Mass Effect 2 – hands-on

Shepard rises from the galactic grave in gaming's biggest space opera

Meet the new guys

Biggest killer since heart disease

Representing and introducing a new race – the Drell – to the Mass Effect canon, Thane is a master assassin – a stealthy, devious sort with a cool retro-robo tenor to his voice. You’ll first meet him as he completes a mission, when your own objective is to prevent the assassination from ever taking place. He’s an intelligent fish-thing, and recognizes that he and Shepard, despite having conflicting objectives, are highly skilled at what they do. And as a gun for hire, he’ll gladly join your squad.

Your new Krogan companion

A significant portion of players will be starting Mass Effect 2 having finishing Mass Effect without Wrex, the toad-faced thug with a heart of a gold. Grunt, another Krogan, will go some way towards replacing Wrex, and what he lacks in thoughtfulness he apparently makes up for in psychopathy. He doesn’t care what he’s doing, as long as he gets to inflict pain and horror on other living creatures, and tooled up in his power armour means he doesn’t have to try too hard to get what he wants.

Mass Effect 2 also introduces Renegade and Paragon actions, dialogue choices that appear fleetingly in conversation to interrupt the other guy mid-sentence. As such you’ll have no time to consider consequences, which is appropriate when these actions are intended to be Shepard’s impulse reaction (guided by his moral compass) to what’s happening around him.

At its least intrusive, Shepard will rudely cut somebody off with a smart-arse remark. In the demo we played, however, Shepard punched somebody through a window in the middle of a sentence. And while it’s hard to think of a similar snap decision being made on the good side of the moral fence (maybe handing over impromptu birthday cakes), it lends a hefty dollop of unpredictability and insanity to Shepard’s chats.

So to recap, Shepard’s not dead. But he probably will be by the time the end credits roll. Our theory is that he’ll re-emerge as a sort of Geth-enhanced Robocop character, maybe without him realising that he’d ever croaked his smokes in the first place. We’re eager to continue the adventure all the same. Alive or dead.

Oct 23, 2009

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