Mass Effect 2 Updated Hands On Preview - The Start of Something Special
Written Thursday, December 17, 2009 By Dan WebbView author's profile
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.
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.
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.