Happy-Fun-Time: Win Mass Effect 2 DDE

By Alec Meer on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:30 pm.

I shudder at the thought of all the terrifying fanfic/art that's surely already been created about Miranda

Everyone’s playing it. I’m playing it. John Walker’s playing it, even though he hasn’t worked out how to heal. Your mum’s playing it; she’s romancing Garrus, and he’s making her feel more alive than she’s ever felt before. So – why aren’t you playing Mass Effect 2? If the answer is ‘I’m already busy playing Dragon Age: Return To Ostragar at bloody last, and it’s frankly unfair of you to expect me to give every waking moment of my life to Bioware games’ then very well. Otherwise, you should totally enter our competition to win one of 4 Direct2Drive copies of the shooty-spacey RPG. Apparently a lot of people quite like it.

It took me a little while to establish exactly what ‘DDE’ stands for, as it appears to be one of those acronyms that have been stealth-deployed in such a fashion as to make everyone believe they’re an established term that’s been around forever. Briefly, I thought it might mean Digital Deluxe Edition, but it turns out it’s really Determinedly Dunderheaded Entertainment. Yeah, I thought it was a counter-productive marketing decision too, but you just can’t argue with the suits. Whatever it means, it includes a bunch of bonus content – extra guns and armour, a digital comic, artbook, documentary and soundtrack – on top of the game’s standard gamut of interstellar chat and head-splatting.

So, we have here four copies of this extra thingum-fatted digital version of Mass Effect 2, courtesy of game download service Direct2Drive, one of which you mean to win. How?

Firstly, by emailing us here. Don’t attempt to be An Individual and change the subject line, or your entry will be lost somewhere in space and time.

Secondly, by providing an answer to this riddle: “I have three noses, forty-eight earlobes and one Venusian mega-nipple. What am I?” The answer is not in words, but instead a picture. A picture you will send us a link to, not by clogging up our inbox with enormous image files. Attachments won’t make it through. Other than that, the rules are No Rules – hand-drawn or Paintbrush Scrawls, worryingly elaborate photoshoppery, simply a photo of a celebrity – be creative and be offbeat, basically. No filth, though. You won’t impress anyone with that.

In addition to our usual rules, please be aware this is a (most of) Europe-only competition. To whit, only enter if you live in one of these places: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, or – hey! – the United Kingdom. Sorry ’bout that, but the prize redemption code thingies simply won’t work in American’n'that. I restress: not our choice, it’s just about the territories that the DDE’s available in.

Closing date is 12pm (GMT) on the 8th Feb, and once again – Europe only, no attachments, no filth. OK, go.

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147 Comments »

  1. Roadrunner says:

    I’m not playing it because I didn’t like the first one.

    CONTROVERSY TIME!

    • Nick says:

      your loss…

    • Lilliput King says:

      Golly gosh.

      It’s a lot better than the first one, to be honest.

    • army of none says:

      To be fair, I agreed with you initially. I didn’t like the first one in the least, but I really enjoyed this one. So, from someone who was in the same boat as you, try it out. (By try, if necessary, I mean pirate, and then purchase, as I did)

    • Psychopomp says:

      I didn’t like the first one either. Two is amazing.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      I’m honestly surprised even to see two people saying they didn’t like the first game but like this one. I’m not arguing the point, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that I really see ME2 as basically ME1 cranked up to eleven, with the unnecessary fat trimmed away. I hadn’t expected anyone who flat-out disliked ME1 to enjoy ME2.

    • Psychopomp says:

      The unnecessary fat was *really* holding it back.

    • the wiseass says:

      Haven’t tried the second one yet, but I didn’t like the first one either. Now don’t get me wrong, the story and atmosphere were awesome, but the gameplay felt clumsy. I’m not sure though if they tweaked the controls a bit in part deux, maybe somebody could enlighten me?

    • Kadayi says:

      @the wiseass

      Gameplay is significantly improved.If you liked the storyline of the first, you’ll enjoy the sequel. It’s a much more polished and refined beast. Don’t be put off by the god awful trailers either. Much like Dragon Age the marketing seems at odds with the actual game experience.

      @OP

      Surprisingly the internets doesn’t care.

    • Jimbo says:

      I wasn’t that keen on Mass Effect either to be honest (I mean, it was still pretty good, but not Bioware good), but ME 2 is the best thing Bioware have done in years.

      Top-notch dialogue and humour, brilliant characters, a grimey lived in universe (think Star Wars rather than ME 1′s Star Trek), and whilst the game structure is still totally transparent, it is at least a welcome change from the (totally run into the ground) structure they have used for their last handful of games.

      I haven’t finished ME2 yet, so they could still ruin the story, but it seems fine so far. The combat is much better than ME 1, but still not brilliant. They moved in the right direction by making the combat more tactics orientated, but I feel like they held back a little for fear of alienating people – if they had been braver and really forced you to think about your skill usage to get through a fight, it would have been excellent, but it’s still relatively easy to just brute force your way through the combat with little thought, which is a shame. I felt the same way about Dragon Age’s combat though, so your mileage may vary.

      I was very skeptical about the ‘no canon’ approach they were trying to take with Mass Effect -and I guess it’s impossible to judge the success of that from a single play-through- but so far I feel like they have nailed it. I know similar things have been tried before with saves carrying between games, but never to this extent. If you have more than a passing interest in gaming I think you owe it to yourself to play ME1 & ME2, if for no other reason than as a study of how this approach can work. I think you will see more of it in future.

      I will say that the PCization feels sloppier than it should. I have many little niggling issues with it which, when taken together, are enough for me to say the PC version probably isn’t the best version available.

    • Nalano says:

      It’s funny how you say the PC is sloppy yet you just expounded on the greatness of savegames.

      But I have to agree that the “no-canon” nature of the story is great. You want the good ending? You gotta work for it. I’d be delighted if ME3 started with a non-Shepard PC, provided you didn’t have a ME2 save. Now that would be ripe for multiple playthroughs.

    • Jimbo says:

      By PCization I mean the act of taking the game and tweaking it to be played on a PC. Nobody should go in expecting a Dragon Age scenario, or even anything displaying any real effort at all.

      Eg. The tutorial text not changing to reflect altered key bindings, like it’s still 1995. The combat obviously still being balanced for a pad. Limited video options. etc.

    • Nalano says:

      Perhaps, but when I think “horrible console port” I think GTA4 or MW2. I’m still not entirely sure where you were going with “PC version isn’t the best version,” however.

    • Jimbo says:

      Which part are you having trouble with?

  2. Tei says:

    Of all characters, the one I hate is Miranda. I was tempted to setup him to no weapons at all, since i was totally convinced she was about to betray me (she was the only chararcter not loyal to me). But I was able to finish the game with no one dying.

    • Nalano says:

      Ms. Genetics was the only one to die in my first playthrough (well, her and half the rank and file on board the Normandy. I miss Gabby.) and also was the only one not loyal. I can’t fault her writing, but her character came off to me as a big hypocritical bitch.

      Case in point, her whole schtick (and loyalty quest) is about her father thinking he owns her because he spent an ungodly sum of money Gattaca’ing her all to the nines and how she couldn’t abide by that and ran away. That’s all well and good, except the first thing she said to me when we were just “chatting” was that she would have liked to implant a control chip in my brain because they had “invested” so much in me.

      Between that, the incredibly pertinent point her best friend made (and how she responded), and her attitude concerning the rest of the crew, I did not mourn her loss.

