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More Mass Effect 2 Hands-On: Here's Samara!

Another tough lady joins Shepard's squad as BioWare continues to reveal new party members in its next sequel.

After I got to play a good chunk of Mass Effect 2 about a month ago, I was only permitted by the space cops at BioWare to tell you about the first half of the demo I played. Now the curtain has been lifted on the other half, a mission that involved Commander Shepard's recruitment of yet another fresh party member who's new to the series, Samara.

Samara's an Asari, one of the blue, sort of mystical, ladylike beings from the first game. But her demeanor is about 180 degrees from the steady, contemplative cool of your previous Asari squadmate, Liara. Samara is a justicar, a hot-blooded vigilante bent on exacting justice upon the galaxy's lawless scum. She operates within her own questionable but nonetheless specific moral code, which makes her a good fit for the rogues' gallery Shepard appears to be constructing in this sequel. She's also an intensely powerful biotic character, so--while I didn't get to play her, myself--you can probably expect to fling a lot of enemies to and fro with her abilities.

This trailer ought to show you pretty much exactly what Samara is about.

 

  

The brief mission I played had me running after Samara on the Asari homeworld of Illium, where she was herself on the trail of a group of mercenaries whom she was hellbent on bringing to justice. I don't want to give away too much of what was a pretty cool narrative interlude (albeit one that may or may not have much bearing on Mass Effect 2's core storyline), so I'll only say that the investigation into the mercs' operations went deeper than expected into a series of tangled events, and everything was not as it seemed, even with the minor characters involved. There were some tense exchanges of dialogue, a few quick decisions to make... and Samara threw someone out a window. Pretty good stuff.

Afterward I jumped ahead to a pure combat section that had me blasting my way through the mercenary base. Not a lot new to report about the shooting that I didn't cover in my previous story, though I will reiterate that Mass Effect 2 certainly feels more like a third-person shooter than its predecessor did. One new feature I ran into in this merc base was a weapons locker, which BioWare hasn't finalized the design on but which seems like it will act as a sort of weapons vending machine, where you can trade out different types of weaponry mid-mission, rather than rolling around with huge amounts of guns in your bottomless inventory.

As if to drive home the more shooter-focused nature of this sequel, the demo ended in a boss fight with no less than a gunship that was doing strafing runs, firing considerable ordnance on my poorly defended position. A few shots from my trusty grenade launcher--one of the new class of heavy weapons being introduced in Mass Effect 2--was enough to take the craft down, but before I got too cocky, I was informed that the demo had been set to the easiest difficulty setting. So it would seem the designers are focusing on creating some intense, action-oriented boss encounters--which is probably no surprise for anyone who remembers the Benezia fight from the first game.

I think I'm about 50/50 on all these new party members. Certainly some of the new faces--mainly Samara and Thane--are looking cool, and I sincerely hope that Geth character from the enemies trailer becomes a party member at some point. But I would also really like to get some playable time in with old friends like Garrus and Wrex at some point, too. To be fair, BioWare still has five more characters to reveal before the game's January 26 release, so who knows who might pop up between now and then?

How are you feeling about what you've seen of the game so far? I'm cautiously getting optimistic that this is going to turn out to be a better game overall than the last one, though part of me also fears all this change.     

 




Brad Shoemaker on Google+
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Edited by Maxszy
@Crash_Happy said:
" The original was such a massive disappointment that I can't see the sequel being any good. I'm keeping an eye but frankly, meh. "
What? Are you serious? Man, WTF are your standards dude?
 
@Geno said:
" Is this from the 360 version? The graphics look terrible.  "
Are you serious? It looks fucking gorgeous! Honestly, if you think those graphics look terrible, you're ridiculous! :-p

I am kind of with you with the fear of change Brad. I think in the end, it probably will be for the better, but the fact that they seem to have really made it more of a shooter with some RPG elements and dialogue is a little interesting. All the new characters, well, that's kind of to be expected in my book. Though hopefully some favorites really do make a reappearance because after what Shepard went through in the first game, it really doesn't make sense that he would get a completely new party. That just...seems rather ridiculous. Even if he went off missing for awhile, those party members he had with him would have been out in search of him.
Posted by Floppypants

I'm waiting for the preview coverage that brings this full circle and just reveals the ending.

Posted by Death_Unicorn

I wonder...

Posted by Food

who's the bad ass blue lady now, bitch?

Posted by Windex

It looks like she has really bushy eyebrows...
Posted by natetodamax

Boobs

Posted by pepper

I like all the changes. All the characters so far seem pretty cool, even if they all fall into the archetype of "bad guy who follows his own weird set of rules, even though he is a killer."

Posted by giyanks22

Im trying to replay ME 1 now, but I need to beat AC 2. It looks really amazing I have to say. I mean if its half as good story wise as DA:O has been so far, then I'm sold...

Posted by ArbitraryWater

I am still optimistic despite smelling a whiff of baditude from all these new party members. Admittedly Wrex and Garrus were the only real interesting party members from ME1 (as everyone else was either annoying or spineless.), but I still think this could turn out poorly if mishandled.

