Mass Effect 2: Warrior Within

Friends, I am worried about Mass Effect 2. To understand why, we need to take a trip back in time, to the tender year of 2004. 
 

 TOO MUCH UBISOFT
Actually wait we need to stop at 2003 first. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time releases to critical praise and mainstream success off of it's charming storybook atmosphere and tight platforming. A year later, we find ourselves with a sequel, Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. It is... different. Tragically different. The rougish charm of the Prince had been discarded for nausea-inducing baditude, the combat became brutal and almost too gory, and the background music became heavy metal- all as if to say: this game is fucking HARDCORE. Only problem: this was a complete tonal 180 from the previous game. No one liked it, and even though it did well enough to generate a sequel, Warrior Within is credited by many as the game that killed the goodwill built up by Sands of Time.
 
I am worried much the same may be happening with Mass Effect 2.
 
The first game was pretty universally loved. Despite being criminally short and possessing the blandest sidequests in the history of sidequests, the roleplaying was pretty solid and it was clear that Bioware had laid the foundations for a great trilogy. It was a good blend of action shooting and interacting with NPCs. The shooting perhaps left a bit to be desired, but aside from that the game was pretty enjoyable. From the get-go we know this is the first in a trilogy, so obviously there's room for improvement.
 
Enter Mass Effect 2. What we've seen pre-release is quite worrying and seems to indicate the same sort of tonal shift that sunk Warrior Within. The first time live gameplay was shown it was an entirely combat-oriented demo. Bioware showcased the ability to blow off enemy limbs and new, more brutal guns. First warning sign. Blowing off enemy limbs isn't even necessary in a game like Mass Effect- it's gratuitous.
 
Next, plot info starts surfacing- talk of suicide missions, recruiting scum and villains from across the galaxy. At E3, the developers show off
Talk from Bioware of this being a darker game, darker times. Warning sign two. Not that darker tones are necessarily bad- Empire Strikes Back would like a word if you think they do- but the talk, compared with what's been shown so far, again points to a WW-like shift in direction.
 
Most recently, I direct your attention to this trailer.
 
 
 Warning bells should be going off all over the place. I don't think this really needs any explanation.
 
Now, Bioware's marketing department isn't exactly renowned for their accuracy. As I'm sure we all know, Dragon Age is not exactly the new shit. However, it is worrying to see both the developers (in dev diaries and press interviews) and the marketing department (in trailers) sync up to deliver this message of a darker, more bad-ass game. It's terrifying corporate cohesion that I don't think would be happening if there wasn't some underlying truth.
 
I really want to like Mass Effect 2. I want it to deliver so hard. I'm quite worried about what we've seen so far though, as it seems to be heading down the tragic road of Warrior Within. I don't want to play an RPG with a tone like WW, nor do I want that sort of bad-ass attitude to pervade the product, but my hopes are significantly lower now than they were when we knew nothing about the game.
 
Also: Grunt <<<<<<<<< Wrex
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Posted by Lies

Friends, I am worried about Mass Effect 2. To understand why, we need to take a trip back in time, to the tender year of 2004. 
 

 TOO MUCH UBISOFT
Actually wait we need to stop at 2003 first. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time releases to critical praise and mainstream success off of it's charming storybook atmosphere and tight platforming. A year later, we find ourselves with a sequel, Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. It is... different. Tragically different. The rougish charm of the Prince had been discarded for nausea-inducing baditude, the combat became brutal and almost too gory, and the background music became heavy metal- all as if to say: this game is fucking HARDCORE. Only problem: this was a complete tonal 180 from the previous game. No one liked it, and even though it did well enough to generate a sequel, Warrior Within is credited by many as the game that killed the goodwill built up by Sands of Time.
 
I am worried much the same may be happening with Mass Effect 2.
 
