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Mass Effect 2 - All News

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Box Art

Monday - June 02, 2014

Mass Effect 2 - Retrospective @ EuroGamer

by Myrthos, 12:44

EuroGamer goes back in time with Mass Effect 2, finding it one of Bioware's better games.

"Character is plot, plot is character," said F Scott Fitzgerald, though it's a guideline to which very few games adhere. Usually they focus on plot, either by metering it out as a series of objectives for the player to follow, or by cutting it up, mixing up the pieces and letting the player pick a handful out of a bag. Character, if it happens at all, does so somewhere down the line.

Even the mighty Mass Effect fell into this trap. Its story is all Spectres and Geth, Rachni and Thorians. It focuses on establishing a universe, and does so by laying out a complex and sometimes overwhelming buffet of lore. "The devs can't help letting you gorge on it - to a fault," wrote Tom Bramwell in his retrospective of the original. In this vast milieu of races, cultures, and organisations all at the mercy of some galaxy-eating threat, individuals got a little lost, and the game ended up feeling somewhat cold.

Mass Effect 2 changes all that. With the series' major mystery - the existence of the Reapers - unveiled in the first game, BioWare needed to find a new way to invest the player. So Mass Effect 2 strips back much of what slowed the first game down, and in doing so exposes the pink and tender flesh of character hidden amid all that lore.

Friday - February 21, 2014

Mass Effect 2 - Editorial @ Unreality

by Couchpotato, 04:19

Unreality has a new article for Mass Effect 2 about the games voice actors.

When I tentatively expressed my less-than-stellar assessment of Mass Efffect 1, citing such issues as “it’s pretty odd that every planet in the galaxy uses the same building contractor” and “did they prank the male Shepard voice actor and tell him that the big twist of the series is that Shepard is actually a robot, and that’s why he says his lines like that?” the Unreality faithful almost universally told me two things:

Stick it out to ME2, and play the female main character.  Well, strap in and prepare for 2,000 words of unadulterated joy, because you folks hit the nail squarely on the head.  Turns out I haven’t lost my love for video games after all; in fact I think I just played once of the best I’ve ever seen.

When I tentatively expressed my less-than-stellar assessment of Mass Efffect 1, citing such issues as “it’s pretty odd that every planet in the galaxy uses the same building contractor” and “did they prank the male Shepard voice actor and tell him that the big twist of the series is that Shepard is actually a robot, and that’s why he says his lines like that?” the Unreality faithful almost universally told me two things:

Stick it out to ME2, and play the female main character.  Well, strap in and prepare for 2,000 words of unadulterated joy, because you folks hit the nail squarely on the head.  Turns out I haven’t lost my love for video games after all; in fact I think I just played once of the best I’ve ever seen.


Read more at http://unrealitymag.com/index.php/2014/02/13/mass-effect-2-you-had-me-at-martin-sheen-2/#aR3J4gkzqrezdCtQ.99

Tuesday - August 20, 2013

Mass Effect 2 - Sequel Slump @ RPGamer

by Couchpotato, 00:51

RPGamer's Scott 'Fowl Sorcerous' Wachter has written a new editorial about Mass Effect 2, and the slump of sequels. The article will contain spoilers so you have been warned.

For the second venture out into the public, the Mass Effect franchise did some wonderful things, it presented the a new perspective on the setting and a group of and a ensemble cast that BioWare has yet to top. However, it also has a mess of a plot, wrapped in streamlined gameplay improvements that files unique shapes off the original game in a way that few people really noticed it. The game looks and feels so much better than the first time around. And with so much of the story content falling right into BioWare's wheelhouse it can be easy to overlook a few holes. It's not that game is bad per se; just that it's less than it ought to be.

Saturday - April 20, 2013

Mass Effect 2 - The Indie Gala Mass Effect Bundle Launches

by Couchpotato, 10:02

A new Indie Gala Bundle has launched giving you access to eight games with two more unlocking in the second week of the Gala. Indie Gala have named this one the 'Mass Effect Bundle' due to the inclusion of Mass Effect 2.

Monday - March 05, 2012

Mass Effect 2 - Why the Final Boss Sucked (and Why It Doesn't Matter)

by Dhruin, 20:50

1Up's The Grind discusses the final boss in Mass Effect 2 - why it sucked - but why it doesn't matter:

About the best thing you can say for the baby Reaper is that it wasn't as disgraceful as the baby Alien from Alien: Resurrection. Yes, both creatures were grotesque fusions of human and eldritch alien killing machine that served as foul effigies of mankind, but at least the Reaper didn't call Shepard "mama" and single-handedly undermine the ineffable horror of one of cinema's most iconic monsters. Small favors and all that.

In light of how absolutely tepid its final boss encounter turned out to be, that fact that it ultimately didn't ruin the game speaks a lot for ME2's quality. Although the boss itself made a poor climax for a mission around which the entire game was structured, the reward was in the mission itself. By focusing on the dynamics of the team the player had assembled and strengthened over the course of 30-40 hours of play, the final battle made use of the full RPG party in a way no other role-playing game has ever accomplished. ME2's final assault on the Reaper base drew obvious inspiration from The Dirty Dozen, but it reworked that concept into something wholly unique and intensely satisfying. Only players who had taken the time to invest themselves into their team and come to know their comrades' capabilities could survive the final encounter, let alone hope to come home with no casualties.

Saturday - April 02, 2011

Mass Effect 2 - Arrival Review @ Eurogamer

by Dhruin, 00:14

Harsh words from Eurogamer as they hand down a 5/10 for Mass Effect 2: Arrival.

From a title that openly suggests we'll witness the start of the Reaper invasion to the way screenshots have been doled out in teasing chunks, BioWare has certainly played up to the assumption that this is the first step towards Mass Effect 3. The stage is set for flips and somersaults.

Shame Arrival lands flat on its face.

The impact wouldn't sting quite so much if this DLC wasn't following Lair of the Shadow Broker. That was a fantastically paced and self-contained miniature adventure which showed just how these optional chapters can be compelling in their own right, while enhancing and enriching the larger story.

In contrast, Arrival harks back to the drab Bring Down The Sky, the solitary narrative add-on for the original game, with echoes of Dragon Age: Origins' weaker DLC offerings to boot.

Thursday - March 31, 2011

Mass Effect 2 - Arrival Review @ AtomicGamer

by Dhruin, 22:12

There's an Arrival review at AtomicGamer and, like the first one we saw at Joystiq, they feel lukewarm about the result. The score is 6/10 and here's a snip:

As a way to get us excited for Mass Effect 3, there are some moments in "Arrival" that really work, but for the most part, the hour-plus that you'll get out of this will be decent at best. Simply put, it won't be nearly at the standard set by the original game or even the "Overlord" or the fantastic "Lair of the Shadow Broker" DLC addons. Unless you're going for a serious completionist run for your Shepard leading into the third game, I can't recommend you drop the ten bucks for this add-on. I don't think that this DLC's partial failure is necessarily a bad sign for the third game, but it seems clear that all the new ideas and original content are going into ME3 rather than something like "Arrival".

Source: Blues News

Tuesday - March 29, 2011

Mass Effect 2 - Arrival Review @ Joystiq

by Dhruin, 23:25

Joystiq has posted a review of the new Mass Effect 2 DLC, Arrival. They weren't particularly impressed, suggesting you only buy it on discount:

I'll stop the story revelations there, because frankly, story's about all "Arrival" has going for it. There's one new (boring) character, a single (less boring) new environment and an A-to-B murderfest with some cursory button pushing interspersed.

No vehicles, no new gameplay concepts, no real interesting decisions. And get this: It's a solo mission, which of course means no new interactions with your beloved crew (assuming you, you know, have kept them alive).

In other news, Arrival has been officially released:

Mass Effect Arrival, the final DLC for Mass Effect 2, is now available for the PC and Xbox 360. It will be available later today for the Playstation 3.

A deep cover agent is missing in Batarian space, after reporting evidence of an imminent Reaper invasion. Shepard must travel to the edge of the galaxy, rescue the agent, and discover the truth behind the Arrival.

Thursday - March 24, 2011

Mass Effect 2 - Arrival Previews

by Dhruin, 21:12

A couple of Mass Effect 2: Arrival previews have popped up. First. off to IGN:

How does it play?
I only got to try out the first mission, but if you've played Mass Effect, this should feel incredibly familiar to you. There's lots of action in the first half of Arrival, and the major decisions that will impact Mass Effect 3 occur later.

Spoilers have been separated onto the second page, for anyone worried.

From Joystiq:

"Shepard's alone, through the whole thing, and that adds a layer of complexity," observes Houston. The challenge of Arrival is the absence of squad members. Players must handle the combat on their own, without employing team-based tactics, the core gameplay that Mass Effect fans have become quite comfortable and enamored with. The challenge for BioWare was to design this solo combat to scale to the player's level.

I previewed Arrival as a level-8 Soldier, and this particular Shepard was better equipped than some of the other classes to handle squads of grumpy batarians on his own. My one death occurred while charging into a particularly tense gunfight like I was John McClane, reminding me that even a Soldier-class Shepard is no action-movie hero. I can only speculate that other character classes will be even more challenged to use brain over brawn to survive. If you're an Adept or Engineer, for example, the hindrance of only being able to wear light armor could be a particularly difficult weakness to overcome -- I fought a lot during my brief playtime.

In other news, IGN has reviewed the Mass Effect comic Evolution #3, for a score of 6.5/10.

Friday - March 18, 2011

Mass Effect 2 - Arrival on March 29th

by Dhruin, 23:07

The BioWare site informs Arrival will, uh, arrive on March 29th:

In Mass Effect: Arrival, Commander Shepard is sent to the edge of the galaxy to rescue an undercover operative who may have evidence of an imminent Reaper invasion that has been looming since the very beginning of the series.

Mass Effect Arrival will be available for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 on March 29.

Wednesday - March 16, 2011

Mass Effect 2 - Arrival Screen #3

by Dhruin, 21:29

Headline says it all - Arrival screen #3.

Tuesday - March 15, 2011

Mass Effect 2 - New Arrival Screenshot

Monday - March 14, 2011

Mass Effect 2 - Arrival Screenshot

Monday - February 21, 2011

Mass Effect 2 - "Arrival" DLC Revealed

by Dhruin, 22:20

A new Mass Effect 2 DLC titled Arrival has beebn revealed through patching on the PS3, writes Joystiq. Apparently three new Trophies have been added, although not much more is known.

Thursday - February 03, 2011

Mass Effect 2 - Alternate Appearance Pack 2

by Dhruin, 21:12

BioWare has announced a new Mass Effect 2 DLC, excitingly named Alternate Appearance Pack 2:

The Mass Effect team is proud to announce the next Mass Effect 2 DLC, Alternate Appearance Pack 2. This new DLC will give new armors to Miranda, Tali and Grunt. Put the WAR back in wardrobe with new DLC available for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. Coming February 8. See all 3 new armors by checking out Alternate Appearance Pack 2

In other ME2 news, there's a preview of the Evolution #2 comic at the BioBlog.

Monday - January 31, 2011

Mass Effect 2 - PS3 Reviews @ Thunderbolt, GamingBolt

by Dhruin, 21:17

A couple of Mass Effect 2 reviews for the PS3:

Thursday - January 27, 2011

Mass Effect 2 - PS3 Issue Workaround, Patch Notes

by Dhruin, 21:15

Chris Priestly on the Bio forums talks about the Mass Effect 2 save corruption issue on the new PS3 version, a temporary workaround and upcoming patch notes:

Hello everyone
 
First, we are sorry some of you have had problems playing Mass Effect 2 on the Playstation 3 and want to thank you all for providing feedback on our forums on both the freezing and resulting save game issue that some of you have experienced. The information and support you have provided has helped the development team to build the latest patch. We’re currently testing the patch thoroughly, we expect to be finished our quality passes on Friday.  This patch is then being delivered to Sony ASAP for verification and distribution. We will announce as soon the patch is available.  Please see the below patch notes for a complete list of what will be included:
 
Patch Notes
-Fixed a crash related to memory fragmentation. This fix will also resolve the crashing that corrupted Save Games.
-Slightly improved load times and level streaming.
-Added some telemetry to better improve future titles.
-Updated some strings to fix spelling mistakes (Sorry Kaidan!)
-Fixed the picture frame in Shepard’s Cabin to accurately reflect your love interest choices in Mass Effect: Genesis.
-Fixed a rare crash in the PSN version in Shepard’s Cabin.
 
We want you to be able to continue playing while you wait for the patch. While data and telemetry have shown that very few people have seen this issue, we know a few of you here have experienced this problem.  There is a very simple work around to ensure  the freezing and corruption issues are minimized. Simply restart your game every few hours. By shutting down and restarting your game, you will not encounter the corrupted save issue.”
 
Once again, thank you for your feedback which has helped us get to a resolution.

Wednesday - January 26, 2011

Mass Effect 2 - PS3 Save Issues

by Dhruin, 21:19

It seems there are save-game issues with the new PS3 version of Mass Effect 2 (is it just me, or have save-game issues become a real problem lately?).  CVG reports on the issue and Eurogamer reports BioWare is working on a fix:

Has your PS3 Mass Effect 2 save-game corrupted after tens of hours and become unplayable? Don't worry, BioWare knows about this and is busy "working to understand what is occurring".

Said community manager Chris Priestly to his flock: "Just to make it clear, we are aware of this issue and are working to understand what is occurring and how we can fix it.

"If you are encountering this issue, please provide details about your PS3 and your play-through.

Wednesday - January 19, 2011

Mass Effect 2 - PS3 Review

by Dhruin, 22:49

A site called Attack of the Fanboy (sounds unbiased) has a review of Mass Effect 2 for the PS3.  As you'd expect, they loved it:

Not much has changed here in a year. Is that a good thing?  I think so.  You can still put Mass Effect 2 up against the best games that were released in 2010 and more than likely 2011 as well.  As far as the claims of a superior version, I mean honestly I couldn't tell you a huge difference.  Does it look good?  Hell Yes it does.  Mass Effect 2 on the PS3 is a great looking game.  One of the best looking games this generation as far as I'm concerned, the characters are very realistic.   Skin textures and hair textures look as close to photo realistic as it gets.  Lighting is exceptional as well.  But like I said before, Mass Effect 2 is a lot more than a pretty face.  The great story and gameplay mechanics, the galaxies to explore, the choice of paths, it's an exceptional game.  But it's not just for one superficial reason like that.

In other news, it seems that Cerberus Network issue has been solved.

Tuesday - January 18, 2011

Mass Effect 2 - PS3 Roundup

by Dhruin, 22:19

Here's a bunch of stuff related to the new PS3 version of Mass Effect 2.  First, BioWare announces the game is now available in NA:

BioWare and the Mass Effect team are proud to announce that Mass Effect 2 on the Playstation 3 is now on sale in North America. You can purchase your copy from your favorite retailer or buy it digitally through the Playstation Network. Mass Effect 2 is available in EU on January 21.

CVG reprints a review from PSM3, with a score of 9.5/10:

You'll notice we haven't referred to ME2 as an RPG, and that's because... well, it isn't. If anything, it's a third-person shooter with deep, deep story elements woven in. Oh, and some character management. And squad mechanics. And resource management. Ok, so it's a hybrid game without comparison on PS3.

Combat feels great on the Dualshock. R1 is your trigger button, L1 aim, and R2 and L2 bring up your weapon and ability wheels, where you control the arming and attacks of yourself and your squad.

It's an elegant system. Aim at a target, squeeze R2 and a wheel of abilities appears as the action pauses. Select the ability you want (say, Overload for bringing down a target's shields), press X, and it's used immediately. This isn't stodgy RPG combat, it feels like a proper shooter).

Another review at IGN, also with a score of 9.5/10:

At the end of the day, Mass Effect 2 essentially does everything it does exceptionally well, and it shows from beginning to end. PlayStation 3 gamers had to wait a year to get their hands on Mass Effect 2, but the wait was well worth it. Not only do you have a game that’s already running on the engine for the upcoming Mass Effect 3, but you have a game packed with DLC and access to an in-game comic book that explains the game’s story to those new to Mass Effect. But don’t remain new to Mass Effect for long. Mass Effect 2 is a game that you should purchase, play, and enjoy. And you should do so as soon as time allows.

Thanks to Omega for some of these links, as well as others in this news update.

Monday - January 17, 2011

Mass Effect 2 - PS3 Demo Used Old Build

by Dhruin, 21:00

Ironically, after all the fuss BioWare has made about the improvements in the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2, it seems some people have been underwhelmed with the differences with that Mass Effect 3 engine.  According to Chris Priestly, that's because the demo used a two-month-old build.  Apparently, the release version will look better.  The game also requires a large HDD installation, according to The Sixth Axis.

Thanks to Omega for this and severak other items.

Thursday - January 13, 2011

Mass Effect 2 - PS3 Version - Jan 18th Release

by Dhruin, 21:23

The PS3 version of Mass Effect 2 hits both retail and PSN on January 18th and BioWare's Chris Priestly blogs at the PS Blog why this version isn't just a port:

PlayStation fans have been asking for Mass Effect for years and we are very pleased to finally be bringing it to a new branch of Mass Effect fans. However, what I think Mass Effect fans on the PS3 will be most appreciative of is that this is not a simple port. The Mass Effect team has taken the time to utilize the PS3 hardware to the fullest in order to maximize your gameplay experience. It was also extremely important for the team to make sure playing with the PS3 controller worked and felt good. You will also see that the in-game graphics and cinematics are clearer and more vibrant on the PS3. As an added bonus, the PS3 version includes previously released DLC missions: Overlord, Lair of the Shadow Broker and Kasumi.

...and there's a launch trailer at Kotaku.

Wednesday - January 05, 2011

Mass Effect 2 - PS3 Version Gets Some Free DLC

by Dhruin, 21:50

I'm guessing relatively few of our readers are planning to get the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2, having already played or possibly just not being interested.  For those that are, Eurogamer reports some of the little pre-order bonus DLCs from the original releases will be bundled free with the PS3 edition.  This isn't the big, paid, post-release DLCs, just the pre-order stuff.

Monday - January 03, 2011

Mass Effect 2 - Cerberus Network Hiatus, New DLC Hinted

by Dhruin, 21:20

Mass Effect 2's in-game Cerberus Daily News says the service will stop after January 24 - the anniversary of the service.  Apparently the next updates will be bundled with a new DLC before the network resumes later for Mass Effect 3Full story at Kotaku.

Thursday - December 23, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - PS3 Demo Available

by Dhruin, 23:17

If you're interested in the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2, you can grab the demo now from PSN.

If you'd like technical details on this whole "Mass Effect 3 engine" thing, Eurogamer has one oftheir Digital Foundry examinations.  They find this version "a curious mixture of improvements, downgrades and swapped out effects".

Thursday - December 16, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - PS3 Version Gold, Uses ME3 Engine

by Dhruin, 21:05

The BioBlog has news the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2 has gone Gold.  They also have a podcast talking about this edition, including the explosive news that that this version uses the Mass Effect 3 engine for improved visuals.  From GameSpot:

"One of the first things you're going to see is improved graphics," said Houston. "We actually created the engine for Mass Effect 3 and then used that to make Mass Effect 2 PS3. We took the content, the story, all the other assets that made Mass Effect 2, and we put it into the Mass Effect 3 engine. That's what we're actually delivering."

Wednesday - December 15, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - Overrated @ Fidgit

by Dhruin, 21:04

Just to contrast against IGN's awards, Mass Effect 2 rated #3 in Tom Chick's most overrated list for 2010:

3) Mass Effect 2
Take Mass Effect and strip out the RPG elements so that you're left with a not very good shooter about a whole lot of busy work, mainly involving aliens addressing their family problems, before going on a 20 minute mission to save the universe. And...scene! Also, planetary scanning. Lots of planetary scanning.

Monday - December 13, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - PS3 Demo Next Week

Friday - December 10, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - PS3 Version on Jan 18th

by Dhruin, 23:07

News via IGN that the PS3 edition of Mass Effect 2 will hit January 18th in the US and the 21st in Europe:

Electronic Arts has confirmed to IGN that Mass Effect 2 for PlayStation 3 will ship in the United States on Jan. 18. 2011 and Jan. 21 in Europe. 

Tuesday - December 07, 2010

Mass Effect 3 - What We Want @ IGN

by Dhruin, 20:04

I guess these "What We Want" articles are filler as the real news winds down for the holidays.  Head to IGN if you want to know what they think should feature in Mass Effect 3:

The Normandy is one of the most recognizable ships in video game science-fiction. Acquiring control of the SR-1 in the original Mass Effect was a turning point in the game's narrative, and the reveal of the SR-2 was just as inspiring in Mass Effect 2. As players battled the Collectors in Shepard's second journey, the Normandy was not only a home for the heroes but an ever-growing weapon to be used against the Collectors in the final mission. One would assume that controlling the Normandy in this thrilling battle would be a fantastic opportunity for gameplay, but players were restricted to flying the vessel slowly around the galaxy map. Tragic!

Piloting the Normandy would be a perfect addition to Mass Effect 3. We'd love take direct control of the Normandy from inside the cockpit and traverse the galaxy in the same way you'd fly a plane in a traditional flight simulator. Even if this addition was confined to specific sections during the story, steering the Normandy could still be used as a plot device and a way to reward gamers that have been disappointed by the limited interaction with the Normandy in the past.

Friday - October 01, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - Introductory Module for PS3

by Dhruin, 23:09

We've heard before the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2 will catch players up on the story so far but the Biodocs have confirmed it will be done via the addition of an "introductory module".  From CVG:

"What we're providing is an introductory module. We haven't revealed the details of what that is yet, but it's going to provide a lot of information on both the context and setting of Mass Effect" said Muzyka.

Wednesday - September 22, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - Lair of the Shadowbroker Review @ Kotaku

by Dhruin, 21:46

Kotaku has a micro review of the Mass Effect 2 DLC, Lair of the Shadowbroker.  It's highly positive and here's a small snip:

If, like me, you've been slightly disappointed with Mass Effect 2's DLC to date, don't tar Lair of the Shadow Broker with the same brush. It fits into the larger storyline, has a lasting impact on two primary characters and with plenty to do and see in two hours is even good value for money.

Monday - September 20, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - Walkthrough @ GameBanshee

Wednesday - September 15, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - Mordin Solus, Part 4 @ Twenty Sided

by Dhruin, 22:09

After three parts explaining the Mass Effect 2 backstory, Shamaus Young finally talks about Mordin Solus and his loyalty mission.  No quote, because it's all spoiler territory.

Tuesday - September 14, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - New Soundtrack Release

by Dhruin, 22:39

BioWare has released a new soundtrack called Mass Effect 2 AtmosphericDetails here, and the price is $3.99 from iTunes.

Friday - September 10, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - Lair of the Shadowbroker Review @ Eurogamer

by Aries100, 16:37

Eurogamer posted a review of the latest DLC for Mass Effect 2, Lair of the Shadowbroker. The score is 9/10 and here's a snip:

 Mostly, it's a tour de force for BioWare's scripting team, who tie together dangling plot threads from the first game and the sequel, weaving them into a new narrative that seamlessly enhances your understanding and enjoyment of both games. There are beautiful character moments that benefit from the richly drawn cast and the organic, interlinked world they inhabit.

Source: GameBanshee

Mass Effect 2 - Lair of the Shadowbroker Review @ The Final Dungeon

by Myrthos, 15:15

The Final Dungeon writes in to note that they have a review of Lair of the Shadow Broker up.

It is clear that Bioware gave a lot of attention to pacing.  The episode, which took me about two hours to complete, alternates between dialogue, exploration, and combat (and flying – more on that below) in a linear sequence that carries you from beginning to middle to end at heart-pounding velocity.  This is good storytelling, with graphics that rival recent movies.

The gameplay itself has not changed much.  The majority of your time is still spent clinging to cover and shooting enemies with the same weapons and biotic powers in a hybrid RPG-third-person-shooter.  The environments may be new, and the enemies may employ new tactics (I finished the main game and all previous DLC months ago, but I believe this is the first time enemies have used flashbang grenades against me), but even a Mass Effect lover like me has to admit that after 50 hours of this stuff, the moment-to-moment gunplay is starting to feel monotonous.  (And speaking of monotone, what’s with Liara’s voice actor in this DLC?  She delivers her lines with the emotion of an Elcor!)

Wednesday - September 08, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - Lair of the Shadowbroker Reviews

by Dhruin, 21:29

Looks like Lair of the Shadowbroker is getting good press, with a couple of positive reviews.  In fact, IGN goes for a massive 9.5/10 in their critique:

Clocking in around three hours, Lair of the Shadow Broker unravels the engaging tale at a great pace. Despite the dark themes of murder and betrayal, the conversation can be quite humorous. There are some really great moments between Shepard and Liara, and the storytelling effectively communicates the strong bond between the two, even if they weren't romantically involved in your game. Over the course of the story, it's clear that Liara has evolved from the shy girl Shepard met on Therum into a hardened woman struggling with her feelings of loss and guilt. To keep everything balanced, BioWare tossed in some self-deprecating material, including jabs about the Mako's wonky controls and using Omni-gel to open any door. Visually, Lair of the Shadow Broker boasts some really breathtaking environments. The cut-scenes are beautifully rendered and approaching the Shadow Broker's ship is simply stunning as lightning storms envelope the massive vessel.

Joystiq doesn't use scores but it's clear they like it:

There's a lot of well-polished content here, with some of the more beautiful vistas in the ME universe. However, it's over too soon. Even if you watch all the videos, unlock all the terminals, and read all of the Shadow Broker intel available to you (It's required reading: these vignettes offer hilarious insight into all the major characters in the game), you're looking at only two hours of gameplay. At 800 Microsoft Points ($10), that's a hefty price to pay, especially compared to the retail game's hour-to-dollar ratio.

Considering the importance the Shadow Broker plays in the Mass Effect universe, it seems odd that BioWare would conclude the story in DLC instead of Mass Effect 3 as skipping this DLC will put players at a narrative disadvantage. This isn't a compelling (but ultimately disposable) side-story -- Shadow Broker is a must for any Mass Effect fan, casual and hardcore. It feels like BioWare and EA, fully aware of its importance, have taken this crucial arc hostage as DLC, and have bet that you're willing to pay the $10 ransom.

Mass Effect 2 - Mordin Solus, Part 3 @ Twenty Sided

by Dhruin, 21:17

Looks like this third part of Shamus Young's series on Mordin Solus in Mass Effect 2 finally wraps up the history lesson - which means the next entry will finally discuss Mordin Solus' loyalty quest (which I think is the entire point).  Still, it's a detailed summary of the background story if you're interested.

Tuesday - September 07, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - Lair of the Shadowbroker Released [Updated]

by Dhruin, 21:53

BioWare announces the Lair of the Shadowbroker DLC is available, although it doesn't showup on the DLC page for me at this point.

Update: Posters in our comments pointed out the PC release was borked.  According to Chris Priestly, the problem is now fixed.  It seems the original PC release was a big file of zeroes, and you'll have to re-download the fixed version.  As a side note, it's amazing how often these DLC releases seem to have problems and BioWare might consider editing their "released" newsbits when these problems occur, instead of making people dig through the forums.

Monday - September 06, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - Crazy Stats And What They're For

by Dhruin, 21:04

IGN interviews Casey Hudson about the player metrics that BioWare is pulling from Mass Effect 2 and what they're going to do with them:

The average time to play through the game was 33 hours. PC gamers spent about an hour longer, while Xbox 360 players did 10% more loyalty missions on average. "In general, pretty much all of the data for the Xbox 360 version and the PC version are quite similar. One difference was the people who did certain loyalty missions on the Xbox versus the PC, which is kind of surprising. On the PC for example, people did Miranda's loyalty mission quite a bit, which is where she is trying to connect with her sister and it's more of a touchy-feely plot. Not a lot of Xbox 360 players did that one. But the Xbox 360 players did do Grunt's mission a lot more than PC players."

The PC players have the edge in dedication. Hudson claims that a lot of people played Mass Effect 2 more than once and about half of all players -- including those who rented or borrowed it -- who started played all of the way through to the end. Two players in particular on the PC played through 28 times. That's the current record. Four people on Xbox 360 played 23 times. If you're any of these people, please write in to us and tell us how you have so much spare time.

Thursday - September 02, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - Lair of the Shadowbroker Preview @ IGN

by Dhruin, 20:54

IGN is impressed with a short demo they played of Lair of the Shadowbroker:

The first true bridging downloadable content BioWare  has produced, Lair of the Shadow Broker will be playable at any point in your game after you travel to Illium. Because your decisions here will actually affect certain storylines in Mass Effect 3, and more importantly, you can finally resume your romantic relationship with Liara (if you successfully wooed her in the first game), this promises to be the best DLC for Mass Effect 2 to date. Lair of the Shadow Broker also houses more cut scenes and dialogue sequences than in any of the previous DLC offerings and will play out over a few hours. Yesterday I had the privilege of getting my hands on it for about 30 minutes, and that time left me wanting more.

Wednesday - September 01, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - Lair of the Shadowbroker Video

Mass Effect 2 - Mordin Solus, Part 2 @ Twenty Sided

by Dhruin, 22:16

Shamus Young has kicked up the second part of his Mordin Solus series that he started a few weeks back.  I'm still not sure we're he's going with it, because this second piece is still recapping the history of the Mass Effect universe:

The Salarians discovered the Krogan and introduced them to the world of interstellar travel and galactic future toys. With space age guns and armor they were more powerful than ever, and their natural aggression made them want to fight the Rachni. All the Salarians had to do was equip them and give them a lift, and they had an almost endless supply of fearless bloodthirsty badasses to throw at the Rachni problem.

This was a very Salarian solution. You can probably see the unintended consequences coming, but the idea had a clever simplicity about it that let the Salarians defend the galaxy without putting their fragile butts in direct combat.