Posted by Murdouken

The first game was AMAZING, and from what I've seen this one seems good too. I'm worried that they've tried so hard to make it better, that the effort my collapse in on itself and end up far more compelx than it needs to be.

Posted by Venom09

Dude did she just own Liara in the face? Damnit.

Posted by CrystaljDesign
@Jimbo: I feel the same way. At the end of the first game, there was an imminent threat. From everything we have seen so far, that threat is all but a memory now.
Posted by troglodites

I would be more excited for ME2 if I actually like a party of psychopathic killers, instead I'm cautious that EA are going to do the same misleading advertising that they did with Dragon Age....  Only this time I fear all the over the top BS might actually be in the game.  :/

Posted by TheKidNixon

I feel it is my Mass Effect nerd-duty to point out that Thessia is in fact the home world of the asari; Ilium is merely one of their major colonies. *adjusts glasses and sniffles dramatically*

Posted by RVonE
@Shuborno said:
"I'm not sure about all these extreme/angry new party members.  I think I'll stick to the calmer, collected ones like Tali. "

Tali has your back! Say no to the angry edgy characters.
Posted by Bubahula

i haven't been this excited for a game since...ever!!
Posted by rateoforange

I'll say it again: I've never been unsold so quickly on a sequel. Mass Effect is my favorite game of the last 5 years. These characters ring false, and games like this turn on the strength of characters.

Posted by Meteora
@rateoforange said:
" I'll say it again: I've never been unsold so quickly on a sequel. Mass Effect is my favorite game of the last 5 years. These characters ring false, and games like this turn on the strength of characters. "
Chill, there's still five more party slots for us to figure out who's in it and what their biography is.
Posted by luce

Shes kinda pretty for a blue ugly alien chick

Posted by dagas

I'm sure they will be alright. It's always hard to compete with characters you know and love, but just give them a chance and judge them on their own merit and not as replacements. When Persona 4 came out I thought there was no way I could care about Yosuke and Chie as I cared about Junpei and Yukari, but they turned out to be at least as good. 

Posted by Baggykins

We need Sten in here! all conversations with him are like a waterwheel! 
But more seriously, Samara just looks like an angry alien chick..... Not much of a character in her it seems.. just anger

Posted by JackG100

Wrex? Hmm... I disposed of him, and all of the other pesky alien associates, they were dragging my humanitarian force down.

Posted by Sarnecki

I'd hit it.

Posted by Media_Master

Looks cool.

Posted by moelarrycurly

Wish this game was coming out on the PS3.  :(  Looks amazing!

Edited by xyzygy

I love how people are getting worried about characters they know absolutely nothing about. 
 
She looks awesome and this game is going to be my GOTY 2010!

Posted by rateoforange
@Meteora said:
" @rateoforange said:
" I'll say it again: I've never been unsold so quickly on a sequel. Mass Effect is my favorite game of the last 5 years. These characters ring false, and games like this turn on the strength of characters. "
Chill, there's still five more party slots for us to figure out who's in it and what their biography is. "
Yeah, I should chill. It's just a game. Albeit my favorite one in recent memory. Reading about how awesome and savage and edgy their game is going to be has gotten me down. I liked the tone of the first one.
Posted by Bouke

I'm so excited, i can't wait to play this game... I'm thinking about taking a week off just to play ME2 so it better not dissapoint. Oh well, if it does i'll pick up DragonAge! But seriously i want this game to be good. I've played a bit of it at Gamescom and that got me even more excited... good chance this is going to be my GOTY 2010!
Posted by MAN_FLANNEL

Nice tits.

Posted by Tennmuerti

Am I the only one who thinks this is not hot or sexy?
The face is just ugly imho.

Posted by fRAWRst

Oh boy, if they put as much drama, detail, and development as they did in DA, i will be truly be in love with Biowares rpgs.

Posted by McBradders

I love the way every character reveal has pretty much been lowest common demoninator horseshit.
 
Grunt: Likes to kill shit.
 
Edgy Bald Tattoo lady: likes to kill shit
 
Edgy Blue Lady with the ta ta's: Likes to kill shit.
 
Awesome, great work Bioware. I sincerely hope the marketing for this game is to blame and not your shift in focus to attract the MW2 playerbase and people who thought your first game was hella boring.
 
As of this moment -1 sale.

Posted by McBradders
@Swift__ said:
"   Every character announced except Tali has been excessively "badass" and we have no rational, potentially "Paragon" characters to balance that out. I was really eating up all the info on this game, but this last trailer made me think "Oh, please". I guess badass is what sells, especially to a Call of Duty/Gears of War install base. "
I'm so very thrilled I'm not alone in this line of thinking.
Posted by Gamer_152

At this point I'm not entirely sold on the characters but then again I don't think it'd be justified for me to feel too strongly either way about them at this point. The trailers have shown us a little bit of what each character is about but we still basically don't know a whole load about them and even if we did we still wouldn't know how they would come across in the actual game. The rest of the game is sounding great and I'm not going to criticise Bioware for characters we haven't even had a proper look at yet. Given the quality of Bioware's work I'm expectant of great things to come in Mass Effect 2.