The first game was pretty universally loved. Despite being criminally short and possessing the blandest sidequests in the history of sidequests, the roleplaying was pretty solid and it was clear that Bioware had laid the foundations for a great trilogy. It was a good blend of action shooting and interacting with NPCs. The shooting perhaps left a bit to be desired, but aside from that the game was pretty enjoyable. From the get-go we know this is the first in a trilogy, so obviously there's room for improvement.
 
Enter Mass Effect 2. What we've seen pre-release is quite worrying and seems to indicate the same sort of tonal shift that sunk Warrior Within. The first time live gameplay was shown it was an entirely combat-oriented demo. Bioware showcased the ability to blow off enemy limbs and new, more brutal guns. First warning sign. Blowing off enemy limbs isn't even necessary in a game like Mass Effect- it's gratuitous.
 
Next, plot info starts surfacing- talk of suicide missions, recruiting scum and villains from across the galaxy. At E3, the developers show off
Talk from Bioware of this being a darker game, darker times. Warning sign two. Not that darker tones are necessarily bad- Empire Strikes Back would like a word if you think they do- but the talk, compared with what's been shown so far, again points to a WW-like shift in direction.
 
Most recently, I direct your attention to this trailer.
 
 
 Warning bells should be going off all over the place. I don't think this really needs any explanation.
 
Now, Bioware's marketing department isn't exactly renowned for their accuracy. As I'm sure we all know, Dragon Age is not exactly the new shit. However, it is worrying to see both the developers (in dev diaries and press interviews) and the marketing department (in trailers) sync up to deliver this message of a darker, more bad-ass game. It's terrifying corporate cohesion that I don't think would be happening if there wasn't some underlying truth.
 
I really want to like Mass Effect 2. I want it to deliver so hard. I'm quite worried about what we've seen so far though, as it seems to be heading down the tragic road of Warrior Within. I don't want to play an RPG with a tone like WW, nor do I want that sort of bad-ass attitude to pervade the product, but my hopes are significantly lower now than they were when we knew nothing about the game.
 
Also: Grunt <<<<<<<<< Wrex
Posted by vidiot

I agree with your concerns 100%. 
 
Recently I thought that same thing would befell Uncharted 2, only to have my concerns thrown away within the first few minutes. There is a way to make your game "darker", sacrificing written dialog for cursing and claiming that change is more "mature" is not how one does that. If anything has been demonstrated with BioWare's long history, is that they have the story and writing down thanks to talented multiple teams of writers. I have high hopes that they will deliver, although there recent ad campaign to Dragon Age has been nauseating, but that's probably more on EA's doing. 

Posted by Hailinel

Wow.  I actually hadn't seen that Subject Zero trailer before.  Just...wow.  Bioware is trying way, way too hard.

Posted by ImperiousRix

Nice hearkening back to perhaps the darkest period of my PS2 life.  After being the only person I knew to buy and completely and utterly love Sands of Time, I was forced to endure Warrior Within.  As it was essentially the same game with better game mechanics, many questioned why I felt this one inferior.  These people were blind.  I feel like The Two Thrones was a respectable throwback that honored both games, but the damage was done.  Thankfully, at least in tone, I thoroughly enjoyed POP's return on current gen consoles.  
Having said that, I'm not too concerned for the turn Mass Effect 2 has taken.  The pre-existing characters (IE Shepard and... Shepard) seem relatively unchanged and although I do feel like these party member are less likeable, I think a lot of that has to do with having things taken out of context.  I do feel like it undermines their claims of a persisting story when we've yet to see any other old faces, and their assuring they will not be full-time party members, but I'm still willing to give Bioware the benefit of the doubt.

Edited by BaconGames

Making statements about the game's quality before it's been released is well...absurd.
 
You have no idea how well the darker tone will be handled and guess what, using one game that didn't do the tone justice in 2004 is just cherry picking.
 
Bah and humbug to this thread.