Mass Effect 2 - Requests for features in Mass Effect 3 @ GamesRadar

by Aries100, 18:37

Games Radar has looked at the Mass Effect games and made a list of features they think should be in Mass Effect 3. One of these is the unmasking of Tali:

We just hope that when you finally lift the veil from her face, she doesn’t turn out to be too pretty. Here’s the thing. Tali is smart, she’s funny, and she’s kind of geek when it comes to ship technology. So she’s pretty much the perfect in-game soul mate for anyone who’s been following an RPG trilogy for about five years.

At the very least, Tali needs some kind of horrible skin condition and perhaps a disturbing lip scar, something weird enough to make her shy about unmasking, but not so hideous that you’ll wind up racing through your radial menus for the option to back out of the conversation.

Source: GameBanshee

Monday - August 23, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - Lair of the Shadowbroker Details

by Dhruin, 21:35

From BioWare's site:

The next episode of Mass Effect 2 DLC The Lair of the Shadowbroker will be available on both the PC and Xbox 360 on Tuesday September 7 and will cost 800 BioWare or Microsoft points.

Check out 4 new screenshots and get more details on the Lair of the Shadowbroker Downloadable Content here: Lair of the Shadowbroker .

Friday - August 20, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - Mordin Solus, Part 1 @ Twenty Sided

by Dhruin, 12:31

Shamus Young once again picks up the pen to write about Mass Effect 2, this time a series to explain why he still likes the game, despite having pulled the plot apart previously.  Presumably Mordin Solus is at the heart of all this but Part 1 starts with a sort of backstory primer:

Half a year ago  I promised that I’d write more about Mass Effect 2. After scourging the lame-brained main plot, I felt like I needed to explain why I liked a game despite the failings of the story. I mentioned that Dr. Mordin Solus was the best part of the game. It’s true, but it’s more than that. He’s the best character in the game, and his backstory is linked to the best mission in the game, which stems from the most interesting elements of the Mass Effect universe. Mordin stands above the other characters in the game because his dialog is good, and his dialog is good because he’s perched atop a mountain of lore. I feel like I can’t talk about him until I talk about the mountain. Which is why it took me half a year to write this. Every time I sat down to write 1,000 words about Mordin I found I needed to write 3,000 words about other stuff first.

Thursday - August 19, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - New Intro for PS3

by Dhruin, 23:12

Ray Muzyka has explained the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2 will have a new intro of some sort to bring players up to speed:

He added: “We haven’t revealed what that is yet. It’ll be something that provides a good introduction and provides a lot of the back-story and introduces you well to the story-arc, and kind of makes you feel like you’re part of it all. And then you can jump right into the action in Mass Effect 2.”

Tuesday - August 17, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - Coming for the PS3, Trailer

by Aries100, 16:10

At GamesCom in Cologne, Germany, EA and Bioware has announced that Mass Effect 2 is coming to the PS 3 in January 2011.  Whatever happened to Mass Effect 1? Meanwhile, here's a link to the announcement trailer - courtesy of this post by Christ Priestly on the Bioware forums.

For good measure, here's the press release, courtesy of Gamebansheee.

BIOWARE’S ACTION RPG MASS EFFECT 2 MAKES PLAYSTATION 3 DEBUT

The Highest Rated Game of 2010 Comes to PS3 in January 2011

Cologne, Germany – August 17, 2010 – Today at GamesCom, BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS), announced that Mass Effect™ 2, the highest rated game of 2010 for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system and PC*, is coming to the Sony PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system in January 2011. The PlayStation 3 edition will include the full Mass Effect 2 game and hours of bonus content, making this the perfect introduction to BioWare’s award-winning action RPG franchise.

Mass Effect 2 has already received over 70 perfect scores from media outlets such as the Associated Press, Eurogamer, MSNBC,com, G4TV and the Los Angeles Times, and is the highest rated game in the 15-year history of Bioware and the 28-year history of EA.

The Mass Effect franchise is an epic science fiction adventure set in a vast universe filled with dangerous aliens and mysterious, uncharted planets. In Mass Effect 2, PlayStation 3 players will step into the role of Commander Shepard for the very first time, leading a crew of the most dangerous special operatives from across the galaxy on a mission to save mankind. Featuring intense shooter action, a rich storyline, space exploration and emotionally engaging character interaction, Mass Effect 2 delivers an unparalleled gameplay experience.

Mass Effect 2 will be available for the PlayStation 3 in January 2011. For more information, please visit http://masseffect.bioware.com/ and follow the development team at twitter.com/masseffect2 or at http://www.facebook.com/masseffect.

* According to Metacritic.com.

About BioWare
BioWare develops high quality console, PC and online role-playing games, focused on rich stories, unforgettable characters and vast worlds to discover. Since 1995, BioWare has created some of the world's most critically acclaimed titles, including Baldur's Gate™, Neverwinter Nights™, Star Wars®: Knights of the Old Republic™, Jade Empire™, Mass Effect™ and Dragon Age™. BioWare operates in Edmonton (Alberta, Canada), Montreal (Quebec), Austin (Texas) and Fairfax (Virginia). Currently announced projects at BioWare include the development of ongoing downloadable content for Mass Effect 2, one of the highest rated video games of all time, Dragon Age 2, the highly anticipated sequel to 2009’s “RPG of the Year” Dragon Age: Origins, and the story-driven massively multiplayer online game, Star Wars®: The Old Republic™. In 2008, BioWare was acquired by Electronic Arts, a leading global interactive entertainment publisher. For more information on BioWare, visit www.bioware.com, or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/biofeed. To join the millions of fans already registered on our community, go to http://social.bioware.com.

About Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts Inc. (EA), headquartered in Redwood City, California, is a leading global interactive entertainment software company. Founded in 1982, the Company develops, publishes, and distributes interactive software worldwide for video game systems, personal computers, wireless devices and the Internet. Electronic Arts markets its products under four brand names: EA SPORTS™, EA™, EA Mobile™ and POGO™. In fiscal 2010, EA posted GAAP net revenue of $3.7 billion and had 27 titles that sold more than one million units. EA's homepage and online game site is www.ea.com. More information about EA's products and full text of press releases can be found on the Internet at http://info.ea.com.

Source: GameBanshee

Tuesday - August 03, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - Firepower Pack Now Released

by Dhruin, 22:25

News from the Mass Effect 2 site that a Firepower Pack has been released for 160 point thingies:

The Firepower Pack DLC is out now for Mass Effect 2 on Xbox 360 and PC!

The Firepower Pack adds 3 new weapons to Commander Shepard's armor locker. The Phalanx heavy pistol hits like a hand cannon but features increased precision with its integrated laser sight. Next is the Mattock semi-automatic rifle, a deadly and accurate weapon that can eliminate waves of enemies thanks to its reduced recoil. Lastly, turn Geth technology against them with the Geth Plasma Shotgun. This triple barreled monster allows users to charge up each shot for increased damage, or just blast away rapid-fire style.

Thursday - July 22, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - New DLC, Lair of the Shadow Broker

by Woges, 18:31

Bioware have announced Lair of the Shadow Broker for ME2 on the offical web-site.

The latest Mass Effect 2 DLC has been revealed, Lair of the Shadow Broker!

Two years ago, Commander Shepard died and Liara T'Soni fought in a desperate struggle against the Shadow Broker to recover her former Commander. Now that Shepard is back, it's time to even the score.

Team up with Liara and confront the mysterious and sinister Shadow Broker in the latest expansion to Mass Effect 2, coming soon! In the mean time check out three new screenshots and stay tuned for more info on Lair of the Shadow Broker.

Tuesday - July 20, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - Overlord Review @ 2404

by Dhruin, 22:30

The Mass Effect 2 DLC pack Overlord has been reviewed at 2404.  No score, but they seem to like it a lot:

The Overlord pack really seems designed to build off of everything BioWare has introduced through its previous content, being a full-fledged expansion to the main campaign of Mass Effect 2.  The Firewalker Tank has made its return, this time blending vehicle navigation and platforming with the on-foot adventuring that we are familiar with.  In fact, this content pack really felt a lot like some of the larger missions from the first Mass Effect, where exploration and combat were both equally important to the overall experience.  You will find the just about every type of gameplay in this expansion.  From waves of combat against hordes of Geth, to puzzles, a scattering of mini-games, and the Firewalker sequences, Overlord really seems to stand out amidst the previously released content.

Tuesday - July 06, 2010

Mass Effect 2 - Aegis DLC Released

by Dhruin, 22:43

BioWare has released a new DLC pack for Mass Effect 2.  For 160 point thingies, the Aegis pack offers a new armour and sniper rifle (detailed screens here - thanks Omega):

What's better than the latest in high-tech armor? High-tech armor and a sniper rifle, of course! The Aegis Pack adds the M-29 Incisor sniper rifle and the Kestrel armor to Shepard's armor locker.

The Incisor sniper rifle is a burst-fire weapon that excels in destroying enemy shields.

The Kestrel armor comes in five pieces:

  • The Kestrel Helmet adds weapon damage, shield strength, and headshot damage.
  • The Kestrel Torso Sheath adds melee and weapon damage and shield strength.
  • Kestrel Arm Sheathing adds melee and weapon damage and shield strength.
  • Kestrel Shoulder Pieces adds shields and melee damage.
  • The Kestrel hip-mounted Power Pack ups shields and heavy weapon ammo capacity.
  • The Aegis Pack — for those times when overkill doesn't seem like enough.
  • Wednesday - June 30, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Overlord Review Roundup

    by Dhruin, 22:17

    A small roundup, but here's three Overlord DLC reviews courtesy of Omega.  The Universal Tech Guy has a very short but positive article:

    Replay Value/ Length: The dlc took me a little under 2 hours to complete and it was 2 hours well spent. The dlc had new dialogue and was very well executed. The end sequence is truly sci-fi with a little bit of Neo awakening in the Matrix mixed in.

    MTV offers high praise:

    Each of the three bases you'll visit (on-foot) has unique confrontation situations, often occurring when you least expect it. This, in addition to the breakneck pacing, keeps your head on a swivel, provoking some intensity or tension that otherwise wouldn't be there. I should note that while the bases look somewhat similar, there is a section in this DLC that is dramatically different from a visual perspective. It's unforgettable.

    ...and similar praise from Joystiq:

    BioWare has taken the opportunity to throw a little bit of everything in and see what sticks. Want full-bore action? You got it. Want to solve tile-shifting floor puzzles? No problem. Want to do some light vehicle-based platforming? Well, you probably didn't know you wanted to do that, but it's here nonetheless. You won't be bored, let's put it that way.

    Overlord doesn't jam new characters into your game or add a load of new weapons, but it more than makes up for that with a haunting little story of family, betrayal and sacrifice. Note to other game developers: If you're able to pack that into two hours, you'll always have my seven bucks.

    Tuesday - June 29, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Overlord DLC Review @ Game Revolution

    by Aries100, 16:00

    Game Revolution has penned a favorable review for Overlord, the latest DLC to Bioware's Mass Effect 2 game. Here's an excerpt:

    All the elements in Overlord work extremely well as a two-hour content pack. The so-called missions are pretty short and don't feel like actual missions but more like slices of a bigger setting, which begs the question of why they are called missions in the first place.

    Source: GameBanshee

    Wednesday - June 23, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Overlord Review @ IGN

    by Dhruin, 22:55

    There's an enthusiastic review of Mass Effect 2: Overlord over at IGN, with a score of 9/10:

    From the opening moments, it's easy to see that Overlord has the same high production values as Mass Effect 2 -- no shortcuts were taken. In fact, much of the visual and audio work exceeds what you get in many of the Mass Effect 2 side quests. Overlord has some beautiful vistas and environments to explore and plenty of variety. The audio is haunting.

    The best part of Overlord is how fantastic the gameplay is. There's a fair bit of combat and a few snippets of that award-winning dialogue, but it's the new features that steal the show. A vehicle called the Hammerhead is here -- taking the place of the Mako, and trumping it in every way. There are also a few puzzles to solve and BioWare even manages to squeeze in a bit of light platforming. The climax at the end, which I won't spoil here, will have you in a tizzy.

    Tuesday - June 22, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Free Comic @ IGN

    by Dhruin, 23:31

    BioWare, Dark Horse and IGN have combined to bring a new Mass Effect short story:

    But what comes next? With the game out and the comic book, Mass Effect: Redemption, in stores and collected, would fans of Bioware's galactic epic be left sitting in the cold? Not quite. Dark Horse has teamed with Mass Effect game writer Mac Walters  to craft another entry in the ME universe, this time in the form of an eight-page story. The best part about said story? IGN has it, in its entirety, for you - today.

    Monday - June 21, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Overlord DLC Review @ Eurogamer

    by Aries100, 16:00

    Eurogamer has a positive review of this DLC scoring it 8/10, thus making this DLC for Mass Effect 2 the high score so far. Here's a little bit of the review, taken from the beginning:

    Overlord, the latest and largest of the Mass Effect DLC packs, is a mixed bag in the best possible way. It's a medium-sized adventure that never lets one gameplay element dominate for too long, leavening the expected duck-and-cover combat with openworld exploration and a dash of environmental puzzling, all wrapped up in a story that builds to a satisfying and pathos-heavy finale. It is almost exactly what you want from a low-priced downloadable add-on.

    There's also reviews at thegamefanatics, gamecritics, gamesugarBAD ORC, and Explicit Gamer - all positive as well.

    Source: GameBanshee

    Saturday - June 19, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Steam Sale

    by Dhruin, 22:35

    This is time limited but head to Steam if you are interested in Mass Effect 2 at 40% off or the original Mass Effect at 75% off.  It ends "today", whenever that is with the various time zones.

    Friday - June 18, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Overlord Video

    by Dhruin, 21:31

    Eurogamer has a trailer for the recently released Overlord DLC for Mass Effect 2.

    Tuesday - June 15, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Overlord DLC Released

    by Dhruin, 23:12

    BioWare has released the Overlord DLC for ME2 for 560 point thingies.  Here's the blurb as a reminder:

    When sent to investigate a Cerberus research base that's mysteriously gone silent, Shepard arrives to find Geth overrunning the base. The sole survivor, Chief Scientist Archer, paints a dire picture: an experiment to fuse a human volunteer with a virtual intelligence created a dangerous hybrid "VI overlord". The rampaging VI has already attacked three other Cerberus bases, controlling any technology it finds in an attempt to break free–and unleashing Geth across the planet. Unless Shepard can infiltrate the VI's fortress and shut it down, this homicidal intelligence will beam itself-off planet and wreak havoc on other systems. The action unfolds over five new level areas, with two new achievements.

    They've also released a story summary trailer titled The Story So Far, which recaps events across the two main games, narrated by Martin Sheen (via Eurogamer).

    Mass Effect 2 - v1.02 PC Patch

    by Dhruin, 22:29

    I imagine most players have moved on by now but the promised PC patch for Mass EFfect 2 has finally arrived (42Mb):

    Changes to 1.02

    • Reduced the amount mining time required to acquire all upgrades.
    • Fixed an issue where DLC weapon selections would appear blank on the Weapon Loadout screen after removing DLC.
    • Fixed an issue where heavy weapon crosshairs sometimes remain on screen after entering a vehicle.
    • Fixed an issue where enemies sometimes 'pop-up' onto cover after taking damage.
    • Fixed an issue where Grunt's loyalty power sometimes doesn't unlock.
    • Fixed an issue where the Squad screen wouldn't update properly after removing the Alternate Appearance Pack #1 DLC.
    • Fixed an issue where save games that used DLC while offline could not be loaded.
    • Fixed an issue where the active save career would sometimes change after loading saves with unmounted DLC.
    • Fixed an issue where the game would sometimes crash during the Jarrahe mission when using Windows 7 (64-bit).
    • Fixed an issue where ammo powers activated by a henchman would sometimes overwrite the players active ammo power.
    • Fixed an issue where under certain circumstances, spacebar would not activate objects.
    • Fixed an issue where Loading saves while DLC is unmounted will change your active career.
    • Fixed an issue where the text for some characters in the keybinding GUI would appear as English in foreign language versions of the game.

    Monday - June 14, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Demo and More

    by Dhruin, 21:06

    As revealed last week, a demo for ME2 has been released and the Overlord DLC should be available tomorrow.  Here's (most of) the PR from EA:

    EA HEATS UP MASS EFFECT 2 WITH NEW DEMO AND NEW DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT

    BioWare Launches Sizzling New Demo that Introduces New Players to the Highest Rated Xbox 360 Game of 2010!

    Guildford, UK – The Mass EffectTM 2 phenomenon rages on! BioWareTM, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS), today launches a demo for Mass Effect 2 on Xbox Live® and PC. Designed to help introduce the rich Mass Effect fiction to all-new players, the demo features the first two missions of the game as well as one bonus mission, totaling over 90 minutes of the action-packed game play and rich storytelling that have made Mass Effect 2 one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time. BioWare is releasing the demo with a “Story-so-far” video, narrated by actor Martin Sheen that provides a recap of past events and plot twists in the Mass Effect universe.

    In the demo, players step into the role of Commander Shepard and must escape from a Cerberus space station under siege. Players can jump ahead to a later mission where they must rescue Subject Zero, a hardened, dangerous criminal from a heavily guarded prison ship. Once they play the demo, players will be able to create a save and carry over their character along with the experience points, story decisions, achievements and weapons earned into the full version of the game – picking up right where they left off , on both PC and Xbox 360.

    BioWare also announced today that players already in the game can download a new game add-on called “Overlord”, adding five new areas and two new achievements. Available June 15, the game add-on is available for 560 Microsoft points and on PC for 560 BioWare points. Also on June 15, BioWare is releasing a new premium theme based on Omega and new avatar items for Xbox Live will follow on June 17.

    Here's some mirrors for the demo, courtesy of Blue's: AtomicGamer, FanGaming, and Gamer's Hell.  Spanish, German, French, Italian and English versions are also available direct from BioWare.

    Thanks to Omega and Northreign for similar submissions.

    On a related note, Spiderweb's Jeff Vogel has posted some thoughts on Mass Effect 2.

    Thursday - June 10, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Overlord Dated, Demo Planned

    by Dhruin, 21:12

    According to VG247, the latest Xbox Live schedule shows Overlord will be released on June 15 and a Mass Effect 2 demo will be available on the 17th.

    Friday - June 04, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Towards ME3 @ RPS

    by Dhruin, 11:29

    Kieron Gillen has written a lengthy piece at Rock, Paper, Shotgun that looks at several elements from Mass Effect 2 and explains what he's like to see in ME3.  It's a bit of a rambling piece that touches territory ranging from the Paragon - Renegade system to the use of companions:

    Firstly, it extends the second act enormously, making it feel more like a TV show than a movie. To intro all the characters and give them a mission to gain their loyalty is a vast amount of content. Secondly, it still has what’s been big head-scratcher in every Bioware game. In short: what the fuck are all these idiots doing when I’m off saving the universe? Let’s pile-on to the Balrog/Borg-knock-off instead of going in with a couple of mates.

    It was worse in Dragon Age, where people are just sitting around a camp, polishing their swords and braiding their hair when you’re off saving the world. At least in Mass Effect 2, there’s the theory that they have a ship to look after. Dragon Age was desperately in need for something to keep your companions busy – the one really smart idea in Neverwinter Nights 2 was the mid-game where you run a castle, which is a sensible place to leave your friends… though it’d be better if the castle had to be defended at all costs. If you’re going to do something as openly atmosphere-shattering as leaving most your friends behind, at least work in some manner of justification in the fiction.

    Thursday - June 03, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Kasumi DLC Review @ Worthplaying

    by Dhruin, 22:30

    A late review of the Kasumi's Stolen Memory DLC for Mass Effect 2 over at Worthplaying.  The score is 7.8/10 and here's a snip:

    Ultimately, the question you have to ask yourself is if an hour-long mission and an underdeveloped new character are worth $7. To most people who have already played, beaten and put away Mass Effect 2 for good, the answer is a resounding no. The cost isn't a particularly good value for a new loyalty mission, and it isn't going to drive you to come back to the game. For those of us who are still playing Mass Effect 2, though, Kasumi's Stolen Memory is a new character and new mission to add to an already-massive game. This is a fun, unique mission, but it's over all too soon, and all you're left with is an underdeveloped character. If you're still playing Mass Effect 2, give Kasumi's Stolen Memory a try. Otherwise, there's no reason to come back to a game that you've already finished for this bit of DLC.

    Wednesday - June 02, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Interview @ OXM UK

    by Dhruin, 21:08

    OXM UK chats with Casey Hudson about Mass Effect 2 and a little on ME3.  The conversation mostly centres on some story elements and the dark and mature atmosphere.  Apparently, ME3 will have more humour:

    So should we be expecting something even more mature for Mass Effect 3?
    [Laughs] Well, we're not talking too much about Mass Effect 3 right now, but the second story in a trilogy is where you traditionally end up in a fairly dark place. The third story is where you try and bring some fun and lightness back into it. One thing we tried to do with Mass Effect 2 was as well as bringing in the more mature stuff, we also tried to bring in a lot more humour so that we can go to these places without making it an overbearing experience. I think we have a lot more fun this time through characters like Joker and EDI. Mass Effect 3 is going to be the epic conclusion... so, a lot more darkness but also a lot more humour.

    Tuesday - June 01, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Editorial @ Bitmob

    by Aries100, 13:35

    Bitmob's latest editorial deals with if Bioware's Mass Effect 2 game has made it so that all future rpg games will be hold up to what they call "a  masterfully streamlined action/adventure." They also think this is the reason for the mixed reception Alpha Protocol have gotten:

    Case in point is Obsidian's Alpha Protocol (PC, Xbox 360, PS3), which releases in just a few days. The game has been receiving generally negative reviews so far, and while I don't doubt it deserves some derision (I haven't played it but expect it to be a fun but flawed experience), I doubt that it would be treated this way if Mass Effect 2 hadn't streamlined the RPG experience so masterfully.
    What do you think? Do you agree?

    Source: GameBanshee

    Friday - May 21, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - DLC Bridging to ME3 and More

    by Dhruin, 21:09

    Seems the Mass Effect series is still a hot topic and a handful of items arrived in the inbox today, courtesy of Omega.

    VideoGamer has a Mass Effect 2 retrospective interview with Casey Hudson.  In this clip, Casey comments on aspects that could have been better and says they might need to add back some of the RPG elements for the next one:

    Q: Any areas you have identified?

    CH: Yeah. Obviously there's a lot of great, really positive feedback. But the stuff I think people have commented on that we'll take to the future are things like the amount of emphasis we had on mini-games, the mining mini-game. Obviously the game being really well received I think reinforces the decisions we made in terms of the way the interface works and the inventory, stuff like that. But there are a lot of people that were happy with the amount of depth that was there, but people that wanted to see it as an RPG versus an action RPG or whatever, I think felt that it needed more depth in terms of your choices for inventory and stuff like that. That's certainly something we can do in the future. We can only create a balance that we believe makes sense.

    In the spirit of getting as many hits as possible, VideoGamer has broken out part of that interview into a separate article.  If you read the whole interview with Casey, you can skip this; for everyone else, apparently a stream of DLC will bridge the story between ME2 and ME3:

    "We have a bunch of packs that are in the works right now," Hudson said.

    "So, for the time being there's going to be a continued stream of DLC for people. We'll start to have packs that'll tell the story between Mass Effect 2 and 3. But beyond that we kind of have to see how people are responding to what we have and go from there."

    CVG also has a Casey Hudson retrospective interview, titled The Making of Mass Effect 2:

    So the structure we figured would do that is this 'dirty dozen' approach, where we tell you at the very beginning that you are up against a suicide mission that's going to come at the end, so then the whole middle becomes about preparing for it. Anything that you do that helps you prepare for it, as long as it affects the ending in some meaningful way, then it actually does tie in in a more important way. That means we can have plots that range from making your Krogan squad member loyal to you by helping him with his coming-of-age quest, or helping Miranda, and for her to have closure she needs to meet her sister again. We can have more of an emotional tie into this higher level plot of the final mission.

    Finally, a site called Overclocked Remix has an interview with lead composer Jack Wall about creating the score.

    Wednesday - May 19, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Overlord DLC Screens

    by Dhruin, 22:12

    Head to Holy Fragger for three screens from the upcoming Overlord DLC for Mass Effect 2.  Thanks, Omega.

    There's also a video interview at VoodooExtreme from an EA event.

    Monday - May 17, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - X360 Patch

    by Dhruin, 21:06

    There's a new Mass Effect 2 patch for X360 players - PC players will have to wait a bit.  The most interesting item is "Scanning for minerals has been optimised".  Exactly what this means isn't clear:

    Hello Mass Effect 2 Xbox 360 players.

    This morning a patch for Mass Effect 2 went live on the Xbox 360. This patch contains the following:

    • Scanning for minerals has been optimized

    • Fixed an issue with marking all entries as viewed in the Journal

    • Fixed an issue relating to text and the menu screen

    • Fixed an issue relating to players starting a new game and loading a save

    • Fixed multiple issues when loading a save containing DLC when DLC isn't present

    • Fixed an issue with ammo flashing when it can't be picked up

    • Fixed an issue with crosshairs

    • Fixed an issue with Grunt's Fortification power

    • Fixed an issue with enemies and cover

    • Fixed an issue where players could receive additional talent points

    • Fixed an issue where squad members would overwrite ammo powers the player had assigned them


    Currently this patch is only for the 360, but a patch for the PC version of Mass Effect 2 is in the works and we will have details as soon as they are ready. /images/forum/emoticons/smile.png

    In other ME2 news, Kotaku has an article about helmets in ME2 - and how your choice to keep the armour advantage or see the character remote reveals your inner soul.

    Thursday - May 13, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Overlord DLC Announced

    by Dhruin, 21:18

    Microsoft has revealed a new Mass Effect 2 DLC titled Overlord, due next month for 560 point thingies.  This one sounds a little more substantial, with "5 level areas":

    When sent to investigate a Cerberus research base that's mysteriously gone silent, Shepard arrives to find Geth overrunning the base. The sole survivor, Chief Scientist Archer, paints a dire picture: an experiment to fuse a human volunteer with a virtual intelligence created a dangerous hybrid "VI overlord". The rampaging VI has already attacked three other Cerberus bases, controlling any technology it finds in an attempt to break free–and unleashing Geth across the planet. Unless Shepard can infiltrate the VI's fortress and shut it down, this homicidal intelligence will beam itself-off planet and wreak havoc on other systems. The action unfolds over five new level areas, with two new achievements.

    According to brief articles at Gamerzines and Incgamers, this one will have a bit of a horror vibe and be "less linear":

    The Hammerhead vehicle will function as your means of transport around the "hub" section of the planet, between the missions. We've been told to expect a bit more of a horror vibe from the DLC, as well as bits that go a little Tron.

    Wednesday - May 12, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - The Making Of @ GamesRadar

    by Dhruin, 21:41

    GamesRadar speaks with Christina Norman and other BioWare developers about the processes, testing and refining to achieve the final outcome in Mass Effect 2.  The intro:

    “The mining?” asks BioWare dev Christina Norman, “everyone hates the mining.” Yep, the mining was Mass Effect 2’s one mistake, and even then it was a small one, made worse by the sheer bloody amount of probing you had to do just to become competitive. In every other way Mass Effect 2 was an improvement on its predecessor, but it took a series of gutsy decisions to take it in its brand new direction.

    Thanks, Omega.

    Monday - May 03, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Equalizer DLC Pack

    by Dhruin, 20:56

    Looks like the Mass Effect 2 DLC mentioned last week is  the Equalizer Pack. Prepare to be underwhelmed:

    New Mass Effect 2 DLC goes on sale Tuesday May 4, the Equalizer Pack. The Equalizer Pack contains the Archon Visor, the Capacitor Helmet and the Inferno Armor. You can read more about the Equalizer Pack here: Equalizer Pack and see new screenshots of the items in action in the gallery Screenshots.

    Thursday - April 29, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - On the Horizon

    by Dhruin, 21:26

    From the Mass Effect 2 site, news next week of more DLC:

    Other than Collectors abducting colonists? Well, we got tons of awesome updates for you!

    First, make sure to tune in early next week for some exciting news about upcoming DLC! If you haven't already, make sure to check out our Downloadable Content page for all the latest, including Shepard's 12th squad member Kasumi Goto

    Also coming in early May will be the 4th and final issue of Mass Effect Redemption on iTunes. Issues 1-3 are already on sale through iTunes, and coming soon will be the Mass Effect graphic novel, featuring all 4 issues, available in June.

    Tuesday - April 20, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Kasumi DLC Review @ GameZone

    by Dhruin, 22:12

    GameZone has a late review of the Mass Effect 2 DLC, Kasumi's Stolen Memory.  Their score is 6/10 and here's a snip:

    Sadly though, her loyalty mission is done and over with before players can become comfortable with her superb powers. Her back-story isn’t the most fleshed out of the party members; once she joins, she’s just another pretty face occupying a room on the ship. It’s too bad that this DLC is short-lived; it had potential to be an outstanding addition to Mass Effect 2. Instead, Kasumi – Stolen Memory is nothing more than overpriced piece of content that does nothing more than shed off glimpses of brilliance.

    Source: Blues News

    Mass Effect 2 - Walkthrough @ GameBanshee

    Friday - April 16, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Assembling the Art

    by Dhruin, 11:17

    Commercial site Pixologic has a special feature on the art in Mass Effect 2.  Over 10 pages, Assembling the Art is an interview with a variety of ME2 art staff emphasising the technical development process.  It's no doubt meant to be a promo vehicle for Pixlogic's products but does contain some interesting insight:

    Jaemus Wurzbach – Lead Character Artist:
    We break our characters into different chunks. The vast majority -- especially the aliens -- are made up of two chunks: a head and a body. We do this because our game has such a huge focus on conversations. We need to get as much resolution as possible in the faces because our designers love to do extreme close-ups. If we make creatures that are never intended to be in conversations, like the Collectors, then we keep them to one chunk. We try to keep each chunk to around three textures. We have a color diffuse, a normal map and a specular stack. We break the specular stack into 4 sections: the R,G,B and Alpha channels and then slot 4 grayscale images into that. Typically these maps might include a specular map, a specular power map, an emissive map, and various masks we might need to control special parameters we create in our shaders. So a character like Grunt or Mordin would run about 6 textures each; 3 for the head and 3 for the body.

