PAX 09: Mass Effect 2 Hands On

Mass Effect has been the only RPG in recent years that actually hooked me. Fallout 3 I found boring and dismal. Fable II was ugly and too ridiculous. JRPGs (except Final Fantasy XII) haven't had a unique or different story for quite a while. But Mass Effect was a little different. It was a fully realized NEW Sci Fi universe, much like Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, etc, etc.

There are very few games that create an in-depth detailed universe for their game that aren't in the MMO space. There are even less that have a decent story that unravels through a decent plot and utilizes many aspects of that lore. There's a lot of lore fluff that doesn't matter for the story of Jonathon Shepherd, but I find myself more interested in reading about these alien races, than some ancient Orcs v. Human battle in the WOW lore. I think alien races have always intrigued me because they are so different from us, but still have the capacity for intelligence.

I'm quite excited for the sequel, so I was glad to get the chance to check it out.


One thing that was goofy about Mass Effect 1 were the dialogue scenes. The dialogue wasn't goofy, but the way in which it presented always had a profile shot of who was talking. That was the only shot they ever used, and it got boring fast.

The dialogue in Mass Effect 2 has a lot going on in the background. The shots are more dynamic and have more interaction that just conversation. For example: At the beginning of the demo, you hold a conversation in a car while flying to your destination. The only interaction you have is conversation, but the shots change from a close-up in-car to a wide shot of the city's traffic, to a closer shot outside the car with character visible through the windows. It's a varied and shows off how beautiful the environments are. It's far more interesting that two people standing side-by-side holding a conversation.

The conversations towards the end of the demo has a whole lot of body movement and gestures that really enhance the actually dialogue. It's like an actual movie now!


Another "gamey" thing about the dialogue that has been altered is that the conversation choices are not so black and white. After a while of playing Mass Effect 1, you'll realize that the 3 conversation choices on the right go in order of Good, Neutral, and Evil. If you want to be good in the game, you'll most likely always say the top choice. For evil, the bottom choice. Why ever choose the middle?

It wasn't so easy to tell if the top choice was actually the "Good" choice towards the end of the demo. In fact, choosing the top choice invoked a battle that I found out could have been avoided. Maybe it was the Good choice and I appeared weak?

Other Thoughts

The demo was very very pretty. It was pretty dark, but featured a rich color palette the made areas look very dynamic and cool. A very Sci Fi style that is much more prevalent than the first game. It looks great. ^_^

The action sequence also felt much different than Mass Effect 1. I actually needed precision and strategy when fighting all the enemies, rather than blowing them all away with my sniper rifle or using my team as decoys. It was kinda difficult. I should've checked which class I was playing.

But overall, the game is pretty sweet. It takes what made the original special and takes it to the next level and other box quotes.

Mass Effect 2 releases for Xbox 360 and PC in "Early 2010".

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