Moderator
Posted by bluemanrule

Man!  ME was the first game I ever pre-ordered and I'm pre-ordering the Collector's Edition today from Gamestop so I can make sure to get all the ME2 I can manage.  I can not wait!  Great write-up Brad.
Posted by Schuey19

This game can not come out soon enough for my liking.

Posted by RVonE
@McBradders said:
" @Swift__ said:
"   Every character announced except Tali has been excessively "badass" and we have no rational, potentially "Paragon" characters to balance that out. I was really eating up all the info on this game, but this last trailer made me think "Oh, please". I guess badass is what sells, especially to a Call of Duty/Gears of War install base. "
I'm so very thrilled I'm not alone in this line of thinking. "

Don't forget about the part where in the future technology devolves. Remember how in ME1 the codex explained how reloading is no longer an issue? Yeah, it turns out that it looks cooler to have people reload their weapons because that's what you do in Gears, right?
Posted by McBradders
@RVonE said:
" @McBradders said:
" @Swift__ said:
"   Every character announced except Tali has been excessively "badass" and we have no rational, potentially "Paragon" characters to balance that out. I was really eating up all the info on this game, but this last trailer made me think "Oh, please". I guess badass is what sells, especially to a Call of Duty/Gears of War install base. "
I'm so very thrilled I'm not alone in this line of thinking. "
Don't forget about the part where in the future technology devolves. Remember how in ME1 the codex explained how reloading is no longer an issue? Yeah, it turns out that it looks cooler to have people reload their weapons because that's what you do in Gears, right? "
In principle I'm okay with them tweaking the gameplay as a means to bring in "that audience" because, hey, I like those games too, right? And let's be brutally honest here, ME didn't have the worlds greatest shooting mechanics. The things that got me through that game were the fantastically realised characters and the story they were placed in. I'll happily eat Crow if this is simply marketing trying to sell to dudes who would otherwise skip it and there are more nuanced and interesting characters, but from what I've seen so far it seems like they've potentially lost sight of the things that really made ME such a beloved game.
Posted by Bludgeon

looking nice. getting this for PC.

Posted by RVonE
@McBradders:
Yeah, you're right. I'm just trying to find each and every thing about that game that I can rant about because I don't like the writing on the wall for this game (though I mostly limit myself to posting about it on the Bioware forums). I totally agree with you that it seems like they've lost sight of the things that made ME great (though not without fault, of course). So, yeah if the reloading helps to get more people on board that seems fine. It's just hard for me to get over how this is totally inconsistent with the established fiction.
Edited by Donos
@RVonE:  It's plenty easy for Bioware to fit reloading into the fiction. Heres my idea: The ammo counter is not an ammo counter, its a coolant tracker. When you reload, your manually changing the coolant. Thats why Shephard reloads by pressing a button, and some stuff flies out a vent on the side of the gun. Why would guns be switched to manual cooling instead of constant cooling? Because it allows for longer bursts of fire, and a reload is faster than an overheat.
 
As for the trailer, I'm also guessing/hoping that they're only showing the violent characters because that markets better. To be fair, it's hard to make a trailer about people standing around and talking.
Posted by RVonE
@Donos:
I can see that... Yeah, maybe I can get used to it if it's like that. 
So would that also mean that late game you can have a gun that doesn't need to vent? You know, because my high level gun in ME1 never overheated.
Posted by McBradders
@Donos said:
" @RVonE:  It's plenty easy for Bioware to fit reloading into the fiction. Heres my idea: The ammo counter is not an ammo counter, its a coolant tracker. When you reload, your manually changing the coolant. Thats why Shephard reloads by pressing a button, and some stuff flies out a vent on the side of the gun. Why would guns be switched to manual cooling instead of constant cooling? Because it allows for longer bursts of fire, and a reload is faster than an overheat.  As for the trailer, I'm also guessing/hoping that they're only showing the violent characters because that markets better. To be fair, it's hard to make a trailer about people standing around and talking. "
I thought the "reload" -was- an instant cooldown mechanic and not genuine reloading. Wasn't that mentioned in a Bombcast by Brad?
Posted by Juicy

Her cleavage will definitely find a place on my team.

Posted by MackGyver

She's not as pretty as Liara but I guess she will do.

Posted by Jedted

It occurs to me that the characters Jacob or Miranda(who saw in the some of the earlier trailers) aren't on the character roster at the beginning of this video.  Perhaps they're only temporary squad mates in the game. 
 
I'm pretty optimistic about ME2 but the thing that unsettles me is that characters like Ashley, Liara, or Wrex will pushed to much more minor roles than the first game.  Ashley was my romance choice and i'd be a serious downer if they didn't follow up on that at all. 
Posted by queenulhu

DO WANT.

Posted by chicNstu

Game of the year no doubt in my mind. Would have be Game of the year had it made it's way out this holiday. Cannot wait, Bioware you rock!

Posted by skallagrim

The only thing that wold make me hesitate to buy this is if there is no wrex
 
also

@Tennmuerti:
yes you are the only one

Posted by Bueal

damn it.. i need this game now. cant wait any longer

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