    Tuesday - April 13, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Old Fashioned Prejudices

    by Dhruin, 12:37

    I'm not sure what to make of this, so I'll just turn it over to you.  Omega spotted this piece at Rebel Yell that looks at racial diversity and related issues in modern games, using Mass Effect 2 as a example that looks progressive on the surface, but perhaps isn't - or so they argue:

    In an interview with gaming industry blog Develop, Raven Software’s Manveer Heir says that “lack of diversity, specifically race but also gender and sexuality, is across the board with in-game characters… How often do we play as the white space marine?”

    Going by that criteria, “Mass Effect 2” seems like a fairly progressive, if not outright diverse game. But let’s take a closer look.

    The Commander Shepard on the game’s box – the thing that markets the game to the public – is a white male. He actually looks a lot like most other action game (and action movie) protagonists: He’s Heir’s “white space marine.”

    Monday - April 12, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Kasumi Explored @ GameBanshee

    by Dhruin, 11:24

    GameBanshee writes they have updated their Mass Effect 2 subsite with a walkthrough and updated database to reflect Kasumi's Stolen Memory.

    Friday - April 09, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Kasumi Reviews

    by Dhruin, 21:25

    A small collection of reviews for Kasumi's Stolen Memory via Omega. GameSpot wades in with their opinion, awarding 6.5/10 and saying "Kasumi isn't a very interesting character":

    Mass Effect 2's supporting cast was as memorable as any in recent memory. Stellar voice acting and superb dialogue planted seeds in your imagination, and loyalty quests for each character allowed those seeds to blossom. Yet these characters weren't defined just by what they said, but also by memorable events that became forever associated with them. Who could forget the moment a mother and daughter came to blows and forced you to make an impossible decision? Or how about an explosive introduction onboard a prison vessel? Mass Effect 2's mission structure provided each character with multiple chances to steal the spotlight, and the resulting incidents were often markedly poignant. The game's newest downloadable add-on, Kasumi - Stolen Memory, introduces you to another character but provides no such defining moment. Because the associated recruitment mission and loyalty mission are one and the same, you never get a chance to develop a bond with Kasumi. She's a thief without an air of mystery or secrecy, featured in a mission that barely gives her a chance to shine. Some clever pop culture references, a bit of brisk action, and a tender conclusion provide brief delights, but while this content doesn't wither, it never fully flourishes, either.

    G4 has mixed feelings:

    The whole Stolen Memory DLC took about an hour to run through, and I suppose I was somewhat satisfied...but again, it raises a point I made when reviewing the free Firewalker DLC pack: Would this have been better played during the natural flow of the game? Probably. Remember when you need to follow that guy and his bodyguard from the rafters in the original Mass Effect 2 game? I didn’t love the gameplay but it was something different from mining and shooting, so it worked as a nice break. Now, if I had defeated the game, plunked down some cash and made a point of resuming the game just to play that segment, I’d probably not be too thrilled.

    ...and Gametrailers has a video review where they say Kasumi "suffices".

    Wednesday - April 07, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Kasumi DLC Review Roundup

    by Dhruin, 21:03

    Here's a collection of Kasumi's Stolen Memory reviews, courtesy of the awesome Omega. I'll post a couple of quotes and then bullet-list the rest.  The general consensus seems to be modestly positive, with praise for the loyalty mission.  So, here's a snip from Thankless Grind, who awarded 3/5:

    The question you have to ask yourself when thinking about picking up Kasumi's Stolen Memory is: Would you pay 700 MS Points ($7/£4.80) for Zaeed? Remember how Zaeed didn't have any conversations while on the Normandy, and didn't have a recruitment mission other than a introductory conversation? It's basically just that again. The biggest difference here is that while Zaeed's loyalty mission wasn't particularly notable, Kasumi's mission is really interesting and unique, and you get some new casual clothes out of it.

    Just Push Start, with a score of 3.5/5:

    Isn’t it too late?
    I am sure by now the majority of gamers who played Mass Effect 2 will be finished through their first and second play-throughs. I don’t see the point of releasing an extra character at this point when most of us have already finished with the main campaign. Sure the playing through her loyalty mission is fun but there will be no point of using her if you saved at the last part of the game. It’s not like she’ll make that much of difference. I think this DLC would be very beneficial assuming you’ve just started playing Mass Effect 2. Honestly, when Zaeed – the Price of Revenge DLC was released, who uses that pathetic character anymore?

    Eurogamer, who look at all the DLC available.  Score - 8/10:

    Tweaking the mission formula slightly, you'll be playing with just Shepard and new recruit Kasumi Goto, a master thief, rather than the expected duo of tooled-up companions. While we gamers tend to get hung up on how long things last, and how that time compares to money spent, Stolen Memory does a good job of justifying itself through enjoyable gameplay and clever storytelling. Short, yes, but also surprisingly sweet.

    Mass Effect 2 - Kasumi DLC Released

    by Dhruin, 08:54

    Apparently BioWare hit a snag with this earlier in the day (what is it with DLC and dodgy releases?) but Kasumi - Stolen Memory is now available.  Don't forget this is paid DLC, so it's not available on Cerberus:

    Kasumi - Stolen Memory is out now on Xbox 360 and PC!

    Cerberus has procured the service of Kasumi Goto, the galaxy's most enigmatic master thief. In return for her help, Kasumi has asked Shepard's help on a dangerous heist to infiltrate the vault of a deadly master criminal named Donovan Hock.

    Kasumi - Stolen Memory includes a new squad member, mission, weapon, research upgrade, casual outfit, and achievement.

    Sign into Xbox LIVE or log into the BioWare Social site to download it now!

    Tuesday - April 06, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Kasumi DLC Trailer and More

    by Dhruin, 12:36

    BioWare's Stolen Memories DLC, which adds Kasumi Goto as a character for Mass Effect 2, apparently launches in the next day or so.  Omega points out this trailer at Gametrailers.

    While we're on Mass Effect 2, 1Up asked Casey Hudson and Ray Muzyka at GDC why no homosexual romances.  Seems an odd topic to worry about to me, but then I'm not big on the romances in the first place:

    Casey Hudson: Everything new that we add still requires extra content. Some people might argue in a case like that you could just have the same kinds of scenes that just work with different characters. But we wouldn’t really want to have it that way. You’d want to take a proper approach to designing those scenes, otherwise you’d see the same scene. So we kind of pulled back and looked at where we had to draw the line in terms of how much content we make. How much should we support? We actually added a lot more romance options because we have new characters and multiple options already in the romances. So we kind of pulled back and said, "Well, the love interest is part of the story and it helps you care about the characters in a different way." We still view it as... if you’re picturing a PG-13 action movie. That’s how we’re trying to design it. So that’s why the love interest is relatively light. ... That’s another thing we did better than we did before. We really lock you into character. Tali is really interesting because the whole idea of her character and what she’s concerned about and her experience and age -- we kind of factor all those things, and we designed the love interests really around the particular characters because they’re all quite different. So her (love scene) is a little more innocent and fun.

    Tuesday - March 30, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Kasumi DLC Review

    by Dhruin, 22:01

    AtomicGamer has a review of the Premium DLC for Mass Effect 2, Stolen Memories, which introduces the new character of Kasumi Goto.  There's no score but they seem to think this is worth the $7.  A sample:

    Kasumi's loyalty quest starts out nice enough, with some new formal wear for your Shepard and a party that you'll have to infiltrate. You're trying to break in the vault of a high-profile mark named Donovan Hock who's got the galaxy's best party going on, and you'll be shipping in your equipment in a golden statue of Saren (for those who didn't play the first game, he was the villain there), of all things. It starts out with conversation and exploration of the party as you figure out how to get a DNA sample and voice print from your mark, and once you get past security, things go bad quickly. Suffice it to say that you'll be shooting your way out, but not before finding a new submachine gun called the Locust first. According to BioWare's Casey Hudson, there's at least one other weapon that'll pop up as well.

    Source: Blues News

    Thursday - March 25, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - On RPGs and Genre Classification

    by Dhruin, 20:07

    This topic just keeps coming back, doesn't it?  You may recall that Scars of War developer Gareth Fouche wrote an enthusiastic defence of Mass Effect 2 a little while back; Part 2 is now online and Gareth continues the topic by tackling the entire genre classification issue:

    What is an RPG?

    (Are you ready for it?)

    Answer : ‘RPG’ is a communication shorthand term for a game which shares common features with the other games classified as ‘RPGs’.

    At this point you’re probably thinking “Well, no shit Gareth, we understand what a game genre is, don’t be a smart arse”.

    Except I think that this is one of those things which is so obvious, so familiar, that people don’t really think about what that means and the implications of it.

    Mass Effect 2 - Shooter or RPG?

    by Aries100, 17:55

    During this year's GDC, Bioware's Christina Normann gave a lecture which people from Game Zenith attended. After GDC, Game Zenith has published an article where they frankly scorn Bioware for the lack of major rpg elements in Mass Effect 2. 

    The included some authentic quotes from Christina Norman in the article. Here's a direct quote from Chritina Norman and Game Zenith's reaction:

    "Fans complaining (About lack of RPG experience in ME2) is a small percentage of the overall post (In the Bioware forums)"

    This is a real slap in the face to those core RPG gamers who have followed Bioware over the years. It is as if Bioware does not care about the lesser percentage of their audience, as long as the larger percentage loves it and they get their profits. Bioware seems to not recall who built them in the first place. They fail to remember who bought their products and put money into their pockets from the beginning. I know Bioware is on a quest to seek profits, thus broadening their audience, but please do not act like the voice of RPGers are not that important because we are a "small percentage". RPG gamers are loyal and will support you as long as you respect their desires. Shooter gamers are itinerant, once you think you've gotten their attention, they will move on to the next big thing. Remember this Bioware while developing Mass Effect 3.

     Christina also mentioned that in Mass Effect 1:

    when you level up, it interrupts gameplay and when you pause the game to level up and jump back into the action, you do not know what’s going on.

    Apparently, Bioware is going the shooter route with the Mass Effect series. Will ME3 then be pure shooter? And do you think Bioware should go this route?

    Source: GameBanshee

    Wednesday - March 24, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Firewalker DLC Review

    by Dhruin, 20:01

    GameBanshee has spied a review of the Firewalker DLC released yesterday for Mass Effect 2.  It's worth noting Firewalker is free but Thankless Grind still didn't find it worth their time, awarding a score of 2/5:

    All of the missions are all varying degrees of really short. The mission that involves zooming quickly between nodes is over in all of three minutes by design. Spending time exploring in the other missions will only lead you to find a few extra minerals that you still don't need. There is no new voice acting from anyone apart from the Hammerhead's computer which is itself fine but not particularly noteworthy. The final mission leads to an oddly anti-climactic finale involving a giant ball-bearing, and an upgrade to my combat abilities that I can't use anywhere because there is absolutely no-one left to shoot in the entire game. Finally, while they've made a new landing animation for landing with the Hammerhead, they've somehow managed to break the frame-rate on it.

    Ultimately none of the concepts introduced with the Hammerhead are well developed enough to make them challenging. The combat is broken, and not hard even if you purposefully get close enough to the enemies to make them fight back. You'll also probably do all the boosting and jumping sequences on your first attempt. I feel like they need to release another set of missions for the Hammerhead that are actually somewhat challenging in order to justify it's existence. Maybe they will, but I'd personally prefer they just stick to making packs which stick to the game's core strengths though.

    Source: GameBanshee

    Mass Effect 2 - Futuristic Science Explained

    by Aries100, 19:47

    Dr. Michio Kaku talks in a very cool 8 minute video, that's hosted on GameTrailers about just how possible the future science described in ME2 will be. The conversation deals with dark matter, force fields, invisibility and biotics. This should be an interesting video to watch, I find.

    Source: GameBanshee

    Tuesday - March 23, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Firewalker and Appearance Pack DLC Released

    by Dhruin, 21:59

    BioWare has released the Mass Effect 2 Firewalker free DLC via Cerberus Network and the Alternate Appearance Pack for sale:

    Two new awesome pieces of Downloadable Content are out today!

    The first is free to all Cerberus Network members: The Firewalker Pack and features 5 new missions and introduces the Hammerhead heavy assault vehicle. The next is the Alternate Appearance Pack for 160 MS or BioWare points. Download and equip new outfits for Thane, Subject Zero, and Garrus.

    Monday - March 22, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - The Subjective Story

    by Dhruin, 20:15

    Mass Effect 2's Subjective Story at Next Gen actually should have been titled the Objective Story.  Reporting on a GDC panel, BioWare's Armando Troisi explains that Shepard is less like a traditional RPG avatar and more like Kratos in God of War:

    In attempt to fix these problems, or at least tackle interactive narrative from a different direction, Bioware chose to create something “really counter to the traditional roleplaying form."

    “You are not Shepard. He has his own reasons and motivations for doing things; he’s more like God of War’s Kratos than he is the avatar of Dragon’s Age.”

    As a result, the player fills a “voyeuristic” role—watching scenes and trying to influence them, not control them. Troisi considered that this had “almost completely” removed temporal distortion, offering a “real time narrative environment.”

    Mass Effect 2 - Kasumi DLC Priced

    by Dhruin, 20:07

    BioWare has announced pricing for the Kasumi Goto DLC.  Here are the key parts of the official PR:

    March 22, 2010 12:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time
    BioWare Unveils New Recruit in Massively Acclaimed Mass Effect 2

    EDMONTON, Alberta--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Leading video game developer BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS), today revealed an all-new playable character to the Mass Effect™ 2 universe, a master thief named Kasumi. Coming this April in North America and Europe, the Kasumi – Stolen Memory PDLC pack will introduce Kasumi Goto, the galaxy’s most enigmatic and cunning master thief. In addition to being able to recruit Kasumi in all new missions, players will be able to utilize her special skills as a member of Commander Shepard’s squad throughout the entire game. The Kasumi – Stolen Memory PDLC pack will be available for the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system at a cost of 560 Microsoft points, and on PC for 560 BioWare points or $7.

    New screens of Kasumi and the Firewalker pack are also available.

    Sunday - March 21, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Review @ VGBlogger

    by Dhruin, 00:06

    Another article from Michael 'txa1265' Anderson, this time a "discussion" review of Mass Effect 2 at VGBlogger.  Ultimately, the review is very positive but a number of negatives are explored, such as the story reboot at the beginning:

    OK, with that out of the way, I just have to ask BioWare … what the heck were you thinking with this game? Maybe someday it will all make sense, like George Lucas has tried to wrap enough lore around everything so that it looks like the Original Star Wars wasn’t made as a stand-alone film. The problem is, BioWare said from the start they planned Mass Effect as a trilogy, so that even if they made it compartmentalized in case it flopped, they should have had everything fleshed out to ease into a sequel.

    Yet within the first half-hour of playing I was uttering ‘WTF’ almost repeatedly, going back to my old Mass Effect review and recent partial replay to try to figure out how I could have missed out on so much stuff or misinterpreted so much. I even searched the info on the Mass Effect novels to see what I was missing. Turns out there wasn’t much. BioWare simply did a ‘reboot’, introduced a major character out of the blue, and leads you by the nose into a non-choice that would have been completely anathema in the first game. All I could guess was that they assumed that gamers have the attention span of voters so they could get away with changing whatever they wanted and no one would notice or care … and thus far I can see they were right.

    Friday - March 19, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Site Updates

    by Dhruin, 22:47

    BioWare has a news roundup of recent updates at the Mass Effect 2 site, mostly relating to upcoming DLC.  Apparently, an Alternative Appearance Pack and Firewalker are both due on March 23rd:

    Check out the new Downloadable Content section under Game Info, for all the latest news on upcoming paid DLC. Coming March 23rd, is the Alternate Appearance pack, featuring new outfits for Garrus, Subject Zero, and Thane. After that the 12th member of Shepard's squad, Kasumi Goto, will be skulking in the shadows early April.

    Also coming on March 23rd is the Firewalker Pack. Free to all Cerberus Network members, the Firewalker Pack contains 5 new missions featuring the Hammerhead heavy assault vehicle. Make sure you have registered for the Cerberus Network to receive this awesome expansion to Mass Effect 2!

    Additionally, the preview for the fourth and final comic in the Redemption series is now up. How will Liara's struggle against the Shadow Broker end? Make sure to pre-order your copy now and find out! If you didn't get a chance to pick up the earlier issues of Redemption, Dark Horse will be releasing a graphic novel compilation this summer featuring all 4 issues.

    Thursday - March 18, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Mass Ineffective

    by Dhruin, 19:45

    Yet another editorial on Mass Effect 2, with this piece at Everyday Gamers questioning the RPG aspects:

    For a role playing game, Mass Effect 2 doesn’t exactly let the player represent his personal convictions or opinions. Your own voice is merely a suggestion whispered into the ear of the Mass Effect 2 story as it trudges boldly along in its predestined path. Occasionally the game offers you choices, but does it let your own personality reflect and shape a characters response? More likely you are offered something along the lines of “Throw the puppy in the furnace” or “Turn off furnace”. Two options that sit as far away from each other on a morality scale as possible.  Their might be a middle choice like “Turn off furnace. Also kick puppy”, but the game doesn’t really rewarding you for fence sitting.  Let me explain before you raise your pitchfork and use it to puncture my car tires.

    Monday - March 15, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Premium DLC Preview

    by Dhruin, 19:56

    BioWare has kicked up official info on the Stolen Memories Premium DLC  that will add another character, Kasumi Goto:

     

    The galaxy's most enigmatic thief, Kasumi Goto has been contracted to assist Commander Shepard in the mission to save mankind.

    Once Kasumi is recruited for your squad, she can be used for the remainder of the mission, and features new cinematics and dialogue. Check out Kasumi's character page for more information!

    ...and MTV has a preview:

    Unlike the vast majority of the missions in "Mass Effect 2," the PDLC will be much less combat-focused, at least to start. Shepard needs to infiltrate a high society party in order to get close to the object of Kasumi's desire, locked away in an underground vault underneath a mansion.

    The first portion of the mission has you going undercover as a party guest, allowing you to case the joint and get a feel for the security. According to Casey Hudson, the game director of "Mass Effect 2," James Bond was a definitely inspiration for the mission, as it requires some smarts and style as well as combat skills.

    Mass Effect 2 - Shooter Shift Explained

    by Dhruin, 09:00

    BioWare's Christina Norman and Armando Troisi have presented at GDC on the Mass Effect series, resulting in a bunch of articles about the relationship with Mass Effect 1, the shift to more focus on being a shooter and the plan for Mass Effect 3.

    Let's kick off with GameSpot with Mass Effect 2's Shooter Shift Examined:

    As the engineers were preoccupied with other work, Norman and her team did their initial prototyping using the original Mass Effect's engine, making changes only to specific values like weapon damage or accuracy. And though the work ended up being mostly throwaway, she said that the experiments helped them get a better handle on the limitations of their current setup.

    Getting into the brass tacks of design, Norman said that it became paramount to build great shooter gameplay. To do so, she said that they completely turned off the game's RPG system so that they could focus on crafting the shooter elements, a move Norman called the most important of the project.

    The Escapist has a similar article:

    According to Norman, the biggest issue with Mass Effect 1 was that players were often confused by the vagaries of the RPG-inspired combat system. In other shooter-like games, a player could pick up a rifle and shoot things right away, but Mass Effect, borrowing a trope from Bioware's bread and butter, RPGs, started players as a "level one character," meaning that when the player picked up a rifle at the beginning of the game that player was a "level one rifle shooter" and couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. Not until the player leveled up, after a considerable amount of time in the game, did the player's ability to aim and hit improve.

    From an RPG perspective, this mechanic makes perfect sense. But, as Norman says, Mass Effect is more than an RPG.

    "Looking at [Mass Effect 1] gameplay footage," she says, "it looks like a shooter, but it's a shooter where you can't hit anything."

    IGN explains that Mass Effect 2 has 700 hooks back to the ME1 plot, based on another presentation:

    Troisi described Mass Effect's built-in ability to read your game save files as the series' "uber-feature," and said there are roughly 700 "plot hooks" in Mass Effect 1 that carry over one way or another into Mass Effect 2. To illustrate just how granular BioWare gets with these player choices, he showed a brief segment of Mass Effect 2.

    In the scene, a male Commander Shepard walks up to one of the advertising pillars on the Citadel, and a trailer for a fictional film begins to play. Because this particular Shepard had chosen to let the Citadel Council die in the final moments of the game's ending, the trailer reflected that and announced that the film would have a fall release date. Then Troisi showed the same interaction with a female Shepard who had chosen to spare the Council. The trailer played out differently, and a summer release date was given.

    Meodia has a slide presentation on the changes and Joystiq takes the same presentation but adds a little more detail:

    The streamlined gameplay and GUI of Mass Effect 2 made it a huge critical success, but Norman pointed out some major criticisms from vocal members of the official BioWare forums. Threads titled "Mass Effect 2 is not an RPG" and "Gears of War with interactive dialogue" were highlighted as examples of fans disappointed by the strong shooting focus of the second game.

    As with the transition from the first Mass Effect to the second, BioWare is taking these criticisms to heart for the third game, with Norman hoping the third will offer "richer RPG features" and "more combat options." What we can probably expect less of, however, is the mining minigame, which Norman described as the part that "nobody liked."

    A nod to Omega for some of these links.

    Friday - March 12, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Kasumi's Stolen Memory DLC

    by Dhruin, 20:14

    Joystiq reveals the first paid Mass Effect 2 DLC will be released on April 6th, titled Kasumi's Stolen Memory:

    While Mass Effect 2's in-game DLC pipeline, The Cerberus Network, continues to transport new weapons (and soon, a new vehicle) to players for free, BioWare has announced the game's first pack of paid downloadable content. "Kasumi's Stolen Memory" finally completes Commander Shepard's dirty dozen, adding a confident female thief to your anti-Reaper repertoire. It's currently scheduled to launch for Xbox 360 and PC on April 6.

    Source: Blues News

    Tuesday - March 09, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Arc Projector Free DLC

    by Dhruin, 21:49

    A new free DLC from the dripfeed has been released for Mass Effect 2 - the Arc Projector heavy weapon:

    Attention all Cerberus Network members: The Arc Projector heavy weapon has been deployed for field use.

    The Arc Projector is capable of discharging a massive electrical blast that can jump to multiple targets. For more information, check out the Arsenal on the website.

    Saturday - March 06, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Action Figures Revealed

    by Aries100, 15:38

    If you're playing Mass Effect 2 and want to have your own personal Thane, Commander Shepard, Tali or Grunt sitting on your desk while playing ME2, now you can. Of course, they're alle plastic figurines courtesey of Bioware and DC Direct.
    Here's the word from Chris Priestly.

    BioWare is pleased to be working with DC Direct to brign you 4 figures from Mass Effect 2. You can now have Commander Shepard (male), Tali, Thane and Grunt for decorating your desk, playing in the sandbox or just to keep in the wrapping to appreciate in value in years to come.

    And here's the direct link to see how the figurines look like. And why does Shepard
    only come as male figurine?

    Source: GameBanshee

    Monday - March 01, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Final Thoughts @ 1Up

    by Dhruin, 19:50

    1Up's RPG blog The Grind has some Final Thoughts on Mass Effect 2:

    What I appreciate the most about Mass Effect 2 though is how ruthlessly the fat has been excised and perceived flaws corrected. What it sacrifices in depth it gains in the purification of its gameplay, as I discussed in my most recent entry. I actually enjoyed the combat, which is a lot more than I can say for the first Mass Effect. It's a pity that BioWare opted to significantly pare down the skill trees (they're more like skill bushes now), but I feel like they had to perfect the game's mechanical foundation before they could expand upon it. Now that they've got the actual shooting down, there's plenty of time to add increased armor, weapon and skill customization.

    Saturday - February 27, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Why We Should Never Underestimate BioWare Again

    by Dhruin, 21:18

    Yes, I know these articles about the Mass Effect 2 revolution are getting tiresome but I was struck by just how different this writer's experience was to my own.  The full title is Why We Should Never Underestimate BioWare (or Canadians) Again - I'm not sure why we'd underestimate either of those but VGChartz thinks ME2 will change the genre:

    Poking fun of my friendly neighbors to the north aside, several hours into this game I found myself in a near panic over a relatively inconsequential decision, which made me stop and think about what I was experiencing with this game. Along with most of you, I often fall into the tendency to play an RPG like a jackass, killing innocents without a second thought and generally causing as much turmoil as possible within the game world. After importing my first Mass Effect game and seeing portions of the second title locked or unavailable due to my previous jackassery, I started carefully debating every decision I made in-game, just as Assface Shepard (yes, that's his name) would do if I was directing a movie or playing an in-depth pen & paper RPG. Why was I doing this? It occurred to me that there will be a third game and it had suddenly hit me that if I wanted to experience parts of it, I'd have to play by the rules. Frighteningly like real life only with giant robots, intergalactic travel, and sexy blue aliens. At that point, I realized that I finally had the chance to BE Captain Kirk, which has put my therapist into quite the fit. She believed that idea had been medicated out of me years ago. At that point, the geek in me came to the forefront loud and proud and I have to admit I muttered “By the power of Grayskull!” at least once during my playthrough.

    Mass Effect 2 - Wishlist for Mass Effect 3 @ Game Informer

    by Aries100, 18:48

    After playing Mass Effect, Game Informer has come with a list for how they want Bioware to improve Mass Effect 3. Their wishes goes from more explanation over more strategic combat to better relationships. They also want to see Bioware take a break from how they tell a story, calling it 'formulaic'.

    The static intro sequence branches into several far-flung locations. You choose which of these locations to visit first. At each, you further solidify your power base and gather party members, then tackle a final static mission.

    Mass Effect 2's loyalty missions and multiple central story missions were a step in the right direction. However, Mass Effect 3 should offer a less stratified structure to keep players on their toes. Perhaps one character requires a designated loyalty mission, but another becomes loyal only through certain conversation options.

    Source: GameBanshee

    Friday - February 26, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Firewalker Pack Announced - Hammerhead Driving Vehicle Included

    by Aries100, 15:30

    A DLC for ME2, called Firewalker Pack will be released in late March, has Bioware finally revealed. It will feature the Hammerhead assault vehicle as well as five missions for it. It will be available to all members of the Cerberus Network free of charge. Later this month, it seems that Bioware will release a brand new weapon as a free dlc, too, also available free of charge to all members of the Cerberus Network.

    The Hammerhead assault vehicle is coming to the Cerberus Network in late March! 

    Free to all Cerberus Network members, the Firewalker pack includes 5 all new missions featuring the Hammerhead. Hovering over the battlefield at up to 120 kilometeres per hour, the Hammerhead also boasts a guided missile system ensuring accuracy even during aggressive maneuvering. 

    Additionally we will be revealing a new heavy weapon available to all Cerberus Network members very soon. Stay tuned for more info on this new addition to the Mass Effect 2 arsenal, coming this month!

    Source: GameBanshee

    Thursday - February 25, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Review Pt.1 @ Blog of War

    by Dhruin, 20:16

    Our friend Gareth Fouche - the developer behind Scars of War - has posted the first part of his thoughts on Mass Effect 2:

    You might recall that I didn’t like ME1 much at all. Regardless, I tend to give Bioware games the benefit of the doubt so I went forth and bought ME2, ignoring the part of me that was screaming that I was sending good money after bad.

    But I was wrong. Horribly, horribly, happily wrong. This statement may shock some but I really think ME2 is the best Bioware game since BG2. In the space of 2 weeks it has climbed into the hallowed ranks of the games I will remember fondly for years to come, sitting alongside BG2, Deus Ex, Thief, System Shock 2, Vampire:Bloodlines and the rest.

    Mass Effect 2 - Deconstructed, Part Two, @ Critical Gamer

    by Aries100, 16:42

    UK site Critical Gamer has posted their second part of the brief (yet spoiler heavy) look
    at Bioware's Mass Effect 2. As promised in the first article this time around they are focusing mainly on the positive aspects of the game. Here's a somewhat spoilerfree part of the article, focusing on how the narrative adapts to the player.

    Perhaps the most interesting thing Mass Effect 2 does though, is adapt the narrative to the player. In giving us so many important decisions in the original Mass Effect, there was a worry that Bioware's next game would become bloated and the story would have too many different paths to form a coherent whole. But it hasn't turned out that way. What it does instead is reward the player for having gone through the original Mass Effect. Characters you've impacted will show up or send you messages and the universe will change subtly depending how you acted previously.

    Source: GameBanshee

    Wednesday - February 24, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - BioWare's iRPG

    by Dhruin, 19:44

    The debate on Mass Effect 2 continues with 1Up's The Grind column arguing ME2 is like an Apple Mac.  I'm not sure if this analogy is going to win fans or not:

    In the meantime, I think Mass Effect 2 is a much purer realization of BioWare's original vision for the series. This is where the "Mac" part of the equation starts to come into play. The stats are still there, but they've been well-hidden. Glance at the information window, and you might notice that various weapons have better armor penetration, or work well against shields. Armor accessories will add damage to headshots, or change the shield recharge rate.

    In a normal RPG, these would be rendered as individual statistics. In Mass Effect 2, they are rendered as nice, friendly percentage points. As with a Mac, a player can remain blissfully unaware of everything that's going on under the hood while using a system that still has a fair amount of utility.

