Mass Effect 2 in effect Jan. 26

EA slates BioWare's long-awaited sci-fi sequel for PC, Xbox 360 to arrive very early next year; EU gets game January 29.

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When Mass Effect 2 was officially announced this past February, it was given an "early 2010" launch window. It turns out that should have been a "very early 2010" launch window, as Electronic Arts today announced it will arrive on January 26 in North America and on January 29 in Europe. Unlike the first Mass Effect, the sci-fi role-playing game will ship simultaneously for the Xbox 360 and PC and will likely have the same M for Mature rating as the original.

The Terminus Armor.
The Terminus Armor.

EA and its BioWare RPG studio also announced a series of preorder incentives for Mass Effect 2 similar to those for BioWare's fantasy title Dragon Age: Origins, due out November 3. Those who reserve the title at GameStop will get two in-game items: a set of heavy-duty Terminus armor, which increases run speed, boosts personal shields, and adds "an extra magazine of reserve ammo" to any weapon carried. Presumably, the "magazine" is an extra ammo type, since ammunition supply was unlimited in the original Mass Effect.

GameStop preorders will also let players download the M-490 Blackstorm Heavy Weapon, which "generates a high-powered localized gravity well, accelerating particles to near-infinite mass." The download will also unlock a wider variety of heavy weapons than will be accessible to those who buy the game after the game launches.

Preorders for Mass Effect 2 placed at other retailers will come with a code for a suit of Inferno Armor. The item will increase players' run speed and damage and will increase their negotiation skills during the game's myriad dialogue sections.

The Inferno Armor.
The Inferno Armor.

Mass Effect 2 is being billed by BioWare as the Empire Strikes Back to Mass Effect's Star Wars--further hints that there will be a Mass Effect trilogy. (A comic book will fill in the narrative gap between the two installments.) The sequel will provide continuity by importing character decisions made in the original game.

As for story, Mass Effect 2 begins with the original game's hero, Commander Shepard, embarking on a dangerous mission to the mercenary-controlled Omega mining facility, shown in the trailer below. BioWare has kept pretty quiet about further plot details, but GameSpot's brand-new preview offers a closer look at the title's gameplay.

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