  3. Internet Friend says:

    I’m a dirty american, but someone can steal my idea:

    Mr. potato head: SPACE EDITION!

    Bonus content: Space children playing with Mr. Space potato.

  4. Drexer says:

    I’m not playing it because I’m going to the first one before buying the second. Or in a more hopeful tone, before I receive the second from RPS. :P

    Gotta get to work then I guess. How long do we have?

  5. Lanster27 says:

    Miranda and her awkward smiles.

    • Stabby says:

      it looks like something from Garry’s Mod..

    • Meatloaf says:

      Seriously, that grin is a little disturbing, and more than a little deserving of some kind of WITTY CAPTION.

    • Cvnk says:

      I thought it was Michael Jackson

    • mejobloggs says:

      Yep, also thought it was Michael Jackson

    • Wulf says:

      BEHOLD, THE HORRORS OF TOO MUCH PLASTIC SURGERY. SHE HASN’T FROWNED IN SIX YEARS.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      That’s the smile of a woman who’s been romancing Thane behind your back.

    • Premium User Badge

      pauleyc says:

      To quote the immortal EVE line:

      Dude…your face…

    • Premium User Badge

      MinisterofDOOM says:

      That is definitely a “fart stealth verification” grin. I think she’s safe, Grunt appears unaware.

  6. qrter says:

    Space hamster.

  7. kalidanthepalidan says:

    We dirty Americans are not worthy of such special “Digital Deluxe Editions”. If only it had been the regular edition then you could have included us. But I understand. 1′s and 0′s in digital form tend to discriminate, those hateful bastards.

    :)

    • KillahMate says:

      Hey, if it makes you feel any better, this kind of pointlessly preferential treatment from the game stores is what the rest of the world generally has to live with when you guys are concerned. And since I’m from Croatia, this contest doesn’t apply to me either. Again.

  8. Tei says:

    I think “Grunt” is setup to become something like the “mandalorian”. I sould have never opened his cage… but… I also fixed the “religious differences” on the Geth. Man.. I have screwed my Mass Effect 3…

  9. Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

    Photoshop? I’m gonna use bloody Ms Paint for it!

    • Starky says:

      Got to use old paint though, old useless paint, because windows 7 paint is actually a pretty decent little program.

  10. Earl_of_Josh says:

    Sad American Face :-{

  11. Stabby says:

    UK Only! But.. Canada is a British colony, does that make us count too? Can’t we all just be friends?

    • medwards says:

      I agree, first you send us all to live in this godforsaken version of hell frozen over (although implicitly that would be godforsaken anyways, but I digress), then you rape our lands for your very fine hats and pay us by charging us for said hats (member of the community, see?), then you cut us loose so you can have exclusive contests that don’t include us. Won’t you take pity on us colonials and give us copies of ME2?

      –ever a subject of the empire
      a canadian

    • invisiblejesus says:

      Guys, don’t be stupid. Everyone knows Canada is a county in New Hampshire. Seriously, if you can’t even learn your geography then just fuck off.

    • Nalano says:

      Ahh, the Canadians. Ever too polite to rebel.

  12. FhnuZoag says:

    So, when’s the closing date on this?

    • SpinalJack says:

      @FhnuZoag
      “Closing date is 12pm (GMT) on the 8th Feb, and once again – Europe only, no attachments, no filth. OK, go.”

  13. Alez says:

    I was about to send a picture of me writing horribly with my mouse in Paint saying “you are a weird riddle”, but then realised i’m too lazy ..so just imagine it. I don’t need ME2 but that Smart Ass award would have been mine, ALL MINE!

  14. Kieron Gillen says:

    I’m playing Dragon Age without the new expansion stuff. I’m even more behind the times.

    KG

    • Vinraith says:

      @Kieron

      Me too, and frankly it’s remarkable I’m playing DA as soon as I am. Usually I’m at least a year behind, just because of the volume of games worth playing these days. I don’t understand how anyone manages to play new releases right when they’re released, honestly.

    • archonsod says:

      I felt I needed a break from Dragon Age. So started Mass Effect 2 instead. Luckily, finished it just in time for Ostragar, so am now back to Dragon Age.

    • Edgar the Peaceful says:

      I only played 2 sections of Dragon Age before the lurid thrills and sweaty high-fives of Dirt 2 made me wanna RAAAWK all night.

    • Rich says:

      Playing Mass Effect 1 in whatever time I have free, which isn’t much. Haven’t even installed the free DLC yet. Getting stuck in lifts that won’t move, turning purple and flying into the corner in Rift Station, having to reapply sound settings every time because the effects volume becomes deafening. Loving it all the same.

      Also, ME is pretty choppy on my (gasp) single core, so methinks ME2 will be beyond my system for a while. Sad face.

    • CMaster says:

      @Rich – patch it.
      I had the same lift problems. Turns out they were fixed in a patch that I didn’t apply until a long way through the game.

  15. mandrill says:

    What about Iceland? Sometimes it counts as Europe and sometimes it doesn’t (thankfully it doesn’t when buying Duty Free)

    • roryok says:

      yeah I’ve always wondered about iceland and whether its part of europe or not

  16. Sparvy says:

    Im not playing it because I have yet to encounter a game with dialog-trees that doesn’t annoy me. The first Mass Effect doubly so.

  17. Kakksakkamaddafakka says:

    Sooo, Norway isn’t in Europe anymore?

  18. Vinraith says:

    You people complaining about geography do realize that this is Direct2Drive’s region locking at work and not anything RPS actually has any control over, right?

    • Kakksakkamaddafakka says:

      You do realize that Norway and Iceland is still in Europe, right?

    • Vinraith says:

      @Kakksakkamaddafakka

      The point is that it doesn’t matter what I realize, nor what RPS realizes, it only matters how D2D’s insane region locking system works.

    • Kakksakkamaddafakka says:

      Not when someone says it’s for Europe, and it isn’t.

      It’s not like I’m upset or anything. I’m just saying Norway is, in fact, in Europe. So is a lot of other countries not listed.

      I’m just stating a fact, nothing more.

      (In any case, Alec made an amendment to the statement, so yeah)

    • kwanchu says:

      You do realize that Russia owns Iceland, right? Or at least their banking system.

    • noerartnoe says:

      @kakkwhatever: when people say Europe they have a tendency to mean the EU. (Not sure if that’s the case here – can’t be arsed to check the countries). Which means that every now and then us poor norwegians are left out of “Europe” only stuff.

  19. Oskar says:

    “Europe-only competition”

    … Icelanders excluded?

  20. Dave says:

    I’m not playing it because, well, I just can’t get interested. I didn’t like KOTOR much. But then, I am playing NWN2, so I don’t know what that says.

    • Kakksakkamaddafakka says:

      You didn’t like KOTOR, but you liked NWN2?

      That’s like… all backwards.

    • Nalano says:

      Tell me: Do you actually listen to the dialogue in NWN2 or do you, like me, spend 80% of your time searching for powerbuilds to totally break the game?

    • Wulf says:

      The original campaign wasn’t all that bad, and Mask of the Betrayer (a Neverwinter Nights 2 expansion) was a work of nigh-unparalleled beauty, which many thinky critics considered to be one of the better RPG plots ever shared with gamingkind. Considering that BEEG AMEERIKAAN TEETEEZ is designed to appeal to gamingkind in general though, I can’t exactly say a lot for our little subculture, yanno? Yes, I tend to be very cynical when it comes to my fellow gamer, but it’s hardly unwarranted.