    Monday - February 22, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - v1.01 Patch

    by Dhruin, 19:44

    The PC version of Mass Effect 2 has been patched.  The notes and 42Mb patch file can be found here at BioWare:

    Changes to 1.01

    • Fixed video hitching and crashes related to single core machines.
    • Single core users may experience short periods of black screen that may last up a few seconds between level loads, cinematic transitions or movies.
    • In rare cases, some single core users may notice dialog lines in certain conversations may be delayed up to a few seconds.
    • Fixed an issue where it appears ammunition can be picked up, but can't.
    • Fixed an issue where all Codex entries were marked as 'viewed', even if the player chose not to view them.
    • Fixed an issue where weapon icons are re-organized after downloadable content is used.
    • Fixed an issue where pressing F9 after the mission completion screen reset Shepard to Level 1.
    • Fixed an issue where remapping the right mouse button blocks camera control in the command HUD.
    • Fixed an issue where remapping the 'use' command affects the decryption minigame.
    • Fixed an issue where users were not prompted to restart when logging in to a different EA Online account.
    • Fixed an issue where movies do not play in DLC.
    • It is recommended that players reset their keyboard mapping to default values to ensure proper vehicle control.
    • Added useful messaging during the ME1 save game import.
    • Weapon icon for henchmen never changes from Collector Assault Rifle.
    • Czech language - Issues with Czech localization (subtitles) were amended, all text was corrected and improved.
    • Fixed an issue where the Mass Effect 2 launcher was being associated with files that have no extension.
    • Fixed an issue where uninstalling the game under Windows Vista or Windows 7 might uninstall Mass Effect 1.

    Friday - February 19, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Deconstructed, Part One @ Critical Gamer

    by Magerette, 17:19

    UK site Critical Gamer posts the first of a two-part brief but in-depth (and spoiler-heavy) look at Bioware's Mass Effect 2. This first article is designed to point out flaws, while the one to come is stated to be about the more positive aspects.

    Here's a relatively spoiler-free exerpt from the end of the article:

    Mass Effect is populated with a number of different alien races; the codex catalogues these races with information on their culture, their history and technology. This is all great stuff and it shows that Bioware have put in a significant amount of consideration when fleshing out their universe. But one niggling problem remains in the way these aliens are portrayed in the world. Despite the unique characteristics each race has, getting past the speech problems of the Elcor, or the all female Asari, each race acts like a funny looking human. So you get a hard-boiled Asari detective, reminiscent of a thousand others, the only difference being she’s blue....It would be interesting to see races that are so different and so ‘alien’ to humanity that their outlook and philosophy is nigh on incomprehensible. Even the Asari Justiciar – part of Asari culture supposed to be unique and interesting is able to liken herself to a monk or a chivalrous knight, and thus becomes an instantly recognisable archetype.

    Imagine a companion whose outlook was so diametrically opposed emotionally and philosophically to anything human, that working them out was a true mystery. Instead we hear about wives, daughters, sons, religion and marriage, topics that are all too familiar to us.

    Source: GameBanshee

    Wednesday - February 17, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Plot Analysis @ Twenty Sided

    by Dhruin, 21:56

    Shamus Young takes a detailed, three-part look at the plot of Mass Effect 2 at his blog, Twenty Sided.  Since it takes a close look at the overall plot and structure, it's a giant spoiler from start to end, so don't go near this unless you've finished the game:

    The main plot of Mass Effect 2 not only fails to stand up to scrutiny, but it retroactively goes back and messes up parts of Mass Effect 1 which worked perfectly fine. It’s cheap, obvious, and tacked-on. It fails to exploit any of the great ideas set up in the original, and instead does a messy reboot and burns all of the bridges built by the first game. The only thing it keeps is the idea that “Reapers are coming from beyond known space to kill us all”. But it even screws that up, because it takes the very small number of things we know about Reapers and changes them for no good reason.

    Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

     

    Mass Effect 2 - Redemption #3 Preview

    by Dhruin, 21:39

    You can now preview the 3rd edition of Redemption, the Mass Effect comic by Dark Horse (direct link, .pdf).

    Mass Effect 2 - German Review @ GBase

    by Dhruin, 21:26

    Regular contributors GBase write in to point out their German review of Mass Effect 2, which carries a score of 8.5/10.

    Tuesday - February 16, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Review @ GameBanshee

    by Dhruin, 21:08

    GameBanshee joins the list of sites with a Mass Effect 2 review, although unlike most, they approach the game from the perspective of an RPG site.  Their experience is described as "mixed" with "dialogue, equipment, character choices, game decisions, puzzles, and depth" all "taking a hit".  A bit on the gameplay:

    The missions in the game are almost exclusively combat-oriented. While in Mass Effect you had to talk to people and solve puzzles and make weighty decisions, in Mass Effect 2 you mostly just kill stuff, and sometimes the missions don’t feel like anything more than extended shooting galleries. In most cases, you enter a large room with lots of objects to take cover behind, you kill about ten guys, you scrounge around for bullets and resources, and then you move on to the next big room and repeat the process. There are some role-playing elements here and there, but BioWare abandoned puzzles completely, and I’m guessing that Mass Effect 2 only has about half the dialogue as Mass Effect. The emphasis is clearly on combat.

    Monday - February 15, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Editorial Discussion RPG or Not @ Bitmob

    by Aries100, 17:53

    Bitmob has an editorial discussing whether Mass Effect 2 is an RPG or not. The author starts out by asking whether Bioware sold out or just streamlined the genre.
    Here's part of the conclusion:

    That's what I've been trying to explain. I don't think that ME2's skill system is too simplified, I think that the typical leveling systems used in other RPGs are overly complicated!

    Do you agree with this statement?

    Source: GameBanshee

    Saturday - February 13, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Tech Analysis @ Eurogamer

    by Dhruin, 21:10

    I don't know how interesting this is but Eurogamer has a Tech Analysis of Mass Effect 2, examining the frame rates and technical improvements of the sequel, particularly on the X360.  Here's a quick sample to see if this is your thing:

    There are similarities with the first game. Cut-scenes can and will drop down to 20FPS in order to maintain the excellent detail levels BioWare demands from its characters, and there are still jumps in places between 20FPS and 30FPS during the arcade sections, but overall performance, particularly when it comes to tearing (now at 2.5 per cent in these clips - most of the time ME2 passes as a v-synced game), is obviously smoother.

    This has all been achieved with a range of technological improvements across the board, combined with sharper level design more in tune with the limitations of the engine.

    Thursday - February 11, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Why This Is the Future of the RPG

    by Dhruin, 20:16

    So, we've had The Brainy Gamer explaining why there is room for different RPG styles but let's see one of these Why Mass Effect 2 is the future of the RPG articles he was talking about.  From GamerNode:

    This is where Mass Effect 2 comes into play. Everything that is wrong with RPGs is gone from ME2. There are no idiotic JRPG tropes or useless level grinding. You never have to keep track of your inventory, or gather tons of loot that will serve no purpose other than to be traded for currency later. The game boils down what an RPG really is: character progression, story, and most importantly, having you play a role.

    So many other RPGs hand you a character that is nothing like you want them to be. They are their own character and you are just controlling them. They make their own choices and are slaves to the game's narrative. Yet in ME2, you can alter the story based on your choices. You're not bound to any strict storyline. You can choose to gain your crews' loyalty, or you can choose to not care about any of them, just the mission. Yes, there is a base plot here, but you can build your own story with it.

    Source: Rampant Games

    Tuesday - February 09, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Free Cerberus Armor and Eviscerator Shotgun DLC

    by Dhruin, 20:58

    BioWare has announced two small pieces of free DLC for Mass Effect 2:

    New Cerberus Assault Armor and M-22a Eviscerator Shotgun DLC are NOW AVAILABLE fof free through the Cerberus network. It should be available for all fans, both on PC and Xbox 360. Check your download screens now.

    Cerberus Assault Armor
    Cerberus assault armor is designed for shock troops, turn the tide of battle against creatures or forces that would decimate normal soldiers.
    Increases heavy weapon ammo capacity by +10%
    Increases shields by +10%
    Increases health by +10%

    M-22a Eviscerator Shotgun
    The M-22a Eviscerator Shotgun is a longer-range shotgun with armor-piercing loads. This design also violates several intergalactic weapons treaties, so the M-22a is not distributed to militaries.

    You can learn more about  the Cerberus Assault Armor in a Arsenal update with screenshots of the armor in action here: http://masseffect.bioware.com/universe/arsenal/armor/

    You'll need to be signed up to the Cerberus Network delivery system.

    Monday - February 08, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Scrambled @ The Brainy Gamer

    by Dhruin, 20:05

    Guhndahb sends in this excellent article at The Brainy Gamer that doesn't so much look at Mass Effect 2 or even the critical praise but some of the commentary that has accompanied the game - in particular, the assertion that ME2 represents the refined future of RPGs.  Genre classification is a related topic covered.  A bit of a lengthy clip as introduction:

    I've been reading lots of reviews and blog posts certifying Mass Effect 2 as the future of RPGs. It fixes what's wrong with the genre and sends designers of backward-looking games scrambling to the drawing board. It represents, as several notable outlets have noted, the future of storytelling in games and a lesson in how to do narrative games right.

    I'm going to play contrarian here, but first let me say I think Mass Effect 2 largely earns the lavish praise heaped upon it. It's an exceptionally fine game with fabulous production values, and I've enjoyed just about every minute I've spent playing it. I'm not quibbling with the hype. Not much anyway.

    I'm troubled by the mentality that games exist to invalidate other games; that the most effective measure of a game's value is its ability to surpass or trump other games that preceded it. Among its many praiseworthy aspects, Mass Effect 2's success as a kind of refutation of other games is considered an especially noteworthy achievement.

    Mass Effect 2 - Review @ ComputerGames.ro

    by Dhruin, 19:51

    ComputerGames.ro writes in with their review of Mass Effect 2.  The score is 85%, although the text seems more ambivalent:

    Mass Effect 2 is a good game… but not quite. Good because, strictly from an entertainment standpoint, it can be recommended without hesitation, not quite because some of the good things from its predecessor were left out, while others were overly “streamlined”.

     Some players will see only the flaws and the “shortcuts” taken by the developers, while others, who don’t give a damn about these details, will say that the former are just looking for something to bitch about. Two sides, with completely different philosophies, and me stuck in the middle on punching bag duty if I don’t back one of them. And like that wasn’t enough, everybody’s pretty much right.

    Saturday - February 06, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - On Endings and Saves

    by Dhruin, 22:08

    GameInformer has a piece on a specific ending in Mass Effect 2, which results in not having a save game for ME3.  This relates to a design choice and a specific mission, not a technical fault, so massive spoilers apply.  No quote in that case, so head over if you don't care about being spoiled on a particular ending.  You've been warned!

    Friday - February 05, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Twitter Review @ Twenty Sided

    by Dhruin, 21:42

    Shamus Young from Twenty Sided has started another of his twitter reviews where he tweets comments as he plays and then pulls them together for a review at the end.  The format didn't do much for me but in theory it adds some spontaneity and it's interesting to read the tweets as they come in (spoilers!).  His Mass Effect 2 play through has just kicked off.

    Thursday - February 04, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Free Content Coming

    by Dhruin, 19:34

    A tweet from BioWare on Mass Effect 2:

    Free in-game content in a couple weeks for those who have activated Cerberus Network! Stay tuned for more details.

    Source: Blues News

    Mass Effect 2 - What You Didn't Know

    by Dhruin, 19:32

    GameInformer's Tidbits column brings a piece called What You Didn't Know About Mass Effect 2, a list of minor odds and sods about the game and its development:

    • Boo, the space hamster, is actually voiced by the lead programmer.
 
    • Mass Effect 2 was the first game to use exotic dancers at EA Canada’s motion capture studio in Burnaby, Canada.
    • We did eight full HUD revisions during the development phase of Mass Effect 2.
    • There have been over 900,000 code and content submissions (so far) during the Mass Effect franchise development.

    Source: Blues News

    Wednesday - February 03, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - The Many Failures @ InfoAddict

    by Dhruin, 21:56

    In a sort of anti-review, the InfoAddict highlights a number of design failures in Mass Effect 2 they feel have been overlooked by the gushing mainstream press.  They make some good points, although you could obviously write a mirroring article on what BioWare did right.  A sample:

    Awful Combat Stages

    Bioware has a long and strong heritage in producing top-notch RPG games. What they don’t have is much experience making action games, first-person-shooters specifically, and this lack of experience is in full display.

    The principal problem is the design of the many combat stages the player will have to deal with. Any time you leave a hallway and enter a large room packed with crates and low walls you know one thing for sure: combat is coming. It’s the same boring environment over and over; crates and low-walls, enemies beginning their rush in the distance and winding their way through a minor maze. No subtlety, no surprises. A shocking lack of design that weakens the entire game.

    Just as you know combat is imminent based on nothing more than the layout of a room, you also know there will be zero combat if a room lacks low walls and crates, so the player can relax without fear, which completely ruins any sense of tension or foreboding.

    Mass Effect 3 Improvement: Make your zones of combat seamless with the overall design of the map. A player should not be able to visually determine when combat is going to happen, where it’s going to happen, and how it will play out. Avoid crates and low-walls as the only two objects within a combat zone and show me some original ideas.

    Mass Effect 2 - Subsite @ GameBanshee

    by Dhruin, 21:42

    GameBanshee has launched their subsite for Mass Effect 2, offering a database and the like.  Here's their blurb:

    We've just launched a brand new subsite for BioWare's Mass Effect sequel, where you'll find information about the game's six classes, profiles of all twelve squad members, statistics for all forty-six character powers, exclusive wallpaper, a handy advancement table, a list of achievements, and fully searchable item/upgrade, codex, and planetary databases.

    Saturday - January 30, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Romance Guide @ Games Radar

    Mass Effect 2 - Impressions Piece @ GearDiary

    by Magerette, 13:25

    RPGWatch's Michael Anderson (txa1265) has done a first impressions piece for Mass Effect 2 over at GearDiary, with some quick analysis and a few screens. Here's a snip of the summary:

    There is no question – Mass Effect 2 has plenty of flaws (bet that wasn’t what you were expecting!). The mini-games are tedious, especially planet scanning, but also the circuit and code hacks. Flying through space is without a doubt the worse version of a space travel mechanic I have yet to encounter. And there is also clear ‘over-design’ in the areas, where everything is either directly useful or inert art. Speaking of which, there is too much stuff that does nothing.

    Yet Mass Effect 2 is also an amazing game. The story is compelling, the characters interesting, the combat fun, the skills distinct enough to make a difference, and overall it is just a really nice ride that I’m having a blast taking. When I finish up I’ll be back with a full review!

     

    Friday - January 29, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - 2 Million Copies and Other Tidbits

    by Dhruin, 20:10

    According to Gamasutra, Mass Effect 2 has passed 2 million shipped units (note: shipped, not sold):

    BioWare's Mass Effect 2 has shipped 2 million units, says publisher Electronic Arts, which claims the "first blockbuster of 2010" in its announcement today.

    "Mass Effect 2 is poised to be one of the biggest games of 2010," says BioWare co-founder and general manager Ray Muzyka. "We could not be more proud of the game’s universal acclaim and early commercial success."

    Over at Metacritic, their latest Inside the Reviews feature looks at the critical success of ME2, with a Metacritic position of 3rd overall on their X360 charts.  I'm not sure anything useful is discovered but there you go:

    Critics have identified shooting mechanics, load times, and visuals as among the features that have been improved in the sequel. Inventory, armor upgrades and experience are simplified this time around (experience is awarded only at the end of each mission), while the first game’s hated vehicular missions have been eliminated altogether. Also, the unique, emotion-driven, real-time "conversation wheel" that allowed extensive user control of dialogue in the first game is back for ME2, with some enhancements.

    Rock, Paper, Shotgun writes about the disappointment in getting the default canon instead of his reality because he couldn't import a save, having switched from X360 to PC.  Along comes a repository of saves for people like Alec Meer:

    I played through an hour or so more, but my heart wasn’t in it. Particularly, I wanted big’n'mopey alien bruiser Wrex in my party, but in this enforced new reality that wasn’t possible. Fortunately, during a casual browse of our forums I spotted Alexander Norris’ link to the ME Savegame Repository. Which is what it sounds like – a growing collection of saves from the first game, ready for importing into ME2. Pretty much any Shepherd derivation you can think of is in there – paragon, renegade, mixed, male, female, romanced Kaiden, romanced Ashley, romanced Liara, romanced no-one (that’s me – I find videogame sex/snogging scenes so ludicrous and unconvincing that it can be hard to take the game seriously after seeing one, so generally avoid them), killed Wrex, saved Wrex, killed the council, saved the council, and dozens of similar decisions.

    I've seen a few complaints about the lack of mouses sensitivity settings, so check out this forum post on the official forums for a potential fix.

    ...and GameBanshee points to a hotfix for ATI Crossfire users.

    Thursday - January 28, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Zaeed NPC Available

    by Dhruin, 20:12

    Joystiq says the promised freebie Zaeed is now available via the Cerberus Network:

    It would appear that BioWare has gotten things with our buddy Zaeed all sorted, as his Xbox 360 DLC pack is now available through Mass Effect 2's Cerberus Network. Coming in an update this morning, the disgruntled, padded mercenary is now available for the low, low price of zero dollars.

    I'll have to take their word for it, because my Steam copy hasn't unlocked yet.

    Wednesday - January 27, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Review Flood #2

    by Dhruin, 20:07

    It's almost like the entire internet has stopped for Mass Effect 2, so much as I'd like more diversity in the news,  more ME2 will have to do.  Another line listing, but this time I'm only going to highlight the more interesting articles.

    Figit - not really a review but Tom Chick's list of Ten Things Gone Horribly Wrong in ME2 doesn't paint a positive picture.

    9) It's mostly a shooter
    The core gameplay in Mass Effect 2 is a cover-based shooter, built around a narrow set of resistance/attack types. There are also exploding barrels. Oh, and ammo is called "thermal clips" for some reason. Bioware occasionally tries to vary the action by adding gimmicks, generally involving a timer bar or limitations on where you can stand. It's decent enough, I suppose. There's nothing inherently wrong with a cover-based shooter. But when you make the core gameplay so simple, it has a ripple effect through the rest of the game world. Everything in Mass Effect 2 has to be related to an anemic shooter.

    Mass Effect 2 - Known Issues

    by Dhruin, 10:28

    Seems that - similar to Dragon Age - many people are having trouble registering codes and / or accessing the Cerberus Network to collect their preorder freebies or access and DLC.  The Mass Effect 2 forums has an official thread on the topic that also includes news the Zaeed character is "being propagated" and should be available in a day or so.

    Tuesday - January 26, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Roundup #3

    by Dhruin, 21:12

    A small collection of non-review Mass Effect 2 news.

    First, EA has sent out the official release PR.  I'll just quote the beginning, because it isn't very interesting:

    BIOWARE LAUNCHES MASS EFFECT 2 TO INTERGALACTIC ACCLAIM

    One of 2010's Most Anticipated Blockbuster Videogames Ships to Stores Worldwide Today

    Edmonton, Alberta (January 26, 2010) – Welcome back Commander Shepard. Prepare to fight for the lost! BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS), announced today that Mass Effect™ 2, the sequel to the award-winning science-fiction phenomena Mass Effect, has begun shipping to retailers worldwide. Noted for its intense shooter gameplay and deep, hand-crafted story, Mass Effect 2 has received universal acclaim from top media outlets around the world, earning an average review score of 97 based on 29 reviews on the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system, making the game the second highest rated game for the platform of all time and 95 on PC.* This includes perfect scores from 360 Magazine (5/5), Destructoid (10/10), Eurogamer (10/10), Eurogamer Italy (10/10), Eurogamer Spain (10/10), G4 TV (5/5), Game Daily (10/10), Gamespy.com (5/5), GamesRadar (10/10), gamesTM (10/10), Official Xbox Magazine UK (10/10), TeamXbox (10/10), Total PC Gaming (10/10), VideoGamer.com (10/10) and X360 Magazine (10/10). Time Magazine says Mass Effect 2 is “the Avatar of video games – except it’s better written”, and USAToday.com says “Mass Effect 2 sets the bar high for 2010.”

    MTV says the first DLC accidentally popped up earlier in the week but was quickly withdrawn.  Still, hints of what is to come:

    An extra mission, which is presumed to be the DLC BioWare wanted to have available on January 26, appeared Monday morning with items and armor including a Sentry Interface visor, a M-29 Incisor Sniper Rifle and Blood Dragon Armor, according to 360sync. A complete rundown listed on the site contains game spoilers, so click through that link fully aware. The items have since been removed.

    Penny Arcade has a clarification from Chris Priestly on what happens in you don't have an old ME1 save.  I don't think the misinformation was widely read but just in case...

    Hello Penny Arcade readers. My name is Chris Priestly and I am BioWare’s Community Coordinator.

    This morning Tycho posted a quote I gave him from a discussion we were having about Mass Effect 2. Unfortunately, the information I gave him was not correct. I had told him that when creating a new character, you could go down a list of key decisions and set them manually. Unfortunately I was working from a test build used by our internal testing department. While there are choice made by the player, new games of ME2 will have a certain pre-disposed assumption of what happened to your new character in ME1. 

    I apologize to Tycho for not fact checking the information I gave him, and I apologize to all of you who read what he, in good faith, posted today and have been misinformed.

    The History of BioWare at IGN:

    The decision to make a multi-player, real-time game based on AD&D rules was controversial at the time, drawing skepticism and even mockery from hardcore RPG fans. Dungeons & Dragons had a rich tradition in computer gaming, strengthened during the days of SSI's "Gold Box" series, and fans had a set concept of how its rules should be interpreted for the digital realm. BioWare's more modernized take proved, however, to be more in line with the mass audience's tastes, particularly after Blizzard Entertainment's Diablo brought Western RPGs to a new breed of gamer.

    Zaeed and Mordin character videos at the official site, as well as character updates on Liara, Ashley, Kaidan, Anderson and Joker.

    Mass Effect 2 - Review Flood #1

    by Dhruin, 10:32

    Not surprisingly for such a high profile game, there are a massive number of release-day reviews.  Over half of the scores are straight 10/10s, though some bugs and graphical issues are noted in a few.  These are almost all X360 articles, though NowGamer is for PC.  1Up is the most critical, feeling the RPG aspect has been too streamlined.

    I'm going to line list them, because there are just so many.

    • OMX UK - 10/10, "gaming's best told story" and "superb acting and script".
    • Videogamer.com - 10/10, "everything is stunning".
    • TeamXbox - 10/10, "A game that ranks at the top of the medium", but they note "strange, though infrequent bugs".
    • Games Radar - 10/10 - "BioWare's most fully realised work to date".  They have a section at the end that compares to Borderlands, Dragon Age and Fallout 3, saying the game is better than all of them.  On Dragon Age, they say "Mass Effect 2 has a better combat system, better voice acting, better dialog, better animation, better graphics.."
    • Eurogamer - 10/10 - "BioWare's greatest success in Mass Effect 2 has been taking a complex RPG and making it effortless to understand, play and enjoy on a constant basis, because it has done this in a manner that should prove utterly essential to veterans and newcomers alike, and more than enough to suggest Mass Effect 3 will be the most important game in BioWare's history."
    • PlanetXbox360 - 10/10 - "My journey with Commander Shepherd opened up a new view of what this form of entertainment can do, and allowed me to emotionally connect (and care) with the virtual characters on my television screen."
    • Destructoid - 10/10 - "Flawless victory", "So, combat is improved and much faster than before. Part of that reason is because weapons now use clips, meaning there's no more waiting behind a wall for precious seconds as weapon heat dissipates. Guns also now have unique identities and different battlefield applications. The right gun is just as valuable as the right type of ammunition (and there are plenty of ammo options to choose from, all of which exploit some core weakness). The other part is that Shepard now has more effective powers that can be tied to the face buttons. On the AI side, however, a radial pause menu construct is still needed to queue single actions.  Perhaps most importantly, there are no apparent dice rolls. Guns are accurate, and damage is based on, in large part, where you shoot. Headshots are vital to the space cop."
    • GameSpy - 5/5 - "With Mass Effect 2 BioWare takes the videogame sequel and shows us how it's done. The combat's better, the space exploration's more satisfying, the writing's as clever as any the studio has put forth, and the artistic vision behind this sci-fi galaxy -- down to the Hollywood-talent voice work -- is top-notch. But it's the way that Mass Effect 2 expands upon the narrative established in the first game that marks a true breakthrough for interactive storytelling."
    • Gamer Limit - 9.5/10.
    • CVG - 9.3/10 - "Unlike the original, Mass Effect 2 kicks off with a bang and is generally well-paced throughout. Much of the sequel revolves around Sheppard combing the galaxy to recruit an elite team to tackle the Reapers, which naturally leads to you solving each individual's problem before they hop onto your ship.

      These missions are, for the most part, unique, interesting and, most of all, fantastically written. Though cinematic wonder Heavy Rain looms near on the horizon, Mass Effect 2 is arguably the closest to an interactive movie we've ever come."
    • IGN AU - 9.3/10 - "The determination of Shepard's disposition – the Paragon / Renegade process – has been further tinkered with, too. Now, midway through many cutscenes, you can choose to interject with a positive or negative response to what's going on, ultimately opening up new conversation choices and adding to your overall good or bad, black or white, standing in the game. There is a serious flaw here, though – Mass Effect 2 only offers you one choice during these moments – either Renegade or Paragon. You have to opt out of these moments entirely if your personal preference isn't the one on screen. A better system would've allowed for both options at any given time.
    • IGN UK - 9.2/10
    • 1Up - A minus - The first real criticism, although still overwhelmingly positive. "Despite this improved balance, I found myself disappointed by the lack of variety within the weapon classes. Worse, ME's unique infinite-ammo cooldown-based weapon system has been abandoned in favor of a bog-standard style that has you picking up rifle magazines -- sorry, "thermal clips" -- the enemies drop as you go. You earn no experience for kills, and there are no random drops at all aside from clips. Vehicular missions are gone, replaced by a tedious planet-scanning minigame and a placeholder promise of DLC, and environments sacrifice non-linearity for improved aesthetic variety. ME2 does a brilliant job of creating variety and choice and freedom in dialogue, but the action-driven and character-building portions feel a lot more limited than before. Much of ME's appeal was the sense of Star Trek-like exploration, something completely absent in this follow-up."
    • GameSpot - 9/10 - Again, some mention of bugs but still very positive. "The repetitive nature of Mass Effect's cookie-cutter levels is gone, as are the vehicle sequences featuring the oft-maligned rover called the Mako. Mass Effect 2's missions take place across a wonderful variety of locales, from the creepy interior of a derelict vessel to a deep-space prison. Some of them trip up the pace by throwing in additional challenges, such as one in which you must avoid direct sunlight lest it burn you to a crisp. Most levels are thoughtfully constructed, letting you charge from one cover spot to the next in order to unleash destruction."
    • GamePro - 4.5/5
    • NowGamer - 9.5/10 - This one is a PC review.  "Is it premature to declare Game of the Year already?", "Having played and completed every BioWare RPG released, we’re still comfortable saying that if the Canadian developer succumbed to the recession tomorrow (and that’s hardly likely) that this would be its magnum opus."

    Thanks to Metacritic for many of these.

    Monday - January 25, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Critic Proof

    by Woges, 21:42

    Gamasutra interview Mass Effect 2's Lead Producer Adrien Cho about improving on the original Mass Effect.

    "Every area needed improvement... We knew what we wanted to change right away," says lead producer Adrien Cho in a new Gamasutra feature interview. "But the other part of the equation was actually taking all the feedback -- I'm not saying some -- absolutely every feedback from press and the fans, and collating all that into a huge list."

    From there, they categorized the feedback and mapped it against the team's desired changes, and from there "it became really clear. It became a blueprint," he says. "It made making the sequel really easy."

    Saturday - January 23, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Roundup #2

    by Dhruin, 23:16

    A collection of miscellaneous Mass Effect 2 tidbits.  The first are new updates at the official site:

     

    • The first is a very cool interview with Mark Meer, the voice behind Commander Shepard. Check out his interview HERE.
    • We have added a new section on the website for the recently announced Cerberus Network. Check it out under GAME INFO for more information on the program and the cool content that comes with it.
    • We have also added a new FAQ section that should answer all your questions about Mass Effect 2. From save import to new game + and everything in between, check out the FAQ.
    • Geforce vs Radeon performance at PC Games Hardware and Mass Effect 1 vs Mass Effect 2 screen comparisons at the same.

    Mass Effect 2 - Review @ IGN

    by Dhruin, 12:37

    IGN has the first full review of Mass Effect 2 we've seen - and as expected, it's a pretty huge score.  The article does note some technical hitches but otherwise claims every aspect is improved and every complaint addressed, for a score of 9.6/10:

    Speaking of pleasing people, BioWare listened to every last bit of criticism leveled at Mass Effect 1. That game, particularly on Xbox 360, suffered from a few technical and presentational issues. This sequel is a much, much cleaner experience. Long elevator rides and slow-loading textures are gone, replaced with (occasionally lengthy) loading screens. Generic cut-and-paste side quests and empty planets to explore have been totally ripped out. Pretty much everything that anybody took even the slightest issue with in Mass Effect 1 has been axed or rebuilt entirely..

    Thanks, EvilKoala!

    Friday - January 22, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Paid DLC vs Cerberus Network

    by Dhruin, 23:52

    Continuing the recent trend to preview interview titbits separately and drive up web hits, Joystiq has a bit from an upcoming article that clarifies the Cerberus Network for Mass Effect 2It seems that will be used for free DLC and paid content will be handled differently:

    In a video interview with Joystiq (to be published later today), BioWare's Dr. Greg Zeschuk cleared up some of the confusion around the DLC portal. "We'll definitely have for-pay DLC down the road too," he said, revealing that the DLC through Cerberus will be free. "It's not going to be all free DLC for Mass Effect 2 -- far from that. There'll be paid DLC packs, and there'll be stuff available through Cerberus as well."

    The way Zeschuk puts it, there will be two separate types of DLC: free material that is offered through the Cerberus Network and paid DLC that can be purchased without Cerberus (through BioWare or Xbox Live Marketplace).

