill out your new character’s story from ME1?

    I made the terrible mistake of using a male Commander Shepard. Also, my character build was very much based on the “pause and issue orders” type of gameplay. Tactical ME combat was never great, so I really want to do a shooty type character in real time this go ’round. I definitely want a new character, but I’m definitely not playing through ME1 again.

    Either way, I’m definitely getting this on the first good digital sale.

    • Wichtel says:

      I read something about a dialogue about the big decisions in the beginning of ME2, but I don’t remember were and when. But you can switch Shepards Class and apperance, when you import your ME1 save.

    • kupocake says:

      Rather than a ‘canon’ shepherd, I would have thought they’d simply have a section in the character creation where you pick a background type, like in the first one (when you chose to be a Spacer, Sole Survivor or whatever). Instead of governing your rather marginal renegade / paragon bonuses, choosing say ‘loose cannon’ may net you a character who took choices that resulted in destructive outcomes (naming no names of course, for any spoiler sensitive folks).

      I do suspect that the continuity between the titles has been somewhat overhyped though. I think people are expecting every obscure choice to have a long-term effect, when it’s probably going to be a very restricted set of carry-ons. And even then, there may be some particularly underwhelming ‘consequences’, say, Conrad turns up to give you a quest that some other talking head would give you anyway.

  15. The_B says:

    This game being released on my birthday is a sign. A SIGN THAT IT IS GOING TO BE AWESOME.

    *ahem*

    /fanboy mode off

  16. Jocho says:

    I’m actually pretty hyped up for this one. I’ve been worried about the steps the game has taken, but being really hyped up is way more fun then coldly observe. Will I be disappointed? Don’t know, don’t care. But the hype does load some “wow”-feeling into the first moments (just like standing in line for a roller-coaster).

  17. Marcin says:

    Is real time power usage like real time weapon switching? I sure hope I can biotic something in the weak spot for massive damage.

  18. Lambchops says:

    I’ve just completed Mass Effect over the last week having bought it in the Steam sale during the holidays.

    I felt it was frustratingly close to brilliance; I wont go into why as it will just turn into a review of Mass Effect.

    So to be brief; fix the dull copy pasted side missions, make the supporting characters a bit more worth caring about (they did a decent job but it wasn’t quite there; especially when held up to Shepard – i think it’s the first time I’ve ever played a game character who seemed like they were actually in command of something), make the combat a bit more slick and be a bit more frugal with loot (it was way to easy to amass more money and items than you’d ever need) and really make those choices tough (it would have been nice just once to have gone for a paragon option and got completely taken advantage of with no way to get your own back – the problem with the choices was you never really had to think twice about the consequences).

    If they manage to pull those things off I have a feeling this could be a superb game.

  19. Nighthood says:

    For those who care, it’s been released on Steam for pre-order:
    http://store.steampowered.com/app/24980 <– Standard
    http://store.steampowered.com/app/901242 <- Deluxe

    • qrter says:

      Yep, the retail Collector’s Edition I preordered is cheaper.

      Normally I wouldn’t make a point of mentioning the discrepancy, I love my Steam, but now the retail version that will have actual physical copies of the artbook, comic book etc. is the cheaper option. That seems more than upside down.

    • Vinraith says:

      @qrter

      Do you know the content differences between the regular and collector’s retail editions? I intend to get a boxed copy, but I’m trying to pin down whether the collector’s edition is worth my while.

    • Clovis says:

      I wonder if the publisher does this to inflate the NPD numbers since they don’t include digital? Or maybe to just keep the physical stores happy.

      Either way, just because they save money on distributing it digitally doesn’t mean they have to lower the price. It should be priced at what the market will bear, and I’m guessing plenty of copies will sell on steam at the full price.

    • Man Raised By Puffins says:

      @ Vinraith: According to Game:

      Dark Horse Comic Issue #1 Edition
      Hardcover Art Book
      Bonus DVD (content TBC but will contain making of videos, soundtrack etc)
      Exclusive In-Game Armour
      Cerberus Network Membership Card – Once enrolled you will have access to exclusive in-game content and updates via an in-game feed
      Boxart which isn’t terrible

    • Vinraith says:

      @Man Raised By Puffins

      Thanks! To me the only big deal out of that list might be “exclusive in-game content and updates via an in-game feed” if I knew what it was. I take it details aren’t forthcoming on the substance of that one?

    • qrter says:

      @Vinraith – To be honest, I normally don’t really care about special editions, but in my case the normal and special editions were the exact same price (retailers tend to be lenient on the minority market of PC gamers) – with the normal edition still being cheaper than the same on Steam. I believe it has an artbook, the first comic book (not that I care much for it), a behind-the-scenes dvd, the soundtrack and a couple of ingame items (which seem to differ per country and retailer, as far as I can see). If ME2 works the same as Dragon Age, you can probably register your cd key with the EA download contraption, which can provide a solution if your dvd gets scratched etc.

      @Clovis – This is true, they can charge whatever people will pay. However, I don’t make my purchasing decisions based on what is correct on a macro-economic scale, or whether it will benefit the EA shareholders. As a consumer with a limited amount of money to spend, I see the discrepancy of the digitalised version of the collector’s edition costing quite a bit more than the physical version and it’s driving me towards retailers.

    • Nighthood says:

      @qrter: Link you where you’re buying it? Seems like a good deal, I can only find Collector’s editions for the Steam price on retail.

