Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 2 Updated Hands On Preview - The Start of Something Special
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I’ve literally ummm’d and ahhhh’d over how I was going to approach this preview for well over a week now. I was stuck in two minds. Having played the first hour or so of Mass Effect 2, do I a.) Give a detailed account of the first hour of the game with spoilers and everything; or do I b.) Limit the preview to generalities, talking more about some of the cool new stuff we noticed and leaving out the plot spoilerific moments. Being in a festive mood, I went with the latter.

In what was possibly my fourth hands on preview of BioWare and EA’s Mass Effect 2 – Is it 4? One, two, three, yes, four – we were thrust right into the very beginning of the game. If you’ve not played, or you’ve even forgot the events of the original, the opening sequence is a Star Wars-esque scrolling text recap, detailing all the main story points from the original and anything that should be noteworthy. If you’ve not played it, BioWare has set the path. If you’re importing a save, you’ll be reading about your decisions from the original here. The first 10-15 minutes is a rollercoaster ride as it looks to offer a segue between the two titles and introduce Mass Effect 2 and its new characters. What happens though, well, you’ll have to pick up the game for that one because we’d hate to spoil a few of the intro’s surprises; BioWare did enough of that at E3 this year. We won’t spoil the rest.

After the action packed opening cinematic (all in-game engine), it’s time for you to step up to the plate. For those worrying that they had chosen the wrong class in the original and still wanted to import their save, fear not, Mass Effect 2 Producer, Adrien Cho, stated that the ability to change classes between titles was a recent addition. If you're importing, the ability to re-customise your experience doesn’t stop there either and you can choose to change the appearance of your character as well. We went with the standard-stock Shepard and didn’t have chance to try out the character builder, but we hope it’s a ton better than Mass Effect 1’s “everyone’s ugly” tool. Whatever you decide to do, everything is tied in brilliantly with the story and the immersion isn’t broken just so players can re-customise their experience in the sequel. Players who import their high character level saves as well will receive an in-game reward and although Cho wasn’t specific, he did hint that it would be XP related.

The opening few scenes after all the spoilerific moments see Shepard on a Cerberus ship of some kind. Here you’ll be run through such things like the cover mechanics, the use of medi-gel, the ammo system and more. Whilst the opening “training” mission in the original saw you shooting weird floating creatures on Eden Prime, this time the combat is a little more two-way – presumerably to place more emphasis on the location based damage. There was one little gem that I was largely unaware of that this opening section educated me on, and that’s the new way BioWare have delivered another aspect of character customisation, this time in the clothing department.

Unlike the original, Mass Effect 2 doesn’t restrict your outfit choices in terms of armour to all-in-one ensembles. You now have the ability to pretty much create your own combat set-up. You can choose what gloves you wear, whether you’re always wearing a helmet, what greaves go with the armour and more. Furthermore you can choose your casual outfits as well and these are outfits that you’ll wear on the numerous space stations you’ll set foot on, as well as the Normandy. Speaking of space stations, I was eager to ask Cho whether the Citidel would return and if so, what can we expect to see after Sovereign ripped through it. According to Cho the Citidel does make a triumphant return, but following the “dark second act” theme that BioWare are keen to push, it’ll be a different side of it we see. Whether old areas will return remains to be seen, but we’re told there will be plenty of new areas to explore.

Throughout the first few hours of the game you’ll meet a few key players from the story’s plot; the Cerberus operatives, Miranda – who is charming, cool and sophisticated – and Jacob – who seems to be an honest, down to earth kind of guy – play the biggest roles. Their first point of call is to arrange a meet for you with Cerberus’ top dog, the Illusive Man, so he can enlist you and set you off on this much publicised suicide mission. In the hands on period we not only got chance to become acquaintances with the Cerberus operatives and Martin Sheen’s Illusive Man, but we also met an old friend, Tali, the quarian from the original. That’s about as much as I’m going to talk about as far as plot and characters go; the rest is a journey of self-discovery for you. If there is one thing that I feel inclined to say, it’s that the dialogue sections with these characters are on a similar level, if not better, than the original, which is a win in our books.

In our last preview I expressed my concern over Shepard’s new cocky, in-your-face demeanour on Omega, however, I can safely say that those concerns were put at ease after watching Shepard wrap the supporting cast around his little finger with his calming influence. The first hour alone houses a few plot twists and you have to wonder what the rest of the game will be like, and whether they can keep this pace up. Sure, the gameplay might not be as frantic as the rest of the game in the opening hour, as it mostly introduces the controls to new players and the new mechanics to all, but the plot does not disappoint.