    Thursday - January 21, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Roundup #1

    by Dhruin, 20:05

    Time to start numbering these, I think, because there's bound to be a deluge next week.

    Let's kick off with Kotaku, with Biodoc Greg Zeschuk telling them that Mass Effect "will live on in other games" after the planned trilogy wraps.

    GameSpot has what they call a "comprehensive" video preview, with a little over three minutes of footage and voiceover description.  This is more a catchup for anyone that hasn't been paying attention.

    The Nuke Gun has been revealed.  Details and a video courtesy of The Lost Gamer:

     

    EA and Bioware have released new details on a further addition to the new Heavy Weapon category available within their soon to be released title, Mass Effect 2.

    Titled the M-920 Cain, the weapon has been created by Normandy’s scientists whom have prototyped a modified version of traditional high-explosive rounds that are able to be applied to a 25 gram slug. When these are accelerated to a speed of 5 km/s, the round is becomes absolutely devastating. Though not necessarily encompassing nuclear materials, the prototype weapon has been nicknamed the ‘Nuke Launcher.’ Upon impact, its high-explosive matrix generates a mushroom cloud that causes damage to be inflicted across an incredibly large area of effect. Such a weapon is incredibly effective when used against armour, shields, and barriers.

    The launch trailer has been released, a two minute montage of footage featuring voice work from Martin Sheen and others.

    Casey Hudson comments on their DLC lineup at MTV:

    "It's tough to say how long we'll continue to do Cerberus Network in terms of the free content, for example. When you get Cerberus Network you get all this free stuff that's been released. On an ongoing basis we plan to have the whole spectrum, from a free item all the way up to paid stuff and potentially larger packs that tell a big portion of the story. And we want to do that in a way that connects 'Mass Effect 2' to 'Mass Effect 3.' I think we'll be pretty close to the release of 'Mass Effect 3' before we really start focusing on that as the next story."

     

    Thanks to skavenhorde for most of these links.

    ...and lastly for the moment, Archmage Silver writes in with a warning that his CE preorder in Finland has been delayed and the accompanying email from the retailer seems to suggest it could affect a wider area:

     

    Dear customer,

    The Collector's Edition of Mass Effect 2 you ordered has problems in its distribution. The Collector's Edition in Europe won't make it to retailers in time for the release date, but instead it will arrive approximately one week after the release date.

    Our apologies for the delay. The product will be delivered as fast possible. The standard editions of the game will arrive in time for the launch day.

    European readers might want to double-check their preorders, just in case.

    Wednesday - January 20, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Video Interviews

    Tuesday - January 19, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Roundup

    by Dhruin, 21:21

    Mass Effect 2 - Cerberus Network Announced

    by Dhruin, 20:53

    BioWare has finally revealed their day 1 DLC plans by unveiling the Cerberus Network.  The assassin Zaeed and uncharted worlds will be on offer for free to players who register:

    On January 26 Mass Effect 2 Players Can Download Exciting Bonus Content

    BioWare, a division of EA, today revealed 'The Cerberus Network', an in-game portal in Mass Effect 2 that will keep fans engaged with the rich and dynamic Mass Effect universe through downloadable content (DLC) and news. 'The Cerberus Network' is activated exclusively by original purchasers of Mass Effect 2 through a single-use unlock code that comes included in retail and digital versions of the game worldwide. 'The Cerberus Network' is a conduit for players to receive bonus content as well as daily messages and news on upcoming releases for Mass Effect 2 for no extra charge. For players who do not buy the game new, 'The Cerberus Network' can be unlocked through a one-time, in-game purchase of a new activation code*.

    Mass Effect 2 is the first blockbuster video game release of 2010, having recently been named as one of the "Most Anticipated Games of the Year" by the New York Times, IGN and Wired.

    "The Cerberus Network augments and extends the rich universe of Mass Effect 2," said Dr. Ray Muzyka, co-founder, BioWare and Group General Manager of the RPG/MMO Group of EA. "We're thrilled to be able to reward loyal BioWare and Mass Effect fans with ongoing, high quality content and provide a direct channel for our players to dive deeper into the intriguing lore of Mass Effect."

    Players who access 'The Cerberus Network' will receive the first DLC pack on January 26th (launch day in North America) featuring new missions and in-game items. Included in this pack is a mission that introduces Zaeed, a rugged and deadly gun-for-hire who is recruited to join Commander Shepard's mission to save mankind.

    After launch, BioWare will release another DLC pack for Mass Effect 2 that introduces the Hammerhead, a new vehicle in the Mass Effect universe. This agile hover tank features improved handling on rough terrain and maneuvers deftly in combat -- a necessity for players traveling across harsh planetary environments throughout the galaxy. In addition to this new vehicle, BioWare will release new missions and unique in-game items, including Cerberus Assault Armor which boost shields, health and heavy weapon ammo and the M-22 Eviscerator Shotgun.

    The Mass Effect trilogy is an epic science fiction adventure set in a vast universe filled with dangerous alien life and mysterious, uncharted planets. In Mass Effect 2, players will step into the role of the heroic Commander Shepard, commanding a crew of the most dangerous operatives from across the galaxy on a mission so challenging that it's potentially suicidal. Featuring intense shooter action, a rich futuristic storyline, stunning space exploration and emotionally engaging characters, the game delivers an unparalleled cinematic experience.

    Mass Effect 2 is scheduled for release on the Xbox 360 videogame and entertainment system and PC on January 26, 2010 in North America and January 29, 2010 in Europe and has been rated 'M' for Mature by the ESRB and '18+' by PEGI. For more news from the development team, please follow us on Twitter at masseffect2 or visit the game's official website at the Official Website.

    Monday - January 18, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Interview @ The Guardian

    by Dhruin, 19:28

    The UK newspaper site is next along with a Mass Effect 2 interview, with Producer Adrien Cho answering the questions:

    How do you keep your Role Playing Game fans happy while attempting to reach this new shooter audience?

    There is a fine line here. But if RPG fans liked the original Mass Effect then they shouldn't have a problem as we haven't removed any of role playing elements. There is still plenty of number crunching going on in the background, probably more than in the original. What we did do was take a look at what didn't work in the original game and make it more streamlined and efficient. For example we took a lot of flak about the inventory system in the first game. We've now streamlined that so that it is much easier to scroll through your items and customise your armour. The key thing is that focussing more on the shooter elements has not taken away from the role playing. The story is still amazing and there is plenty of freedom.

    Sunday - January 17, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Interview @ USA Today

    by Aries100, 18:18

    Casey Hudson, Projector director for Mass Effect, sat down for an interview with USA Today last week when the Consumers Electronics show visited Las Vegas, USA. They talked about how well the first Mass Effect game was received and what will surprise you in Mass Effect 2:

     

    GH: What will fans of the series be most surprised at when play Mass Effect 2?

    Hudson: How good the overall gameplay and combat feels. I think everybody expects the story to be really cool and interesting characters, and it has all those things, but the surprise is when you pick it up it feels like a top shooter with precise shooting. But instead of being just great combat in between points of a story, I think you'll find you want to get back to the story and see what the results of your fights are. This usually isn't the case in a shooter. So we think we're offering a nice balance there.

    Bioware seems to be admitting that Mass Effect 2 will be more of a shooter than an rpg.
    How do you think fans of the first Mass Effect game will react to this ? And will Mass Effect 3 be more of a shooter game than Mass Effect 2?

     

    Source: GameBanshee

    Saturday - January 16, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Site Updates

    by Dhruin, 21:15

    From BioWare:

    Learn more about some of the new and cool gameplay features in the latest Mass Effect 2 video, the N7 Development Diary. The Mass Effect 2 dev team takes us through the new armor customization system, the N7 bonus missions, and more!

    Additionally we have added a new section to the Arsenal, featuring the new armors in Mass Effect 2. Get equipped! Check out the N7 Armor for a look at all the different ways you can tailor the look of Shepard's armor in Mass Effect 2.

    Friday - January 15, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - News Roundup

    by Dhruin, 20:16

    I'll collect a handful of Mass Effect 2 items here.

    Gametrailers hosts the first part of a Casey Hudson video interview from the show Sci vs Fi.  It runs at around 5 minutes and the topic is "how do you create the illusion of free will with a fixed ending?"

    BioWare has kicked up a new desktop wallpaper called "Fight for the Lost".

    There's a new Bioblog entry from Christina Norman on equipping squad members, which has been overhauled.  Here's a snip:

    With up to 10 squad members, equipping your team in Mass Effect 2 could have been a daunting task. To make this task manageable we’ve made two inventory advancements: squad inventory, and auto-upgrades.

    Squad Inventory
    Whenever Shepard finds an upgraded weapon he scans it with his omni-tool, uploading detailed data to his ship. Using that data, this ship’s armory can replicate the weapon, making it available to any squad member trained to use that weapon type. For example, if you find a superior shotgun, your armory will fabricate copies, making that shotgun model available to any squad member with shotgun training. This gets rid of tedious inventory management tasks, like unequipping and transferring items between squad members.

    ...and Joystiq has rumours on the first-day DLC, which they claim will feature a character that was previously cut.  The source is Norwegian and has since been deleted, so it's a bit hard to check the veracity but here's an excerpt:

    Norwegian newspaper DagBladet is reporting DLC will likely be available day one or soon thereafter for Mass Effect 2. DagBladet says the usual items like armor and weapons will be available, but also other things, such as an unlockable planet and even a new ally by the name of Zaeed Messani, the grizzled bounty hunter pictured above. The piece also mentions an in-game store for unlocking DLC called "Cerberus Network," which sounds a lot like Dragon Age: Origins' DLC platform.

    Wednesday - January 13, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - News Roundup

    by Dhruin, 20:05

    A bunch of Mass Effect 2 stuff today, so I'll collect it here.

    IGN has their latest interview with Lead Combat Designer Christina Norman, covering the Soldier class:

    IGN: What was the most significant improvement made to the Soldier class?

    Christina Norman:
    In ME1 mastering weapons and armor required leveling up and spending points. It was impossible for a soldier to fully master all of his weapons and armor, because you never had enough points.

    In Mass Effect 2 you start the game with full mastery of all your weapons. With our dramatically improved weapon and cover, you'll find playing a soldier feels like playing a shooter right from the start.

    While everyone benefits from these improvements, they are really key to how the soldier plays, so I'd say this is the biggest improvement to the soldier class.

    Blue's has a matching Soldier trailer with voiceover from Christina on their Youtube channel.

    Rock, Paper, Shotgun also has an interview with Christina Norman:

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

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

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

    Neoseeker is next up with an interview, with Casey Hudson stepping up this time.  On romances:

    So, in-game relationships. Forums have been filled with fans begging for Tali and Garrus to be made available. Any plans on expanding the relationship possibilities to include more candidates, if not your former Quarian and Turian allies?

    Yes, with more team members on board your ship, you’ll have more opportunity to choose among different possibilities for a love interest.

    The official site has Soldier and Cryo gun updates and, lastly, Kotaku has a comment from Casey Hudson that Bio is setting sights on the Modern Warfare crowd:

    While Mass Effect 2 will remain very solidly in the realm of role-playing game, the combat has been reworked specifically to try and attract the same sort of gamer who plays Modern Warfare 2, Mass Effect 2 project director Casey Hudson told Kotaku.

    Source: Blues News

    Tuesday - January 12, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Retribution Book Announced

    by Dhruin, 21:55

    BioWare has announced a third Mass Effect book by Drew Karpyshyn, titled Retribution.

    BioWare and Del Ray are pleased to announce a brand new novel set in the Mass Effect universe Mass Effect: Retribution.

    Mass Effect Retribution will again be written by Drew Karpyshyn, the author of both Mass Effect: Revelation and Mass Effect: Ascension. This novel reveals the Illusive Man's attempts to impant a human with the technology of a Reaper!

    Mass Effect 2 - Original Score PR

    by Dhruin, 11:58

    BioWare announces the return of Jack Wall for Mass Effect 2:

    BIOWARE REUNITES WITH LEGENDARY COMPOSER JACK WALL FOR MASS EFFECT 2 ORIGINAL SCORE

    Renowned Composer Provides Original Music for 2010’s First Mega-Blockbuster

    Edmonton, Alberta (January 11, 2010) – BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS), announced today that accomplished composer, Jack Wall, will compose the original score for Mass Effect™ 2, the epic second act in the award-winning action-RPG trilogy. Featuring nearly three hours of extraordinary orchestral arrangements, the score explodes with a symphony of sounds that spur the game’s intense action and dramatic storytelling. Wall scored the award-winning soundtracks for the original Mass Effect.

    “We are thrilled to again be collaborating with Jack Wall, this time on Mass Effect 2,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, co-founder, BioWare and Group General Manager of the RPG/MMO Group of EA. “Jack did an outstanding job with the original game and has a firm grasp for our vision of the trilogy. His score for Mass Effect 2 perfectly blends classic sci-fi inspired sounds with unique arrangements to achieve an emotionally charged complement to the dramatic, action-packed gameplay.”

    “Working on the Mass Effect franchise has challenged me to create music beyond what I’ve written before,” said composer Jack Wall.”With Mass Effect 2, the story is even more engrossing and affecting, so it was important for me, along with my team of composers Sam Hulick, David Kates, Jimmy Hinson, and music implementation by Brian DiDomenico, to develop a score that complemented the scope and intensity of the gameplay while captivating the players and drawing them deeper into the story.”

    The Mass Effect trilogy is an epic science fiction adventure set in a vast universe filled with dangerous alien life and mysterious, uncharted planets. In Mass Effect 2, players will once again step into the role of the heroic Commander Shepard, commanding their crew of some of the most dangerous operatives from across the galaxy on a mission so challenging that it’s potentially suicidal. Featuring intense shooter action, a rich futuristic storyline, space exploration and emotionally engaging character interaction, the game delivers an unparalleled cinematic experience.

    The Mass Effect 2 soundtrack will be available for purchase from digital retailers on January 19, 2010.

    Mass Effect 2 is scheduled for release on the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system and PC on January 26, 2010 in North America and January 29, 2010 in Europe and has been rated ‘M’ for Mature by the ESRB and ;18+’ by PEGI (please visit www.esrb.org and www.pegi.eu for more information on ratings). Follow us on Twitterat http://twitter.com/masseffect2. For more information on Mass Effect 2, go to http://masseffect.bioware.com/.

    Monday - January 11, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Trailer and Screens

    by Dhruin, 19:57

    The Mass Effect 2 site has a Subject Zero trailer that is hopefully new because they are highlighting it on the front page, but I have the feeling this is old.

    Over at Worthplaying, there are two screens and a description of The Illusive Man:

    Mysterious and powerful, the Illusive Man commands Cerberus, a secretive pro-human organization dedicated to protecting mankind’s interests in the galaxy. He believes the ends justify the means, at any cost. Nothing is more important than ensuring not only humanity’s survival in the galaxy, but also its dominance. To combat the new Collector threat, the Illusive Man recruits Commander Shepard and gives him the tools to build the team needed to save mankind. Is there something behind his altruistic façade, and more importantly can Shepard trust the Illusive Man?

    Friday - January 08, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - CES Hands-on @ IGN

    by Dhruin, 22:37

    A 45-minute CES demo is the subject of a new Mass Effect 2 preview at IGN.  The article specifically describes this new mission they played in the press demo, so it may be considered slightly spoilery:

    The mission takes place in the depths of darkness -- well beyond the Terminus sector and out of grasp of Alliance control. A giant space station, the Omega, has fallen victim to a deadly plague that's killing off the population at a rapid pace. It's up to you to infiltrate the enormous structure, track down a scientist rumored to have developed a cure, and ultimately save the day.


    The scientist is professor Mordin Solis, a Salarian whose moral compass swings all over the place. He's a relatively good guy, but he's driven by results and sometimes the consequences of his actions -- even killing, if necessary -- run distant second to his primary goal, which is, of course, the cure.

    Mass Effect 2 - Miranda Trailer @ Shacknews

    Mass Effect 2 - Character List @ Video Games Blogger

    by Skavenhorde, 09:43

    Video Games Blogger takes a quick look at over 20 of the characters that will appear in Mass Effect 2:

    2. Commander Shepard (female voice Jennifer Hale, male voice Mark Meer)
    The hero and main human protagonist of the Mass Effect series, Commander Shephard can either be a male or female depening on how players customize their character. And even the storyline that players will encounter differs depending on the choices you make.

    Born in 4.11.2154, Shephard graduated from the N7 special forces program and is assigned to the SSV Normandy as an Executive Officer during the first game. He later joins up with the Spectres as their first human.

    But what happens to him after the events of the first Mass Effect?

    Source: N4G

    Thursday - January 07, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Blog, Weapon Updates and Steam Preorder

    by Dhruin, 20:10

    I'm going to collect a handful of Mass Effect 2 items together.  First, Christina Norman has penned an entry at the Bioblog titled Enemy Defenses in Mass Effect 2:

     

    One area we wanted to improve in Mass Effect 2 was enemy power resists. In ME1 enemies would sometimes resist your powers, but it wasn’t clear when they would, or why. More importantly, if your enemy was resisting your powers, there was nothing you could do about it.

    For Mass Effect 2 we’ve combined enemy resists with defensive shields, armor, and barriers. These defenses are displayed in a bar over the enemy’s health bar. As long as the bar is visible, your target is resistant to powers, but all powers deplete his defense bar. Once the defense bar is gone, he is vulnerable to all your powers. Only powerful enemies have a defense bar, weaker enemies are always vulnerable.

    At the official site, there's an Arsenal update for the Grenade Launcher and Shotgun and Steam preorders are offering a bonus "Inferno" in-game armour.  No doubt other vendors will be offering different bonuses, as with Dragon Age.

     

    Wednesday - January 06, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Redemption Comic Released

    by Dhruin, 21:36

    The Mass Effect site has news that the first issue of Redemption, the Mass Effect comic from Dark Horse, has been released:

    Mass Effect Redemption #1 is in stores now! This gorgeous comic was written by Mass Effect lead writer Mac Walters, with artwork by Omar Francia. Taking place before the events of Mass Effect 2, Redemption follows the story of Liara T'Soni as she desperately attempts to track down Commander Shepard.

    Check out the Dark Horse website to pick up your copy, or head to your local comic book store.

    Mass Effect 2 - Vanguard Trailer

    Mass Effect 2 - The Vanguard @ IGN

    by Dhruin, 11:22

    IGN discusses the Vanguard class in Mass Effect 2 with Lead Combat Designer Christina Norman:

    IGN: What was the most important improvement you felt needed to be made for the Vanguard class?

    Christina Norman:
    We wanted playing the Vanguard to feel totally different from playing a Soldier or Adept. Our mantra for the Vanguard was high-risk high-reward, and we designed the Vanguard's unique Biotic Charge power to enable this kind of gameplay.

    The most dangerous situation you can find yourself in when you're playing Mass Effect 2 is when an enemy closes with you. At short range all weapons are incredibly deadly. Most classes do their best to stay far away from their enemies, but Vanguards embrace this deadly style of combat.

    Source: Blues News

    Tuesday - January 05, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Trailers @ RPS

    by Dhruin, 09:48

    Another day, another set of Mass Effect 2 trailers.  I'm going to link to Rock, Paper, Shotgun who stream from Gametrailers, because of the layout and commentary.  These clips show Grunt, Thane and a cinematic trailer.

    Monday - January 04, 2010

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview @ RPGamer

    by Dhruin, 20:14

    RPGamer has some hands-on impressions of Mass Effect 2:

    Maybe it was just me, but combat in Mass Effect sometimes felt loose and it was hard at times to get a bead on certain enemies. Mass Effect was a shooter, but it didn't quite control as well as other shooters out there. Mass Effect 2's combat instantly felt tightened up and appealed to my natural FPS skills. A new thermal clip ammo system has been added to Mass Effect 2, rather than the recharge system used in the original, so now weapons can only fire a certain amount of times before they run out. It works just fine and was added to allow better weapon balance. Gunplay has definitely been improved in Mass Effect 2.

    Source: GameBanshee

    Thursday - December 31, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview @ Big Download

    by Aries100, 22:21

    Another preview for Mass Effect 2 can be found at Big Download which has done  one of their "All You Need to Know" features for this game. The preview falls in three sections which are summary, background and hype. The concluding part is below:

    Mass Effect 2 is yet another game from BioWare. It has a good combat system, an epic story, and a morality system. This is all what we have come to expect from BioWare, but frankly, it would be nice to see them leave their comfort zone once in a while. Mass Effect 2 appears to sit entirely within what they are comfortable with, and while this is great for consumers that love BioWare, it's not that great for those looking for something different and innovative.

    Do you think their observations are accurate ?

    Source: GameBanshee

    Tuesday - December 29, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Interview @ Bright Hub

    by Dhruin, 21:33

    A site called Bright Hub has an interview with BioWare Development Director Dorian Keiken about Mass Effect 2.  The conversation follows a speech from Dorian at the Montreal International Games Summit and here's a snip:

    The original Mass Effect came with an excellent selection of special ammunition that would inflict all kinds of bonus damage or debuff. But, it was trapped behind a layer or two of inventory UI, and many players weren't too keen on having to suspend disbelief for that long. Just because you can pause combat doesn't mean you want to do it often. Gameplay videos of Mass Effect 2 have shown something that looked a lot like grabbing and switching ammo from the on screen hud. I asked about the UI improvements' related to the ammo.

    “That was exactly the feedback we had on Mass Effect 1. Not only was the inventory system a little heavy once you had to go to it and it was not very intuitive, but the thing is it breaks the flow. You're just moving around, shooting different elements, and then 'Oh, okay. You're grabbing something: you're going to inventory, changing elements, and then coming back to the game,' and just general flow breaks. All the effort was put, actually, on Mass Effect 2, into having a very nice, slick, flow in general. More specifically referring to the ammo system, its exactly answering that question. You never have to go to a specific UI, for example to change your ammo like you had to do in Mass Effect 1.”

    Source: GameBanshee

    Mass Effect 2 - New Wallpaper

    by Dhruin, 21:23

    BioWare has kicked up a Mass Effect 2 desktop wallpaper from respected artist Craig Mullins.

    Monday - December 28, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Character, Save Game Updates

    by Dhruin, 09:51

    Missed this over the Christmas break but BioWare has updated the official site with information on party members Thane and Grunt.

    More interesting (thanks Blue's) is the post from Chris Priestly with more detail on importing save games.  It seems saves with characters at higher levels will bring benefits, which seems a potential balancing issue to me.  Here's the entire post:

    We know many fans of Mass Effect have been asking how their saved games would transfer between Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2. We have put together details you need to know about transferring your saves between ME1 and ME2.

    I am sure this will create some new questions. Please ask them in this thread and, post Xmas break, I will try to get them answered for you.

    Save Game Import

    * Upon starting a new game from the main menu, players can import a character save from Mass Effect 1

    * The Player chooses which character to bring in. Bringing in more than one character is possible, this will create a second or additional profile(s), just like in Mass Effect 1.

    * For Xbox 360 players need to be signed into your profile that you used to play through Mass Effect 1.

    * On PC players will select the .MassEffectSave files to import.

    * The profile and save data must be present on the hard drive and not an MU.

    * There is a limit of 11 end-of-game saves that can be imported into ME2. This means that if the player was to complete ME1 12 times, regardless of the number of unique playthroughs used, the 12th save will not be available for import, but saves 1 through 11 will be available.

    At this point we have revealed that the save game import system will carryover all your decisions and plot decisions from ME1 into ME2. Did you save the Council? Who survived Virmire? And how did you handle your most ardent fan? We don’t want to list everything out and spoil the surprises we have in store for you, but rest assured you will be pleased when you see just how much carries over into Mass Effect 2.

    Up until now we have only discussed the plot impacts of this feature, however, there are also certain gameplay perks as well. If you finished ME1 as a high level character you will receive greater bonuses than those who finished at lower levels. Ex, if you finished ME1 as a level 35 character, you will receive a bonus, but if you finished ME1 as a level 50 character, your bonus will be larger. That being said these bonuses will not put new playthrough characters at a severe disadvantage. For example, some of these bonuses include a monetary boost at the start of the game, or additional research resources for use at the Normandy’s Tech Lab. Another perk is if you finished the game as a Paragon or Renegade, part of your alignment will carry over making it easier to access certain dialogue options.

    Finally, some technical information regarding the feature as well. If players start a New Game + after beating the game they will be able to re-use the same character import file they did for their first playthrough. Yes New Game + is making a return to Mass Effect 2! Additionally as mentioned above, make sure you are playing on your Xbox 360 profile that you completed ME1 on and that the profile and save data is present on the Hard Drive and not a MU. If you want to do a quick check and make sure you are good to go, load up Mass Effect 1 and see if the New Game + option appears. That will let you know your save game is ready for Mass Effect 2.

    We are definitely excited to share this brand new feature with everyone, and remember what you do in Mass Effect 2, will have consequences in Mass Effect 3!

    Saturday - December 26, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Video Interview @ Games Radar

    by Skavenhorde, 13:19

    Games Radar sits down to have a chat with Dr. Ray Muzyka. They discuss general gameplay, voice acting, character loyalty, dialogue interrupts and your characters appereance. You can see it here or click the video below:

     

     

     

    Tuesday - December 22, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - News Roundup

    by Dhruin, 20:42

    Not surprisingly, the Mass Effect 2 PR machine is in overdrive while everyone else is slipping out the back door for the holiday season.  There's a couple of new videos and other stuff today, so I'll collect it here.

    First, the promised the three-minute cinematic trailer that was previously teased has been released.  It doesn't appear to have been widely circulated yet but there's a streaming version at Shack, along with a second "unofficial" trailer.

    IGN reveals the Infiltrator class, with a video and quick Q&A with Lead Combat Designer Christina Norman:

    IGN: What type of player is the Infiltrator most suited for?

    Christina Norman:
    If you love stealth action gameplay you'll definitely want to try the infiltrator out.

    Another player type that will really like the infiltrator is anyone who loves using sniper rifles in shooters. We've dramatically improved our sniper rifle combat for Mass Effect 2. The first thing we did was completely redesign our sniper rifles so they all feel powerful and precise. Then we added location based damage, and positional damage reactions. Some enemies you can literally dismantle, limb by limb, with precise surgical sniper rifle fire.

    What makes the infiltrator the class best sniper class are his Tactical Cloak and Operative powers. We've already discussed how cloak lets you line up perfect headshots. Operative improves your weapon damage, and also adds a time slowdown effect whenever you are aiming your sniper rifle. This makes it easy to line up headshots, even against moving enemies. Combined with the damage boost from Tactical Cloak, infiltrators are without question the ultimate snipers.

    Also at IGN is some info on the sex scenes, courtesy of comments from the ESRB and, finally, the Achievements have been revealed (spoilers, obviously).

    Editjavierabegazo points out a HD version of the cinematic video on Youtube.

    Mass Effect 2 - Wallpaper, Avatars & Video Footage

    by Dhruin, 11:48

    With the "big" new trailer only hours away, BioWare has released a new wallpaper of the "assassin about to clean house", some new forum avatars and GameSpot's On the Spot has 12 minutes of new footage.

    Sunday - December 20, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Video Interview, Screens @ VE3D

    by Dhruin, 00:04

    Another Mass Effect 2 video interview, this time from IGN.  Dr Ray Muzyka fronts this one with extensive game footage over the top, and 10 new screens to round it all out.

    Meanwhile, Shack notes comments from Casey Hudson that suggest Mass Effect 3 will end this story-arc, at least, because they don't need to carry forward further save-game imports:

    This comment came after Hudson went into some detail about the challenges faced during development with perfecting the system for carrying over saves from the first game. Managing all the potential player choices and their outcomes took such a commitment to making it work that he said, "I'd be really surprised if anyone else tried to do it."

    "Mass Effect 3," Hudson said, "will be easier because we don't have to worry about continuity into the next one." While no one ever expected the Mass Effect world to go away after the Shepard trilogy, it sounds like they're pretty dead set to wrap the current story arc up in the third game.

    Source: Voodoo Extreme

    Saturday - December 19, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview @ Giant Bomb

    by Aries100, 16:58

    A preview for Mass Effect 2 can be found at Giant Bomb. It details what happens during the game's first 90 minutes. Spoilers abound so consider this fair warning. Here's the part where the author talks about what BioWare views as canon,  for the first Mass Effect - if you don't have savegame to import that is:

    It assumes that you allowed the Citadel high council to die at the end of the first game, for instance, allowing humans to take control of the highest positions of government. It also says that you allowed Kaidan Alenko to die, sparing that space bigot Ashley Williams for the sequel.

    Is this a good canon ending for the first Mass Effect

    Source: RPG Codex

    Friday - December 18, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Interview @ CVG

    by Dhruin, 19:58

    BioWare's man-of-the-moment Adrien Cho answers some last-minute questions from CVG.  Cho claims this is BioWare's best game (understandably) and they discuss the lack of a PS3 port and chat about DLC in general:

    What would you say other BioWare series can learn from Mass Effect 2?

    Cho:
    The joy of doing a sequel is improving upon the things you set forth, keeping all of the important elements there but refining the areas where it could be stronger.

    All BioWare games focus on good storytelling, that goes without saying. Mass Effect the series leans more towards combat. In the first one we delivered something and we really felt we could improve the combat with the experience in this one, without removing any of the elements that made the first one great.

    We knew we had a limited amount of resources, a set time limit and we wanted to hit all the areas that we had criticisms for and make sure that we answered them. People said, 'Mass Effect is a great game but it had long load elevators'. We wanted to address every single thing so... I'm not going to say shut up our critics, but it'd leave no room to deny that this is an amazing game.

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview Roundup

    by Dhruin, 19:52

    BioWare's recent press event for Mass Effect 2 has resulted in a flurry of articles, so here's a small collection courtesy of Blue's.

