Mass Effect 2's shooter shift examined

GDC 2010: Lead gameplay designer Christina Norman talks about amping up the intensity with heavier emphasis on real-time combat in BioWare's sci-fi role-playing game.


Who Was There: As the 2010 Game Developers Conference entered the homestretch, BioWare lead gameplay designer Christina Norman reflected on the changes made to the company's latest sci-fi franchise in "Where Did My Inventory Go? Refining Gameplay in Mass Effect 2."

Gunplay was certainly a bigger deal in Mass Effect 2.
Gunplay was certainly a bigger deal in Mass Effect 2.

What She Talked About: Norman began by noting that the original Mass Effect had a far more traditional role-playing game feel. In particular, the game's power wheel (where players select their abilities) allowed for access to up to 20 abilities, each of which was on a separate cooldown timer. She also pointed out that the game would pause as players stopped to select their ability or survey the battlefield.

With Mass Effect 2, she said that BioWare wanted a lot more real-time gameplay, with an emphasis on weapons and cover. The power wheel would remain, she said, but the team wanted to change it so that it was far less intrusive and a lot easier to navigate. The team also sought to capture more satisfying combat, which would involve making the game feel more like a shooter and not rely on the underlying RPG roll-dice-to-hit mechanic.

Mass Effect's often unwieldy inventory system was also targeted as a place for improvement. Norman noted that in the original it could be cumbersome to swap your squad members' weapons with one another and that the sheer number of largely undifferentiated weapons often felt like junk to be sold. In Mass Effect 2, she said, the team wanted players to feel an affinity for their weapon of choice.

Game balance was also an area that needed improvement, she said. The original Mass Effect gave players too much opportunity to trivialize the game with overpowered combos. She said that improper game balance really diminished its overall quality.

So how did BioWare go about addressing these problems in Mass Effect 2? Norman said that the team originally took a design document approach and planned out all the features that would help them reach their design goals. However, she said that none of these features actually made it into the game and that they found the process of prototyping far more valuable.

Because the engineers were preoccupied with other work, Norman and her team did their initial prototyping using the original Mass Effect's engine, making changes only to specific values like weapon damage or accuracy. And though the work ended up being mostly throwaway, she said that the experiments helped them get a better handle on the limitations of their current setup.

Getting into the brass tacks of design, Norman said that it became paramount to build great shooter gameplay. To do so, she said that they completely turned off the game's RPG system so that they could focus on crafting the shooter elements, a move Norman called the most important of the project.

BioWare wanted squadmates to be more useful as well.
BioWare wanted squadmates to be more useful as well.

Norman also said that the team spent time analyzing what their competitors were doing well, mostly because BioWare's focus has never been on this genre. This involved standardizing the game's control scheme so that players wouldn't have to relearn the gamepad layout. One other way was to hammer out the flaws in the original's cover mechanic.

Weapons also received attention. The team focused on addressing issues from the original, including the lack of headshots and aim assist, as well as the fact that enemies didn't react when shot. She said they also wanted to build better weapons that felt different from each other, noting that the final game had 19 weapons with 108 tuning variables.

Once this process was complete--after a span of about three months--the team then began to incorporate RPG elements back into the game. Norman was quick to point out that though the RPG gameplay had been "off," development on it remained ongoing.

Norman then shifted her talk to the concept of building for intensity. She said that class design was particularly important in Mass Effect 2, since the team really wanted to create highly differentiated play types, even if it meant cutting some of the possible choices. Returning to the concept of the power wheel, she said that the constant pausing and selecting of powers took away from intensity, which is why in Mass Effect 2, players were given the ability to map three of their own abilities and two of their squadmates' abilities to the controller for use in real time.

Adding in a global cooldown timer for all abilities also helped ramp up intensity, she said, because it allowed players to use more powers, more frequently. She also said that it was important to add regenerating health, because it got players away from playing erratically and relying on health kits. Enemy consistency was also important, she said, because players should be able to look at a combatant and know exactly what kind of issues they are facing. This would eliminate the immersion-breaking act of having players look at, say, the enemy's name bar to figure out its strengths and weaknesses.

Due to time constraints, Norman quickly breezed through the remainder of her talk, spending a few minutes on the game's RPG system. She said that it was important not to dumb down the RPG elements but to still make them easier to use. As an example of this, she compared the original game's leveling system to Mass Effect 2's. The former, she said, offered too many choices that weren't particularly representative of how they would impact the game. In Mass Effect 2, the leveling options were pared down and made more descriptive.