For those worrying that Mass Effect was heading down the shooter avenue to cater for the vast hardcore shooter market, should be relieved to hear that isn’t the case. The shooting mechanics are still top draw but after having the chance to soak in a bit of the story and atmosphere, it’s plain to see that the RPG and story aspect of Mass Effect 2 is set to deliver in spades. The new characters – especially Miranda, Jacob and the Illusive Man – are fantastic additions to the universe and we’re excited to see where the Cerberus and Shepard relationship is heading. We’ve pretty much exhausted every aspect of the game in our hands-on previews to date, but despite all that, we feel like we’ve still not scratched the surface in terms of plot, locations and uncharted worlds yet... which is nothing but a good thing.

Mass Effect 2 is out January 26th and January 29th in North America and Europe respectively.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 231
Comment #1 by Infomouse
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 10:18:28 AM
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Sounds really awesome but i can't wait another month...

Forum Posts: 87
Comment #2 by zr122
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 10:20:54 AM
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Damn it, but this game is going to rule my life after it comes out, just like Assassin's Creed II did. I just hope my wife doesn't take it too personally.

Forum Posts: 118
Comment #3 by GamingDude
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 10:21:58 AM
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Awesome i loved the first im hoping this will be even better

Forum Posts: 119
Comment #4 by Pedro7_2000
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 10:23:50 AM
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Webb, that's a pretty good Preview (meaning not too many spoilers). I HATE thanks for a good account of what to expect without telling us everything. I'm def stoked for this game!!!

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #5 by mase111
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 10:24:47 AM
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Gonna be epic!

Forum Posts: 151
Comment #6 by Flapjack Ninja
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 10:35:29 AM
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I need this more than i need a woman!

Forum Posts: 11
Comment #7 by Silent Chaos
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 10:43:14 AM
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I really don't know if I can wait another whole month before I can play this...

Forum Posts: 1299
Comment #8 by Chuppernicus
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 10:43:40 AM
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Thanks for no spoilers.

I'm trying to keep my hopes at an even keel for this game but I keep hearing too many good things. I loved the first despite it's few flaws. To think, launch day is just around the corner.

Ah Good times.

Forum Posts: 63
Comment #9 by SoulReaver626
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 10:50:33 AM
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I cannot get enough info on this game!X360A has had me glued to the daily posts because ti just keeps giving out all the juicy details!Keep it up!

Forum Posts: 1207
Comment #10 by Sirius
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 11:00:13 AM
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Thanks for no spoilers, Webb. Your coverage of ME2 has been great, and all I can say is that it's looking like we have our first AAA title of 2010.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #11 by MonoNoob
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 11:02:48 AM
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@6 ditto

Forum Posts: 536
Comment #12 by StephenJ360
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 11:09:49 AM
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I wanted spoilers! It's only the first hour, it's not gonna ruin my life! Haha, man I'm taking any little piece of info I can about this game.

Forum Posts: 375
Comment #13 by X Bob0907 X
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 11:23:17 AM
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This game is looking so good!! AHHH i cant wait any longer!!

Forum Posts: 28
Comment #14 by Mudkipzzzz
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 11:45:44 AM
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Glad you went down the no spoilers route. GOTY?

Forum Posts: 167
Comment #15 by The Globalizer
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 12:09:41 PM
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Most anticipated game...ever.

Forum Posts: 271
Comment #16 by macd
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 12:56:21 PM
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I too, am glad you went no spoilers.

I can't wait for ME2.

Forum Posts: 12
Comment #17 by DEMON13B
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 01:07:26 PM
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keep the info coming,even though its making the time go slower till release....

Forum Posts: 89
Comment #18 by strawberry
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 01:13:54 PM
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I am going to need another pair of pants... because I just jizzed in these ones

Forum Posts: 305
Comment #19 by Will Daniels
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 02:06:13 PM
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Dan, thank you for the update on ME2. It sounds like my fears for this one were unjustified. I would have played it anyways though :)

Forum Posts: 1593
Comment #20 by H0p3sfalL
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 03:05:20 PM
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when can we see the achievement list !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Forum Posts: 170
Comment #21 by Delta V1p3r
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 03:43:40 PM
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man, this is shaping up to be THE sequel in terms of games this year! I'm itching to play this one more than Bioshock 2 even, and I loved that game! Can't wait! Seriously cannot wait for this one to see what impact my decisions have on the universe.

Forum Posts: 14797
Comment #23 by Webb [STAFF]
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 03:53:04 PM
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@#20 - Probably after Xmas now =O

Forum Posts: 107
Comment #24 by Gilganomics
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 04:43:45 PM
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Every other journalist's "first hour of gameplay" preview I've read in recent memory (dragon age comes to mind) has done the exact opposite of what you did here: considerate and cautious writing, but still entertaining and informative as always.