    Interesting that two of the sites are dedicated MMO networks.  Here's a sample from Scott Jennings' piece:

    Much of the story was left unexplained for reasons of preserving spoilers (some of which we were told happened at the very beginning of the game, such as the destruction of the original Normandy as seen in Bioware's E3 demo). However, what was obvious is that the story of ME2 is much grimmer - much like Empire Strikes Back to ME1's Star Wars (and it was explicitly stated that a ME3 was already planned). As Casey Hudson, ME2's project director, told us several times, "This is a suicide mission. People are most likely going to die. Your character can possibly die, a permanent death." The loyalty of your NPC party members are tracked (and explicitly displayed) as you move through the game, since inspiring your crew to die for your cause can be a bit difficult. Speaking of NPCs, most of the characters (at least the ones that survived in your imported save game) from ME1 appear in ME2, though they aren't recruitable NPCs. The reason given for this was that, quite simply, most of your henchmen in ME2 are probably going to die. Yes, this is definitely, consciously aiming for a darker experience.

    Source: Blues News

    Thursday - December 17, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview, Video Interview

    by Dhruin, 22:07

    First, a preview of Mass Effect 2 from a press event attended by Shacknews:

    Before panic sets in, succeeding as a shooter and being a shooter are two different things, as my time playing Mass Effect 2 proved. While I could run-and-gun in stretches, I settled into a very enjoyable rhythm of using powers, issuing orders, but still maintaining a relatively brisk pace to the fights. It stems from little touches like being able to put powers on controller buttons so they can be used without bringing up a menu every time, and the completely simple introduction of an ammo system with disposable thermal clips that get used up as they absorb the heat generated by firing a weapon. All in all it was not unlike playing a tactical shooter with cover and squad commands.

    But the sequel maintains the classic role-playing elements as well. Specialization from developing the characters builds a personal connection with them. And the story naturally carries a significant amount of the load in keeping Mass Effect 2 firmly in the RPG ranks. As the screens and videos had hinted this middle chapter in the trilogy veers into a darker, seedier atmosphere. Where the first game centered on the sleek Citadel space station, Mass Effect 2 introduces its polar opposite: station Omega. This unruly place is a collection of anyone and everyone from around the universe living in fractured wards under the control of various gangs.

    ...and GameSpot's On the Spot video segment has an interview with Producer Adrien Cho.

    Mass Effect 2 - 8 Things That Would Make It Better Than Its Predecessor

    by Skavenhorde, 15:34

    Hooked Gamers brings us an article listing eight things they would like to see improved with Mass Effect 2. Their biggest wish was for a smarter AI. Personally, I hope for a smarter AI and #4 on their list 'Better Inventory Management'. Here is a snippet from the article:

    Mass Effect's inventory management is nothing short of confusing. While I thoroughly love the ability to customize weapons and armor in the game, I was hesitant to do so. It is just too much of a chore trying to sort out what is what. From the inventory screens, the player is only able to see textual differences between each item. To make matters worse, most items have the same name with only a Roman numeral to distinguish between two items from the same type or manufacturer. While this is bad enough when you are assigning weapons and armor to your squad, it is even worse when you visit a merchant. It is not uncommon to be dragging along 100+ items (which is good, don't limit this!) at which point the list becomes something of a blur to one's eyes. Pictures or icons with the items will help the player to quickly find what he needs and a simple filter on the item types will solve most of the issues when dealing with merchants.

    Mass Effect 2 - Interview @ Polygamia

    by Dhruin, 09:53

    Polygamia has a Mass Effect 2 interview with Producer Adrien Cho.  He avoids answering a number of questions but does seem to confirm Day 1 DLC:

    Will you release any DLC linking the first and second game? It was two years, so some people might not remember everything.

    I can't talk about the details yet, but there's definitely some DLC that will tie the two together.

    And will we see it before the release of Mass Effect 2?

    After, very soon after.

    Will we have any day 1 DLC, like with Dragon Age?


    Yes, we will have content available. We can't say yet what it is, though.

    Will the DLC be more like Dragon Age? Will we hear a signal coming from outer space saying "If you want to help me, please buy some stuff from us"?

    Again, the DLC plan hasn't been fully announced yet. But there is a lot more variety, from new weapons, new armor, new sidequests to big expansion packs. So there will be a wide variety of things. And we really want to reward fans of Mass Effect, so there will be a lot of bonus content provided in the form of DLC.

    Wednesday - December 16, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - New Trailers

    by Dhruin, 21:22

    Two new trailers for Mass Effect 2 today to help hype the January release.

    The "big" one is a teaser cinematic story trailer, with the full version due on Dec 22nd (first video at the official site) and IGN has a Mass Effect in 5 Minutes trailer to catch up on the story so far.

    Mass Effect 2 - Dirty Dozen Trailer

    by Dhruin, 12:03

    Blue's Youtube channel has a Mass Effect 2 Dirty Dozen trailer, offering about 1.5 minutes of footage once you take the logos out.

    Source: Blues News

    Tuesday - December 15, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview @ Game Hub

    by Aries100, 18:09

    Game Hub offers a preview of Mass Effect 2.  No new info about the game, it seems. Instead, have a summary of some of the new companions:

    "Grunt" is a new character for Mass Effect 2, a violent and unpredictable Krogan fighter with huge physical strength who must be tamed, and trusted, to ensure Shepard's success. A deadly assassin, Thane, will also enter as a new character, a deadly assassin who we first met in June.

    A third new character will enter in the form of "Subject Zero", a handful of an action-girl with some deadly combat experience and strength to bring to the party. With a mysterious past and hefty firepower she will be a valuable ally in Mass Effect 2. Subject Zero will be a formidable biotic - as powerful as she is intriguing, with detailed tattoos marking her favorite kills - "the good ones". Mystery and fascination surround this uncontrollable rebel, promising to bring some excellent depth and character development to the game.

    Source: GameBanshee

    Monday - December 14, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Pictures of the CE Contents

    by Aries100, 17:51

    The official Bioware Mass Effect 2 site has been updated with pictures of the contents in the ME2 Collector's Edition.   Look, a Cerberus Network card - wonder what this unlocks?

    Source: GameBanshee

    Sunday - December 13, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Interview @ Gamer Limit

    by Aries100, 17:37

    An interview with Project Director for Mass Effect 2, Casey Hudson, can be found at Gamer Limit.

    Topics covered in the interview are how the the characters will develop, how the inventory has improved, the enhancements for the technical side of the game, how the changes in weapons and combat will be - and much more.

    Here's a bit about the exploration:

    The other thing that happens is, when you're scanning planets, in addition to finding resources than you can pull out of using space probes, you can also find signals and radio anomalies that you can close in on, and through the minigames, actually find the location on the planet where something is going on. We call these N7 Missions. You can send a probe down to come back and do basic stuff like getting resources, but sometimes you find something that only Commander Shepard can do in person, and that's an N7 Mission. For those, you find these locations on a planet and then you drop down to the surface. Those missions are kind of designed to be the opposite approach to the missions from Mass Effect 1, where you're in the uncharted worlds. The only reason why they exist is because each one of them offers something unique and different than you've done before. Every level, either the gameplay or the story, or something about it is really unique and special.

    Source: GameBanshee

    Mass Effect 2 - Sentinel Class and Arsenal Update

    by Dhruin, 07:24

    Two new additions to the Mass Effect 2 site:

    We have two awesome updates to the website today!

    The first is our third installment in our class reveal featurettes. Christina Norman takes us through the Sentinel class and its unique hybrid of biotic and tech abilities. Check out the SENTINEL page now for an new trailer and screenshots!

    The second update is to the Arsenal page, featuring the M-9 Tempest Sub-machine gun. Produced by Elanus Risk Control Services, the Tempest is a light weight and compact weapon that fires in long deadly bursts. Because of the rate of fire on the Tempest and its large clip capacity, it excels at dropping shields and biotic barriers. Check out the ARSENAL for more info on the Tempest.

    Friday - December 11, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Voice Cast Trailer

    by Dhruin, 21:11

    A trailer was released along with yesterday's voice cast announcement, which you can grab at the BioWare site or stream from Youtube, courtesy of Blue's.

    Thursday - December 10, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Voice Cast Announced

    by Dhruin, 18:38

    Martin Sheen, Carrie-Ann Moss (The Matrix) and Adam Baldwin (Firefly) join others in a star-studded voice cast for Mass Effect 2.  Here's the PR:

    BIOWARE ANNOUNCES CELEBRITY CAST FOR MASS EFFECT 2 – THE FIRST BLOCKBUSTER OF 2010
    Star-Studded Cast Includes Martin Sheen, Seth Green, Yvonne Strahovski, and More

    Guildford, UK., (December 10, 2009) – BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS), today revealed the voice actors performing in Mass Effect 2, the second act of the award-winning science fiction trilogy. The game features Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actor Martin Sheen (“The West Wing”, “Apocalypse Now”), 2009 Emmy Award-winner Shohreh Aghdashloo (“House of Saddam”), comedic actor Seth Green (“Austin Powers”), “Chuck” stars Yvonne Strahovski and Adam Baldwin, Keith David (“Crash”) and sci-fi favorites Michael Dorn (“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”) Tricia Helfer (“Battlestar Galactica”), Michael Hogan (“Battlestar Galactica”) and Carrie-Anne Moss (“The Matrix”).

    “Emotionally engaging narrative is a key design pillar for BioWare, and the top-notch voice talent in Mass Effect 2 helps drive this goal,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, co-founder, BioWare and Group General Manager of the RPG/MMO Group of EA. “Credible, powerful personalities are vital to delivering a compelling story experience in BioWare’s games, and we have assembled an amazing ensemble cast that surpasses the very high bar set in the original Mass Effect!”

    Esteemed actor Martin Sheen stars as the mysterious Illusive Man who commands Cerberus, a secretive paramilitary organization dedicated to protecting human interests in the galaxy. Yvonne Strahovski plays deadly Cerberus operative Miranda Lawson, who has been genetically engineered for superior mental and physical traits. Returning to the cast from the original Mass Effect is Seth Green as Joker and Keith David as Admiral David Anderson. And rounding out the vocal roster are Tricia Helfer as EDI, the voice of the new Normandy; Carrie-Ann Moss as Aria T’Loak, the crime lord who rules the planet Omega; Shohreh Aghdashloo as Admiral Shala'Raan vas Tonbay; Michael Hogan as Captain Bailey; Adam Baldwin as Kal ‘Reegar; and Michael Dorn as Gatatog Uvenk.

    The Mass Effect trilogy is an emotionally charged science fiction adventure set in a vast universe filled with dangerous alien life and mysterious, uncharted planets. In Mass Effect 2, players will once again step into the role of the heroic Commander Shepard, commanding their crew of some of the most dangerous operatives from across the galaxy on a mission so challenging that it’s potentially suicidal. Featuring intense shooter action, a rich futuristic storyline, space exploration and emotionally engaging character interaction, the game delivers an unparalleled cinematic experience.

    Mass Effect 2 will be available on the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system and PC on January 26, 2010 in North America and January 29, 2010 in Europe. Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/masseffect2. For more information on Mass Effect 2, go to http://masseffect.bioware.com/.

    Wednesday - December 09, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Process of the Comic Artist

    by Dhruin, 20:46

    The author of the upcoming Dark Horse comic book for Mass Effect 2 has written a detailed piece on his process.  The article includes numerous examples of work-in-progress and concept art.  An early quote from Omar Francia:

    As in all narrative adventures, this stage of the process starts the imagining, thinking and planning. Reading the script is one of my favorite parts of the process, because without any compromise, I can make a movie in my mind and fly with the imagination. After the first reading session, I go for a second one, and - with background music in the air - I start doodling the layouts of every page.

    This part of the process is incredibly helpful to see if the body language, vehicles, prop positions, and the camera POV are well combined to show the action the way I wanted. When I have a complete sequence done (five or more mini-layouts), I stop to check the dynamics of the pages. If everything goes well, then I continue with the next!

    Mass Effect 2 - German CE Details

    by Dhruin, 20:27

    Alrik sends word of the German Mass Effect 2 Collector's Edition, as spotted at Amazon.de.  The contents:

    - game

    - steel book case

    -  48 pages book "The Art Of Mass Effect 2"

    - first issue of the "Mass Effect Redemption" comic

    - Bonus DVD with Behind The Scenes & Making Of - Videos

    - exclusive in-game item consisting of a special armor & weapon

    Alrik also notes the game will apparently be uncensored, offer both German and English voices or text in the PC version and have the same basic disc check recently discussed.

     

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview @ Cheat Code Central

    by Aries100, 18:42

    Cheat Code Central talked to Casey Hudson, project director for the game, during Bioware's latest conference call. A summation of what they've learned can be found here. Nothing new really, except  maybe the part about exploration where Casey said that planets now have been made more interesting to explore. 

    And this:

    Also, rather than being tied to just one hub, The Citadel, players will be able to explore Omega. Omega is sort of The Citadel's antithesis. Instead of being the idyllic seat of galactic power, Omega is the Mos Eisley of the galaxy. In other words, it's the lawless, gang-ridden home of the galaxy's scum and villainy. In addition to a new major hub, players will also get to tramp around the Asari and Krogan homeworlds of Illyum and T'chonko (spellings were not clarified, sorry), respectively. Hudson made it clear that the depth and breadth of the narrative and setting are far more expansive.

    A fair warning, though. The summation or preview does have a rather big spoiler at the end - nothing shocking to those who've followed the making of the game, though.  

    Source: GameBanshee

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview Part 2 @ ActionTrip

    by Skavenhorde, 11:34

    Here is the second part to the preview over at ActionTrip that Dhruin reported on earlier. It talks about the ever popular elevator loading screens, dialogue, sex themes, and much more. Here is a a little bit from the preview:

    In reference to dialogue, Casey said: "Well, I think it's an improvement over the first Mass Effect for a few reasons. One them is that the technology has improved for how we portray the conversations. You are able to see the characters moving around a lot more, the actual situations are more dramatic, they can walk and talk at the same time. You're in quite a variety of different situations when you're having a conversation. Another subtle change -- you have to think back to when we were designing the first game -- a lot of the dialogue was written before we could really prove to ourselves how good the game would look and how cinematic it would be. Coming from games like KotOR or even Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights, where you're essentially writing dialogue for sprites, if you don't write the dialogue, if you don't write the words, then to some degree it didn't happen, do you have to write everything. But we were trying to go for a more movie-like or TV-like quality where an actor can give a response that is unspoken and with a look can tell you everything about how they feel. We had that as a goal, but had to prove to ourselves that we could do it. In ME 1 there were moments like that, when Ashley apologizes for ruining the first mission and getting you hurt and you can say 'No, it's okay,' or you can reprimand her. If you reprimand her, her response is just a look. She looks hurt, like you've hurt her feelings and you feel it as a player. Until we really saw those scenes in the first game, we didn't know that we could pull that off, but now that we have, now we can go ahead and write it much more like it's a movie, with more concise dialogue and with more reliance on the acting performance of the digital actors."

    Tuesday - December 08, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Adept and Character Updates

    by Dhruin, 21:28

    New updates at the Mass Effect 2 site.  From Chris Priestly:

    We have added new pages to the Mass Effect 2 website.

     

    The first is a page on the Adept Class. Check out the screenshot and video showing off the awesome biotic power of the Adept class in Mass Effect 2. The Adept can control the battlefield with their powers instead of relying upon weapons.ADEPT

    We are also adding pages for the characters you will encounter while playing Mass Effect 2. We already have a page up for Samara and now we also have one for Tali TALI, one for Grunt GRUNT and one for Subject Zero Subject Zero. Check out the characters pages in the Universe section.

    Monday - December 07, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Engineer Updates @ Official Site

    by Dhruin, 19:00

    You probably know everything from the recent previews but the Engineer class info has been updated at the official site, if you'd missed them elsewhere.

    Mass Effect 2 - Previews @ ActionTrip, Worthplaying

    by Dhruin, 18:58

    A couple of additional Mass Effect 2 previews from the recent press event.  First, a snip from ActionTrip:

    When asked about the enhanced combat system, Casey said: "Well, we probably improved every single aspect of combat." While that may seem like a bold statement, it looks like it's actually true. Not only have they added a bunch of cool new weapons, but the combat received a welcomed overhaul. "The combat is now so much smoother. It's easier to control a character, it's easier to aim, it just feels really good because the frame-rate's a lot faster. But we've also done a lot of work to the camera and the aiming system. It feels better when you're zooming in and targeting enemies," he continued.

    ...and from Worthplaying:

    Further, all the game's interfaces have been redesigned from the ground up over the original title's mechanics.  The inventory system remains as streamlined and easy to access as Mass Effect's system, but there are deeper options for customization at all levels.  In another area, the decisions the gamer makes in preparation for combat away missions, the action portions of the game, will clearly affect how those portions of the game play out.  Development of the central character, Shepard, and the choice of two squadmates for away missions, will make a real difference in how the action unfolds.  However, the customization is provided on an as-you-wish basis.  Those gamers who prefer to load up with stock weapons and equipment, dragging along a couple of squadmates in the most arbitrary fashion, can do so without degrading the intense shooter experience.  The concept is to provide near-perfect balance between micromanaging many options — a strong component of traditional RPG gameplay — with the latitude to skip over many of those details in favor of getting straight to the action.  Certainly, the more time you spend in character development, exploration and tactical customization before combat sequences, the more unique and diverse will be your experience in those sequences. In Mass Effect 2, these features are present more as inalienable rights rather than draconian requirements.

    Mass Effect 2 - Interview @ Gaming Nexus

    by Dhruin, 09:57

    Looks like the Mass Effect 2 show at the moment with yet another interview available.  Gaming Nexus chats with Ray Muzyka, who claims this is their best game yet - not surprisingly:

    We've heard that the Dragon Age team and the Mass Effect team have been learning a lot from each other. What kind of things is the Mass Effect group learning and implementing from the Dragon Age team. What kind of difference between the versions of Mass Effect, including gameplay and BioWare social network site functions, can you comment on?

    In Edmonton we have a matrix structure, so people move back and forth between projects quite often. We have a lot of people that worked on the original Mass Effect that worked on Dragon Age, and a lot of people who worked on Dragon Age who are working on Mass Effect 2. That's very organic and you get a lot of knowledge transfer between teams just as a function of people moving around. The EPs share a lot of knowledge with one another. The Exec Producers share knowledge between the projects very actively. Our mission basically is go for the best story-driven games in the world. Our vision is to deliver this genuine emotionally engaging experience and evolve it.

    Every game has to be better than the prior ones for that to really be true. So as great as Dragon Age was, I think Mass Effect 2 is going to be better because we're taking everything we learned from that game and are applying it. But at the same time they're very different games and that's intentional. I love the idea of BioWare having a diverse portfolio. You look at the rich deep fantasy role playing experience – this dark heroic fantasy of Dragon Age – and it’s very different and very satisfying, but different than the sci-fi futuristic vision of Mass 2.

    They’re both very complimentary, and I think they're going to attract different kinds of fans. In some cases some fans are going to love both games, and I personally love them both. We learned a lot of things, as well, from Dragon Age. The outstanding reception we're getting of post-release downloadable content [for example]. Those are some great lessons we're learning there. Dragon Age is having a lot of success and we have a lot more PDLC planned for Dragon Age. In Mass Effect 2 we're going to apply those concepts, and we already have teams working on PDLC plans for post launch for Mass Effect 2. Our commitment is trying to deliver some great PDLC on both games as an ongoing service to our fans.

    Mass Effect 2 - No More Elevators

    by Skavenhorde, 09:20

    Kotaku reports that Bioware has officially dumped the elevators transition system in favor of loading screens. It seems that Bioware recieved a lot of grief over these infernal contraptions. Ray Muzyka said back in April that there would be a completely new system to handle transitions into other areas in Mass Effect 2 and now Thomas R. Roy said this:

    The elevators were made in ME1 so we didn't have to show boring loading screens. However there were a lot of complaints, so we've gone back to loading screens and movies. We still have elevators in ME2, but you don't wait inside them. We'll cut to a loading screen instead. [emphasis added]

    We've tried to make the loading screen more interesting this time by adding interesting visuals and information.

    The elevator conversations had some funny moments, but hopefully people will enjoy this new system better than the old one!

     

    Sunday - December 06, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Interview @ Video Games Daily

    by Aries100, 15:40

    Like Skavenhorde mentions, Adrian Cho, producer for Mass Effect 2, has talked to Video Games Daily. The full 4 page review can be found here. 

    Other than talking about how developers pampers gamers, he talks about pushing the Unreal tech engine and how you have to fit all the parts in the game together so the game becomes balanced as well as how fun it is to make changes for the game.

    Also, he talks about how the gameplay in Mass Effect 2 will be:

    So a lot of the game is involved with tracking down these rogue characters, convincing them to join your mission. Sometimes they're not interested, because they have their own drives so you have to somehow get them to join your cause. Sometimes you have to do something out of your way, because you need that person for the end goal. In Mass 1, there was a lot of grey area, it wasn't always "good versus bad" - for the greater good, you had to do some bad stuff, you might have to kill some people. 

    Source: GameBanshee

    Saturday - December 05, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - The Engineer @ IGN

    by Dhruin, 21:04

    Lead Combat Designer Christina Norman chats with IGN about the Engineer class in Mass Effect 2:

    IGN: What was the most important improvement made to the Engineer class for Mass Effect 2?

    Christina Norman
    : We wanted playing the engineer to have a unique feel to it. We designed the Engineer to play as a more strategic, less brute force, class. Perhaps the most strategic move an Engineer can make is using his powers to gain strength in numbers via Combat Drone and AI Hack.

    Combat Drone is a new power that only Engineers get. When you summon a combat drone it will harass enemies, drawing fire away from you, and knocking enemies out of cover. Your combat drone can die, but you can summon a new one every few seconds. Smart engineers will make sure they always have a combat drone active on their side.

    AI Hack is a power that lets you take control of a mechanical enemy. We've improved hack from ME1. It's now a true "charm" ability -- hacked enemies will not turn on you even if you shoot them. Hack also puts a powerful defensive shield on the hacked target, which helps ensure your new pet will survive long enough to be useful. When your pet dies you can always hack a new one, as long as there are synthetic opponents available.

    With Combat Drone and AI Hack, plus his two squad mates, Engineers command a larger team than any other class.

    Friday - December 04, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Previews @ Lost Gamer & GamePro

    by Aries100, 16:27

    The Lost Gamer has spoken to Casey Hudson, ME2's Project Director. They've learned a lot about Bioware's improvements for ME2. Here's the info about how the overheat system has been changed:

    The weapon overheat system has also been modified, with the team noticing that in Mass Effect players would overheat their weapon and then be stuck with what to do for a few seconds. Therefore, within the second title they aimed to making everyhing seem more fluid by reducing the charge time on powers too with Hudson saying "So now you can fire powers much more frequently and have a lot more fun on the battlefield. In terms of the overheat and ammo, our goal then became to be able to add that tension and resource consideration to combat, again as part of getting to the best gameplay we could, while retaining the idea that the Mass Effect universe established.

    GamePro also has a preview of ME2 up at their site. They talk about their hands-on experience with ME2, focusing on playing through Illium, the Asari Colony - they also meet Samara, the new playable NPC:

    As soon as the mission began, we were given a directive to track down Samara, a dangerous and much-talked-about Justicar (essentially the equivalent of a Spectre) who provides a stark contrast from the peace-loving and gentle-natured Asari that we're familiar with in Liara T'Soni. Apparently, Samara was a dark legend among the Asari, known as a ruthless combatant whose mere name seemed to make the local population start breaking out in nervous sweats. Luckily for us, that's exactly the kind of crewmember that Commander Shepard's been looking for to take out the Collectors that have been harvesting humans. Glancing at a nearby police barricade, we could tell that she was probably in the area.  

    Source: GameBanshee

    Mass Effect 2 - Requires Disc Swapping - Will be on Two Discs

    by Aries100, 15:46

    Mass Effect 2 will require you to swap discs -  on the Xbox 360 at least. So sayeth Chris Priestly in a post at the ME2 forums:

    Ok some details for you.

    1 - Yes, there are 2 game discs for both the PC and Xbox 360 versions, both the Collector's and standard editions.

    2 - There is a 3rd disc with the Collector's Edition. This is a movie DvD containing making of and other bonus information.

    3 - The PC version is a standard install. You install the information from both discs and then play with 1 disc in the drive. No swapping.

    4 - The Xbox 360 does not have an install and does require disc swapping during play.

    5 - Even though there is a disc swap, it occurs at a carefully planned place in the game (that does not interfere with gameplay) and is done once. You do not swap back and forth. 1 swap and then done.

    6 - Why 2 discs? Answer: Because you cannot fit this much awesome on one disc.

    Hope this helps.

    Do you think many more games will be coming out on two discs?  And when will see the first game out on Blu-Ray disc - for the PC, I mean.

    Source: GameBanshee

    Mass Effect 2 - Producer Thinks: Dev's "Pamper" Gamers

    by Skavenhorde, 10:16

    Mass Effect 2 Producer talks to Video Games Daily. In this small snippet from the soon to be released interview Adrian Cho expressed concern about how developers coddle their fans by making the game a cakewalk. It is about time someone other than the fans said something about this. This is what Adrian Cho had to say:

    "Sometimes I think we're pampering gamers too much," he told us in an exclusive, one-on-one chatathon. "Just recently, a game like Demon Souls is fantastic because when you die, and you fail, it's not because the game was cheap it's usually because you didn't do something properly.

    "It goes back to that learning mechanism of "Well, I tried this - it didn't work. I'm going to try something different." And I think that's going to be something in Mass Effect 2, we don't want it to be a cakewalk, you want a challenge.

    "I think gamers want a more sophisticated game, they don't want a breezy game where you see all the cinematics and just put in your hours and play it through. So definitely there's some serious consequences. Delicious consequences! You'll have to play to find out."

    Source: GamesRadar

    Thursday - December 03, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Samara Update @ Official Site

    by Dhruin, 18:39

    We've already met Samara through a GameSpot preview and media but BioWare has kicked up a page for Samara in the character section of the Mass Effect 2 site.  There are two videos and a brief bio.

    Mass Effect 2 - Interview @ GameShark

    by Magerette, 18:36

    GameShark posts the results of a conference call  featuring Bioware's Ray Muzyka presenting a few pages of details on their upcoming rpg, Mass Effect 2.

    Here's a short sample:

    While Muzyka wouldn't go into detail, he promised that side quests and visits to optional planets will be more intertwined with the narrative. You may even find some of the most memorable moments within the optional content. According to Muzyka, choosing to do these quests will also have a tremendous impact on your ability to survive. In fact, one concept of the game lies almost exclusively in your willingness to explore. During your journey, you can find research that will improve your equipment or bestow special abilities on your characters, something that will definitely improve your chances of survival.

    Source: GameBanshee

    Tuesday - December 01, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Hands On Preview @ 1Up

    by Magerette, 20:15

    1Up's Thierry Nguyen takes a gameplay demo featuring a gunship battle from Bioware's Mass Effect 2 for a spin and posts his impressions. It appears to be rather spoilerish and detailed,  so bear that in mind before reading the full article.

    Here's an antiseptic and general snip:

    Sure, a gunship isn't quite the "It's me versus the Death Star!" moment I'm dreading for ME3, but it's still plenty intimidating...It's also another example of how ME2 follows BioWare's solid tradition of creating intimidating high-level power encounters (see: dragons in both Dragon Age: Origins and Baldur's Gate II, or the badass monks and mages that you go up against in Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal)...

    ...The demo has a lot of the features from the last time I played ME2; features such as improved combat (via tweaked interface and concepts like the thermal clip), the snazzier looking graphics, new enemies, and the "cut-scene triggers." It's just that this takes place at a later point than in my previous demo and therefore shows off more interesting versions of that stuff. (Well, I'm assuming later, but then again, BioWare games tend to have a flexible "go do quests in whatever order you want" mechanic.)

    Mass Effect 2 - Screenshots

    by Magerette, 19:50

    Both Blues News and Worthplaying have several supposedly new sets of screenshots up in the last two days. You can find the three at Worthplaying here, and Blues News' five at this link.

    Monday - November 30, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - New Character @ GameSpot

    by Dhruin, 19:00

    GameSpot has a hands-on preview of Mass Effect 2, with a new character revealed.  Introducing Samara:

    The demo we played focused on Commander Shepard's quest to recruit Samara into his squad. As someone with a reputation for ruthless efficiency when it comes to bringing down the scum of the universe, her skills are just what Shepard needs for the task force he's assembling. Things began with Shepard arriving on the Asari homeworld of Illium, a dark planet whose sleek-but-cold look made it clear that the race inhabiting this world was among the most technologically advanced in the galaxy. Shepard began by chatting up a merchant named Pitne For, who was one of the chubby little Volus aliens that you might remember from the original game.

    Saturday - November 28, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Interview @ Voodoo Extreme

    by Skavenhorde, 11:03

    Voodoo Extreme sits down with project director, Casey Hudson. They talk about almost every aspect of Mass Effect 2 from combat to how the sex scenes were handled in Mass Effect 2. Here is a snippet from the interview:

    Story and Characters

    A successful character is loved by some and hated by others. If it's split down the middle then it makes the character unique and inspires decision making. Some character favourites include Wrex, Garrus, Liara, and the much debated Kaidan. A lot of people left Kaidan to die in ME1. Yet, people want Kaidan back as a love interest. Tali is another one. She is mysterious, alternative and was originally going to be a love interest in ME1.

    Subject Zero is already both loved and hated by fans, all based on a very short video clip released in September. Subject Zero is actually the most interesting squad member in the game. Her story is huge and ongoing, and is loaded with surprises.

    Source: GameBanshee

    Friday - November 27, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Trailers @ GameTrailers

    by Skavenhorde, 13:27

    There are a couple of new trailers for Mass Effect 2 up at GameTrailers. The first is a trailer of Tali. In the trailer she is in big trouble with the Quarian Migrant Fleet. You can go here to view it or click the embedded image below:

     

    The second is a trailer of the Combat Class: Adept. It shows you gameplay footage of the adept in action. As before you can go straight to the site to view it or click the image below:

     

    Thursday - November 26, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Interview @ GameSpy

    by Dhruin, 18:50

    GameSpy chats with BioDoc Greg Zeschuk about Mass Effect 2.  As always, the doctor drops the "I've just been playing..." line and mentions that other game but there's not much new on offer:

    GameSpy: With Mass Effect, do you wish you had something similar to the Dragon Age Toolset and builder community? Some way for the players to expand upon this universe you've created?