      And Knights of the Old Republic, the original, actually had a fairly uninspired plot. The roomie and I played it recently and we kept wishing it would end so that we could move onto Knights of the Old Republic 2 all the more quickly, as that was actually really rather good, despite being slightly sabotaged by a ruinously rushy publisher.

  21. Kadayi says:

    Playing it and enjoying the hell out of it fairly constantly since Friday. Though as with all RPGs I’ve opted to restart it from the beginning, now I’m a bit more au fait with the mechanics. There’s a lot to be said to paying attention to the blurb as there’s quite a lot of nuggets of useful information to uncover, especially tactical approaches to certain opponents. It’s also well worth getting into understanding how you can utilise your team-mates powers to devastating effect.

    To the naysayers (never understood this strange desire people have to declare their indifference to the world tbh) I say give it a whirl. However I would also say that if you want to maximise the experience, then play Mass Effect beforehand. Certainly not a game without issues (the inventory system/management gets extremely tedious towards the end of the game), however it’s worth the 40 or so hours investment required simply to plough through it simply to see how much of what you engage in carries across to the sequel (it’s quite an achievement). Plus you’ll have an emotional investment in many of the characters you encounter later on, that you’d otherwise miss out on.

  22. Dean says:

    How would it know if you were European or not anyway? Unless you have to put in a credit/debit card to register, in which case surely the need to have one is a restriction worth mentioning?

  23. SpinalJack says:

    Here’s mine:

    Riddle: “I have three noses, forty-eight earlobes and one Venusian mega-nipple. What am I?”
    Answer: Sir Patrick Stewart

    WARNING: What has been seen cannot be unseen!

    Link: http://s1006.photobucket.com/albums/af188/spinaljack/?action=view&current=Horror.jpg&newest=1

    …sorry
    XD

  24. DMcCool says:

    Sitting on the fence here, I semi-enjoyed Mass Effect by pretending I was a excited child playing his first ever RPG througout (mature gaming my arse), is this game any better? If its another fun sci-fi romp and no more like the first I’ll save the cash, or is one a real step foward?

    Wait, I’ve got a better question. Is it better than Dragon Age?

    • Stromko says:

      For me personally? I’ve never finished Dragon Age, after the first twelve hours or so spent with it I didn’t feel like playing it anymore. I sunk 40 hours into Mass Effect 2, every waking free moment I played it for four days straight, and that was after a 2 1/2 day playthrough of ME1.

      Bear in mind though, I liked the first Mass Effect, a lot. I was annoyed by the changes in ME2 for a bit, but eventually came around to feeling it was a far superior game to the original.

      Mature? No, not really. It seems like a ‘realistic’ and deeply detailed world, but it is entertainment. If you go into it expecting Hotel Rwanda you’ll be disappointed.

    • DMcCool says:

      I enjoyed Mass Effect too, it made me feel like I was 12 and watching The Next Generation for the first time again, except this time I was the main character (!). I just don’t know if I can fork out the cash for another one considering all the games coming out this month. What way does Mass Effect really differ from the first?

    • Stromko says:

      There’s no more inventory to futz around with, instead you get an armory of different weapons and armors that expand as you find new ones in missions. This is spaced out over a pretty long period, you’ll still be finding new bits of armor and guns mid-most ways through the game.

      Armor is no longer a full suit, instead you get a helmet, torso, shoulder pads, arm guards, and leggings that you can swap out for different types. There’s only about 3 choices for each slot, though. There’s about three choices for each gun type as well (3 shotguns, 2 (or 3?) assault rifles, 3 sniper rifles, 2 pistols, 2 machine pistols).

      There is no Mako driving, there is no driving on planets at all. Instead you scan planets for resources from orbit and send probes to pick up resource hotspots. It’s about as exciting as it sounds, but pretty slickly produced and quick anyway. I estimate (I only explored about 60% of the planets) there’s about 8 or 9 uncharted worlds missions to do– they’re a lot faster, and seem to use a lot more original content as far as architecture and all that goes. A lot less copy&paste, but short and sweet rather than big and time-consuming.

      I can’t really give a proper review. I think Giantbomb’s video review would serve pretty well for a quick primer. http://www.giantbomb.com/mass-effect-2/61-21590/reviews/ Also I’m pretty sure someone in RPS did a review.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      It’s very much like the first game, but much better. And yeah, it’s better than Dragon Age. And I liked Dragon Age a lot. I’d say anyone who liked ME1 should pick up ME2; it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it does what it does better than almost any other similar game before it (Deus Ex is still king! KING!).

    • Nalano says:

      It’s certainly more fun, if less challenging, than Dragon Age: Origins. It’s far more streamlined, as compared to stripped-down, than the original Mass Effect.

      It was never mature, but as softcore Sci Fi sagas go, it’s a really fun romp. It kinda reminds me of Farscape in the “everybody is something of a badass and there’s unresolved sexual tension at every turn” sort of way.

    • Vinraith says:

      I don’t think comparisons to Dragon Age are particularly productive. I haven’t played ME2 yet, but ME1 and DA are worlds different form one another. As someone who’s more a fan of classic RPG’s than of shooters, I think DA’s far superior to ME1 (which was still fun, mind you, if flawed), but I’m sure shooter fans think exactly the opposite.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      Sure, but I feel pretty safe saying there are a good number of people who enjoy both purist RPGs and shooters. As one of them, I feel pretty confident in saying that in purely qualitative terms, ME2 is the better game. If you have a strong preference one way or the other, you don’t need me to tell you that you might think differently, you’ve probably already figured it out on your own and don’t need a recommendation.

    • Vinraith says:

      @invisiblejesus

      Fair enough, I just meant to point out that it was a questionable comparison. With the exception of Bioware’s penchant for excessive voiced exposition, there isn’t much gameplay similarity between the two titles, so I’m not sure what basis there can really be to compare the two. I’ll pick up ME2 and see for myself, of course, but especially if I’m going to replay ME1 first (and I think I have to, as I barely remember it) it’s probably going to be awhile.

    • Nalano says:

      Well, Vinraith, there were basically two questions asked, bundled in the singular “is ME2 better than DA:O?”

      The first is whether the quality of writing, plot exposition and other RPG elements in ME2 is more professional, well-done, etc, than DA:O. The second is whether he’ll prefer the gameplay of ME2 to DA:O.

      I’d say they’re both excellent in terms of writing, but I found the pacing of DA:O to be execrably slow. Arguably, ME2 and DA:O have about the same in pure plot, but ME2 gives you 30 hours of enjoyment while DA:O stretches it out to 100.

      Hence in a way you can indeed productively compare the two.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      Well, I think it’s worth noting that ME2 is a LOT better than ME1; personally I’d say your preference for Dragon Age over ME1 isn’t necessarily just down to genre preference. Dragon Age is a superior game to ME1. ME2 is just better than either of them. Playing through ME1 again is a good idea though, it really does add a lot to the ME2 experience.

    • Vinraith says:

      @invisiblejesus

      Fair enough on all points. I’ll get ME2, from the sounds of it I’ll enjoy ME2, my response is largely a product of the fact that 1) I really like Dragon Age and 2) I haven’t seen a game like Dragon Age in about a decade.

    • DMcCool says:

      Yay I started a debate! Thanks guys, that was actually more helpful than any review I’ve read. Nalano hit the nail on the head, and pretty much made up my mind. If either the writing or the gameplay were significantly better then that’d make Mass Effect a buy for me. I thought Dragon Age was a huge step foward in writing terms (well not the actual dialogue/plot, but how the story was presented), and how the player played a part in the narrative was the best I’ve seen since RPGs went all 3D and voice-acty. Without spoiling anything, the last act of Dragon Age took out more leaves from Deus Ex’s book than any game since – they actually went through with it futher than Deus Ex ever did.