I love this site.

Forum Posts: 433
Comment #25 by M1keX
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 05:13:54 PM
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Can anyone help me out in terms of chacter transfer ?

I want to know how it'll work cause i started again with my level 60 toon (my main one) so i'm bk on edan prime, now do i have to complete it all again to have my actions show up in ME 2 or what ?

Cheers for any info guys :D

Forum Posts: 14797
Comment #26 by Webb [STAFF]
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 05:23:00 PM
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@#25 - Well the rule of thumb is if you have multiple playthroughs on one memory profile (using the new game +), the latest game is what carries across (or so I've been told, it was a few months back now though). To me, I would assume that once you start, you have to finish. A total assumption of course, but I'd hazard a guess at that.

Forum Posts: 987
Comment #27 by Devil Sora
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 06:11:41 PM
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AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! I litterally feel weak after reading the 4 page spread in GI and now this. . . I want this game so badlly. . . .

and the newest announcment from Bioware. . . . MULTIPLAYER!!!!!!

Forum Posts: 433
Comment #28 by M1keX
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 07:05:26 PM
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Cheers webb i was thinking along the same lines or that they go the Knights of the Old republic 2 path where u told atton if raven was a male/female, good/evil etc like maybe did wrex die yes/no, did the concil live etc etc but oh well gives me a reason to play through mass effect again :D

Forum Posts: 5083
Comment #29 by Skillet
Thursday, December 17, 2009 @ 09:10:53 PM
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lol male Quarian...

Forum Posts: 195
Comment #30 by Boylin
Friday, December 18, 2009 @ 01:58:32 AM
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@25 - It creates a special separate save file when you complete the game, so you should just be ale to load the latest one of those up

Forum Posts: 56
Comment #31 by KyleStewart84
Friday, December 18, 2009 @ 08:00:20 AM
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it looks good, and im ready for the new story. So, bring it on :).

Forum Posts: 1593
Comment #32 by H0p3sfalL
Friday, December 18, 2009 @ 09:16:23 AM
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Thanks for the response webb. Another question....... in the latest game informer(with Dead Space 2 in the cover) on the monthly preview for jan, it shows a picture of shepeard i think looking at himself or talking to somebody with a nasty scar on his face and demon red eyes. Any comment ?

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #33 by devilkid7
Friday, December 18, 2009 @ 09:40:10 AM
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best game ever its gonna be the best i hope theres gonna be good archievments

Forum Posts: 14797
Comment #34 by Webb [STAFF]
Friday, December 18, 2009 @ 11:02:18 PM
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@#32 - I'm not entirely sure, my understanding is that something happens in the game for that to happen. You can get it removed and such though on the black market. This is all hearsay though. I can't confirm anything 100% unfortunately.

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #35 by bigorangeone
Saturday, December 19, 2009 @ 10:58:41 AM
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Man oh man I cannot wait for this to come out....sounds like Bioware has another great one on their hands.

Forum Posts: 10
Comment #36 by MarK SlamS
Saturday, December 19, 2009 @ 01:46:43 PM
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I just want to know what the hell is up with that pyramid on that one uncharted planet.

Forum Posts: 195
Comment #37 by Boylin
Monday, December 21, 2009 @ 02:46:30 AM
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@36 - If you're talking about the first one then there are at least 3 pyramids, maybe more I never found

Forum Posts: 211
Comment #38 by Munkeh111
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 05:29:19 PM
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Looks nice, though I must say I don't see the appeal of the dark second act... I prefer a happier 2nd act

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #39 by Acid Mother
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 01:17:25 PM
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38 why would they lighten up on the story for the second, it would just make the 3rd pointless?

Forum Posts: 1005
Comment #40 by Magicman10893
Saturday, January 02, 2010 @ 09:04:18 AM
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Is it wrong that a game that hasn't come out has given me a bigger boner than any women I have ever seen on this entire planet. Except maybe that one blond from high school

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #41 by SupaHeroes
Saturday, January 02, 2010 @ 02:28:03 PM
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Forum Posts: 5
Comment #42 by tazaf
Wednesday, January 06, 2010 @ 06:38:57 AM
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Gah ! I just can't wait 'till January 29th >_< !

Forum Posts: 9
Comment #43 by Kontonno
Thursday, January 07, 2010 @ 01:33:56 AM
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Forum Posts: 0
Comment #44 by CoolNova
Saturday, January 09, 2010 @ 02:38:47 PM
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Loved the first game, can't wait for the next installment. Great review, thanks for no spoilers

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Game Info
Electronic Arts


US January 26, 2010
Europe January 29, 2010

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