    Greg Zeschuk: Mass Effect's a different experience. That's one of the interesting things for us, is that Mass 2 is such a cinematic extravaganza. I just finished Mass Effect 2 this past weekend, and I'm playing it again. It's just a roller coaster extraordinaire. It's the kind of game that is just different, and fans will have the ingenuity to figure out some of the creative stuff. But I think it just seems more natural, the whole builder concept is more natural to the Dragon Age franchise. For some reason it just seems like it fits there, maybe it's our own history of creating that.

    It's not as much a part of [Mass Effect], it just doesn't seem natural for it. One of the things that's exciting is that we want to make these long-term franchises and platforms that have all kinds of different offerings. One thing we're super pumped about is Dragon Age Journeys...

    Wednesday - November 25, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - The Adept @ IGN

    by Aries100, 22:29

    Starmine76 from Bioware's ME2 forums points to an interview that IGN has made with Christina Norman, the lead combat designer for ME2. They discuss how the The Adept, the biotic user, will be redesigned in ME2. Christina talks about how you may change your class completey from ME1 to ME2, that you'll spend all your level up points improving your biotic powers since the armour and weapons skills have been removed completely. And you get access to more weapons.

    Using your biotic powers can now be done without any cool down periods:  

    IGN: What was the single most important aspect of the Adept's combat that you felt needed improvement for this sequel?

    Christina Norman: In ME1 we had long power cooldowns, which meant there would be periods in combat where you couldn't use your powers for a long time. For low level adepts in particular, you'd use your 1 power, and then have no powers available for a very long time.

    For Mass Effect 2 we wanted the adept to be able to use his powers consistently in battle. We added a shared power cooldown system that let us dramatically lower the time between power use. As a result, even at level 1 in Mass Effect you'll be able to use powers throughout every battle. This really helps fulfill the fantasy of the adept as a biotic warrior, capable of dominating the battle primarily with his biotic powers.

    Source: IGN

    Mass Effect 2 - Video Interview @ IncGamers

    by Dhruin, 21:18

    IncGamers has a developer video interview with Lead Technical Artist Adrien Cho and BioDoc Ray Muzyka on Mass Effect 2.  For those of us luddites that prefer text, a transcript is available, so here's a snip:

    RM: This is as much a shooter as it is a role-playing game. But we've also really amped up the intensity of the RPG experience. You get to take control, moment to moment, of some of the decision trees and dialogue, the characterisation, the emotional depth of the characters – they're just a lot more credible, they feel a lot more alive. The uncharted worlds, the fidelity's been amped up and so has the integration of those uncharted worlds with the main story arc, so they're gonna have more of an impact on how the story progresses – even changing the end of the game depending on what optional content you do.

    AC: I think people will be really, really surprised when they import their character from Mass 1, and find out how much of an impact on that game universe they had due to the choices they made from the first game, and seeing it unfold in their playing experience in Mass Effect 2. The choices that you make will have interesting outcomes for the characters that you're going to come across in Mass Effect 2.

    Source: Blues News

    Mass Effect 2 - PC System Requirements & DRM

    by Skavenhorde, 14:42

    The system requirements and DRM for Mass Effect 2 has been revealed. They went with the old reliable for DRM. It's just your basic disc check. No online authentication or limited install hassles required to play the boxed/retail PC version of the game.

    We know we have a lot of fans who are ready to pre-order Mass Effect 2, but are still waiting for information on whether their PC will run the game and what Digital Rights Management (DRM) Mass Effect 2 will use. Hopefully with the information below, you will now be able to pre-order your copy of Mass Effect 2 from your favorite retailer.

    Minimum System Requirements

    Operating System: Windows XP SP3 / Windows Vista SP1 / Windows 7
    Processor: 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or equivalent AMD CPU
    Memory: 1 GB RAM for Windows XP / 2 GB RAM for Windows Vista and Windows 7
    Hard Drive Space: 15 GB
    DVD ROM: 1x Speed
    Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible
    DirectX: DirectX 9.0c August 2008 (included)
    Input: Keyboard / Mouse
    Video Card: 256 MB (with Pixel Shader 3.0 support). Supported Chipsets - NVIDIA GeForce 6800 or greater; ATI Radeon X1600 Pro or greater.

    Please note that NVIDIA GeForce 7300, 8100, 8200, 8300, 8400, and 9300; ATI Radeon HD3200, and HD4350 are below minimum system requirements. Updates to your video and sound card drivers may be required. Intel and S3 video cards are not officially supported in Mass Effect 2.

    Recommended System Requirements

    Operating System: Windows XP SP3 / Windows Vista SP1 / Windows 7
    Processor: 2.6+ GHz Cure 2 Duo Intel or equivalent AMD CPU
    Memory: 2 GB RAM
    Sound Card: 100% DirectX compatible sound card and drivers
    DirectX: DirectX August 2008
    Video Card: ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT, NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT, or better recommended

    For the best results, make sure you have the latest drivers for your video and audio cards. Laptop or mobile versions of the above supported video cards have not had extensive testing and may have driver or other performance issues. As such, they are not officially supported in Mass Effect 2. Intel and S3 video cards are not officially supported in Mass Effect 2.

    Digital Rights Management (DRM)

    The boxed/retail PC version of Mass Effect 2 will use only a basic disk check and it will not require online authentication. This is the same method as Dragon Age: Origins. Digital versions will use the retailers protection system.

    Source: Voodoo Extreme

    Tuesday - November 24, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - New Website Coming...Surprise!

    by Dhruin, 21:26

    Points to our forum posters who called this sort of thing when BioWare announced a Mass Effect 2 "surprise" a day or so back.  CVG points out a Facebook update that spills the beans:

    Heading off to meetings for the rest of the day, so no more ME2 till later this week. Tomorrow’s surprise, the revamp to the Mass Effect website, is looking really cool and we hope you like the new layout. Visit the Mass Effect 2 website tomorrow for the new look. 

    In related news, Destructoid points out almost the entire team will move on to DLC production once the game has shipped:

    Hudson continued, saying that "pretty much the whole team" will begin working on DLC once the game is ready to ship, and that content could be influenced by fans: “Once we’re done working on Mass Effect 2, pretty much the whole team switches into working on really cool downloadable content. That’s where we like to listen to what fan feedback is for ‘where do you want to go’ and ‘what kinds of things do you want to see.’ “

    Source: CVG

    Monday - November 23, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Surprise Next Week

    by Skavenhorde, 13:23

    Not really the biggest news around, but Kotaku reports that Chris Priestly drops a hint about some surprise next week. There is no indication as to what it will be. Here is what he said:

    Man, so much time tied up today in meetings and "secret stuff" I didn't get any time with ME2 at all. =( Still with the coming surprise for next week on the ME2 website, I'm sure fans will forgive me for no update. Did I, Evil Chris Priestly, just drop a hint? Yes. Yes I did.

    Sunday - November 22, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Audio Interview @ Blogs Critics Gaming

    by Aries100, 17:52

    Blogs Critics Gaming did an audio interview with a Bioware developer, Dorian Kieken. They're  talking about plans for DLC for Mass Effect, how his work day is like, and much much more. The interview, which is nearly 30 minutes in lenghth, has been made during the Montreal Internal Games Summit that was held recently.

    Here's some info about Dorian:

    He has been credited on twelve titles in roles ranging from Game Design to Production. In the past three years, Dorian has been actively involved with agile methodologies and online planning, introducing them to DC studios and then improving them at BioWare. Recently, he has been leading the move to a new management tool at BioWare and has also become an active contributor to the Agile Project Management group within Electronic Arts. Dorian is currently working as a Development Director on Mass Effect 2.

    Source: GameBanshee

    Wednesday - November 18, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Video Interview @ HEXUS.tv

    by Dhruin, 19:59

    HEXUS.tv interviews BioWare's Adrien ChoMass Effect 2 Producer - at EA's Winter Showcase.

    Source: GameBanshee

    Tuesday - November 17, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Box Art Revealed

    Monday - November 16, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Trailers @ Gametrailers

    by Skavenhorde, 13:17

    Blues News spotted three new trailers up Gametrailers.com:

    Sunday - November 15, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Video Interview @ Gametrailers

    by Dhruin, 08:00

    There's been a real flurry of Mass Effect 2 videos this weekend as BioWare starts to shift their marketing focus on to their next thing.

    The latest Gametrailers TV episode has a video interview with the Biodocs titled Phasers on Kill!

    Saturday - November 14, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Trailers

    by Skavenhorde, 07:17

    There are two new videos up at the Mass Effect 2 Homepage. The first is called Omega. The Omega trailer gives a brief look at the Krogan recuitable character and the mercenary controlled planet Omega.

    The second trailer is called Subject Zero. Subject Zero is the name of another recruitable character. She isn't the innocent alien like Liara was. Just watch the video and you will see what I mean.

    Thursday - November 12, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview @ Digital Spy

    by Dhruin, 19:52

    The Mass Effect 2 previews are still trickling in.  Here's one from Digital Spy:

    Our play on the preview shows that while the finer points are yet to come together, it certainly holds up as a shooter. Cover is a little sticky and not quite fast enough to move in and out of, but it feels entirely natural. Though fighting against less competent enemies feels pretty much like any other Unreal 3 shooter, the underlying role-playing elements emerge when you tackle tougher enemies such as a bipedal robot that requires changing to circuit-frying disruption rounds in order to down. Elsewhere, you can tackle advancing drones with an ice gun, causing them to comically freeze and topple over before shattering, continuing to prove that this isn't just an intergalactic version of Gears Of War.

    Source: Blues News

    Monday - November 09, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Garrus, Afterlife Trailers

    by Dhruin, 20:11

    Via Rock, Paper, Shotgun we find these Mass Effect 2 videos - we've already posted the Enemies trailer but not the Garrus or Afterlife Gameplay trailers.

    Saturday - November 07, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview @ Eurogamer

    by Aries100, 22:48

    Eurogamer has written a preview of Mass Effect 2 - based on their impressions from a hands-on demo of the game. They mention that Shepard now goes night-clubbing:

    The nightclub section appears to have been included largely to show off the darker world: the skyscraper canyons lurking outside the bar seem grim, industrial, and thick with luminous clouds of pollution and passing space traffic, while the club itself is filled with seedy-looking aliens lounging on benches, and shot through with red lighting, dancing...girls (?), and holographic fire displays moving in time with the booming dance music.

       The story and the shooting is still in there - and has improved:

    Shepard and his squad-mates move about with more elegance, the targeting is a lot twitchier, and snapping in and out of cover - and subsequently vaulting over it - now seems entirely natural.

    Source: EuroGamer

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview @ GameSpy

    by Dhruin, 21:32

    GameSpy joins several other major sites with a preview of Mass Effect 2:

    Mass Effect was an RPG first, a shooter second as far as I was concerned. With ME2, the line becomes far more blurred. That's not necessarily a bad thing, because the quality of the gunplay appears much-improved. For one thing, you now have locational damage, so headshots count, and shooting weak points on enemies will have actual noticeable effects. Large mech-like enemies, for instance, will topple if you shoot the legs out from under them, while those aforementioned blasts to the dome will generally deal far more damage than shots to the chest area. Even the cover mechanics have been improved, as you can now slide in and out of cover and more naturally peek out for shots than you could in the first game. You'll still pop out of the real-time combat to relay orders, activate abilities, and do all that nerdy RPG stuff, but the core shooting gameplay has been overhauled considerably.

    Friday - November 06, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview @ 1UP and Kotaku

    by Aries100, 20:45

    After releasing Dragon Age: Origins, Bioware has moved into preview mode with its upcoming game Mass Effect 2. Previews have appeared on both Kotaku and 1UP.

    Both previewers have had hand-on experience with the game. The previewer for Kotaku mentions this about ME2's no-overheat system for weapons:

    Gone is the first game's system of infinite-ammo weapons that overheat if used to much too quickly. Reader feedback to that possibility was mixed during PAX. The EA representative who showed me the Omega mission couldn't tell me what the narrative justification was for abandoning the series' no-reload-needed ballistics technology. He could tell me, however, was that the game's developers felt that the old system for regulating player's use of guns - an overheating mechanic that enforced slower shooting and mandatory cooldown - disrupted the flow of a good firefight. Players would run for cover and wait until their weapon was ready to fire again. Not anymore. Hopefully.

    The 1 UP reviewer mentions that for the Xbox 360 version, you can now give individual commands to your teammates. 

    Mass Effect 2 also brings over the PC version of Mass Effect's ability to give individual movement commands to squadmates. Instead of the original ME's general "everybody go, no wait, everybody stay put" command scheme, you can now use the D-pad in combination with your crosshairs to order buddies to move to specific areas. 

    Voodo Extreme features a 9 minute sequence from the game, while a video developer's diary can be found at Destructoid

    Avoid if you don't want to be spoiled. Note that some of this footage also can be found in the youtube video Dhruin posted.  

     

    Source: 1Up

    Mass Effect 2 - Interview and Videos @ IGN

    by Dhruin, 20:18

    Titled "Details, details, details", IGN has an interview on Mass Effect 2 along with several new videos.   Casey Hudson supplies the answers, which include the new threat and DLC.  A snip:

    IGN: Do the new aliens only harvest humans or is any alien race fair game?

    Casey Hudson:
    The belief at the beginning of the game is that the Collectors, they are only going after humans and we believe they are working with the Reapers. They seem to have Reaper-based technology. That's why it's more of an intimate threat in Mass Effect 2. Whereas they previously were thought to be targeting all organic life, now they seem to have narrowed it down to humans for some reason. That's part of the mystery you're trying to figure out: Why humans?

    IGN: Is there more of a level of infamy now for Shepard now that he has already made himself a star? Is that recognized in the game world around him?

    Casey Hudson:
    It is. I actually think that's a pretty interesting part of Mass Effect 2 -- you are now known to the average person. You can go into a store and say to the shopkeeper, "Hey, what do you think about giving a discount to the Specter who fought for the Citadel?" And he'll say, "Wow, you're Commander Shepard! Yeah, OK!" All the way up to the bigger figures in the world know who you are and even the enemies.

    That's part of the mystery. They do seem to be interested in humans, but in particular as a result of what you did in the first game, you are kind of peculiar to them. One character in particular you saw [in the trailer], Legion, he knows who you are and he's got your N7 armor over his shoulder. Things that you did in the first game definitely make you known in the galaxy and that's a different experience for sure versus the first game.

    Thursday - November 05, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Enemies Video

    Mass Effect 2 - Collector's Edition Revealed

    by Aries100, 18:43

    Bioware has issued a press release  telling the world what's in the CE for Mass Effect 2. It includes the (obligatory) tin box, a DVD with making of footage, a hardcover book with art (48 pages), unique weapons and armour exclusive to the game.  And issue 1 of the Mass Effect Redemption comic book. 

    This seems to be in the wake of the launch for Dragon Age: Origins, so we don't forget that Mass Effect 2 releases on January 26th 2010.

    If you wish to see what the CE version as well as the unique armour looks like, please go here:

    Here's the presse release in full:

     

    November 05, 2009 06:00 AM Eastern Time

    BioWare Announces Mass Effect 2 Collectors’ Edition

    Special Edition Includes Exclusive Armor and Weapons, Comic Book, and Bonus Content

    EDMONTON, Alberta--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Recruit your crew and fight for the lost! Leading video game developer BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS) today announced that the internationally acclaimed Shooter RPG Mass Effect™ 2 will also be released as a Collectors’ Edition in limited quantities. Available on January 26 in North America (Jan 29 in EU) alongside the standard edition, the Collectors’ Edition of Mass Effect 2 comes in a premium, tin case and includes the full version of the game, a 48-page hardcover “Art of Mass Effect 2” book, Issue 1 of the Mass Effect Redemption comic book, and a bonus DVD with behind-the-scenes and making-of videos. In addition, the Mass Effect 2 Collectors’ Edition will include unique in-game weapons and armor that can only be obtained by purchasing this version. With its larger-than-life hero Commander Shepard, intense shooter action, nuanced characters and a rich storyline, Mass Effect 2 is one of the most anticipated titles of 2010.

    “We’re really excited to roll out this Collectors’ Edition featuring so many unique items, including special Collectors’ Edition armor and weapons and content that will surprise Mass Effect fans,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, co-founder, BioWare and Group General Manager of the RPG/MMO Group of EA. “The limited edition comic book and bonus DVD will really enhance and expand the overall Mass Effect 2 experience.”

    The Mass Effect trilogy is an emotionally charged science fiction adventure set in a vast universe filled with dangerous alien life and mysterious, uncharted planets. In Mass Effect 2, players will once again step into the role of the heroic Commander Shepard, commanding their crew of some of the most dangerous operatives from across the galaxy on a mission so challenging that it’s potentially suicidal. Featuring intense shooter action, a rich futuristic storyline, space exploration and emotionally engaging character interaction, the game delivers an unparalleled cinematic experience.

    Mass Effect 2 will be available on the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system and PC. The Mass Effect 2 Collectors’ Edition will retail at an MSRP of $69.99 on Xbox 360 and $59.99 on PC. Mass Effect 2 assets are available at info.ea.com. Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/masseffect2. For more information on Mass Effect 2, go to http://masseffect.bioware.com/.  

    Source: Blues News

    Tuesday - November 03, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - DLC Hints @ Destructoid

    by Dhruin, 09:19

    This will come as a surprise to noone but Destructoid has indications of DLC plans for Mass Effect 2.  Apparently a tipster let them know about some retailer training for the game that showed...

    It lists, specifically in the Xbox LIVE Features section, “planned episodic combat via DLC,” weapon and armor packs, new downloadable characters for the “campaign experience,” new downloadable worlds, as well as “full campaign expansions for download.”

    It also mentions that the game will carry “periodic updates,” which features DLC, via Mass Effect 2’s unannounced in-game “Cerberus Network.”

    Sunday - November 01, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview @ Brutal Gamer

    by Aries100, 10:52

    Brutal Gamer has kicked up a short Mass Effect 2 hands-on preview from time spent with the game at Eurogamer Expo. They felt right at home:

    Taking the controls of the new Captain Shepherd you feel immediately at home. Everything was as in the first game with the startling addition of a reload button. This was an immediate notice by eagle eyed Keats as a furious debate raged about if he was indeed reloading or just slapping his gun - look a bit loose animation wise. The hands-on starts out with a standard enough Mass Effect cut-scene with Shepherd inbound to an alien planet. His mission, to reach the top of a tower over run by an opposing force.   

    Source: GameBanshee

    Mass Effect 2 - Halloween Wallpaper

    Wednesday - October 28, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview @ Resolution Magazine

    by Dhruin, 21:55

    Game Resolution in the UK has a hands-on preview of Mass Effect 2.  This snip on combat seems to run counter to the official PR but many players will appreciate "careful" play, if correct:

    Much has been spoken of Mass Effect 2’s new combat system.  Watching from a distance earlier on, I wasn’t convinced.  It looked slow, sluggish and a little weak.  Having spent twenty minutes diving to and from cover, firing wildly and commanding my squad effortlessly, I’m far more impressed.

    It’s true that battles seem slower and more drawn out.  Of the playable twenty minutes, a good fifteen consisted of a single fight against multiple, well-armed enemies.  But the tactics have been brought to the fore, the emphasis on cover more prominent than before.  Mass Effect’s health bar is gone, replaced with the ever-popular regeneration system.  Initially, it feels wrong, but it quickly makes sense.  This is a game that encourages slow, careful play during combat, and wants you to stay in cover as much as possible.  Being able to munch down health packs would undoubtedly soil that vibe.

    Source: GameBanshee

    Monday - October 26, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Interview with Dr. Greg Zeschuk

    by Woges, 16:46

    It's not working for me atm but Gamespot have an interview with Dr. Zeschuk, regarding ME2's 'rougher action-orientated feel, responding to user feedback and delivering DLC'.

    Saturday - October 24, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Hands-on Preview @ Games Radar

    by Aries100, 18:04

    An updated hands-on preview for Mass Effect 2 can be found at Games Radar. The preview mentions info not seen anywhere else, I believe. Here's a snippet or two from
    the preview: 

    Mass Effect 2 will have tracked over 60 individual choices you made, from the fate of major characters – if some of your Mass Effect mates didn’t make it they won’t be in Mass Effect 2 – right down to seemingly inconsequential encounters having unforeseeable repercussions.

    Clearly there’s more to it than what we’ve been told, and the developers would rather leave us wallowing in intrigue while they show off the more tactile changes they’ve made in Mass Effect 2.

    Source: GameBanshee

    Wednesday - October 21, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Interview @ Polygamia

    by Aries100, 21:02

    Polish gaming site Polygamia did an interview with Jay Watamaniuk about Mass Effect. It's in English as well as in Polish. The interview also covers some info about
    Dragon Age as well.

    PW: When making Mass Effect 1, did you already know that it would be trilogy, and did you already put hooks for the second game? Or did you just go "well, we finished Mass Effect 1, what can we do in Mass Effect 2"?

    JW: It's a bit of both. We set out from the beginning calling it a trilogy. When Mass Effect 1 was planned , there already was a thread we wanted to follow in all games. You can take this Shepard through each game. That could get complicated really quickly, and you had to tackle this issue from the beginning.

    Spotted at: http://daforums.bioware.com/viewtopic.html?topic=699946&forum=135.

     

    Mass Effect 2 - Gameplay Video

    by Dhruin, 20:14

    Omega points out a Mass Effect 2 gameplay video on Youtube, that originated from IGN.  While freshly posted at Youtube, I can't see anything new at IGN so you may have seen it before.  Either way, it offers around five minutes of in-game cutscenes and gameplay.

    Tuesday - October 20, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Interview @ GamePlanet

    by Dhruin, 20:09

    BioDoc Greg Zeschuk has been interviewed about Mass Effect 2 at GamePlanet.co.nz, with some decent questions that many Mass Effect players would want to ask.  Here's an example:

    GP: How have you tacked the planetary quests this time around? Have you made the planets more interesting places to visit? 

    Greg: Absolutely. One of the things we were pretty confident we could build upon were the worlds from the first game. We had them there as a sort of alternate activity, where you could go and enjoy yourself, but everybody pointed out there maybe wasn't enough to do on them. So our focus on the sequel is to integrate them more into the story, so the actual custom content will be deeper on the planets themselves. There's a few other mechanics that we've added into the whole deal, visiting planets will be made a whole lot more fun, and finally for the planets themselves, there's a real purpose to it. There's a gameplay reason and a story reason that makes it worthwhile to visit the planets. Because with the overall arc of the game, it's not entirely clear what's going on initially, but fairly quickly you'll figure out what you have to do and where you have to do it. Really what it is is literally a suicide mission to this incredibly well defended planet, and you need to gather the best possible team. So a lot of the planet stuff, where you visit these worlds, is about finding these unique characters, these amazing rapscallion scoundrels, and ex-secret agents that you can get. So everything has a nice tighter purpose, to tie into that focus of the end game. 

    Source: GameBanshee

    Friday - October 16, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Release date Jan 26

    by Woges, 19:41

    Gamespot have news on the release date of ME2 that being the 26th for the US and the 29th for the EU.

    When Mass Effect 2 was officially announced this past February, it was given an "early 2010" launch window. It turns out that should've been a "very early 2010" launch window, as Electronic Arts today announced it will arrive on January 26 in North America and January 29 in Europe. Unlike the first Mass Effect, the sci-fi role-playing game will ship simultaneously for the Xbox 360 and PC, and will likely have the same M for Mature rating as the original.[...]

    As for story, Mass Effect 2 begins with the original game's hero, Commander Shepard embarking on a dangerous mission to the mercenary-controlled Omega mining facility, shown in the trailer below. BioWare has kept pretty quiet about further plot details, but GameSpot's brand-new preview offers a closer look at the title's gameplay.

    Update:  Here's the official PR:

    BIOWARE ANNOUNCES JANUARY 26 LAUNCH DATE FOR MASS EFFECT 2 TOGETHER WITH EXCITING PRE-ORDER INCENTIVES

    Unique Armor and Weaponry Available with Pre-Orders at Select Retailers Worldwide

    Edmonton, Alberta (October 16, 2009) – Mark your calendar and lock in your copy of Mass Effect 2 now! Leading video game developer BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS) today announced that the epic Shooter/RPG Mass Effect™ 2 will be on store shelves in North America on January 26, and on January 29 in Europe. With its larger-than-life hero Commander Shepard, intense shooter action, nuanced characters and a rich storyline, the much-anticipated sequel to the original award-winning opus is one of the most anticipated titles of 2010. In support of the launch, BioWare is releasing unique Mass Effect 2 pre-order incentives* at key retailers in North America and across Europe. Codes for downloading these items will be provided to players who have pre-ordered, usable when the game is released.

    “Our fans are in for a genuine thrill in the New Year with Mass Effect 2 – the second installment in the trilogy will be of amazingly high quality,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, co-founder, BioWare and Group General Manager of the RPG/MMO Group of EA. “BioWare’s fans worldwide have been eagerly awaiting this epic sequel, and we couldn’t be more excited to reward them for pre-ordering by delivering some awesome bonus content!”

    In North America, pre-order bonuses* include special-ops armor and weaponry that are designed to boost Commander Shepard’s skills and abilities. At GameStop, Terminus Gear is available with pre-orders, which includes the powerful Terminus Assault Armor and the M-490 Blackstorm Heavy Weapon:

    • The Terminus Armor is designed for use in extreme planetary conditions, increasing run speed and personal shields, and augmenting weapons with an additional magazine of reserve ammo.
    • The M-90 Blackstorm Heavy Weapon generates a high-powered localized gravity well, accelerating particles to near-infinite mass, and ultimately expanding the selection of heavy weapons available to players when they gear up for combat missions in Mass Effect 2.

    Players that pre-order Mass Effect 2 at other retail outlets in North America will receive the potent Inferno Armor, which is used by officers to monitor battlefield conditions by recognizing elevated heart rates, and regulates sub-systems with extreme efficiency to allow for greater response times – together these abilities translate in-game into a negotiation bonus for Commander Shepard and an increase in run speed and augmented damage from combat powers.

    The Mass Effect trilogy is an emotionally charged science fiction adventure set in a vast universe filled with dangerous alien life and mysterious, uncharted planets. In Mass Effect 2, players will once again step into the role of the heroic Commander Shepard, commanding their crew of some of the most dangerous operatives from across the galaxy on a mission so challenging that it’s potentially suicidal. Featuring intense shooter action, a rich futuristic storyline, space exploration and emotionally engaging character interaction, the game delivers an unparalleled cinematic experience.

    Mass Effect 2 will be available on the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system and PC. Pre-order incentive assets are available at info.ea.com. Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/masseffect2. For more information on Mass Effect 2, go to http://masseffect.bioware.com/.

    Thursday - October 15, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Dark Horse Comic Preview

    by Dhruin, 23:29

    The Bioblog offers the first seven pages of the upcoming Mass Effect comic by Dark Horse.  Here's Chris Priestly's intro and head over to view the pages:

    I am a huge comic book nerd. I have been collecting comics for the past 27 years and have a basement full of long boxes and shelves full of issues I still need to put in bags with boards.Taking up a lot of space in my collection are comics from Dark Horse. Even if you haven’t heard of Dark Horse, I bet you know some of their titles. Those cool Hellboy movies? Based on a Dark Horse comic. Did you watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer? That is now a Dark Horse comic. If you like Aliens, Star Wars, Conan the Barbarian or a TON of other great comics from some of the most talented artists and writers in the industry today they are a part of Dark Horse.

    Friday - October 09, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview @ IGN

    by Dhruin, 22:27

    According to Greg Zeschuk in this IGN preview of Mass Effect 2, this second game is intended to be "the trilogy's Empire Strikes Back", being darker and harder:

    Combat has dramatically improved in ME2. As soon as you get it in your hands and begin running for cover before snapping up your sights on oncoming enemies, you forget that you are even playing an RPG. It's all so fluid. "Well combat was one of our big focuses. The original was the first time we had ever really tried a shooter, and just getting the game done was a lot of work. So as time has rolled on we've just got a lot better at doing the combat. The tradition of the RPG is a lot more like Dragon Age, whereas Mass Effect is more like a game with RPG features. I would consider it more of a Shooter RPG. Especially after the changes we have made in this one: it is even more like a shooter. It's very doable to make such a mix work; you just need to get practice with it."

    Monday - September 28, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Subject Zero Character Video

    by Dhruin, 11:19

    BioWare has revealed a new Mass Effect 2 character called Subject Zero - a foul-mouthed, violent biotic.  Here's the video from Youtube or check out the HD original from GameSpot.

    Source: GameSpot

    Mass Effect 2 - Diary of the New Guy #2

    by Dhruin, 11:14

    The second entry from Jay Watamaniuk on his move to the Mass Effect 2 team went up on the Bioblog late last week:

    “Shake them like Christmas elves until the missing string references fall out”.

    And thus, my final day of my first week began. Every morning we have a quick stand up meeting for the design folks working on Mass Effect 2. We assemble in a big meeting room and go around summarizing, in about three words, what we are working on for the day so the Lead Designer gets an overview of what is going on with the team in detail. Once we have gone around the room, he gives some announcements to the entire team or deals with critical issues. When he is done, we scamper back to our offices and begin tapping on our keyboards.

    Wednesday - September 23, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Diary of the New Guy #1

    by Dhruin, 22:34

    Jay Watamaniuk pens his first Bioblog entry as a new writer for Mass Effect 2:

    A few things have changed in the last week that have altered my life at BioWare pretty dramatically. I accepted a position as a writer on Mass Effect 2, which meant that after 8 years I no longer helm the stormy seas of community. I leave that to Mr. Priestly, who has far more aptitude and skill in this; proving his value since his days back in QA when he was basically doing his job now but not getting paid for it. I have no fear for community under his direction. He knows his business and he is passionate about doing right by the fans.