      If Mass Effect 2 is the same sort of thing but more condensed (Dragon Age’s worst crime was being over-long imo) then that makes it pretty much a must-buy for me, regardless of the setting.

    • Manley Pointer says:

      I like ME2 quite a lot, but it’s one of the most problematic games I’d ever call great. Joining this debate a little late, but I was a big fan of both ME1 and DA:O. I admit my bias is more toward character and writing than action, because the story/characters are usually what stay with me after I finish an RPG. So here is an ill-advised wall-of-text comparing all three games:

      It’s certainly more pick-up-and-playable than ME1 or DAO; the combat is a lot of fun, and the classes vary quite a bit. The mineral scanning, as many have said, is total shit, but it does not take a horrendous amount of time. It is not as painful as, say, managing your inventory in ME1. To me, the revamped planets are still almost as boring as the old Mako ones — most of them are not even tied to a character you can talk to, they’re just shooting. They do each seem to have their own gimmick, though.

      Some people complained that DA:O was too easy on the default difficulty, and I don’t see why those same people aren’t complaining about ME2? My shooter skills are pretty rusty, but this game on Normal or (most of the time) Veteran is cake. A lot easier than ME1, at least with a Soldier or Infiltrator.

      ME2′s story offers the player a lot of smaller and less important choices than ME1 did. You often will make important decisions pertaining to certain characters, but most of these choices either 1) don’t affect that character’s behavior outside of a few lines of dialogue, or else 2) seem to be setting up something in ME3, but never pay off in ME2 itself. There’s no equivalent to the big, interesting decisions you make in the course of clearing Noveria in ME1, or Castle Redcliffe in DAO. Or the fact that in DAO, you can actually affect two characters’ personalities in a tangible way.

      Many of the characters in ME2 are likable, and they’re certainly a more eccentric bunch than the crew in ME1. A few of their loyalty missions are great — in particular, Samara’s mission was one of the best moments in any Bioware game I’ve played. The problem is that, outside of the loyalty missions, the characters don’t have much life or agency of their own. Almost all will stay loyal to you whether sweet talk them or treat them like dirt, as long as you put in the time to finish their loyalty mission. (If you could assign a difficulty level to party interactions, these would also be on the “very easy” setting.) There are 2 points in the game where your crew will interact with each other, but mostly they stay in their own little rooms doing nothing.

      There’s no equivalent here to the great banter dialogue in DAO. When your party members do speak up during a mission, their lines are mostly interchangeable: if you bring Garrus on a mission, then replay the same mission with Jack instead, you will find that Garrus and Jack say pretty much the same things at the same times, despite supposedly having very different personalities. Again, there’s no comparing it to DAO, where your party members would violently express their disapproval, sometimes to the point that they would attack you. ME2 is even a step backwards from ME1 in this regard; at least ME1 had the “talk Wrex down or kill him” scene.

      The story also doesn’t really have a “middle”; it has a cool beginning and an awesome ending, with a lot of barely-connected little quests in the center (with a couple of big plot-related fights that are very similar).

      All that said, I like ME2 a lot, I’m playing through it a second time, and I think everyone should play it. But I get irritated by this “better in every way” school of commenting. In terms of ease of use and combat, no question, it’s better. It’s totally dedicated to making the player feel like a badass, and it succeeds. As far as customizing your own character, creating a unique build, making interesting decisions, building a world, it’s not so great. In terms of story and character, it’s usually good but a bit thin at times.

      Also, DA:O a 100 hour game? Maybe 60-70 if you did absolutely everything.

    • Nalano says:

      Being an old hand at RPGs (especially those of the Interplay/Bioware bent) I like you tend to see through the fourth wall to the machinations underneath (the on/off switch of “loyalty,” the inherent meaninglessness of banter and small talk) much to my own chagrin. We’ve spoiled ourselves in this manner: It’s not new and every new gimmick Bioware or any other company creates will be exposed, deconstructed and over-analyzed to death by us insatiable fans. We can’t help picking apart the “game” aspect of the RPG.

      I would beg to differ with you, Manley Pointer, about ME2′s story, as I think the problems tend not from a dearth of plot, but from middle child syndrome. This is book two of a trilogy. All the great plot arcs started in book one, and will end in book three. In a sense we implicitly know this and are diligently plotting along our own “Choose Your Own Adventure” and tuning our savegames to be close to what we wish to start out as for the next episode, and so assume all the dropped plot threads and minor set pieces to be foreshadowing.

      In that line of reasoning, I applaud Bioware’s efforts to make even my minor decisions in ME1 consequential in ME2 such to the point that I’m replaying ME1, and I suspect that I will experience similar between ME2 and ME3 with the hope – beyond all rational reasoning – that my decisions will create an end result vastly different from the next player’s.

    • Manley Pointer says:

      @Nalano: I’m agree with almost everything you said, and I can certainly see the limitations of writing a story that is the middle chapter in a trilogy. I, too, really enjoyed seeing the Helena Blakes, Shialas, and Nassana Dantiuses of the ME universe pop up again in the sequel, and seeing my decisions from another game carry over was satisfying in a way few gaming experiences are.

      The only issue I have with the “middle chapter” argument is that I’m not actually objecting to the mission you perform in ME2. It’s not as significant as the direct battle against the Reapers in ME1, but it’s still a lot of fun. But there’s no reason Bioware couldn’t have continued putting stories like those told on Noveria and Feros into ME2. The decisions you made in those places were interesting, and yet they didn’t really affect the larger arc of a fight against the Reapers, either in ME1 or ME2 (presumably they’ll pay off in ME3, but we’ll see how much effort Bioware actually puts into them).

      I don’t think familiarity with Bioware’s conversation systems necessarily breeds contempt for them; it just gives you a better means to compare them. All games are going to “fake” party interactions to one degree or another, but I think we can easily see that more work went into bringing your party to life in DA:O, and that it’s a more character-driven game than ME2 as a consequence. I don’t have a word count, but I’m pretty sure the conversation trees for each DA:O character are also deeper than ME2. Choosing what to say in DA:O is a game in itself, because you have to find a balance between what you think your party member wants to hear and how you want to react to what they said. In ME2, what you say to your party members doesn’t really matter; in a few cases I guess you need to have enough Renegade or Paragon points to select a colored red or blue option from the left side of the wheel, if you want a happy outcome. It seemed like you also didn’t need many Renegade/Paragon points to do this, esp. compared to the investment of Squad Points the first game required if you wanted to save Wrex or talk down Saren in the end.

      There actually is a single party banter scene included in ME2, an easter egg that plays if you take Tali and Garrus to the Citadel. It’s funny, but also annoying: couldn’t they think of more than one of these conversations? How hard would they have been to implement, if they do it once for a lark?

    • Nalano says:

      At the same time, Manley Porter, were the “Sten disapproves! Minus 8 points” dialogues necessarily any deeper than my debates with Malinda? I didn’t notice that more or fewer words were said in the dialogue trees in DA:O and ME2, but I was thankful for not having to babysit NPCs who were great in combat terms but had to be switched out immediately if I wanted not to act like a smarmy rat bastard to everybody I came across just to “impress” them.

