Mass Effect 2 Updated Hands-On

We have another quick session blowing away Husks in our latest hands-on with Mass Effect 2.

If you're a fan of the futuristic action role-playing game series Mass Effect, then you probably already know that despite rumors (and early trailers) to the contrary, Commander Shepard is alive and well. You might also know that the sequel to the 2007 game takes a much darker turn as Shepard and his crew embark on what seems to be a suicide mission. Developer BioWare has kept pretty quiet about further plot details, and that didn't change when company cofounder and VP Dr. Greg Zeschuk visited Australia earlier this week to show off Mass Effect 2. Despite the story remaining a secret, BioWare did show off a bit more about the recently revealed area called Omega, as well as give us some more hands-on time to get acquainted with the more combat-refined feel of the sequel.

Omega--which was first glimpsed in the GamesCom trailer released a few weeks ago--is a gigantic space station and seedy den of scum and villainy that is reminiscent of the dingier parts of the Citadel in the first game. The hands-off section of the demo began with Shepard and his crew--who in this scenario were Krell assassin Thane and Krogan fighter Grunt--standing outside the nightclub AfterLife. It was a huge, triangular-shaped building adorned with large video screens displaying bright arcs of fire, and inside, it had a circular layout with a central dance floor similar to Chora's Den in the original (except much, much larger). Here, we were treated to Mass Effect 2's more cinematic approach to story, with Shepard engaging in some not-so-friendly banter with a character named Aria T'Loak, a mysterious female who is apparently the real power behind Omega. The conversation between the two featured some dramatic camera angles that helped amp up the intrigue, focusing on Shepard and Aria's faces and showcasing a good deal of nuance visible in the character models. The voice acting was also excellent and bodes well for another involving storyline in Mass Effect 2.

After this all-too-brief look at the story, we were then treated to a similarly brief hands-on session with the Xbox 360 version of Mass Effect 2. BioWare wouldn't disclose the location of where our hands-on session took place, but it looked to be some sort of underground complex. Shepard had Thane and Grunt in tow, with the enemies being the synthetic zombies called Husks, which many will be familiar with from the first game. These Husks would rush the crew in small waves, crawling out from behind crates or underneath walkways to surprise the three. While the first game allowed you to send your squad to certain locations, this time around, you can assign individual members to different areas, which is done by simply pointing your target reticle at a spot and pressing either left or right on the D pad. This worked quite well, and we found ourselves regularly pushing the tanklike Grunt in to take most of the Husk heat while we picked them off as Shepard from behind. One other new aspect we spied during our game time was what looked to be a new biotic power called adrenaline. Triggering this would slow down enemy movements a la bullet time, which allowed us to better target incoming Husks. The effect only lasted a few seconds, though, but the cooldown time seemed quite quick.

With the demo over, we cornered Zeschuk to glean a few more details about what else we can expect from the game once it ships in early 2010. Despite the game being a direct sequel, Zeschuk says new players won't need to be overly familiar with events in the first game, saying "Mass Effect 2 is done in such a way that it feels like you're in a brand new experience." As for those who did play the first game, BioWare has already stated that original save games will have some impact on character and story in the second, although Zeschuk wouldn't elaborate further. "As a general rule, any big things that have occurred should still be consistently reflected," he said.

When it comes to downloadable content, Zeschuk said Mass Effect 2 content was definitely on the cards. "We have a pretty aggressive DLC plan. We did release two pieces of DLC for Mass 1, which is pretty good, but I think we could have done better. But I think that's our own fault, and we have to learn and improve. And I think that's what we're doing with the second one," he said.

Fighting feels smoother in Mass Effect 2.

Our hands-on session lasted only about 10 minutes, but combat in Mass Effect 2 seemed more fast-paced than the original. It also improved on the strong storytelling and interesting characters of the first. We'll have more on Mass Effect 2 soon, so keep it glued to GameSpot.

Written By

Randolph is the managing editor of GameSpot, and needs more time to play games.

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Discussion

88 comments
Odnomiar
Odnomiar

I'm currently on ym first playthrough of the original, and it's brilliant. can't wait for this! :)

Lord_Templar
Lord_Templar

22nd century???!! We have a lot to wait.... xD

Karrotjuce
Karrotjuce

(I just hate the thresher maws) ;)

Karrotjuce
Karrotjuce

I love the first game, and I am so getting the second.

bigjoe8181
bigjoe8181

ooooooooooooh yeah back to the future! here's to sheppard and his(her in my case :P) crew! definitely waiting for this one to come out! happy new year!!!

emillime
emillime

the first was brilliant no doubt the second will be too! some changes might be thought of as too far or even bad but i will be very eager to buy it as soon as it comes out

I_am_theOpus
I_am_theOpus

The first one was fantastic. I would pay $60 for the same gameplay and a new story. But the fact that they're improving this gameplay so much too is just a huge bonus.

Nemesis4747
Nemesis4747

the inferno armor looks a little bit like the sith trooper armor from kotor, wonder if it is based on that

musicman-04
musicman-04

Wonder if there's a point to using a sniper in this one since I couldn't rationalize one for the first one.

Phaselinear
Phaselinear

The game to own to start the new season....for sure!

stefan567
stefan567

ah mass effect...one of the finest games i have ever played.i have been looking forward to this sequel for a long time.i just hope they will get rid of those annoying thresher maws...

