Mass Effect Commander Shepard is back again in Mass Effect 2. All the rumors of his death have been greatly exaggerated. First off, BioWare intends to make Mass Effect 2 accessible to those new to the series. If you played the original and had the save games left over, you can continue the character from where you left off. All the choices you made, everything still had an effect. This fact alone had our staff simply drooling: the prospect of the sequel directly linking itself to the first half was simply incredible. Gameplay choices and moral standing will carry over into Mass Effect 2, giving a full and continuous experience.
At the E3 2009 Electronic Arts press demo, Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk showed us more about Shepard, a commander we so longed for since our Mass Effect 1 Review ‘back in the day.’ Commander Shepard is going to take on the task of handling the Cerberus Corporation and many fallacious plans they have in store for the star sectors of the Mass Effect universe. Colonies are disappearing all over the galaxy, and an investigation is struck up by Shepard himself. Initially, the other characters such as Rex, and Nihlus included are shocked to find out that Shepard lived after the fatal incident in Mass Effect 1. Furthermore, the Geck are not the only enemies to fear — the Reapers are still at a large and are a venerable threat. Within the game, Shepard searches for powerful individuals to recruit to his team, including an assassin that belongs to an uncovered race called the Drell. Thane, the mysterious assassin from the demo, is revealed to have some connection to the instances of Mass Effect 1 and the beacon itself. This entire cast selection remains a mystery in the origins of the plot as BioWare explains to us later on towards the end of the demo.
The exclusive demo starts off where we saw a cutscene in which flying vehicles speed through the vivacious metropolis as Shepard and an Asari partner are in a speeder. The dialogue options are certainly much more improved. Aside from the brilliant voice acting, the amount of urgency is projected much better and becomes more equivocal. The camera angle pulls out dynamically, something which the first game made us slightly irritated. Dynamic camera angles add to the livelihood of the scene and the constant activity on the screen becomes something players can relate to rather than simply watch. There was more interactivity this time around, and BioWare makes sure to underscore this tweaked feature. Once the car landed, Shepard and his companion entered a daunting tower. Once inside, Shepard meets a security officer. Or so he thought, but eventually a conflict ensued where Shepard throws the man over a balcony to his own death. The focus of this was to show that unlike Mass Effect 1, conversations can be changed and modified through “interruptions” that will prompt during interactions as they progress.
Mass Effect 2 also gets combat options amazingly right as well. Commander Shepard will now be able to issue move and attack orders to each squadmate individually. The pause-and-play action still remains, but BioWare stressed real-time action would be made more viable than ever before. Shepard continued to fight his way across the space station. BioWare showed off multiple physics-based attacks that sent Shepard’s exigent enemies to their deaths. Mass Effect 2 also comes with nine new classes of weapons, which include heavy weapons, such as a missile launcher and light weapons.
Mass Effect 2’s visuals are simply more regnant of a darker and grittier tone than before, as well as a lot smoother. The new character models speak smoothly. As Shepard moved closer to his target recruit, the environment’s details poured forward with red and blue and all the pretty colors giving incredible contrast and aspect. Shephard encounters an Asari that is shocked to see Shepard. She turns to Shepard in shock, pronouncing “Shepard?! But…you’re dead.” A conversation ensues, and it is extremely noticeable how lifelike the characters are in the mannerisms in which they present their dialogue and emotions.
Mass Effect 2 is refining everything about Mass Effect: from combat to graphics and simple emotion, bringing the best of Mass Effect 1 and making it even more glorious than it ever was. Mass Effect 2 is dated for 2010, and we cannot wait to preview it some more.