Norman also said that armor personalization was surprisingly popular in Mass Effect 2, a feature that wasn't available in the original.

Quote: "Shooter combat must be fun without being propped up by RPG mechanics." --Christina Norman, on crafting the gunplay in Mass Effect 2.

Takeaway: The gameplay difference between the original Mass Effect and its sequel is marked, and that wasn't accidental. Norman's team specifically set out to craft a sharper shooter experience that could stand up against the gunplay found in competitors' offerings, while maintaining BioWare's strong tradition of narrative-driven, RPG-heavy gameplay.

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Avatar image for Khatjal

I don't see why some people didn't like the shift - I personally highly enjoyed the fact it was more shooter like. The only knock was the lack of customization in terms of equipment... I really like the genre of RPG where you can literally choose what to wear on your hands, feet, etc...

Avatar image for MassErect2

An awesome game! Good changes!

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"Shiftfallout Posted Mar 17, 2010 2:52 pm GMT Christina Norman made some horrible choices." - BIGtime. She completely washed away many of the things that RPG fans love. Great game but it felt a little watered down imo.

Avatar image for DawnForMe

Simply good game.

Avatar image for megatrunks

Mass effect 2 is simply one of the best.

Avatar image for hywel69

Great game....but I hardly "felt more attached" to my weapon. My guns looked pretty much the same, there no dps number on them, how do I know if Arcon Combine Blaster is better than Blah-De-Blah industries? And if it's better, by how much? Also having to go all the way back to the Normandy to look at your weapons or what upgrades that it had sucked.

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The best game ever

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I want Mass Effect 3 to be more like the first one, but I really like her ideas about having a shooter that can stand on its own then adding RPG elements and I like the combat in ME2 better. ME1's story, ME2's combat, and moddability. Do it Bioware.

Avatar image for frazzle00

@Shiftfallout Sure I know you said you have issues with male designers too, but I don't understand why female designers would be any better/worse. I'd hope the game industry is a meritocracy, but hey it might not. I wasn't talking about "a few trigger happy casual gamers". We're talking about professional reviewers. They too are industry professionals with years of experience playing games. Why would their view be less useful than those of a developer (I personally think the opposite would be true especially given the competitive nature of the field and the associated issue of professional jealousy)? After all they're all gamers just like us. I don't have to work in the games industry to know what constitutes a good game. I've been playing games for 20 years now, and I'd take my personal experience over anyone else's when it comes to evaluating a game. After all, I not going to play the game vicariously.

Avatar image for Shiftfallout

@frazzle00 There may or may not be evidence of such, but you have to keep in mind that trends can build expectations for others to follow. If you read my post, I clearly see this problem with males too, and the only fear i have is that its a growing trend with female designers finding their way to lead positions. There is nothing sexist about it, rather, dealing with trends that can hurt the industry in terms of variety. I could care less what a few trigger happy casual gamers like about ME2. The developers are the key and ME2 was getting a lot of ...disdain to say the least. She said she didnt want the game to be fun for any other element...except the action. That defeats the entire purpose of a RPG. ME2 is a sequel, but was not treated as such. The result was a game that didnt do anything well in terms of mechanics. Read this developer focused article and responses: << LINK REMOVED >>

Avatar image for frazzle00

The thing is are you sure that these "incompetent" female designers simply got their role because they're female? I really don't think that there is an evidence that female designers are less capable than their male counterparts. And lets not forget that even though you don't appreciate ME2, plenty of people do. After all it's sitting on the highest Metacritic score of all time 8).

Avatar image for Dudeman315

No FF4 was the first game that had a well crafted story where characters actually had flaws and emotions. FF6 had a freakin opera that was amazing and then the bad guy destroys the world half way through the game. ME2 had,"I'm busy Shepard comeback later", anytime I wanted to talk to any non-love interest. and the same f'n plot of ME1 presented with less depth "there's these things are attacking human colonies and they work for a reaper and you need to recruit a crew and go through this specific mass relay in the terminis systems to stop them." I couldn't care less about my Imported choices because the 10 seconds of dialog that lead nowhere did not feel rewarding. On Insanity you don't need anything 'cept Widowmaker, a heavy Weapon and Incinerate. I used Incinerate more than any gun on Insanity with a fresh character. Really it's about Lack of story, customization, choice, depth of characters(ME1 had personal mission like loyalty ones), Immersion, Carry over decisions mattering, and Exploration. Give me a Rachi stage(since they broke the game into stages with mission end screens), or let me revisit Feros cause the Asari I saved tells me that they need my help, or have a meaningful discusion with my love interest from ME1 something with meaning.