      DA:O was something of a throwback to KotOR or NWN2 where you had your party, which consisted of you and two or three companions, two of which hated each other. Their opinions never changed so you couldn’t actually debate them on the topic. They just silently (or openly) judged your actions, resulting in a lot of “+2 to Captain Emo, -4 to Queen Bitch” rewards/punishments that affected little but your romance options and a +1 combat bonus (and could be overrided with gifts anyway). At least in this current vignette the result of their not being loyal to you is DEATH (spoilers).

      That’s not leadership. That’s herding cats. It’s not depth, either; just a mini-game based on juggling incompatible companions. And I’m glad to do away with it.

    • Nalano says:

      Damn the lack of an edit button. I meant to say ‘Miranda.’

      Edit: Oh now it shows up. SCREW YOU TOO

  25. El Stevo says:

    Do breasts count as filth? Because the Venusian mega-nipple has to go on something.

  26. MadMatty says:

    I got slightly excited with Mass Effect 1, then about 7 hours in the framerate dropped to unplayable….. rotten conversion, a lot of the more recent games run just fine on my rig (3000mhz dual-core with a gefore 8600 GTS /w 512 MB DDR3 RAM)
    gonna wait till i get an upgrade, and then play some.
    As for Dragon Age, im simply fed up with the little elves and dwarves, and the clicheéd plots… there wasnt anything to get excited about technically either, so im gonna leave it until i get reeeeaaally bored.

  27. Casimir's Blake says:

    Consolified UI (can’t click on the YES/NO menu buttons!?), strictly linear missions (though not the order, of course), no jumping… oh who am I kidding? It’s the best thing I’ve playing in YEARS outside of Stalker: Call Of Pripyat which, sadly, will probably be hideously overlooked due to this.

    However, I do wish Bioware would change right-click to scan planets so that it is toggle and not momentary, as it is right now, it can become literally painful. Otherwise, a small review.

  28. toni says:

    ME1 was a turd of neat ideas lazy executed, clunky in its controls, stripped in its RPG mechanics: a disappointment in light of the potential. ME2 is E P I C. it will go down in my personal PC history as the other 2nd part like SystemShock2 that was better and worse at the same time but still one of the best games I ever played. winner on all fronts for what it set out to do. Replayed already 3 times, no on my insanity playthrough.

  29. RogB says:

    I cant wait for the hype to blow over!. its been plastered all over this place for weeks (trailer, trailer, silly headed alien pic, trailer, trailer etc) and its just rubbing it in as i’ll never ever get to play it..
    Or, to be more accurate, there’d be no point in starting it. with 2 new twins my days of playing 60 hour epics are long gone!
    So hopefully, RPS will turn their collective attention brainpods to other stuff soon :)

  30. Ian says:

    I’m not playing the first for two reasons.

    1) Playing Dragon Age still.
    2) I need to go back and play the first one again now I know you don’t need to worry that not doing the absolute bollocks that is All The Side Quests will bork your character.

  31. Finn says:

    Finished Mass Effect 2 last night, now going for a new run of DA:O with a Mage.
    I didn’t really like ME1 and after playing Dragon Age I seriously doubted that ME2 could be better; man, was I wrong, Mass Effect was probably one of the most funny/enjoyable games I’ve played in the past what, 3-4 year, aside Dragon Age of course.

    Only shameful mistake Bioware did: you can’t bed women like in the Witcher, you have to choose ONE… come ON!

    • Carra says:

      This morning I heard a futurologist on the radio: “in the future most relationships will be polygamist”.

      Bioware should hire him.

    • Wulf says:

      On a more serious note is Bioware’s utterly baffling approach to sexuality, which seems to be–generally speaking–that of a pre-teen.

      “o ya lol u can do lesbo sex but not gay sex cuz dats gay amirite ???? lol”

      That basically sums up what they’ve said publically about relationships (I’m not joking or exaggerating), and one of the reasons I think Bioware could use both new writers and new management.

      It’s the future, and everyone is a homophobic pre-teen with immature rationalisations as to what relationships are about?

      I don’t want to go to that future.

      I sort of always imagined the future to be a place where people had finally gotten over gender and realised that it has little impact on love and relationships. You know, a smart-people biased intellectual future. But apparently, in the Mass Effect Universe, evolution is trying to reduce the overall intelligence of Humanity, for whatever reason.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Wulf, have you played Dragon Age? Or Jade Empire?

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I am guessing Wulf didn’t get the memo about the male dwarf/zevran options.

    • Lilliput King says:

      As Psycho and Jim have said, Wulf is being fairly selective here.

      I’ll add an example – Sky from Jade Empire.

      But to be honest, this has all been said better in that post in the Writer Hive.

      http://rockpapershotgun.com/rpsforum/topic.php?id=1602

      I have some reservations, but I agree with one of his conclusions – the lack of any purely gay characters feels like an oversight, or possibly something more disturbing.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      The girl/girl romance options in ME2 seem to be scaled back from ME1 as well, and the number of options haven’t expanded like the hetero romance options have. I suspect it’s a step back from “controversial” romance options in general, given some of the silliness over ME1. A shame, particularly coming on the heels of the much more progressive Dragon Age.

      Oddly, interspecies erotica doesn’t seem to be problematic at all for them.

    • Jeremy says:

      I’m not sure that giving a girl a gift so she shows you her granny panties is “progressive.” I felt like the romances in Dragon Age were equally as awkward as in Mass Effect 1. It’s like they threw out all reason when creating a romantic option. Also… maybe this is just me, but it seems weird that the only way to have a relationship with someone in BioWare games is to sleep with them first, doesn’t seem very realistic to me.

      I know it’s not an easy task, but a bit more dynamic romance options would just make it all a lot more believable. Honestly, breaking down a relationship in steps can’t be that hard, but so far this is what I get from BioWare:

      1. Choose random girl (based, literally, on nothing)
      2. Ask her tons of unimportant questions and pretend to listen
      3. Give her gifts
      4. Always say “you’re great” or choose the top right answer
      5. Sex
      6. Hey, want to go out?

      I will only accept one, “That sounds about right! ROFLCOPTER11!2!”. But honestly, it’s a fairly pedestrian and juvenile way to show romance. There is absolutely no room in their minds that maybe the girl doesn’t like the main character? That would make for a more compelling romance option than what they throw at us. Every girl WILL sleep with you, given enough time and enough questions or gifts.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Every girl WILL sleep with you, given enough time and enough questions or gifts.

      I haven’t yet managed to get Wynne to get jiggy with it, but thanks for the words of support.

    • Nalano says:

      What a baffling series of turns this debate has gone down.

      “Bioware is homophobic!” Yeah, so long as you forget all the gay encounters available to you.
      “Bioware is misogynist!” Yeah, so long as you forget all the hetero encounters not available to you.

      The name of the game here is options. You’re a player and they encode a lot of options for your player to do, in the form of an RPG. You’re given a fairly wide selection of NPCs to engage in hetero and homosexual dalliances with, and they all fit in the main story along the lines of “it’s a stressful situation and you all might die tomorrow so you might as well.” You’re free to engage these options or not, according to your preference. Hell, Bioware has even added false positives, like your interactions with Mordin.

      You, as a player, have that option to decide whether or not your character is compatible with an NPC. If you’re lying through your teeth (or otherwise playing out-of-character) to “agree” with their opinions and be nice to them just to get into their pants, that’s on you, not them. Otherwise, you can certainly spoil romances in Bioware games: Morrigan pushes you away and dissociates sex from romance. Jacob can insist your relationship remain professional. Jack can hate your guts for approaching her in the wrong manner. Garrus thinks an interspecies romance is too awkward and doesn’t really find humans attractive anyway. It’s you who insists on pressing forward.

