Mass Effect 2 Hands-On

GamesCom provided us with the first chance to go hands-on with Mass Effect 2, as well as talk more to the producer behind the game.

Mass Effect 2 was originally shown off at E3 2009, and although it was only a hands-off demonstration, it was enough for us to award the game the E3 2009 Best Role-Playing Game award. So when we got a chance to go hands-on with the game for the first time at GamesCom today, we could hardly contain our excitement. The session gave us a chance to try out the new combat mechanics, which developer BioWare claims is its biggest improvement, as well as ask some more questions of producer Jesse Houston.

"One of the biggest improvements we've made to the game is the combat," said Houston before we sat down to play the game. "We're not trying to make this an action game--it's still an RPG. But the combat is much better than before." While the combat wasn't too bad in the original game, it's certainly more refined in Mass Effect 2. Running and taking cover with the A button will be familiar to Gears of War fans, while swapping weapons by holding the left bumper and moving the left stick is very intuitive. You can still order your squad members to attack by using the D pad, but everything feels more responsive than before, and the allied AI is smarter. The heat-seeking missiles also help, as they curve around objects and other cover to take out their targets.

The dialogue system has also been improved, although we didn't get to see this particular feature in our action-packed demo. "A lot of players repeatedly hit the button to get through the dialogue in the original game," says Houston. "[In Mass Effect 2] we want to give players the option of flying through." He then explained how you'll be able to pull the triggers to throw someone through a window if you're done with them. You'll also have to make split-second decisions that will have a real impact on the rest of the game, but we'll have to play more of the game to find examples of these sorts of events.

Split-second decisions and throwing people through a window feed into the overall darker feeling of Mass Effect 2, and BioWare is keen to emphasise that is the Empire Strikes Back of the Mass Effect trilogy. There's an impending sense of doom that Houston says will be revealed from the off, and by the end of the game, you'll be leading your team into a suicide mission. How the ending plays out will hinge on the relationships you've forged through the rest of the game, according to Houston, so it's probably not a great idea to screw too many people over.

We're also impressed with how dedicated BioWare is in its original vision for Mass Effect as a trilogy. If you somehow missed the original game, then you might want to pick it up now, because Houston says there will be little in the way of story recap at the beginning of the sequel. You'll also have the added benefit of being able to bring your saved game and character into the sequel, with the actions you made in the first game having an impact on what happens in the second.

Mass Effect 2 is looking absolutely stunning in terms of visuals, and BioWare claims to have improved the motion capture, added more polygons to the characters, and overhauled the lighting system. The results are spectacular. That said, we couldn't leave without quizzing Houston about one particularly sticky issue: Will the long lift sequences be making a return in Mass Effect 2? "Absolutely not," he says, claiming that the team has become much more efficient at streaming data from the disc as you're playing.

While our play on Mass Effect 2 was all-too short, it certainly whetted our appetite for the full game, which is set to launch in Q1 2010. According to BioWare, the Xbox 360 and PC versions of the game will launch within days of each other, and the developer claims to have learned lots from its development of the PC version of the first game. We hope to bring you more on Mass Effect 2 in the very near future, so stay tuned to GameSpot.com for more as we get it.

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Discussion

270 comments
GrayFox_360
GrayFox_360

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nabed4t
nabed4t

@ JakeYourself if you had bothered to research it, the original release date was pre-Christmas 2009

Lukergamer
Lukergamer

Will an SDK be released? Will buy it anyway ;)

lawfrye
lawfrye

This is going to be a great one, think I'll get ready buy re-playing the first!

Strigidae
Strigidae

EA! Ish! That logo doesn't even look good on the box set. Damn EA monopolizing everything! Yeah that's right... I'm a hater (LOL).

Chronic_Boom420
Chronic_Boom420

Cannot wait for this game. Still play the heck out of the original.

Rizer
Rizer

I can't wait to see how ME1 effects ME2! Not many games (if any at all) let you explore what direct effects you had after you've already saved everyone. This could be a frontier way for advancing storytelling depth into RPG sequels.

Vasot
Vasot

Mass Effect 2 is looking absolutely stunning in terms of visuals, and BioWare claims to have improved the motion capture, added more polygons to the characters, and overhauled the lighting system. The results are spectacular. ----- The game is only for PC and X360 stop the whining and making dreams about this title PS3 crybabies...

xxxx59
xxxx59

I'm betting that very few side quests will carry over, due to the fact that most of them revolved around the citidel, and the presidium was wrecked, probably killing most of the side quest people. However choices made in the main quest will effect Mass effect 2. For example who u saved (ashely kaiden), if u saved the council and who is humanities representative. I also think that the rachni decision will have an impact (mabye less then others) on the game, as it is the only real decision you make on the first 3 main mission planets.

EnglishmanMffin
EnglishmanMffin

I really enjoyed the first game and I can't wait for this one. What I am really curious about, is what decisions carry over from the first game, I mean killing or saving the council at the end would obviously be an affecting decision, but what smaller decisions will pan out? Or, if I do a side quest in the first one, will that have impact on the second game? Also, I am looking forward to see if any romantic relationships in the first one work out, there is a lot of story potential there.

EllesarSmith
EllesarSmith

You had me at "bring your saved game and character into the sequel,". I must go do...things...to this phrase...in dark places...

