by Christopher Park
previewed on X360
To combat such a problem, BioWare has done the only thing they can do – actually make it good, because the only direction they could go was up due to how abysmal the space exploration was. First improvement to note is the usage of a fuel system. You can’t just fly and warp around everywhere willy nilly, there are decisions to be made and navigational choices to be determined due to fuel being a limited resource. Once you find a planet you want to land on, you can scan and scope it out, looking for resources and points of interest. This brings us to the second improvement: the planets themselves. From what has been shown, there seems to have been a lot of work gone into planets you can land on. They look unique and possibly hand-crafted. It is just another aspect of Mass Effect 2 that looks leagues better than what was in the original.
The third problem was the original’s combat. It seemed indecisive; it was stuck between RPG and pure shooter, resulting in awkward pauses in the game’s combat, because you had to pick and choose specific combat abilities through the use of the game’s radial menu. This was mostly resolved in the PC version, which revamped the game’s UI, but improvements aside, the shooting aspect of it was solid and competent, but never truly excelling. Mass Effect 2 looks like it has much more of a kinetic punch to it. There is a lot more of a physics drive; enemies will respond to bullets much more painfully, individual body parts can be shot off and it’s generally more bombastic and visceral.
As much as this preview largely consists of pointing out flaws from the original and how Mass Effect 2 will solve them, there were many things Mass Effect always did well. The graphics, for instance, were gorgeous. Despite the technical issues prevalent in the Xbox 360 version, it was a beautiful game, fully realizing the dense fiction it established. Mass Effect 2 improves on what was already great by being even prettier all the while minimizing all the framerate hiccups, texture pop-in issues and awkward elevator loads that existed in the original. The same goes for the cinematic camera, which looked great in Mass Effect’s dialogue sequences, but will look better in Mass Effect 2 by being much more dynamic in its cinematography.
Mass Effect was a great game, despite its problems. So, imagine a game that looks like it, but is way better. There is a lot to look forward to with Mass Effect 2 and hopefully BioWare will make good on its promises and claims, because everything that’s been shown looks too good to be gone to waste.