The "asshole way to end a conversation"
http://e3.gamespot.com/story/6210981/ma … mpressionsA lot of questions still remain unanswered about Mass Effect 2, but we did manage to make a bit more headway today during a new E3 2009 press demo of the highly anticipated role-playing game. Developer BioWare is still mum on certain aspects, but we learned enough today to know that fans of the original will get everything they wanted and a whole lot more.
As we already knew, Mass Effect was designed to be a trilogy, in which one character experiences a huge, epic storyline. This means, of course, that Mass Effect's Commander Shepard is back; rumors of his death have been greatly exaggerated, as it were. Exactly how BioWare brings Shepard back from the dead is still a mystery, though some characters clearly react with surprise upon meeting the assumed deceased commander. If you haven't played the original, don't worry; BioWare intends Mass Effect 2 to be accessible even to those new to the series. However, if you did play the original and held on to your saved games, you have a very special treat in store. Mass Effect 2 will let you import your Mass Effect character and start from where you left off. This means that gameplay choices and moral standing will carry over into Mass Effect 2, giving the impression of a single, lengthy experience.
In Mass Effect 2, Commander Shepard will be dealing with the Cerberus Corporation and their nefarious plans, though what its evils or triumphs may be remain unclear. However, there are colonies disappearing all over the galaxy, and Shepard seems to be the soldier for the mission. However, it is a suicide mission, a fact that became clear toward the end of the demo (more on this to come). There's also the ongoing business of the Reapers, who still remain a real threat. Throughout the game, Shepard searches for powerful individuals to recruit to his team, including an assassin belonging to an unfamiliar race. Although BioWare didn't confirm this during the demo, it seems that this assassin was named Thane and belonged to the new Drell race.
The first bit of the game that we saw was actually a cutscene in which flying vehicles sped above a bustling future metropolis. Shepard and an Asari companion are seated in one of these speeders. As they spoke, dialogue options appeared as in the first game. In this scene, the main difference between the options of yore and Mass Effect 2 was the sense of urgency projected. The camera kept pulling out to show the overall scene--in which speeders zipped quickly along--only to return to the vehicle interior, in which the two characters spoke again and more dialogue options appeared. It felt more like an interactive cutscene than similar conversations in Mass Effect. Once the car landed, Shepard and his companion entered a looming tower. Once inside, Shepard met an individual who seemed to be a security officer. After another sequence of dialogue, Shepard threw him over the side of the balcony, where he plummeted to his death. According to BioWare, there will be prompts during certain interactions that will let you interrupt conversations as they progress.
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.
Mass Effect 2's visuals look darker and grittier than before, as well as a lot more fluid. The new character models move and speak smoothly. As Shepard moved closer to his target recruit, we noted the soft blue lighting of the environments, and how flashes of red and violet provided pleasant contrast. The improvements were most noticeable when Shepherd encountered an Asari that was shocked to see Shepard. This is the moment that we've seen in the earlier trailer: She turns to Shepard in shock, pronouncing "Shepard?! But...you're dead." A conversation ensued, and we noted the lifelike manner in which the characters moved and spoke. The voice acting, as you would expect, was excellent as well. However, we didn't get to chat long, because after a moment, a new character (the one we believe to be called Thane) dropped from above in one slick move, assassinating the Asari and turning his cocky, ridged head toward Shepard. This new character (apparently of the new Drell race) seemed sophisticated. He spoke with deep, dulcet, and slightly menacing tones, announcing himself as only a creature of such confidence could: "Here I am."
The last scene that we got to see was the most powerful, and impressed upon us just how deadly Shepard's new mission is. The Normandy, Mass Effect's home vessel, was under attack. Shepard ran through the fiery corridors as the camera cut away to show the craft smoking and flaming (and, eventually, breaking in two). Shepard and his companion made it to the escape pods, but our protagonist had additional priorities. He climbed stairs to an exposed deck. The sound muffled, and we heard his heart beating loudly from the speakers. We watched him approach Joker, still seated in his navigation seat, unwilling to desert the Normandy. Shepard lifted Joker, but the exploding Normandy propelled them into space. This choice had disastrous consequences for Shepard: The soundtrack slowed, and we watched him float through space, apparently doomed to be simple space debris. BioWare confirmed that your choices can lead to Shepard's death, which drove the "suicide" part of "suicide mission" home.
Expect to see other improvements, particularly where space exploration is concerned. However, BioWare was mum on exactly what those improvements may entail, offering only that exploring the universe will feel more natural and diverse. Needless to say, we're excited to see even more of Mass Effect 2. Expect to see this highly anticipated RPG hit store shelves in 2010 for the Xbox 360 and the PC.
Its a suicide mission this time around, people.
From Casey Hudson, from Bioware EdmontonThe Suicide Mission Concept
In Mass Effect 2, you (as Commander Shepard) are faced with what appears to be a suicide mission: taking a team into the heart of enemy territory where you shouldn’t have any chance of coming back alive. Your survival therefore is based on how well you’ve built a team – who you recruited, how well-equipped they are, and whether they’re loyal to you. Loyalty (and the things you’ll do to earn it) is a central part of the game, and it is critical to Shepard surviving the final mission.
Paragon / Renegade decisions affect a lot of things in the game - and will affect which how the game ends - but they are completely separate from your character’s readiness to survive the final mission.
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.
If you do die in the ending of Mass Effect 2, it will not come as a surprise, nor will it be random. It will be pretty obvious that you headed into the final mission knowing that Shepard probably wouldn’t make it out alive. Throughout the middle of the game you are building up information, resources, a team, and a ship that will be able to do the job, and although you can jump straight to the final mission at a certain point, you’ll have a good feel for whether you’re likely to survive it.