Fady117
Fady117

CANT WAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT :D:D:D:D

Nodashi
Nodashi

@feinicks It probably will, some speculation goin on right now about it, look at youtube and you'll find it. Anyway (and I have a PS3), I'll play it at my PC as I did with the first game - I reallym realy have trying to aim with the controler. Mouse FTW.

feinicks
feinicks

Now... only if this will come out for the PS3.....

pidow
pidow

Ah, bigger and better, I like more already.

axxez94
axxez94

yeah Mass effect 1 was awesome, ME2 is going to be improved and even more awesome! ;D

Chronic_Boom420
Chronic_Boom420

I am pre-ordering this game. Sounds like they're fixing anything I had a problem with in the outstanding original.

Mallerdje
Mallerdje

are you sh*tting me?:P gotta buy dragon age origins for that armour? ... I'll pass. Also, I loved ME1..although, when I see this new trailer..it's kind of hard for me to get back into that whole mass effect universe feeling. I hope that changes really quick with some cooler trailers :)

amiman23
amiman23

Mass Effect 1 left me feeling like I had actually been IN a movie more so than any other game I've ever played. I expect ME2 to do the same.

fzd88
fzd88

I'm currently playing ME1 right now (i know...i'm like 2 years behind the times lol). Been loving it so far; definitely looking forward to this sequel.

Rummy500
Rummy500

@NearlyPrescient --- Yeah It had a great story. but the gameplay itself felt, cheap underdone.Like they rushed it out the door to make the money it was worth. Despite that I waited for the announcement of a seqeul and it never came and still kinda hold a grudge about that I guess. Sorry if anyone else likes it, Thats great. But I wasn't a fan.

DoofeyF24
DoofeyF24

Can't wait for this game hopefully the sniper rifle will be easier to aim with

NearlyPrescient
NearlyPrescient

@rummy500 advent rising had an amazing story. I still lose sleep over the post-credit cliffhanger. well, not really. but it's damn annoying. my first issue of game informer ever was the Advent Rising one because I saw Orson Scott Card and had to know if the magazine was about the Ender's Game game. the pages of that magazine were plastered on my bedroom walls through middle school and part of high school. I may not lose sleep, but I'm damn pissed such an epic story didn't get continued. Advent Rising was at least fun and had some sweet mechanics, style, and story, with the promise of things getting more epic along the lines when Gideon's mind powers eventually reach the level where he can move mountains. c'mon, you know that third game would've been mind blowing. RIP Advent Rising

Grif-yes
Grif-yes

Me hopeses this game has me Garrus and Liara... And shotguns...

bowlingotter
bowlingotter

As soon as there's a release date I'm out the door reserving this one. I might go back and play ME1 again while waiting for this. And the only time I've re-played a game in recent memory was Half-Life 2

comfnumb82
comfnumb82

i am so friggen excited about this game. ME1 is my fav 360 game, and 2 is looking even better

shamandgg
shamandgg

Nintendo-Maniac, you are correct. This is NFS:HS (NFS4). I'm actually really happy these tunes are making back into games - they are one of my all time favorites.

shamandgg
shamandgg

The Music they are playing in the club is the main menu music from Need for Speed High Stakes on the PC. Really? I'm thinking this is actually Need For Speed 2 menu music :)

GotRustyB
GotRustyB

I don't normally re-play anything but I've re-played ME1 about 5 times. Its that good. To put it lightly I AM EXCITED about ME2.

Nintendo-Maniac
Nintendo-Maniac

The Music they are playing in the club is the main menu music from Need for Speed High Stakes on the PC.

Syzgygy
Syzgygy

BioWare, the kings of the RPG genre. Upcoming games > Dragon Age: Origins (SRPG) > Mass Effect 2 (SRPG) > Star Wars: The Old Republic (MMORPG)

Vasot
Vasot

The game will ROCK !!

vp22
vp22

cannot wait for this game, need a release date

BlackShadow1595
BlackShadow1595

Liked and enjoyed the first, can't wait for the second.

Rummy500
Rummy500

@NearlyPrescient --- Advent Rising. Ha! Now there a funny blast from the not so pleasant past. Nope, No Advent rising here! Just good ol' quality, instead of quantity gaming from a great little (non-evil GOLIATH of a producer not namin' any names.) developer called BioWare. CANNOT WAIT.....

NearlyPrescient
NearlyPrescient

so glad this trilogy isn't going the way of advent rising.

Viddi218
Viddi218

Cant Wait! First one was brilliant... big expectations for the next one!

BadKarma_
BadKarma_

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Zeatrix
Zeatrix

I've completed ME1 about 15 times, I love the game just as much as when I completed it the first time. I've been looking forward to ME2 so much, and I seriously hope it delivers the same innovating social elements and blasting storyline as it did with ME1. I'm going to sleep in front of my game-store when this game is released :-)

datniccah187
datniccah187

Can't wait for Mass Effect, i have huge expectations for this game. I hope the game comes through.

Rummy500
Rummy500

GIVE US AH RELEASE DATE ALREADY BioWare! . . . Please? . . .

konradak
konradak

Blehh, I hope the connections between the first and second are more than just a few references here and there. I thought it was supposed to be a continuing story. New players don't need to know much from the first to get into this one? :/ Was kinda hoping for the opposite. Bleh, I'm sure it'll still be great though, can't wait.

Bedizen
Bedizen

I enjoyed the first one, hope this is at least as good

lightwarrior179
lightwarrior179

One of my most anticipated games of this gen so far. :D

FloatingCorpse
FloatingCorpse

One of the highest anticipated games ever for me.