    For me… I need to learn a completely new job at a company with which I have grown very comfortable. I need to see up close how games are made. In marketing, we work with the development teams to help tell fans about their work; to spread the message and to show off proudly the work the dev teams do. Marketing BioWare games – though complicated, as the games are complicated – is easy from the perspective that the product is of a world class quality; something that sets a standard. As a marketing guy, you need to ask little more than to feel good about the work you do.

    Sunday - September 20, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - vs Alpha Protocol #1 @ BlendGames

    by Dhruin, 01:05

    Jump over to Blend Games for this bit of silliness, with members of their team comparing Mass Effect 2 to Alpha Protocol in a three-part battle with readers voting after each round.  This first round compares the "RPG diversity" of each title:

    When you’re talking about changing the espionage action genre by making it an RPG you’re talking about serving up a tall order. Nevertheless, Obsidian seems to be taking on that order with flying colors as Alpha Protocol contains some of the most fascinating RPG elements featured in a game to-date. The ability to customize the lead character with a variety of reasonable looks, upgrade and acquire weapons of choice, learn new fighting techniques and chat it up with a few femme fatales in the game is a step in a direction only equivalent to what BioWare is doing with Mass Effect 2. When it comes to diversity I think I might be inclined to say that this game ties with BioWare’s epic space saga.

    Thursday - September 17, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Interview @ Crispy Gamer

    by Dhruin, 23:18

    Mass Effect 2 lead writer Mac Walters has been interviewed at Crispy Gamer:

    Crispy Gamer: Tell me about your duties as chief writer on Mass Effect 2.

    Mac Walters: My main task as lead writer is to ensure consistency. We work with a team of five. Everyone's got their own way of doing things, which is great -- we love that, but you also have to be sure that everything still maintains Mass Effect tone and flavor. The big thing, of course, is Shepard. Everybody's writing Shepard because he's in every conversation, so we have to make sure that Shepard always sounds like Shepard should.

    Crispy Gamer: And the type of Commander Shepard the player is playing.

    Mac Walters

    Walters: Exactly. We want Shepard to have choices, but he has to have believable choices. So we had to define parameters for him. He always does the right thing. Sometimes he does the right thing the wrong way, and that's our Renegade. Sometimes he does the right thing the right way. In the end he's always going to do what we consider the best thing for humanity. But we had to define parameters so he wasn't Gandhi on one side and Hitler on the other, because that's not a believable character. His range of choices is defined and set.

    Source: Blues News

    Saturday - September 05, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Control Impressions @ Kotaku

    by Dhruin, 23:58

    From PAX, Kotaku takes a look at the new shoot-ier controls in Mass Effect 2:

    At the Penny Arcade Expo today, I played a demo sequence of Mass Effect 2 that had series hero Commander Shepard and two squadmates, biotics specialist Jacob and soldier Miranda, shooting their way down a long, narrow outdoor walkway.

    Our mission was to storm a building and, ultimately we would be attempting to recruit Thane, a member of the game's new Drell race. Imagine this all happening on a city of clean, congested high-tech skyscrapers, all bathed in the dark blues and purples as flying cars filled the skyways all around.

    I didn't come to a noisy BioWare booth to judge the the story or scenery this time. I came to feel the combat.

    Friday - September 04, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Screens @ Shacknews

    by Dhruin, 22:54

    A handful of new Mass Effect 2 screens from PAX are up at Shacknews, showing the companions Thane and Grunt.

    Wednesday - September 02, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview @ Eurogamer

    by Dhruin, 00:08

    From GamesCom comes a new hands-on preview of Mass Effect 2 at Eurogamer:

    Once through a brief cinematic, during which a few conversation options are offered, Shepard's squad enters the tower, loaded during the new elevator animation - a stylised neon wire-frame which has blessed little of an actual lift journey about it. Once inside, what immediately separates the style of Mass Effect 2 from its predecessor is the action focus - this is a smoother, more refined experience, one which feels much more like a squad shooter than the first game.

    BioWare has made clear that this is still an RPG, and all of those elements remain, but it's undeniable that the core experience has shifted toward being more accessible, less dense. Cover is easier to use, and more effective, with a Gears-style touch of the A button snapping Shepard to it. Holding A rushes the Commander out from behind cover and sprints him forward, adding immediacy and poise to storming positions. The new context-specific hit-zones also contribute to this, with enemies no longer flying backwards in a uniform fashion no matter where they're hit, but responding accurately to targeted shots.

    Sunday - August 23, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Interview @ VG247

    by Dhruin, 11:29

    A good interview at VG247 sees associate producer Jesse Houston confirm a simultaneous PC and X360 release and cover some other interesting topics:

    You’ve obviously done a lot of work on combat. Is the control system more exact?

    Absolutely. It’s not just the control system. If you look at most good shooters, they lock down frame-rate at 30FPS: we’ve done the same thing. Bam. Everything’s 30FPS, streaming is fixed up so that… If you remember in Mass 1, if you took a step backwards and you hit a weird stream and it’d pause for a moment. We’ve done a away with that. What you’re seeing here is pulled straight from the game. It’s not E3 Voodoo.

    You’ll feel that the controls, the animation and the FPS combine to make for a faster gameplay experience, and a smoother experience.

    Some were some pretty significant differences in the controls between the PC and 360 versions last time round. Is it the same with the sequel?

    We learned a lot from building the PC version before, and having built it six months later there was a big difference. So we actually took what we learned from PC and put it back into 360. Fundamentally, we want you to have the same gameplay experience, but just with the difference in controls. This time round, doing it at the same time for a sim-ship, we can control the differences much more smoothly because it’s the same team building it now.

    Friday - August 21, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Interview @ Polygamia

    by Dhruin, 23:10

    BioWare Producer Heather Rabatich chats with Polish site Polygamia about Mass Effect 2.  The crossover between shooters and RPGs, the appeal to traditional fans and differences to ME1 are all covered, although there's nothing really new:

    What is the main improvement in Mass Effect 2 over Mass Effect 1?

    We've made a few key improvements. There is no other game around that has this amount of reality within the digital actors, it's beautiful cinematically, the scenes are set up beautifully, the characters show emotions without speaking. I haven't seen any game like that coming out. We are very proud of how it looks and the response that we are getting. 

    Thanks, Ausir!

    Wednesday - August 19, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Screenshots @ ShackNews

    by Magerette, 16:39

    ShackNews posts a few new screenies for Bioware's upcoming Mass Effect 2, featuring companion NPC Grunt. Here's a cut to the chase link on the screens.

    Saturday - August 15, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Thane Screens, Wallpaper

    by Dhruin, 00:17

    The Mass Effect 2 site has new screens and wallpaper for one of Shepard's new companions, Thane.

    Thursday - July 30, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Interview Parts 2, 3, 4 @ PC World

    by Dhruin, 00:04

    Following on from the first part (see "Hundreds of Variables Imported"), PC World's Game On column with Matt Peckham wraps up parts 2, 3 and 4 of the interview with Casey Hudson on Mass Effect 2.  Dialogue interrupts, morality, pacing, better planetary exploration, resetting the character skills and elevators are all part of the conversation:

    Game On: In Mass Effect 2 we play as Commander Shepard again, a guy who finished up the first game with some pretty advanced abilities. As I understand it, you're resetting the character back to ability basics. How are you dealing with that retrograde motion story-wise?

    Casey Hudson: There's something that's happening with the story that explains what happens with your abilities. It's something we can't go into detail about for obvious reasons, but it actually happens the other way around. Our goal with the story, in terms of getting the game started quickly and players into really compelling story situations…that dictated and allowed us to do certain things including changing the way that your abilities work and the way you develop your character.

    Part of it, too, is the fact that we've gone in and improved literally every system in the game, your powers, the controls, aiming, the way that your character stats work and how you build a character, the inventory system, weapons, and so on. All of those things have been dramatically improved, so there's no direct way to map the stuff you had in Mass Effect over to Mass Effect 2 anyway.

    That said, we're taking into account all of your accomplishments in terms of building a character from the first game. So things you'd expect to be acknowledged, like if you were a level 60 character, or you were highly Renegade and don't want to start out at the middle again. If you import your save game from Mass Effect, these kinds of things will be acknowledged in ways that map across to the new system. You will feel, even in terms of the character that you build, that you are continuing as that character.

    Links to part two, part three, part four.

    Monday - July 27, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Secret New Technology

    by Dhruin, 22:54

    Have I mentioned how much I hate Twitter?  VG247 points out a tweet from Bio developer Christina Norman, who says a super top secret new technology is coming to Mass Effect 2

    Working on the new "technology" feature for #masseffect2. It's secret, and awesome! Don't tell anyone.

    Sunday - July 26, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Hundreds of Variables Imported

    by Dhruin, 12:02

    In an interview at PC Games with Matt Peckham, Casey Hudson explains "hundreds" of decisions are included in the Mass Effect 2 save import feature:

    GO: How significant are the variables being indexed in the save games, and how threaded throughout the Mass Effect 2 experience are they?

    CH: It's completely different from anything you've played before, because it's literally, potentially threaded into everything that happens. When you're playing the first game, everything that you do is setting a variable so that as the story progresses we know that you did a certain thing on a certain planet, and then internal to the game, we can reference those things. Your Mass Effect save game contains all of that information.

    When you import it into Mass Effect 2, now we can continue mining all that information. And it's not just what your ending was, or a couple of the big choices, you know, where we could have stuck a conversation at the beginning and asked you what you did and moved on. This is literally hundreds of things. [...]

    Source: EuroGamer

    Thursday - July 16, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - IPhone Promotional Game Review

    by Magerette, 15:46

    RPGWatch's resident master of the Hand-Held, Mike Andersen(txa1265), goes where many would fear to tread and reviews Bioware's Mass Effect Galaxy IPhone title, which is not an RPG but a promotional game by Bioware which ties into its upcoming sequel, Mass Effect 2:

    There is a fine [line] somewhere between cynicism and being an actively suspicious consumer … and when I heard about the release of a game called Mass Effect Galaxy on the iTunes App Store that would somehow tie into the upcoming Mass Effect 2 for the PC & XBOX360, I had a hard time deciding which of the two feelings was foremost in my mind...But because it was a game with the name Bioware attached to it, my hands had already gone ahead and made the purchase before my mind could sort out any of these feelings...

     

    Friday - July 10, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Videos @ Gametrailers

    by Dhruin, 23:31

    Gametrailers has two new Mass Effect 2 features.  First, the latest episode of Gametrailers TV has a section titled Weapons of Mass Destruction and offers more detail on combat, directing party members and weapons.

    Next, a new dev diary is on offer: 

    Wednesday - July 01, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Replay, Difficulty Changes

    by Dhruin, 00:40

    Responding to queries on the forums, Lead Designer Preston Watamaniuk and others explain some changes to the Mass Effect 2 replay and difficulty systems.  First, Preston on relaying with your existing character:

    Ahhh, ok my bad. The question then is:

    "After finishing ME2 can I take my character and restart a new playthrough preserving that characters gear and abilities."

    The short answer is no.

    The reason is progression. We have been working very hard to make sure we design the abilities system to offer smooth progression into ME3 from ME2. Allowing double progression on characters makes that almost impossible. We have to have reasonable knowledge about where a character could end up finishing all content on a playthrough. We also want to offer choice of character build within specific classes.

    We replaced that feature with playing after you were done because it preserves progression and allows for smoother downloading of PRC.

    In another thread, Lead System Designer Christina Norman talks about difficulty levels:

    As you play through ME1 you unlock bonuses via achievements that actually make your character more powerful. Consequently, the hardest difficulty becomes "easier".

    If we give access to insanity on the first playthrough, we need to show that it is possible to beat the game with all classes without any bonuses from achievements. We can't release a difficulty level where it's impossible to complete.

    Effectively this means insanity would need to be easier. If we can assume you've already done a playthrough, we can assume you've acquired some bonuses, in addition to getting the experience of beating it on a lower difficulty level which will help you beat it on insanity.

    So for ME1 at least, we were able to make Insanity harder because we limited it to people who'd already completed a playthrough.

    On to ME2, we're aware that some players really want to use insanity at the get go. I'm developing our difficulty system, and I understand what players who play insanity get out of that experience. I'm very much a "hardest difficulty" person.

    So with that said there are a few things we're trying to do with difficulty in ME2.

    First we're trying to add additional dimensions to our difficulty system. I can't go into the details right now, but there is more integration with our AI system for example. We want enemies on harder difficulties to feel smarter, deadlier, not just "tougher". We want insanity to feel like a smart experience, where you don't die because a rocket hits you and you're one-shot killed. You die because you face an overwhelming, deadly, force. You play extremely well, but not well enough, and on a subsequent try you're able to be victorious because you play better.

    Once we have the difficulty levels nailed down, we'll evaluate and see whether or not it's reasonable to let insanity difficulty be unlocked at the start. I'm totally open to doing that unless it means we have to make it "easier". Ultimately if I have to choose between those options, I will choose a harder insanity difficulty, because I believe that's what's important to our players.

    Overall insanity in ME2 will be harder than ME1. That's a heads up for everyone! Beating insanity on ME2 is going to be a real "achievement", a badge of honor, get ready.

    Source: Blues News

    Thursday - June 18, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Just the Facts, Man

    by Dhruin, 12:57

    Mass Effect 2 Exec Producer Casey Hudson has posted a new entry at their IGN blog titled Just the Facts, Man.  The piece explains and illuminates the various E3 previews with more detail:

    When we say that Shepard can die in Mass Effect 2, it’s not something that happens at points in the middle of the game. Yes, you can “die” in gameplay as normal but that’s not what we’re talking about here. It’s not a “Game Over” screen. It’s not a gimmicky thing where you make a choice, “die”, and reload to continue to the “real” ending. When you get to the very end of the story in Mass Effect 2, you will get one of a wide variety of climactic and satisfying endings. Depending on how prepared you were, your ending may involve Shepard making the ultimate sacrifice to accomplish the mission.

    Wednesday - June 17, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - On the E3 Stage Video

    by Dhruin, 01:13

    From the Bioblog comes a video of Greg and Ray being interviewed on the E3 stage, presenting Mass Effect 2.  The presenter tries for some peurile comedy and the Doctors stick with the "amped up action" company line, so don't expect too much.

    Friday - June 12, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview @ Wired

    by Dhruin, 23:16

    Wired has whipped up an E3 preview of Mass Effect 2, covering similar material to what we've seen before:

    Come for the action, stay for the engrossing story: Say what you will about its shallow take on morality and the occasionally campy stabs at romance, but the original Mass Effect was saturated with lore and excelled at presentation. Conversations became centerpieces, and even the typical dialog tree became interesting thanks to a liveliness evoked by careful camera work and accelerated pacing.

    The Mass Effect 2 sequences shown off in the E3 presentation maintained that livelihood. In one segment, an interactive conversation plays out between two characters while the vehicle you’re flying in weaves through heavy traffic. But there’s a new sort of dynamism being folded in as well: an impatient Shephard interrupts a guard mid-sentence, and (with a timely tug on the Xbox 360 controller’s left trigger) shoves him through a plate glass window. Small touches like these won’t single-handedly win over the action-gamer crowd, but they do a great for embellishing the atmosphere.

    Tuesday - June 09, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - My First E3 @ Bioblog

    by Dhruin, 22:19

    The Bioblog has a short entry from publicist Heather Rabatich who - like any good publicist - gets the personal stuff out of the way quickly to list all the awards Mass Effect 2 picked up at E3 and list another batch of previews.  Nothing there for most of us but if you want to make sure you hit every preview possible, head on over.

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview @ Kombo

    by Dhruin, 22:06

    A site called Kombo.com has an E3 preview of Mass Effect 2.  On the "streamlined" combat:

    The combat has also received an upgrade in order to reduce reliance on the power wheel and give players more direct control over the actions of their squad-mates. Bioware wants the real-time combat to be more streamlined and effective so that players aren't constantly forced to rip themselves out of the experience by pausing to give their teammates orders. The bumpers and directional pad can now be used to issue move and attack commands to individual squad mates, allowing you to actually manufacture those badass 'lift and shoot' combos on the fly instead of waiting for the AI. The enhancements certainly seemed to do their job, as the combat flowed incredibly smoothly during a battle in a space station. Without the intermittent pauses to bring up the menu, the game looked more like a shooter in action than an RPG. The most exciting new feature though, is location-specific damage. Getting nailed in the legs or arms will not only statistically affect accuracy and speed, it will be reflected with chunks of armor and flesh ripping off that section of the character's body. Headshots are appropriately violent and satisfying to watch.

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview @ IncGamers

    by Magerette, 17:31

    IncGamers rolls out a very spoilerish preview of Bioware's Mass Effect sequel, Mass Effect 2, so don't even click on the link if you are averse to hearing the plot details of both games fully discussed. Here's a quote on combat that is mostly general:

    Combat with the rest of the mercs showed off the way that’s been changed. While it’s still much the same third-person blasting, Hudson stated specifically that they want the weapons to feel powerful from the off, with progression through levels granting more special abilities than anything else. No longer do you need to pause to use those abilities, either, as you’ll be able to map them to different buttons on your pad. As for your allies, you’ll have separate movement and control options for each of them, but it looks like you’re still limited to just two.

    Here's the link to the full article.

    Source: Blues News

    Monday - June 08, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Previews @ Games Radar, Eurogamer

    by Dhruin, 12:59

    Games Radar has one of their screenshot-heavy previews covering BioWare's Mass Effect 2 presentation.  As with all the ME2 articles, spoilers apply:

    Developers, BioWare, aren’t satisfied with merely making a moodier game. They want to create a title where decisions are more than superfluous window dressing cynically designed to prolong a game’s length. If you’ve still got your save file from the original, the choices you made carry over to the second chapter of this sci-fi saga.

    Missed out on some sexy time with Mass Effect’s love interest, Ashley Williams, because you let her die in that bomb explosion? Well, don’t expect to kiss and make up when the game ships, because she’ll still be pushing up daises.

    ...and a wordier look from Eurogamer:

    BioWare used an E3 developer presentation to reveal that Shepard's definitely who you'll be playing as in Mass Effect 2, but they also wrapped things up by showing us his death - or at least one of them. Twisting through space as the Normandy explodes in the distance, Shepard's grappling with his punctured spacesuit as he's dragged down into a nearby planet's atmosphere. Things look bad, then, and it's his own stupid fault, too, having been given a choice to flee in a cosy shuttlepod or stay behind to aid in the evacuation as his ship is lanced apart from above. It's the sort of decision that, for a player character, almost always leads to a glorious last-minute rescue in videogames - a fake-out and a rousing hurrah as you cheerily wobble back from the edge of the impossible. But here there is no rescue, and not much wobbling, except if you count your lower lip: Shepard falls and struggles and then dies. The end.

    Saturday - June 06, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview @ RPS

    by Dhruin, 10:08

    John Walker takes a look at Mass Effect 2 for Rock, Paper, Shotgun.  Here's a bit on exactly what importing a save will offer:

    You play as Shepard. There, it’s out. He/she’s not dead (for the sake of this article I’m going to call Shepard a “she”, since the One True Shepard (my one) was). Quite why there was all that promotional material saying she was remains a mystery, and one that will presumably be resolved when the game appears. But this of course means we have an answer to the questions about whether your Mass Effect 1 character carries over.

    It very much does. And more than you might imagine. Traditionally giant compromises have had to be made when letting you pick up the same character in a later game. BioWare promises this time will be quite strikingly different. When you import your save game, you’ll not only bring across the look of your Shepard, but also all the decisions, actions and relationships she formed. This seems an enormous task, meaning their stories for the recurring characters will have to have multiple beginnings each, to match up to however they might have ended in the previous game. Oh, and of course if you killed that character, they won’t show up at all. It’s tempting to suspect this means the roles of previous characters will have to be somewhat diminished, if the story is to survive their complete absence. BioWare made it clear that having played the original game was not necessary, and apparently the sequel will still work as an entry point for new players.

    Thursday - June 04, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Preview Roundup

    by Dhruin, 23:25

    Here's another short list, this time for Mass Effect 2:

    ...and a sample from the Joystiq piece, with a significant spoiler:

    Yup, this was the point in the demo that Hudson prefaced with: "What we're about to show you is actually a spoiler that is from something that we will never show again outside the game." So, consider yourself warned before you read on for the the long answer to: Is Commander Shepard alive or dead?

    Our next glimpse into the game opened in the midst of chaos. Shepard's ship, the Normandy, was hemorrhaging flames and metal. Hudson explained that it had been "severely damaged by a new force in the galaxy." Shepard is played as the good captain, evacuating as many of his crew as possible and presumably sacrificing his own opportunities to hop inside the various escape pods along the path. One too many missed opportunities and Shepard is seen cannon-balled out of the Normandy's exploding side, careening helplessly into space, gasping as the last of his air tanks fizzle out. And then, silence.

    Mass Effect 2 - E3 Preview @ Shacknews

    by Dhruin, 00:49

    A good writeup on the Mass Effect 2 demo is up at the Shack:

    During the guard's interrogation--"Tell me where the bomb assassin is!"--players will eventually see a flashing exclamation mark in the lower left corner marked with the left-trigger icon. Upon pressing it, Shepard simply pushed the guard out the window, leading one character to quip, "So when do we read him his rights?"

    Wednesday - June 03, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - E3 Previews @ GameSpot, IGN

    by Dhruin, 07:23

    Mass Effect 2 is next along in coverage of BioWare's titles at E3.  Here's GameSpot:

    Mass Effect 2 will not only feature new dialogue options, but new combat options as well. For example, you will now be able to issue separate move and attack orders to squadmates individually. The power wheel remains, so you can still pause the action and issue orders. However, BioWare aims to make real-time action a more viable alternative than ever. To this end, we watched an extended sequence as Shepard fought his way across the space station. BioWare showed off multiple physics-based attacks that sent Shepard's vanguard enemies flying, as well as shooting and cover mechanics that resembled those of the first game. There are nine new classes of weapons, including heavy weapons, such as a missile launcher that we saw in action. That particular weapon wreaked havoc on multiple turrets and looked appropriately powerful.

    ...and IGN:

    The coolest change to the combat is that enemies now have individual hit boxes on all of their body parts. Shoot a robot in the arms or legs and you can watch them slowly tear to bits as they're ripped limb from limb. Shoot one in the head and watch the machine brains go flying. The same location sensitive damage also applies to human and other living beings. Head shots here we come.

    Tuesday - June 02, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Updated Website

    by Dhruin, 23:19

    Along with Dragon Age, BioWare has updated the Mass Effect 2 site from its previous "teaser" status.  There's not much there but I do like the short, mournful snippet of music.

    Mass Effect 2 - Screens & Trailers

    by Dhruin, 12:42

    Evil Avatar is sporting 6 new screens from Mass Effect 2 and over at Gametrailers, you can check out an Extended Cut of the E3 trailer and the footage from the EA Press Conference (GameSpot has a blow-by-blow account if you'd prefer to read about it, rather than watch it).

    Saturday - May 30, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Teaser Trailer @ Gametrailers

    by Dhruin, 01:04

    Gametrailers has a promised Mass Effect 2 teaser trailer, showing Shepard is about as dead as I am.

    Monday - May 18, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Pre-E3 Interview @ GameSpy

    by Dhruin, 22:49

    BioWare's Casey Hudson chats to GameSpy about Mass Effect 2 and what they will show at E3.  On decisions:

    GameSpy: In the original Mass Effect, decisions had a real impact on the game. Has that changed significantly in Mass Effect 2?

        Casey Hudson: It's definitely a continuation of the idea that you can have agonizing choices and that they all have very real consequences to the story. The fun thing is that Mass Effect 2 is going to make people realize that their actions in the first game really did have consequences, because the results go beyond those in the first game.

        I think it's something where people are going to realize that to such a degree that they'll want to go back and play the first game again with that in mind. For example, from the moment you start Mass Effect 2, you'll realize that the world that you left behind in Mass Effect 1 is where you start in Mass Effect 2. It starts out being shaped a little bit differently based on your endings and the choices you made.

        All throughout the game, you'll see that if you made a decision in the first one, like where someone died in the first game, that character will be dead in the second. It makes you really think that when they reach a moment in Mass Effect 1, or Mass Effect 2, they're decisions that can impact the ending of the trilogy. That realization will make an impact. You'll recognize characters from the first game, and the consequences of decisions from the first game.  

    Friday - May 15, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Bioware Von Tease

    by Woges, 22:20

    Bioware decided to make a tease video for ME2's showing at E3. It's on gametrailers.com.

    The team at Bioware lets out a tease of what they have in store for the 2009 Electronics Entertainment Expo.

    It's actually the intro video on the ME2 web-site.

    Saturday - May 02, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Blog Update @ IGN

    by Dhruin, 09:29

    Casey Hudson pens the first Mass Effect 2 blog at IGN, saying the game will be properly unveiled at E3:

    When Mass Effect was released, we were very happy to see how well it was received. But the first thing we did in designing Mass Effect 2 was to listen very carefully to what people were saying about how they played the first one – what they loved, what they wanted to see improved, and the countless anecdotes that describe players’ personal experiences with their unique paths through the story. We read forum posts, reviews, watched people playing the game on YouTube, and literally noted and categorized every piece of feedback we could find, to help us target an overall evolution of the gameplay to the way people actually experienced it. In other words, when you were talking, we were listening.

    That important perspective, combined with the existing trilogy story and our own ambitions for new features, formed the blueprint for Mass Effect 2 – the dark second act in the trilogy.

    There are also ME2 desktop wallpapers on offer at BioWare

    Saturday - March 28, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Leaked GDC Video @ ShackNews

    by Magerette, 15:59

    ShackNews has posted several minutes of early game footage for Bioware's Mass Effect 2 leaked from the GDC. It features a look at level design and a short dialogue. You can stream it here.

    Source: Blues News

    Monday - March 23, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Product Details

    by Dhruin, 21:00

    Kotaku has noticed Amazon's product page for Mass Effect 2, which offers a tiny insight into the story:

    The second chapter in the Mass Effect trilogy takes you to the darkest reaches of space, where you must uncover the mystery behind the disappearance of humans across many worlds. Prepare yourself for a suicide mission to save mankind. Travel the galaxy to assemble a team of soldiers and combat specialists, and launch an all-out assault on the heart of enemy territory.

    Tuesday - March 17, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Officially Announced

    by Dhruin, 22:09

    We've had the doctors dropping hints, we've had the teaser trailer and now we have the official announcement for Mass Effect 2.  It's not that far away and a PC version is included out of the gate:

    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada – March 17th, 2009 – Leading video game developer BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS) today officially announced Mass Effect™ 2, the highly anticipated sequel to the multi award-winning 2007 hit, Mass Effect. The Mass Effect trilogy is a masterful science fiction adventure set in a vast universe filled with dangerous alien life forms and mysterious uncharted planets. In this dark second chapter, Saren’s evil army of Geth soldiers has just been defeated, and humans, who are still struggling to make their mark on the galactic stage, are now faced with an even greater peril…

    “We’re going to surpass the extraordinary gaming experience we brought our fans in Mass Effect by delivering intensified combat and expanded weapon options as well as increased depth of planet exploration, all while delivering a powerful, emotionally engaging story,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, General Manager and CEO, BioWare and General Manager and Vice President, EA. “Mass Effect 2 is shaping up to be an unforgettable RPG-shooter experience, taking players on a non-stop roller-coaster ride filled with stunning plot twists and no-holds-barred action.”

    Mass Effect 2 is coming to PC and the Xbox 360 video game system in Early 2010. To see the exclusive new Mass Effect 2 teaser trailer check out the website here: www.masseffect.com.

    Monday - March 02, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Team Montreal

    by Woges, 22:47

    Game Daily have some news on Bioware's new Montreal operations. More intriguing, Ray Muzyka talks about some "super secret projects" that they'll be able to talk about at a later date. The article is here.

    GameDaily BIZ just got off the phone with EA's vp of communications, Jeff Brown, and BioWare co-founder and CEO Ray Muzyka, who revealed that BioWare is establishing a new BioWare Montreal group to work within the existing EA Montreal studio. Muzyka said that the team will be working on the highly anticipated Mass Effect sequel to start with.

    He noted that the goal is to have around 30 people there and about half of the staff will be people brought in from BioWare's Edmonton studio location (many of these folks worked on Mass Effect), with the other half consisting of new hires from the great talent pool in the Montreal area. Those interested in applying should head over to careers.bioware.com.

    Source: Blues News

    Saturday - February 21, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Teaser Trailer

    by Dhruin, 07:50

    BioWare has kicked up a short teaser trailer for Mass Effect 2.  There's not much to see -- apart from a significant tease about Shepard.

    Thanks to Evan and Patrick.

    Wednesday - February 04, 2009

    Mass Effect 2 - Coming in 2010

    by Dhruin, 11:48

    Big Download notes today's EA investor conference call officially revealed Mass Effect 2 and an expected release date in 2010:

    Specific info on the game itself was not revealed but the execs did say it would be coming for "multiple platforms" for release in their fiscal fourth quarter of 2010. That means a release date for sometime between January and March 2010. Of course, the original Mass Effect was published by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 in 2007 before EA bought BioWare. The PC version (which you can see a screenshot above) was released by EA in May 2008.

    Information about

    Mass Effect 2

    Developer: BioWare

    SP/MP: Single-player
    Setting: Sci-fi
    Genre: Shooter-RPG
    Combat: Real-time
    Play-time: Unknown
    Voice-acting: Full

    Regions & platforms
    World
    · Platform: Xbox 360
    · Released at 2010-01-26
    · Publisher: EA

    World
    · Platform: PC
    · Released at 2010-01-26
    · Publisher: EA