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@frazzle00 While there is a lot of sexism going on in the industry, I know 2 experienced female designers that actually know what they are doing. One of them is responsible for teaching a certain group of students that eventually went on to make Portal for example. On the flip side, I can find a dozen males that dont know good game design either. After hearing what Christina was saying however, she comes across as bright as Todd Howard. This is why It can be either an isolated case or this growing trend with which kind of female designers get those positions. We already know guys can be just as stupid in that regard. =)

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@Shiftfallout Yeah you're right, women should just stick to what they are good at and stay in the kitchen......*sigh*

Avatar image for Shiftfallout

Christina Norman made some horrible choices. I dont know if its a growing trend with female designers gaining traction or if its just a few isolated cases of what I call the "Todd Howard" effect. Either way its not good for the genre.

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"Bioware wanted squad-mates to be more useful as well." Yep, try telling that to Miranda any time she crouches for cover ON TOP of a crate.

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I always enjoy the gear when it comes to these types of games, so the diffusion to a simpler system was a bit annoying. The weapons werent too bad, there was still some options; however, the armor was horrible. I just got one armor set and just wore that the whole time. It was like they got to armor and said, nah were done with itemization. Dont get me wrong loved the game, but could have a bit more interest with items.

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I'm commander Shepard, and this is my favorite site on the internet

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@sick09 Making Black and white choices does not make an RPG. Anyway if you want a game about choices go play the original Deus EX , but then again that might be too much since it take a rocket scientists to deal with all the choice Deus Ex gives you -_-.

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@Nintendochamp17 It just EA dumbing down games for the masses , if you don't believe me go look at the C&C 4 review , to be Kane last game , it a pretty sad excuse of a game.

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@raahsnavj, im with rottenwood. all i see making all you boys mad is not enough loot. theres inferno, cerberus, terminus, collector armors, blood dragon armor plus all the armor pieces sent from dr pepper, plenty of choice in armor. improvement from me1, they all used to look the same. there are a tons of diff heavy weapons. nuke, avalanche weapon, particle beam, and arc projector just a few. geth, vindicator, collector assult rifles, and 1 u start with. 4 diff pistols, 2 auto and 2 semi. 4 shotguns, 1 u start with, katana, eviscerator, & claymore. 3 sniper rifles, 1 u start with, an upgraded i for got the name of, geth sniper. 15 guns NOT counting heavy weapons. sorry u cant find them the linear maps are to big. ammo types? there is 2-3 depending on class simplified from me1 no messing with gun extensions. why have guns that just look different, you can just make the types you have better?no wasted time maneging loot, thats not what customization is about, it is about making your story unique. you can even commit character suicide, keeping shepard out of the 3rd. dialog and paragon/renegade. that makes rpg, npcs and sqaud mates form opinions about u from dialog. u can piss people off especially sqaud mates. you either like it or not. sounds to me you like finalfantasys so called "rpg" turn based crap where now you dont have to wait as long no rpg aspects. it is an action game where u control a SQUAD. not one "role". i have it, it sucks. I think i solidified my point, again

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@raahsnavj - I totally understand where you are coming from. Don't get me wrong, I still liked ME 2, but the lack of customization and the over simplification of level ups was a dissappointment for me. This was especially disappointing in regards to your squadmates. The worst thing about it is that this issue could have been easily alleviated. They could have simply extended the armor customization that you get with Shepard and extended it to squadmates. In addition, a few weapon customization options wouldn't have hurt and still could have been done simply. One way to do it was to simply be able to buy weapon customizations at the store vendors, or do research on a few of them. You would only have to buy the Normandy Armory could replicate parts. Then simply have 2 or 3 customizations slots for everyone's guns...Done. That would have made the game feel far more like an RPG without taking away from the new ( and I think) improved combat system. Edit- And I don't mean the existing weapon upgrade system mind you. Those are no brainers...I mean like interchangable make...for example, you own vindicator rifle setup at least somewhat different from another player's. The current upgrade system is more like..buying level ups for you gun, not customization.

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@Rottenwood - FFIV is almost 19 years old. Which means the 'complexity' of it fit me just fine for my age. In fact it was the first RPG that didn't bore me to death. Irony? no, just respect. Who knows, maybe in 20 years I'll have a ME avatar.

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After playing both games, I'm glad BioWare shift their focus on a more fluid and less complicated combat system. In the first game it was actually a pain in the ass going through the inventory and other menus. Anyway, I had a blast playing both and ME3 here we go! What a trilogy.