Posted by pause422
@Tuffgong said:
" Making statements about the game's quality before it's been released is well...absurd.  You have know idea how well the darker tone will be handled and guess what, using one game that didn't do the tone justice in 2004 is just cherry picking.  Bah and humbug to this thread. "
Its his blog, get over it...hes simply stating it could be the difference from PoP to WW, which if possible, could definitely be rather unfortunate. By the terrible marketing of both DA and ME2 at this point, anyone should be weary or suspicious with how hard they seem to be trying. No matter how much anyone trusts Bioware. I agree 100% Lies.
Posted by Bigandtasty

Yeah, I too am thinking that it might go the same path as Sands of Time did to Warrior Within. The whole hint at "darker" tones had me thinking that early on, although I was thinking more along the lines of Batman Begins -> The Dark Knight until Mass Effect 2 videos started coming out.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

I can see where you are going. However, I don't think that Bioware would fall that far... I hope. That Subject Zero trailer is vomit-inducing for sure, but I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt. After all, that Marilyn Manson trailer almost unsold me on Dragon Age before I saw actual gameplay footage.

Posted by RsistncE

I don't see the problem...mostly because Warrior Within was a great game I feel (I kinda like how the PoP games have covered a lot of the different styles of gameplay within the genre.)

Posted by FunExplosions

That's exactly the connection my mind made when they were talking about the "darker" storyline and characters in interviews. I didn't like Mass Effect for the intense action. I want them to concentrate on improving upon what made a great game great, not trying to beef up what doesn't need to be.
 
Like would you make a Biotic-focused character and then put all your skill points into pistol and shotgun? No. You stick with what makes something great. (Yeah yeah, I know the shotgun kicked ass anyway)
 
Hopefully this is all for the better, though. And the amazing story and atmosphere is still there, just with broader shoulders to rest on.

Posted by wolf_blitzer85

Just remember there will be Mass Effect: Two Thrones then ;). The second part in a trilogy is always supposed to be dark and brooding and we will probably get a crappy cliff hanger at the end. But it will all be good when the third one will be full of redemption and awesomness too. Either way just finishing up my third play through on ME and totally getting pumped for this game. Also agreed Wrex for life yo.

Posted by Delta_Ass

Oh man, you know what I just realized while watching that Subject Zero video again?
 
It's like BioWare watched that Natalie Portman rap video on SNL and loved it so much they decided to stick her into ME2.

Posted by Tru3_Blu3

 Every character for ME2 seems to be some god damn, bullet soaking, pain-loving soldier that carries the persona of a fucking B-move protagonists that only speaks one liners while shooting weaklings in the face with macho-cool guns, while showing off an over exaggerated amount of face paint to express a scarred war life. Let's not forget their sociopolitical reactions toward their kills!
 
You made me realize this, lad. ME2 might disappoint with this pointless change of tone.

Posted by mordukai
@Lies: As I have said a while back. Mass Effect 2 is to the Mass Effect franchise what The Empire Strikes Back was to the original Start Wars trilogy. Seeing how  The Empire Strikes Back was the best one in the series I expect that Mass Effect not only meet everyone's expectation but will surpass them. Mass Effect 2 will deliver. 
Posted by Asurastrike

Bioware has yet to make a bad game. I will give them the benefit of the doubt.

Posted by Atlas

I have faith in BioWare. The first game set a high water mark for believable and entertaining characters, but I'm sure the second will at least match it. BioWare characters always have more going on than meets the eye. Sure, it's a flashy trailer, and perhaps a little grating, but I don't think there's anything to worry about. I love how people let the smallest things completely change their perception of a game. BioWare's marketing department doesn't do a good job of making the games look awesome, but BioWare's development teams have consistently made awesome games for years. There was a thread about Dragon Age talking similar amounts of shit. I just don't get it. You need to look at it like Hollywood trailers. It's pretty easy to make a trailer look awesome, even when the film is shitty. The G.I. Joe trailers were pretty badass, but apparently that film was pretty bammer.
 
The moral of the story - remember the pedigree. If you loved Mass Effect, you'll probably love this one.

Posted by Oni

Christ... I hadn't seen that trailer yet. That is fucking dog-shit awful. "Some are because of, hey.... **** you". Fucking really? That warrants a jumbotron facepalm

Posted by animateria

My thoughts on Subject Zero.
 