Part of what makes the final mission dangerous in a more profound way is that each squad member could potentially die a real, story-based death during that mission as well. You might have an ending where Shepard’s entire team survives, or where the entire mission is a bloodbath and everyone (including Shepard) is killed, or anything in between. And for all characters, death in Mass Effect 2 means they won’t show up in Mass Effect 3.
One big reason you’ll want to be alive after the ending is that after the credits roll, you are returned to the game world - ready to head back out for more adventure. You can complete unfinished missions, explore the galaxy, and download new adventures to play. But Mass Effect is a trilogy about Commander Shepard’s journey - if your Shepard dies in the end of Mass Effect 2, that’s the end of him / her. In that case, you can play Mass Effect 3 as “a” Shepard – just not “your” Shepard. As in real life, not being able to keep living is really the main down-side of death. So if you care about playing the next game with your character, make sure you survive this one.
If you die in the end but in retrospect you really wish you had lived, you can of course go back to a savegame from before you attempted the final mission. From there you can make the improvements required to survive and continue your character into the next game.
Importing your Mass Effect Savegame
First, you do not need to have played Mass Effect to enjoy Mass Effect 2. The introduction is designed to introduce new players to the story and universe, and to recap the situation for previous players.
If you have completed Mass Effect and you still have your savegames, you can view each playthrough you’ve completed, and choose the one you want to continue from. The Mass Effect savegame doesn’t just contain a couple of your big choices. It contains countless decisions you’ve made, both large and small. These things could each potentially carry forward and affect your story in Mass Effect 2. This has never been done before on this scale, and it means you’re actually continuing your own story from exactly where you left off.
Some have asked “I built a level 60 character with lots of loot in Mass Effect – will it all carry over to Mass Effect 2?” We will definitely provide benefits for those who put time into developing their character in Mass Effect. But to support all the improvements made in combat and inventory, the skills and items are pretty much completely redone for Mass Effect 2. So if you import a character from Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2 will adapt the key assets of your character into starting benefits that work in the new system.
Answers to Other Popular Questions
• “You demonstrated feature X, so does that mean you’ve forgotten about feature Y?” Some worry that by emphasizing certain things in the E3 demo, it means we’ve forgotten about other elements. Not so of course. When you take a game to E3, you really have to focus the message down to something razor-sharp, to cut through all the noise of the show. In our case, it was the key differences between Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 that we wanted to emphasize – and we didn’t even have enough time in our slot to show them all! Examples of things we did not show but are definitely in the game are: a completely new and beautifully-handling vehicle, richer and more diverse Uncharted World locations, new space exploration interactivity, systems for character progression, new weapon and armor customization, other cool characters (some new and some you know from the first game), and a ton of content and features.
• “Will Ashley/Garrus/Wrex/etc return in ME2?” Pretty much all the main characters from Mass Effect appear in Mass Effect 2 in one form or another (if they survived your decision-making), and some can join your squad. In general you can expect to continue relationships with these characters across the trilogy, unless you get them killed.
• "Why can't every squadmember from Mass Effect join my squad in Mass Effect 2?" Part of the answer is that the story of Mass Effect 2 is really about the characters - how you go about building a team of interesting individuals - and we wanted to provide some new characters for you to learn about. But beyond that, we're creating a story full of thrilling twists and turns, and while it may be frustrating to not have all the answers right now, these surprises will make the actual playing part really enjoyable. As part of that story, you'll discover what each of your original team members is up to, and why they will or won't join you. You wouldn't want us to spell out exactly who you team up with before you have a chance to discover it on your own, right? Once you're playing Mass Effect 2 and you're immersed in the story, you'll be glad we saved lots of juicy surprises and revelations that can only be found inside the game.
• “Was that a reload animation I saw in the demo?” Like in the first game, most of the futuristic weapons in Mass Effect 2 do not require ammo but they do overheat. The difference now is that instead of waiting for your weapon to cool, you can hit a button to eject a small heat sink to immediately cool the weapon and get back into firing. So it’s a similar system but now you are in control of the cooldown.
• “Do I need fast reflexes to use the Interrupt system?” Interrupts are not meant to be “quick time events”. They are additional options that can appear throughout an NPC’s line that allow you to take a more physical action versus one of the verbal responses. You don’t need to fixate on a part of the screen – a flashing icon will catch your attention in your peripheral vision when it is available. A red icon on the left of the conversation wheel means you can pull the left trigger to fire a hostile interrupt. A blue one on the right side means you can pull the right trigger to do a heroic interrupt. This system allows you to really throw your weight around and get involved in more dynamic interactions with other characters.
• “Did you remove pausing in combat?” No. We’ve made a bunch of changes that add up to the ability to fight without pausing. But you can still hold the powers screen up to pause the action and plan your next moves. One of the biggest improvements was the option to fire your powers in realtime by mapping your favorite ones to buttons – this is a lot of fun and really unlocks the real potential of the combat system. The other big improvement was separate, context-based squad commands on the d-pad. So with a single press of the d-pad you can send a specific squad member to exactly where you want him / her, or to hit an enemy with a special power. This means you can run around with the best powers of your team right at your fingertips and enjoy realtime tactical mayhem – or you can pause with the powers screen to really think about what you want to do next.
• And the two most common questions: “Did you fix the slow elevators?” and “Will there be alien love scenes?” Yes and yes. We actually had our new level transition system on display in the demo, which replaces elevators and other transitions from the first game. The new system did its job perfectly in the demo– it was a natural part of the visual narrative and went by fast enough that no one noticed it even happened. As for whether there will be alien love in an elevator, you’ll have to play to find out.
Last edited by Rohirm (2009-06-29 20:51:43)