      So yes, the game remains relatively light-hearted when you in your bloody-mindedness insist on continued courtship because otherwise it would be a rape simulator. It’s a game, and a very well-done one, too.

    • Jeremy says:

      Liliput, you know what I’m sayin though, and Wynne would be a gross encounter anyway :)

      Nalano, I agree that it is all about options, it would just be interesting if sometime all of your efforts could fail. As it stands, if you keep pushing, they eventually just fall in love with you, so there’s no real risk v. rewards. It’s more a matter of just choosing which romance story you want to pursue. That’s not all bad either, so far I think ME2 has done a much better job of it than other games, but I know that in the end… I can get any relationship I want.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Take that back.

      She’s technically dead. I find that… erotic.

      Erm. Anyway. If we’re saying that of all the possible romance options, all that’s required of you is to do and say the right things, I guess that’s sort of the case, but it requires a bit of a stretch. If you handle actual events badly, you’ll shut doors. If you’re looking for a romance that can’t possibly succeed no matter what happens, I can see how the lack of one would be annoying.

      EDIT: Or are you saying it’s just all a bit too easy? It is, to be honest.

    • Manley Pointer says:

      The false positives in ME2 that Nalano points out really impressed me. The game actually does let you (as a male) make a pass at one female crew member who will reject you no matter what. Although it may seem weird to praise the game for this (“at last, women will reject me in video games too”), it was a cool thing for Bioware to do, and it shows that they didn’t make every character crazy about Shepard.

      There is also one semi-hidden romance option, open to both men and women, which is a really, really bad idea for players to pursue. (But again, it’s a funny/dark/great idea on Bioware’s part.)

      That said, it is shitty of Bioware to leave out a gay male romance option. There are certainly no male characters in the game who are sexualized to the level that, say, Miranda is. I don’t believe that designers should have to include 1 gay option for every straight one, or any restrictive BS like that. But Bioware have made sex a MAJOR part of their game, and when they allow the player to bang 8 different characters, they should probably throw in something for everybody.

      Also, someone should mention that, if you were in a relationship with Liara from ME1, you might consider not sexing anyone in ME2? Although, hilariously, the romance options (which might as well read “cheat on your girlfriend”) are almost always Paragon.

    • Jeremy says:

      Liliput, it was more a comment on just how easy it is to accomplish.

      *Spoiler Warning? Maybe?*

      On a related note, I unfortunately am going to cheat on Ashley… the strange thing is, I didn’t even know we were “together” until Mass Effect 2. “That night,” she referred to ended with me telling her to back off, so… it wasn’t really all that amazing. It’s gotta be easy to get in a relationship if you make no effort to be in one, and find yourself inextricably attached to a woman you found incredibly annoying, after rejecting her advances. It’s harder to go through the game unattached than anything else.

    • Nalano says:

      To disagree with the both of you, I don’t think Blizzard made sex a major part of the game at all. It can be totally bypassed, without any difficulty or loss in gameplay.

      The first two times I went through ME and ME2 I didn’t have a romance (I’ve since sat through the awkward encounters with Kaiden as well as Liara). I did Zevran in DA:O but I didn’t feel like I just fell into it. I didn’t romance anybody in NWN2 and while I explored the romance options in NWN I didn’t particularly think they were anything but a mildly interesting diversion. It’s the player that decides their level of interaction: You can force the issue and the game will let you because it’s a game. If you want to go through the whole game with just shotguns and force pull, you can do that too. It’s silly, but possible.

      Nor do I think you absolutely have to have at least one gay (or bi) man per game. When you have a cast of 12 (at the most generous end of the Bioware companion creep) shoehorning a “camp gay” just cries out at arbitrary contrivance. Bioware’s formulaic enough with their characterization. Now we’re just going down a list. Overbearing father? Check. Long-standing blood vendetta? Check. Token minority? Check (Check. Check. Check. Jeez, everybody’s their species’ sole representative on this damn ship). Token homosexual? Okay, we get the idea.

    • Nalano says:

      Miranda*

    • Jeremy says:

      @Nalano,
      I’m assuming you meant BioWare and not Blizzard.

      I agree on that “token” business… forcing a company to make certain decisions cheapens those decisions. Just because something is present in one game doesn’t mean it necessarily has to be present in another. Also, I recognize that you don’t have to be involved in romantic relationships, and it can be bypassed, but it was really hard to do in ME1. I literally have had 2 conversations with Ashley, 1 in each game, as follows:

      Mass Effect 1
      A: “Let’s have sex”
      S: “No”

      Mass Effect 2
      A: “I loved you, that night was amazing”
      S: “I never had feelings for you”

      So, now I’m a renegade pimp. I honestly did everything in my power to remain unattached, and that failed. Where did I go wrong? Did I accidentally say something nice and genuine to Ashley during one of our forced conversations? It doesn’t mean I love her.

    • simonkaye says:

      Well if ME2 mishandled anything, it’s in the romances. They were perhaps trying for a more natural or organic feeling than the sliding scales and clear indicators of DA:O, but in practice it just meant my poor character popping her head around ***’s door after every quest and getting (quite rudely, sometimes) rebuffed. Again and again.

      Bloody fantastic game overall, however. Completely addictive.

    • Nalano says:

      @Jeremy

      Did I say Blizzard? Whoops.

    • Manley Pointer says:

      @Nalano: Kelly flirts with you a lot, and drops fairly blunt hints about crewmembers who are romantically interested in Shepard. The in-game loading screen hints tell you to talk to Kelly to get valuable information about your crew. I think that shows Bioware pushing players toward getting involved with the crew. I don’t have statistics or anything, but I feel like most of the people I know who played the game (all guys) did wind up having sex with some member of the crew. You’re right that it’s optional, but it does result in unique dialogue and a unique cutscene, and Mordin comments on it. To me, it just seemed like Bioware put enough work into it that they probably expected players to pursue the romance options they provided. Obviously, there’s no “correct” way to play the game. (Unless Shepard dies, in which case you did screw up pretty hard.)

      I guess I don’t want to seem like I’m demanding a token gay male character. You’re right that they shouldn’t have to provide one. But the omission of any prominent gay male character in either of the ME games is striking. I don’t think it’s that big a deal, but you notice the absence.

      I have a nagging sort of conspiracy theory about the little ways they marginalize homosexuality in ME. I think on some level this is probably a real concern for them. EA marketing always seems to use the male Shepard as the face of Mass Effect in their promotional videos. As a consequence, most people don’t regard the female Shepard as the “default” Shepard (which leads to irritating forum commenters calling her “femshep” instead of just Shepard). Female Shepard is allowed to have hetero or homosexual relationships; male Shepard always has to be straight. I think that marketing people at EA or Bioware would be very upset if clips of the male Shepard making out with some dude in-game were featured on American late-night comedy shows, as clips of Zevran in DA:O were. Male Shepard is the face of their brand, and they don’t want to undercut his badass image (the mainstream appeal they have tried so hard to build in ME2) by allowing him to be gay or bi.

      So I’m sorry I seem to be advocating tokenism. I’m just a bit suspicious of the lack of male homosexuality in ME.

    • Lilliput King says:

      @Jeremy, sorta
      (spoilers)

      I told her to get her slutty arse out of my quarters in ME1 too, but she didn’t tell me she enjoyed the experience in ME2. In fact, she shouted vagueries at me for about 10 seconds then wandered off.

