Tim McDonald catches up with Adrien Cho, lead technical artist on Mass Effect 2, and the legendary Dr. Ray Muzkya, CEO and co-founder of BioWare, to find out what’s new with Mass Effect 2. Click the image below to watch the interview for yourself, or read on for a full transcript.Dr. Ray Muzyka: I think the combat is going to be very satisfying to players. It’s going to pull a lot of fans in that might not otherwise have considered playing an RPG in the past.Adrien Cho: We’re going to lean more towards the shooter side. You’re going to find that the gameplay aspect of it leans more towards some of the top shooting games out there. It’s really accessible for players to get into. We want to open up the audience quite a bit to those who might not have tried out an action-RPG before. I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised at how fun it is, and at the same time, maybe how deep the game really is.RM: The shooter combat is one aspect, and as much as anything, Mass Effect 2 is a shooter as much as it is a role-playing game. We’ve amped up the intensity of a lot of the role-playing elements too – the exploration, and progression, and the characterisation and story and so on – but the shooter combat is really awesome. It’s intense, it’s very precise, you get to target enemies, you get to place your squad on the battlefield, you can control moment to moment what they do; the Tech and Biotic abilities, there are some interesting emergent effects and combinations of powers, the weapons have been amped up so you get to mod them and improve them and research new abilities…AC: The weapons, how you take down your enemies, techniques of how to approach enemies… we’ve introduced all kinds of different techniques. Some of the enemies you can cause part-based damage, so if you target their head you can inflict a little bit more damage. A lot of times it comes down to the usability, so it’s a lot easier to do things. There’s a cover system. It’s really easy to fire off a few rounds. It just feels good when you get the controller in your hand and start exploring the world. First and foremost we always deliver really good story-driven games, and I think that’s something that we realised is a strength of ours, and we also looked at the areas we really wanted to improve upon. Making the shooting aspect a lot more robust was a really good goal for us.RM: We know the shape of the story arc, of the trilogy, and we listened to fan feedback as you said, a lot, in the course of development of Mass Effect 2. We had a list of things that we wanted to improve and add to the content in Mass Effect 2, and pretty much across the board we implemented all of those things. So we’re not losing anything in the translation of the cinematic scope or the emotional engagement, or the characterisation, or the choice, or the way dialogue works; things like that, that people really love from the first game. But what we are doing is amping the intensity shooter combat up, and improving a range of technical improvements across the board – locked and loaded frame rate at 30 frames a second, and really smooth texture loading, and fast loading times, things like that – and also integration of some of the uncharted worlds more closely in with the main story arc.AC: We’ve been saying that it’s kind of like the dark second chapter of the trilogy. There’s a lot more mature themes. You’re on a very serious mission. You’re out to stop the Collectors, this new enemy. You don’t know much about them so throughout the game you kinda find out who they are, what their motives are, and you basically start assembling a squad to go on a suicide mission. You kinda know that you might not make it through, but what’s important is that you meet the mission objectives. So it’s a very interesting plot point. How you acquire your squadmates actually has a huge impact on how the game unfolds – it’ll be really rewarding for all players as they choose how to play the game, and they will get a very different gameplay experience each time they play through it.RM: This is as much a shooter as it is a role-playing game. But we’ve also really amped up the intensity of the RPG experience. You get to take control, moment to moment, of some of the decision trees and dialogue, the characterisation, the emotional depth of the characters – they’re just a lot more credible, they feel a lot more alive. The uncharted worlds, the fidelity’s been amped up and so has the integration of those uncharted worlds with the main story arc, so they’re gonna have more of an impact on how the story progresses – even changing the end of the game depending on what optional content you do.AC: I think people will be really, really surprised when they import their character from Mass 1, and find out how much of an impact on that game universe they had due to the choices they made from the first game, and seeing it unfold in their playing experience in Mass Effect 2. The choices that you make will have interesting outcomes for the characters that you’re going to come across in Mass Effect 2.Tim McDonald: The big villains in Mass Effect 1 were the Reapers. Are the Reapers very much the antagonists of the entire series?AC: The Reapers will still play a very important role in Mass Effect 2. The Collectors are the new enemy that kinda pop up – but how the two relate to each other remains to be seen. You’ll have to play the game to find out!RM: We haven’t even technically announced Mass Effect 3 yet – but we’ve said it’s part of a trilogy, so naturally you’d expect a follow-on product after Mass Effect 2. And there will be, but we haven’t announced any details on what, or when, or any of that.
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.