Mass Effect 2 Preview
Almost exactly one year after releasing for the Xbox 360 and PC, Mass Effect 2 will finally arrive for the PlayStation 3. But Sony fans shouldn’t be too annoyed at the delay; after all, there was a time when nobody expected the award-winning role-playing franchise to ever hit a PlayStation console. But after EA’s acquisition of BioWare, things have changed; the world’s biggest game publishers simply aren’t interested in exclusivity as it seriously cuts down on the number of potential consumers. We’ve already seen Dragon Age: Origins on the PS3 (and the sequel is due out next year), and Mass Effect 3 has also been confirmed for Sony’s machine; it’ll receive a normal simultaneous multiplatform launch. So now it’s time to take a look at ME2 for two reasons: firstly, it deserves your attention, especially if you’re a sci-fi/RPG fan, and secondly, because it’s less than four weeks away.
Jumping into a heavily story-oriented series like this may be a daunting task for some. But as you may have seen in the news, PS3 owners needn’t worry about being lost when playing this sequel. Sure, you didn’t get the original but BioWare will let you play catch-up with a cool motion comic, which is about 15 minutes in length and tries to initiate new Mass Effect players and introduce them to the in-depth world of drama and intrigue. Of course, 360/PC players had a chance to import a game save from the original title when setting out to play ME2, and PS3 fans won’t have that option. But the comic, produced by Dark Horse and featuring a script penned by ME2 writer Mac Walters, ought to help a great deal in regards to orientation. Basically, it’s a first-person account of the original title; protagonist Shepard talks about where things stand, and what transpired in the franchise’s inaugural adventure. It might prove very, very critical.
Here’s another interesting tidbit about that comic: it has been dubbed a “save game creator” by project director Casey Hudson, because the player will make choices during the telling of the comic that will have a direct impact on the ensuing experience. This tries to mimic the aforementioned save importing 360/PC owners can utilize so in this way, you really shouldn’t feel lost in the dark. As for technical differences between the versions, most will tell you the upcoming PS3 version looks just as good, if not a little better: improved textures thanks to the added storage capacity of Blu-Ray, and the benefit of using the same graphical engine the team is using for ME3. Plus, let’s not forget about the free inclusion of the extra downloadable packs, which immediately expand upon the vast ME2 landscape. We’ll get Lair of the Shadow Broker, Project Overlord, Kasumi: Stolen Memory, the Aegis and Recon Operations packs, and the Blood Dragon Armor. And if you hit up the demo on the PSN, you can get a better idea of what to expect.
So, we get a ton of bonus content, an advanced graphical engine, the pluses afforded by Blu-Ray, and of course, the same awesome title that wowed gamers back in early 2010. The controls have been changed up a little to accommodate Dual Shock 3 users: the shooting/aim-down-sight buttons are R1/L1, and you’ll sort through your skill/weapon wheels with R2/L2. We wouldn’t dare give away anything plot-related and although we’ve said in the past that ME often feels more like a third-person shooter with role-playing elements tacked on, the end result is undeniably appealing for millions. Even though it’s a year later, this sequel still holds a ton of clout and given the lack of RPGs on store shelves this generation, a purchase might be inevitable. You could always wait for our review, though…
12/27/2010 Ben Dutka