Oh, God! Please give me a sacrifice option like in the first game! 
 
Must... kill... her...

Posted by natetodamax

That actually makes sense. The Subject Zero trailer was extremely dumb, but I have faith in Bioware. They can't mess this game up.

Edited by L33tfella_H
@Asurastrike said:

" Bioware has yet to make a bad game. I will give them the benefit of the doubt. "

Sonic Chronicles wasn't that good....(also, Bioware have only ever made 1 sequel to any of their franchises if you wanna get technical, and that's BG)
 
Wrex and Garrus were the only 2 cool characters in ME1 (Kaidan is voiced by Carth Onasi, which is cool as fuck, but as a character in combat, he fights like a cripple) and killing Wrex off was a  terrible move.
 
 
We'll have to wait and see, i don't mind where the story is going in ME2, as long as the gameplay mechanics have been tweaked and the mistakes from the first game are ironed out.
Posted by Asurastrike
@L33tfella_H said:
" @Asurastrike said:

" Bioware has yet to make a bad game. I will give them the benefit of the doubt. "

Sonic Chronicles wasn't that good....(also, Bioware have only ever made 1 sequel to any of their franchises if you wanna get technical, and that's BG)  Wrex and Garrus were the only 2 cool characters in ME1 (Kaidan is voiced by Carth Onasi, which is cool as fuck, but as a character in combat, he fights like a cripple) and killing Wrex off was a  terrible move.   We'll have to wait and see, i don't mind where the story is going in ME2, as long as the gameplay mechanics have been tweaked and the mistakes from the first game are ironed out. "
You realize that Wrex only dies if you let him right? Also, saying Wrex and Garrus are the only cool characters in ME1 is an opinion.
Posted by Griddler

I think Bioware know what they're doing. Let's just give them the benefit of the doubt.
 
Also, I didn't mind Warrior Within, yeah it's the worst of the trilogy but it wasn't terrible.

Posted by EvilTwin

I quite liked Warrior Within.  But yes, everything we've seen of Subject Zero so far makes it seem as though she's an abortion of a character. 

Edited by Venatio

About the spoiler thing, I saw the "thing" getting blown up but I didnt see that person dying, you know who I mean

Posted by AlphaZro

I've seen the subject zero trailer and I don't think it's that bad, after all he says he has recruit the baddest mofos in the galaxy what did you expect? that all the bad guys to be like wrex.....you all seem to forget there were places in ME1 that we never visited so we have no idea how bad they are. Besides going with a dark second act is classic trilogy stuff so I say you should trust in Bioware, besides making snap judgments on what two, three trailers is a little wrong.

Posted by Coleslaw893

I agree with your concerns 100%
 
Mass Effect is one of my favorite games this gen, and of all time really. I would hate to see the series take the gory "hardcore" path and sacrifice good story and character development for bloody violence and sex.
 
But I do have faith in Bioware, we can't judge games or movies by their trailers. (The new Star Trek movie proved that.) So I'm still confident it will still deliver, hard.
 
But that Subject Zero trailer is an epic fail, hopefully she's an optional sacrifice at some point in the story...

Posted by Tenshin

I highly enjoyed Warrior Within, but yes, I agree with you that there is a pattern here, sequels are usually darker. But the way you point to Warrior within and say "see?! Darker/baditude always means bad" isn't really fair, is it? 
 
Halo 2 was all about EARTH UNDER ATTACK, EVERYONE'S DYIN' YO! But not just that! MC is the biggest badass in the universe! The demon! Religion will destroy the universe, not just earth! But... also exploring the relationship between MC and Cortana, all that. That is as dark as it gets and... great game.