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@raahsnavj Final Fantasy IV embodies every complaint you list. If you think Final Fantasy IV is a crappy RPG, why do you use its end boss as your profile photo? Ironic humor? "ME2 is a 3rd person shooter with the easy to add after the fact RPG elements." Really? Crafting a well-paced, entertaining storyline with about a dozen great characters, fun ethical dilemmas, and a real cinematic feel is "easy to add?" Strange, then, that the vast majority of games fail to do just that, and that ME2's 95%-ish score on Metacritic isn't dirt common. Mass Effect 2 allows you to import a character from another game entirely, allowing you to not only craft a story, but a galaxy, based on dozens of decisions YOU made personally. That must be easy to do as well, right? Strange, then, how no other developers seem to bother. These are the elements of an RPG that are important to me... story, characters, atmosphere... feeling you like you're actually playing a role and impacting the world you're put into, even with the limitations of modern hardware. To you, the most important elements are apparently old combat conventions and looking at stat sheets. To each their own, but my kind of RPG sounds a lot more interesting than yours, and developers are apparently figuring it out, too. It's a great relief that BioWare and Square are leaving the old school behind.

Avatar image for raahsnavj

@Rottenwood - First off, I see you used ME1 to prove I'm wrong. I think both of us agree ME1's system sucked. There wasn't much to it. The problem is you have played too many S***y RPG's. As such you find complete removal of staples of the RPG genre a satisfying solution to a problem that way too often is uncomplicated 'pick the one with the higher number'. Even then though, lets say you only have one sword with the higher number. Who in your team do you give it to? Some games that is easy to determine, others no so much. Not every RPG succumbs to this problem you describe. Regardless, defend it all you want. ME2 is a 3rd person shooter with the easy to add after the fact RPG elements. Fight that all you want, but the designers disagree. The whole article spells that out.

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The armor personalization was popular primarily because an achievement was attached to it.

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@Dudeman315 "It's prettier than SNES games sure, but I still play FF2(4) and FF3(6) American(JP). I doubt I'll play ME2 again." I can see that. Those old Final Fantasy games had such fascinating depth. Let's see, this sword gives Cecil a 108 Attack, and this one gives 117. Which one should I use? Looks like you guys have it backwards; you're dependent on numbers to hold YOUR hands, while everyone else figures things out on their own. Uh-oh, we're in the ice monster level now. Maybe... use the Flame Sword? It also turns out that Diamond Armor is better than Steel. Thank God the numbers were there; as the other clues were too vague. (Appeared much later in the game, sounded cooler, cost way more...) Anyhow, have fun tapping the X button. They really need a recovery program for nostalgia addiction.

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@raahsnavj "It's like a puzzle that is fun to maximize for me. But I guess some people don't want to be bothered with that aspect." Looking at two sets of numbers and choosing the item with the higher values isn't a puzzle; it's basic addition. It's a waste of time. If the issue is rate-of-fire versus clip size or damage, ME2 has that. "Hell, I shot my collector assault rifle (or sniper rifle when it had 'heat sinks') the whole two games I ended up playing." You'll need all your weapons on the highest difficulty setting, as there aren't enough thermals to lean on one or two. Playing on anything less, sure, you can just maul everyone with whatever gun you like. "They want an interactive 'choose your own adventure book' with guns with as little of thought as possible. Instant gratification, minimal investment." An absurd generalization mixed with tiresome elitism. Most gamers are quite capable of thought, and their thought is: "why am I spending my precious free time sifting through a spreadsheet?" Video games are toys; the idea that I have to earn my fun from them through chores and reading lists is insane. Besides, if your idea of deep thought is 'synthetic enemies? Better use my tungsten rounds!" or "Rachni? Better put in the anti-poison exoskeleton!", your standards are too low.

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@elusivemelody Monkey Island 2 where you literally shove things down your pants. @Rottenwood One good set of armor(collector for +regen), Guns without viewable stats(is rifle x better than rifle y cause other than top top sniper I honestly can't tell), 0 types of ammo(skills that modify guns instead). It's prettier than SNES games sure, but I still play FF2(4) and FF3(6) American(JP). I doubt I'll play ME2 again.