      Seems weird she would mention being so happy to be rejected by you and not me, Jeremy. Maybe because my Shepard looks like a cross between Leonidas and a cheerful dog.

      Also, what were everyone elses sex scenes like, if they wouldn’t mind summarising them? From my experience, Tali’s was about 4 seconds long, with no actual sexyness taking place. Pretty tasteful, really. I’m just wondering if maybe they’ve (wisely) dialled it back a bit from DAO’s inadvisable and terrifying doll house dry hump or ME’s media-courting side-boob.

    • Nalano says:

      Well, Manley, ten years ago we wouldn’t even be having this conversation at all concerning depiction of homosexuality in computer games. That said, I still think your conspiracy theory is just that, considering Bioware was nice enough to give us just such an option in Dragon Age and Jade Empire – and not made a big deal out of it. I think if Rockstar did that with GTA4, we’d have riots in the (suburban) streets.

      Now, I know the yeoman is very touchy-feely and empathetic (some people would say omnisexual), but my femshep was not hit on. At all. In fact, it was very easy to miss that there were anyromantic options (and I plumbed my crew all about their backgrounds and made Jacob very uncomfortable in the process), so maybe it’s just the male shep that gets the harem treatment. I wouldn’t know; I can’t stand his voice.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      @Jeremy

      Sure, the sex and relationships in Bioware games are pretty awkward and juvenile. However, the fact is Dragon Age made it an option for two dudes to fuck. Within the context of video games and gamer culture, that’s huge. You aren’t wrong to point out how silly Bioware’s romance subplots are, but I think it’s a mistake to dismiss them without considering them in context. Compared to pretty much every other video game ever made, it’s enormously progressive.

    • simonkaye says:

      Yeah. Lesbianism has *cough* penetrated mass culture to the point of acceptability (thanks to the common male sexual fantasy) in a way that male homosexuality hasn’t. Perhaps because it fails to be particularly titillating for women and, in this case, even if it was a turn on, there isn’t enough of a female (or gay) audience for videogames to make its inclusion a market advantage. The upshot is that if there’s going to be sex, someone has got to have boobs.

      I suppose the point is that Bioware is not alone in the world for failing to provide for gay romance in any of its games. It’s a phenomenon in every level of media, and readily explained by the nature of contemporary culture and the market. I rather think that the likes of DA:O should be applauded for putting in the option of a homosexual relationship.

    • Jeremy says:

      @invisible,

      I think I must have clearly missed your point the first time around :) Thought you were referring to the process of romance, not the breadth of options.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      @Jeremy: Yep, that’s what I was getting at. The actual romance subplots themselves, enh. They’re entertaining enough, but yeah, nothing particularly progressive there.

      @Manley: “I guess I don’t want to seem like I’m demanding a token gay male character. You’re right that they shouldn’t have to provide one. But the omission of any prominent gay male character in either of the ME games is striking. I don’t think it’s that big a deal, but you notice the absence.”

      I was thinking about that a bit, when DAO was coming out I’d mistakenly thought that every character (other than Shale and the dog, obviously) could be romanced by either gender. The more I think about it the more I think that’d be a great approach for a “no canon” game like ME; Shepard’s a redheaded gal in my game, in some other people’s games Shep’s a guy with a buzzcut and chin scruff. So why not take a similar approach to characters’ sexuality? In my game maybe Garrus is straight, or maybe we never find out. In someone else’s game maybe he’s gay. Why not? Individual playthroughs are already so different from each other anyway, I don’t see any good reason to say characters’ orientations must be set in stone.

      That said, the reason why not is probably that they really want to avoid another media fuss. Stupid, but if I had to guess I’d say that’s where their thinking is at.

    • Manley Pointer says:

      @Lilliput: I think the sex scenes are actually among the least laughable (which does not mean good) that Bioware has made; that said, all the ones I saw were pretty tame. As in, significantly tamer than sex scenes you often see on network TV. Miranda shows you her bra, that’s the only one I saw besides Tali. It is pretty brief.

      @Nalano: The issue for me is that I thing Bioware is shying away from controversy, because they’ve gotten used to seeing clips from their games used out of context. With ME2, their marketing people stated outright that they were targeting a new audience of “FPS gamers” who hadn’t played ME1, and liked games like Gears of War and Modern Warfare 2. The FPS audience, at least in America, is more aggressively homophobic than any other segment of the gaming population I know of — just look at the “F.A.G.S.” video released by Infinity Ward themselves, or play any Xbox shooter online with voice chat on. ME2 is explicitly geared toward that audience, and it lacks the male homosexual options found in other Bioware RPGs.

      I don’t think that’s a coincidence, because they WOULD have lost sales with the Gears crowd if ME2 was known as “a game where you can have sex with men,” the way that DA:O was portrayed in the American media. It’s not like I know this for certain; maybe those MW2 players who scream at the “faggots” on their team would have no problem buying a game with male homosexual options. But I doubt it. I’m guessing that when your marketing team is actively courting (hah) male FPS gamers, looking gay is bad publicity. Anything other than “macho dude with gun” is a risk — and that’s also why they don’t put the female Shepard on the cover, or into the trailers.

    • Lilliput King says:

      I’ve invested some thought in this, and I can’t really see what form a ‘good’ sex scene in a game would take. I remain utterly unconvinced they’re necessary, even given the existence of romance subplots. At least, for the forseeable future, until graphics at long last clamber onto the other peak of the uncanny valley.

      I’d like to think the gay scene in DAO was ridiculed because it was so awfully done, and not, in actual fact, because it featured two men.

      I’d like to think that. As it is, I’m fairly certain you’re right. Bioware kowtowing to audience demand is a little dissapointing, but predictable.

  32. Pepelusky says:

    I’m not playing it because i’m at Oblivion.

  33. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    I might consider competing (although I certainly wouldn’t win), but I haven’t played Mas Effect.. which I would want to do prior to playing ME2. That, and I’m *gasp* playing EVE (trial). I’m suprised at myself, too.

  34. LimeWarrior says:

    Damn me for living in the states. I thought you could save me. I’m stuck playing my room mates’ copy on his XBOX360… I know. Damn.

  35. Enshu says:

    I’m in doubts. I’ve played the 1st one a bit, then walked away, then I came back – and here is the 2nd part. I can’t decide whether to finish the previous game or dabble with the latter. Will I have to explore sterile future locations? Does everyone wear second-skin-like suits? Are all the aliens around exceptionally anthropomorhic? Is there still “I will destroy you” enemy battle shout?
    Then again, nothing original comes from mainstream studios, so, I guess, I’ll give this game a try.

  36. BooleanBob says:

    Unrelated, but man, I really like this screenshot. A good 90% of photographs of humans catch them looking completely ridiculous (see: facebook, any photo of me ever). Not enough games reflect/allow for this.

  37. Dominic White says:

    I gotta say good luck to whoever wins this compo. I was no huge fan of the original Mass Effect (it had a great setting, but the gameplay was very half-baked, and there was way too much padding and not enough core content), but the sequel absolutely blows it out of the water. Every gripe I had about the original addressed in full. I also did maybe 3 sidequests total the entire game and it still took me 28 hours to beat on my first run. Given that the combat is pretty much pure shooter gameplay now, that makes it easly 2-3x as long as your average shooter, wrapped up in a whole lot of RPG exploration and character-building.