EndoftheworldX
EndoftheworldX

Finally bought Mass Effect, thanks in part to all the hype about the sequel and the fact that you can import your save. I gotta say I'm impressed, it's been really fun and I can't wait to get back to playing it once school let's up a little. :D

ford_id42
ford_id42

Along with Rikuide_Furame, Mass Effect was the main reason I wanted an Xbox 360. My family had other reasons, but Mass Effect was what I was gunning for. And I was almost completely impressed - my only peeves I had were the dialog wheel wasn't what I thought, and the combat needed to be a bit better. But other than that I love the game, and I am looking forward to Mass Effect 2. Playing on Insanity mode right now, and will probably import this character into the new game. Hopefully they'll add the "interrupt feature" to the dialog wheel like they planned in the first game.

inunison
inunison

first one was a great game, this sequel promises to be as good. I can hardly wait.

smp13
smp13

Not much information about their hands-on experience, really just another preview with dev quotes. Bit dissapointing in that respect, but still some good info I guess.

Mizuki88
Mizuki88

Still need to play the 1st one 8D I hear it's awesome so I need to do that.

Deluhathol
Deluhathol

While Mass Effect was decent, there were several things holding it back. First of all, the new conversation system was problematic ; at several points I found that what Shepard said was not what I had intended, due to the fact that you don't get to see exactly what he will say, sometimes he adds something that COMPLETELY changes the meaning from what you intended. Secondly, the combat was pretty bland, to be honest ; it felt like a rather third rate 3rd person shooter in most respects. I am not expecting an action game, but it seriously needs tightening up in the controls and overall sensation of firing weapons, hitting targets, taking damage, etc. Thirdly is the really poor side-missions ; they were just entirely superfluous, there was no real reason to do them, they were horribly linear, they didn't have any voice acting, and they overall just sucked. This affected the overall feel of the game, because you just end up burning through the MQ and that was just not really what you want in a supposedly open world RPG ; especially when it is not a very long one, like Mass Effect. I bought my Xbox to play the first, and I was more than a little disappointed (luckily the 360 has no shortage of other titles I am interested in), hopefully this one will be what the first one should have.

cosita46
cosita46

Mass Effect is the all time fav of mine. I could not believe it when i beat Insanity mode. I still play it today. I just hope that Mass Effect 2 will not change to much but some change is good.

AXILLEASGR
AXILLEASGR

it is not xbox exclusive. i loved the first one. it is my second best game. the first was mechwarrior4, back in the days were games used to be many more things than graphics , and when games where released with guides, charts and other interesting stuff. not in a single box, as it is done today. I am witing the time that i will get to play this game!! hope the gameplay to be excellent again!

Rikuide_Furame
Rikuide_Furame

The original was my main reason for buying a Xbox 360 and it was fantastic. I've very high hopes for Mass Effect 2 but I'm sure BioWare will be able to match them.

Nelius88
Nelius88

Mass effect was great and I just know this next one will be even better...

spectresamurai
spectresamurai

I love how Bio-ware has a clear vision of where they want to take the story through the trilogy. It's refreshing for a game that has such grand scope to be refined as it is and play so well. Also like how everything in mass effect has great back story info.

BladeTrinity114
BladeTrinity114

I seriously can't wait. I am hoping they sort out a few little niggles. First one is one of my favourite games of all time.

deatheaterjahan
deatheaterjahan

They are making a great game i hope that this game is as best as the original one

littlerazor
littlerazor

mass effect is arguably the best game on 360. and my personal favorite!..this game will be amazing and def win some awards

Hitman9
Hitman9

Just walkthrought Mass Effect and after few minutes I started to play it again its awsome... I hope Mass Effect 2 will be so much impressive too can wait 2010!! Good luck to making it awsome

bennae66
bennae66

ohmanohmanohamn mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm masseffectmmm

whereismyFACE
whereismyFACE

yeah, the wait is to long until 2010. even my female character can't wait to get active with all her stat's. i'm really curious how everything works. i mean with all my stuff from part1??? ...anyway, it will be great!!!

whereismyFACE
whereismyFACE

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

giu926
giu926

starting a new game!!!! damm 2010!!!!!! i want it nowwww

Kyotain
Kyotain

Just started yet another ME game after reading this. Can't wait.

itachi100
itachi100

most sequels i've seen in 2009 had nothing from dissapointment. but for now, i'm placing my hopes on this game. i hope it does well, the prequel sure as hell did!

bowlingotter
bowlingotter

My #1 most anticipated game right now (only because there's still no release date for HL2: Episode 3)

garcia_jx
garcia_jx

I just starting playing the first game yesterday, because I was curious. I don't know what the hell I was thinking. The game is awesome

gakimab
gakimab

Absolutely loved the last game, itching to get my hands on this one!!!

giu926
giu926

just finished the first one for the fourth time.....and its still awesome!!! cant wait !!!

JakeYourself
JakeYourself

@nabed4t Pushed back? Q1 2010 is exactly when it's supposed to launch. "While our play on Mass Effect 2 was all-too short, it certainly whetted our appetite for the full game, which is set to launch in Q1 2010."

kraz1e8
kraz1e8

hoping for the best!

TheJediExile
TheJediExile

So stoked for this game. I'm making sure to take a week off of work when this drops

hero513
hero513

THIS GAME IS SUPERDILLOSHISEXTRAVGENTGAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Zingoe1
Zingoe1

My God this is Epic :)

nabed4t
nabed4t

As sad as this makes me, I have a feeling that this game will be pushed back to Q1 2010... just a feeling...although stranger things have happened.

Shotz1284
Shotz1284

The original was a great game. With the improvements to combat control grapics and to the dialogue system this sounds like an instant classic. I know its not a shooter but why not have a excellent system in place to make the gameplay just that much better. Stoked.

Serentor
Serentor

Oh good, at first i thought the 2nd part of Mass Effect will be available for PS3 too, i was gonna say that they start to remove so many exclusives for that console.

FF_fan2004
FF_fan2004

I'm so glad that I saved up for a 360 for great games like this.

Thessian23
Thessian23

Looks fantastic, just bring back the original squadmates and I'll be happy!