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@DrunkenGoon I agree with you most of the time. Like, when I play a JRPG like FF, I like the inventory. But for any type of realistic or shooter or something game, I think they need to seriously think about how much is humanly possible for someone to carry. Not only weight limits (which the Elder Scrolls series did really well I think), but space limits. WHERE do those items go? That's what I liked about RE4 (besides the obvious where the heck is the attache case on his person), that bigger items took up more space. If you're carrying a rocket launcher, you're not gonna put it in your pocket and have it magically disappear. I have yet to see a game that really evaluates where you put items and where you equip them from (different holsters, etc.)

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@mjc0961 Gotcha. I'm not trying to argue really, but can you explain to me why you think FFXIII is a turn-based strategy game? I guess when I think of that genre I think the Civilization series.

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"Instant gratification, minimal investment." QFT people just want to be given everything with little work put in , next gen games as soon you hit the start button games will automatcally show you the ending that what people really want.

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They did a really good job with this. Much better then the first one.

Avatar image for raahsnavj

"Is it hard for me to understand that people in 2010 still want to be looking at inventory screens for 10 minutes at a time? I suppose so." I guess so. I don't see why 2010 has anything to do with it though. It is so hard for me to wonder why people don't just go play an action adventure game then so they don't need to be bored with this 'customization' stuff some of us enjoy? It's like a puzzle that is fun to maximize for me. But I guess some people don't want to be bothered with that aspect. "about 4-6 weapons of each type," - which you didn't need if they wouldn't have boned up by including the whole 'heat sink' addition. Hell, I shot my collector assault rifle (or sniper rifle when it had 'heat sinks') the whole two games I ended up playing. Maybe I should have looked for more customization by using the wrong weapon for the job... "Go too far with that stuff and you end up with The Sims In Space." - I don't know if that is accurate. We seemed to get these games over the last few decades that gave us these options and it didn't turn into the sims... or maybe they did? Either way, you are probably in the right... people don't want to think about what they are playing. They would rather grind to overcome or wish it banned altogether. They want an interactive 'choose your own adventure book' with guns with as little of thought as possible. Instant gratification, minimal investment. Sometimes I get in that mode too, when I played ME2 I guess I just wasn't in the mood.

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@raahsnavj "ME2 is an RPG, just not the one I wanted. I wanted more customization along the lines of the included armor customization options that were included in this game. Is it that hard to understand?" I was basing my reply on your earlier comment: "The problem is we have people that want a 3rd person shooter with some meaning for a change - read that as a story that doesn't suck. Well ME2 delivered." Hence, I figured you considered ME2 a 3rd Person Shooter and not an RPG, as that's more or less what you insinuated. "I wanted more customization along the lines of the included armor customization options that were included in this game. Is it that hard to understand?" Is it hard for me to understand that people in 2010 still want to be looking at inventory screens for 10 minutes at a time? I suppose so. It was cute on the Super Nintendo when our options were limited to random battles and cinema scenes with Lego people; now it needs to quietly exit stage left. Besides, you got all the armor customization you wanted, about 4-6 weapons of each type, half a dozen kinds of ammunition, and new content coming out periodicially if you're on Cerberus. Not sure what else you want. Go too far with that stuff and you end up with The Sims In Space.

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I really like the new combat and the loss of the inventory was no problem to me.. On my second playthrough of ME I ended up turning everything I got into omni-gel. Inventory in my opinion has always been ridiculous and the only game that has ever really done it right is the later Resident Evil games.. Otherwise you end up carrying WAY too much stuff..

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"Shooter combat must be fun without being propped up by RPG mechanics." This is why I could not play Fallout 3.

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@Rottenwood - "blah blah blah" seems to be all you heard from me. ME2 is an RPG (I never said it wasn't), just not the one I wanted. I wanted more customization along the lines of the included armor customization options that were included in this game. Is it that hard to understand? It would have been possible to include, but wasn't. Call it 'streamlined' or whatever else you want to call it. I call it lacking. Entertaining, but lacking. I hope the 3rd has more to it than this.

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@raahsnavj "ME2 had plenty of plodding..." It had next-to-none, other than the mining, which was pretty uninteresting. ...."with no customization." It had plenty. Which party members to use, which to become loyal to, who to romance, which model of weapon to choose per type, which ammo types to have turned on, which pieces of armor (or sets) to wear, which skills to invest into, whether to be a jerk/paladin/in-between, which upgrades to buy or research, which bonus squadmate skill to use, all the way down to the color scheme and pattern of your gear. "Each character was isolated in their own little area anyhow, why make me plod around the ship in such a boring fashion if they wanted to fix the pacing..." It's hard to have private conversations, up to and including flirtation and sex, if everyone is in the same room. Well, you CAN do it, but it's not my thing, per se. Even if you had a 'warp to Grunt' button, you're getting loading times, so the extra six seconds of walking isn't an issue. "They should have just left cluttered inventory out of it but still gave me an inventory." Inventories become cluttered by design. Never mind the illogic of carrying 27 different weapons and 500 pounds of weapon modifiers. "Now, I need to find a developer that makes customizable RPG's again, with a story that doesn't suck." So ME2 is no longer an RPG because it doesn't have an inventory? Fascinating.