    It’s a great game. I really liked Dragon Age, but I don’t see myself replaying it until the big expansion is out. I’m deliberately trying to hold out on replaying ME2 on a higher difficulty setting for a few weeks, so that they can add (via free DLC – they’re releasing the stuff that wasn’t done in time for the gold master for free) the 12th recruitable character and a hovertank to shoot stuff with.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Dominic

      (via free DLC – they’re releasing the stuff that wasn’t done in time for the gold master for free)

      Wow. Way to completely show up virtually every other AAA PC game maker in the business right now, Bioware. Well done. I was going to wait for a price drop, but if they actually do that it might engender enough good will to make me buy the thing right now.

    • Dominic White says:

      They’re going to have paid DLC later on (I recall reading that they’re going to be adding some post-plot content eventually, which should be interesting), but the stuff released in the first couple of months via the Cerberus Network panel is free. Well, free, so long as you buy the game first-hand, kinda like how they used Shale as anti-piracy protection in Dragon Age.

      The first thing they released was a new recruitable character, Zaeed, an old, scarred British mercenary with a ton of war stories and a full-length loyalty mission associated with him. There’s another character/mission on the way, and while the Mako didn’t make it into ME2, they’re bringing in a new hovertank in a few weeks, along with places to drive it. I think there’s some other bits on top of that.

    • Manley Pointer says:

      I really hope the upcoming stuff is good, but I’ve been burned by DLC so many times before. Zaeed didn’t seem to add nearly as much to ME2 as Shale added to DAO, but hopefully DLC in the near future will make up for it.

      Zaeed’s mission is alright and all, but I was immensely disappointed when I found out you could barely interact with him. Unlike EVERY other member of your team, you can’t choose what to say to him back on the ship — you just click on him, then he spews a few stories about his past, which you cannot react to. No conversation, no Paragon/Renegade options, no immersion. Did they fail to get VO from Jennifer Hale and Mark Meer reacting to Zaeed? You can’t take freaking Shepard out of Mass Effect and pretend it’s the same game.

      I’m really sick of DLC that fails to meet the standards (and in Zaeed’s case, even the basic conventions) of the original title.

    • Nalano says:

      Burned by free DLC?

      I dunno. I look at it this way: If it’s free, it’s a content patch. If it costs money but doesn’t have the content of a full add-on, it’s DLC. I hate DLC. It’s almost always an hour’s worth of diversion that rewards you with one or two game-breakingly overpowered artifacts for way too much money. I used to think it was merely something Bethesda did but then DA:O came out and Bioware… you hurt me, Bioware.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, the only reason Shale was so fantastically integrated with the game is because he was literally removed from the game at the last moment and given to first-hand customers as an anti-piracy incentive. It’s a somewhat different situation to what we’ve got here, where they’re polishing up the unfinished elements that they’d have otherwise left on the cutting room floor, and giving them away as free bonuses.

      Zaeed is just an extra character with a cool mission. There’s no traditional dialogue with him, but he still has a LOT to say – in fact, he has a war story for every single mission you go on, plus fairly lengthy talks about his old favourite rifle and a model ship he keeps in his room, which you can ask him about by targetting them.

      Really can’t complain about that. And his mission is very fun – I found a flamethrower in there as well, which was my go-to heavy weapon for my first run.

    • Jeremy says:

      I actually really like Zaeed, kind of an interesting, seen the world kind of a character.

      It’s not entirely true about Shale… BioWare hit a point where they had to lock down the code and had previously removed Shale, so then they added him back in for a later date. Maybe it was a conspiracy, but they didn’t really have a reason to lie about it.

  38. Thirith says:

    What the f*** happened to Switzerland? I know we’re a bunch of stand-offish, opportunist, fairly xenophobic cheese-eaters, but we’re in Europe! At least in geographic terms!

    Bah… I’ll go back to my… my… banks and cuckoo clocks now!

  39. the_dancing_spy says:

    Do you think I should play the first one before buying and playing the second one? I’m not if I can be bothered, but don’t want to miss out on story choices and have Bioware decide I was a complete and utter prick for me.

    • Dominic White says:

      If you can get the first game cheap, go for it. It’s not a *bad* game. Just not a particularly great one. It does set the groundwork for the sequel, and there’s a genuinely surprising number of decisions you can make in the first game that, while not wildly changing anything, do continue to have knock-on effects in the second, and a few that apparently will have big results in the third.

      You really won’t be able to go back to ME1 after playing ME2, though. The improvements made are enormous.

  40. Finn says:

    @the_dancing_spy: you don’t need to do it, at the beginning of ME2 you have a “situation” where you can define, very generally, how you behaved in the past; how your character turns out, Rebel or Paragon (aka Most Badass of the Universe or Mr Holy Paladin of Holiness in Space) is up to your actions in ME2.

    Having went back to DA:O I can say I miss ME2′s combat, even if “simpler”, and characterization. Man, one of my top five games, no doubt about it.

  41. simonkaye says:

    By the way, did everyone enjoy all the cameos from DA:O voice actors while visiting the (mild spoilz) migrant fleet? I picked out Claudia Black and Tim Curry, just for a start.

    • Manley Pointer says:

      @simonkaye: That cracked me up. Not sure how many of the voices are actually from DAO, and how many are just people who sound like them. Claudia Black and Simon Templeman (Loghain) are confirmed on IMDB, but I’m interested to know if any others are confirmed anywhere?

  42. jsutcliffe says:

    Anonymous Coward said:
    By the way, did everyone enjoy all the cameos from DA:O voice actors while visiting the (mild spoilz) migrant fleet? I picked out Claudia Black and Tim Curry, just for a start.

    Hmm, I did not notice Tim Curry, but I did wonder why Loghain was being nice to me. I’d like to think it’s because I declined to kill him in DA:O and that Bioware are keeping track of player decisions across all their games.

    Then again, perhaps it is tinfoil hat time. ;)

  43. James G says:

    Oh dear.

    I had assumed that some of the discussion of the possible reaction to a gay male Shepard was overly cynical. A homophobic minority would be bothered surely, most people must be beyond that now.

    Bloody backpacks.

    http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/103/index/905060

    Seriously, what the hell is wrong with people. (I didn’t go past page one, I wanted to retain some faith in humanity. I’m assuming the reason previous threads got locked was probably down to the influx of bigoted arse-holes, not the topic starters.)

    On the plus side, the calls for gay relationships seemed to be fairly positive on the DA:O forums, at least until the marketing started, at which point I stopped paying attention to them. When I did check them a few times after release it seemed that the IQ had dropped to usual gaming forum levels, so no idea what kind of reaction there was then.

  44. BAReFOOt says:

    I still think, DDE stands for “Dance Dance Evolution”! ^^

  45. CdrJameson says:

    Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrresults!

    Please. I’d like to see the funny.

  46. Surgeon says:

    Anyone heard whether or not they’ve won yet?

  47. Alec Meer says:

    Winners have already been notified, peoplepersons. They were selected purely at random, so there isn’t a post’s worth of funny to do this time.

    The lucky names are Lukas Kreig, Cesar Alves, Michael Coulthurst, Henrik Ronnholm and Nikolai Newers.

    • Drexer says:

      I would sincerely like you to transmit my happiness to your random winner selector. Please give him a hug from me.

  48. Surgeon says:

    Oh well, it was worth a shot.
    Congrats to the winners!

    Here’s my Rock, Paper, Shotgun monster, if anyone fancies a butchers :)

    http://www.craig-lea.co.uk/Pics/Rock%20Paper%20Shotgun%20Monster.jpg