John McCarroll
E3: Mass Effect 2 Rocks My World
Holy crap! It's Mass Effect 2!
06.04.09 - 12:36 AM

BioWare is, admittedly, one of my favorite developers of all time. That aside, Mass Effect 2 is one of the best RPGs on display at the show that I've seen yet. While the title was not available for hands-on play, the folks at BioWare took us through a brief 15-minute walkthrough of the improved dialogue system as well as showing us some of the heavy weapon combat in the game.

Mass Effect 2 takes place shortly after the first game, with Shepard (who is alive, much to the chagrin of bad guys the universe over) taking on another mission to save the world. There's not much of a chance at survival for Shepard as he puts together a force of the best warriors in the galaxy to help fight against the Reapers. BioWare admits it will be the darkest portion of the trilogy and features a more dynamic conversation system. Not only will some conversations be much more enmeshed with cinematics, taking place on moving vehicles, but there exists the ability to interrupt characters in the middle of the dialogue. In the demo, Shepard tossed an enemy off of a balcony in the middle of conversation as soon as it was revealed he had no relevant information. This will make conversation more dynamic and interesting compared to the first game. The biggest bombshell that BioWare dropped about the story was the fact that Shepard may not survive the second Mass Effect game - and not just for a "Game Over" screen. There will be legitimate endings to Mass Effect 2 that end in the death of Commander Shepard.

Combat has been improved with the addition of heavy weapons, location-based damage, and better ability to issue commands to squadmates. There are 9 new weapon classes available in the game and BioWare showed off the grenade launcher in the demo, which easily took down groups of enemies. In addition, the new biotic and tech powers are all physics based and can take enemies out from cover to expose them to weapon fire. To keep this as part of a usable strategy, players can now use the command menu to issue commands to both allies and Shepard simultaneously. On top of that, Shepard and allies can cripple their enemies by dealing damage to individual body parts, preventing them from wielding weapons, moving quickly, or using their brains as they become bloodied messes on the floor. It's a much more in-depth combat system which we were very happy to see.

Mass Effect 2 will also have the ability to not only import a player's Commander Shepard from the first game, but it will also import all the choices made in the first game. On top of that, the Shepard from Mass Effect 2 - assuming he survives - can be exported to Mass Effect 3 when it's released. There will be a new exploration system for new planets, so players won't have to spend eternity inside the Mako with this iteration of the series. BioWare will have downloadable content available for Mass Effect 2 and the game will be playable after the credits roll.

Watch for Mass Effect 2 goodness when it's released early next year.