Avatar image for raith616

definately missed the customization options for the armour and weapons plus the more expanded skillsets per character should have been carried over, still a great game though and who knows what downloads will come up? maybe if we all shout loud enough....1...2...3

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@Rottenwood - ME2 had plenty of plodding, with no customization. I'm baffled that people think stripping the customization makes it better in any fashion. Pacing? maybe, but then they should have stripped out all the walking around on the Normandy and instead just brought up the ability to visit people on the ship. Less loading times, less 'plodding'. Each character was isolated in their own little area anyhow, why make me plod around the ship in such a boring fashion if they wanted to fix the pacing... The fact is, people are shortsided. They don't like rummaging though the broken inventory of ME1, as such the complete removal of it seemed a much better design decision. Bah! They should have just left cluttered inventory out of it but still gave me an inventory. And for those that don't want to customize at all, just let them hit 'Y' which auto-equips a set 'default' to every character. The your 'plodding' fixed, my customization abilities still intact where I can make a more steamlined team. The problem is we have people that want a 3rd person shooter with some meaning for a change - read that as a story that doesn't suck. Well ME2 delivered. Now, I need to find a developer that makes customizable RPG's again, with a story that doesn't suck.

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@raahsnavj "You either get loyalty or you don't. And who doesn't do the loyalty missions? As such at the end you get 'Did you play everything or not?' That isn't choice, that's frustrating." Actually, that is quite clearly a choice. You either embrace your squad as a twisted family, or simply hire them and send them into hell and see who survives. As the lives of main characters weigh in the balance, it's arguably as meaningful as game choices can be. Two very, very different ways to approach the same adventure. Few other RPGs can say that. "My take is why not just have a choice at the opening sequence that lets you select if you want a customizable experience or a linear 3rd person shooter and go from there?" The framework for a game like that (which would essentially be two games in one) would be unwieldly at best. I'd rather the developers craft one great game then try to make two that tell the same story. Anyone who inexplicably enjoys rummaging through a backpack can replay ME1. "I love the ME universe they created, but they keep trying to make it into some action game instead of what ME1 attempted to give me, a Sci fi RPG." ME1 was also an action game, with real-time combat, cover mechanics, grenades, and shooting aplenty. The only meaningful difference is that the combat system was greatly improved for ME2. Perhaps if the combat was more plodding and tedious, it would be an RPG again?

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I wish the shooter team was working on planet scanning... That thing is sooooo boring.

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imo Mass Effect 1 was better.. ME2 completely screwed up the new game plus as well making it just BS for more than 1 playthrough.. I spent 60+ hours my first playthrough getting literally everything.. then i go to start my second and its all gone! So i'll have to pump another 50+ in just to get a better ending! screw this...

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I definitely liked the upgraded shooting mechanic. The first game had a horrible interface for that and since you couldn't hit at all without aiming at a target that got frustrating on the higher difficulty levels. ME2 had a much smoother shooting mechanic and I liked that. I didn't, however, like how stripped down the player skill customizations were. I really like that this company is attempting to hybridize a shooter and an RPG and I get that they aren't going to get it right the first time. Here's hoping that ME3 will have the right balance between shooting and character building.

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I'm sorry; if I want to play a shooter, I'll play Halo! Now, don't get me wrong; ME2 is a great game (I'm still in the middle of it); it just feels stripped. And the planet scanning thing has got to go! While planet exploration with the Mako may have been a little repetitive, you at least felt like you were accomplishing something, not the least of which that you would gain experience. The whole planet scanning BS feels too much like work; there's nothing fun about it.

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I think it's time for games to stop being rpg's, shooters, platformers and just start being good games. It's almost kind of sad that a new game that's unique to itself gets criticized for not being a standard game that people have played before. The goal is fun, and ME 2 was fun. ME 1 was fun as well, however it was buggy and had plenty of broken elements itself trying to be more a "traditional rpg".(example the inventory system) You can't please everybody, but i think they did the best job of balancing shooter and rpg fans in the sequel, to the point where it just becomes a fun game. (minus the mining of course)