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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.     

 




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Posted by dr3day

Seems like Sheppard's new team is much rougher around the edges. Samara is a direct contrast of Liana, the companion Asari in the first game. I love it.

Posted by natural_deadhead

She looks bad ass.
Posted by AnEternalEnigma

Alien titties.

Posted by Nogert

Kaboooooobage

Posted by TheKidNixon
@McBradders said:
" I thought the "reload" -was- an instant cooldown mechanic and not genuine reloading. Wasn't that mentioned in a Bombcast by Brad? "
Yes. What looks like a reload is actually a functionality of the gun that you can instantly cool it back down to its normal stasis quickly so that it doesn't overheat. Your ammunition is still unlimited (outside explosive, of course,) you just now don't necessarily have to wait ten seconds for your gun to cool down every time you have an extended blast of power. Granted, that makes abilities like Overkill more or less pointless now outside of shooting accuracy, but hey, yay for weapon innovation.
Posted by IMTHEONEKILLINU

I hope that I get to bang this one. 

Posted by Dan_CiTi

I'd let to get my hands on Samara if you know what I mean.

Posted by Chandu

This game is looking absolutely amazing.

Posted by Pibo47

O.M.F.G. I cannot wait for this fucking game.

Posted by UTBTSC

This has to be my most wanted game of all time.  It looks so  good even though I'm trying not to read so much about it , I want everything to be a surprise.  Oh and uh does anyone know the official North American cover art for the $59.99 version?

Posted by ahoodedfigure

From my bystander perspective, all the changes are uniformly good, especially if the world exploration is more detailed and interesting.  My gripe has to do with the fundamental way dialog works, that you can just force your intimidation or charm through like a weapon, knocking everything down.  Hope that there will be cases when those are actually bad choices.