    • Kadayi says:

      I went large. Games are a cheap form of entertainment and I know I’m going to wring innumerable hours out of this one (I’ve a female renegade and a male paragon xenophobe who are both waiting to be put through this). Plus extras, why not.

    • Dante says:

      I’m not usually a fan of special editions, but I might be tempted by this one, large because the Mass Effect art is so lovely I want some in physical form.

  20. Lambchops says:

    10 ounds – for a couple of guns and an art book?

    Madness I say! Just my opinion though.

  21. Kadayi says:

    Double post…

  22. Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

    All this hype is reminding me how much I don’t want to get this bloody game…sorry guys

  23. BooleanBob says:

    “I enjoy working with the Mass Effect IP” made me full-on shudder.

    • Tom Davidson says:

      Yeah, Bob, that’s the line that got me, too. It’s impossible to imagine that being spoken by an actual human being of flesh and blood, someone capable of love or other redeeming emotions.

    • Christina says:

      Regarding my answer of “I enjoy working with the mass effect IP”

      Hey give me a break, the question had the word IP in it!

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  25. jti says:

    Dodging this marketing crap. Just wishing they’re making proper side quests. Just tried ME after one almost to the end play and one through, and I really couldn’t be bothered with it. I hope that the second coming has something real to offer. Not just the same they’ve done with every game since 1999.

  26. ThePieSpy says:

    Complaining about too much information…On a gaming news website. *mega facepalm*

  27. sigma83 says:

    “I enjoy working with the Mass Effect IP” made me full-on shudder.

    But why? It’s a perfectly normal sentence if you think like that. IP in this sense is synonymous for universe. And this is a designer talking.

  28. Dante says:

    Basically, it looks like they’re trying to unite the best things about ME1 and Dragon Age, which is enough to make me weep with pure joy.

  29. checkers says:

    I think their marketing department got between you and the actual game developers. The latter half had some interesting stuff though. Nice!

  30. Christina says:

    Does this comment read like a press release?

    Suck it!

    But seriously sorry if my responses seemed too press releasey I do my best to be honest, straight forward, and concise.

    <3 from bioware

    • Rited says:

      @ Christina – HAH! That was brilliant. We need more straight-up press releases like that please, tell your bosses. =)

      Also, for what it’s worth, Mass Effect 2 is one of the most enjoyable games I’ve ever played. Seriously, I loved every single bloody minute of it.

      The first time I finished it I felt so bad that I would never get to experience it for the first time again, that I settled for loading up an earlier save and replayed the entire last mission over. Then I went to bed, woke up 8 hours later and started a new game as an Adept with a completely different background (thanks to some save game repository linked here).

      I really liked DA:O last year, but ME2 for me was in a whole other league of epic. Bring on ME3!

  31. Serenegoose says:

    I am so very happy to see a developer respond to something with ‘suck it!’ instead of hiding away or pretending to be oh so very sorry about something completely minor.

    And since every time you turn up in a mass effect 2 comments thread on RPS I ask some sort of question, I’m going to do the same in the hope of an answer this time. :P

    will there be more opportunity to use the sniper rifle this game? I loved that weapon, especially the sound, but it ended up relegated to the background behind the pistol or assault rifle for most of the game. :(

    • jalf says:

      Huh, I got plenty of use out of the sniper rifle with my infiltrator… I think you just had to, you know, use it more… :D

  32. Serenegoose says:

    jalf said:
    Huh, I got plenty of use out of the sniper rifle with my infiltrator… I think you just had to, you know, use it more… :D

    oh, I’m finding I can get use out of it – but at times where it would feel more natural (to me) to use a completely different weapon, like a pistol or assault rifle, or even a rocket launcher. For example, I recently started again and got to the planet you rescue Liara on, and when you get to the first boss fight, the big Geth wardroid, I used my sniper rifle essentially like an anti-tank rifle, loaded with armour piercing rounds. I guess I’m hoping for a little bit more multi-pathway stuff. You know, you see a building – you can either go straight in through the front door, shotgun out – or, you spy a building to the next side with a lift hanging around on the outside. Sniper rifle out, you go up the lift, thin the numbers with the sniper rifle, and then use some available passage to cross into the building you originally intended to storm through an upper floor. You know, options to play to your strengths.

  33. sigma83 says:

    Dear Ms. Christina Norman,

    <3

    Sincerely,
    sigma eight three.

  34. Scritty says:

    Yeah, just what we needed. Yet another genre turns into an FPS mush. I reckon Football Manager will do it next. “Manchester United headshot Chelsea Goal Keeper in Old Trafford Frag Fest”

    Does every game have to be the same? Bioware talking about brave moves? BullS*It, following the crowd and producing an on-the-rails FPS isn’t a brave move, it’s a retarded one

  35. Serenegoose says:

    Erm….. ok, pedantics first. Mass Effect 2 isn’t an FPS. It doesn’t take place in the first person perspective.

    Secondly, isn’t it like a sequel too late to be angry about Bioware producing an action focused RPG?

    Third…. talk about misjudged agression. It’s not like they’ve sold out and started deving quake 5: Quake Harder, and all their brains fallen out their nose. They did just release Dragon age, which is not err…. not an FPS either?

  36. Lilliput King says:

    The first time I finished it I felt so bad that I would never get to experience it for the first time again, that I settled for loading up an earlier save and replayed the entire last mission over. Then I went to bed, woke up 8 hours later and started a new game as an Adept with a completely different background (thanks to some save game repository linked here).
    I did exactly the same thing, it was fairly pathetic. Enjoying my second playthrough as a renegade vanguard.
    I was just so sad it was over *sob*

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