Posted by HandsomeDead

Got to say, thanks for this blog. I haven't been paying attention to Bioware properly for some time now and, Christ, Marilyn Manson in a trailer? It's not 2002 anymore. He's even more passe now than he was then. I do think though that overall, Mass Effect 2 won't go the way of Warrior Within because while that was just a complete change in direction from the end of the first game, the end of Mass Effect was chaotic and grim enough to justify the darker tone. Also, with Mass Effect already being a pulpy sci-fi universe, I think (read: hope) that Subject Zero is basically a female Pvt. William Hudson and while she appears to be a badass, any kind of tension makes her more human and less of a bad attempt at making some kind of Schwarzenegger unit.

Posted by L33tfella_H
@Asurastrike said:
" @L33tfella_H said:
" @Asurastrike said:

" Bioware has yet to make a bad game. I will give them the benefit of the doubt. "

Sonic Chronicles wasn't that good....(also, Bioware have only ever made 1 sequel to any of their franchises if you wanna get technical, and that's BG)  Wrex and Garrus were the only 2 cool characters in ME1 (Kaidan is voiced by Carth Onasi, which is cool as fuck, but as a character in combat, he fights like a cripple) and killing Wrex off was a  terrible move.   We'll have to wait and see, i don't mind where the story is going in ME2, as long as the gameplay mechanics have been tweaked and the mistakes from the first game are ironed out. "
Also, saying Wrex and Garrus are the only cool characters in ME1 is an opinion. "
Really? i thought i was forcing my opinion onto you people.
Posted by Brendan

Here's a shocker: I LOVED Warrior Within!!  The flatter story feel was heavily outweighed by the vastly superior combat pacing.  There.  I said it.  Kill me. 
Online
Posted by MasterOfPenguins_Zell
@Coleslaw893 said:
" I agree with your concerns 100%  Mass Effect is one of my favorite games this gen, and of all time really. I would hate to see the series take the gory "hardcore" path and sacrifice good story and character development for bloody violence and sex.  But I do have faith in Bioware, we can't judge games or movies by their trailers. (The new Star Trek movie proved that.) So I'm still confident it will still deliver, hard.  But that Subject Zero trailer is an epic fail, hopefully she's an optional sacrifice at some point in the story... "
Completely agree. When I first saw her, and she, "If you wanted to have sex, you should have just said so," line or w/e she said upon those lines. I pleaded, please let me kill her at some point....
Posted by MattBodega

I think the key is that the original Prince of Persia: Sands of Time was charming. It was....profoundly charming. Like....really, really fun to watce sh and play and hear characters interact. Warrior Within was so dark and grisly that the shift was evident......and clearly a result of marketing and publisher influence, rather than designer ideas.
Mass Effect 2 was always a bit of a dark game, and the choice to go darker doesn't seem like a mandate from EA. It seems like it's Bioware's decision, which means it's their own ideas at play in these trailers.
Granted, the dark tone could still be off putting and lame, but I don't know what EA stands to gain by making Mass Effect darker. This seems like Bioware to me.

Posted by Hailinel
@Mordukai said:
" @Lies: As I have said a while back. Mass Effect 2 is to the Mass Effect franchise what The Empire Strikes Back was to the original Start Wars trilogy. Seeing how  The Empire Strikes Back was the best one in the series I expect that Mass Effect not only meet everyone's expectation but will surpass them. Mass Effect 2 will deliver.  "
Empire Strikes Back wasn't filled with "GRR!!! I'M HARDCORE WATCH ME FUCKING CURSE, MOTHERFUCKER!!!! YEEEEAH!!!!" retardation.
Posted by Driadon

Put it simply: blame the marketing machine on EA. I'm going to give Bioware the benefit of the doubt that they know what they are doing. I mean, come on, Dragon Age's "new shit" was entirely EA going "OMGZ THEY HAS GORE IN DEH GAEM! LETZ MAEK IT HXC!" 
Same could be said about the marketing campaign train wreck that has been Dante's Inferno.

Posted by Lies
@Venatio: I believe it was only mentioned in some of the write-ups, never directly shown.
Posted by Claude

I had my usual love and hate with Sands of Time. If I fail repeatedly, I get bored and quit, but what I played was great. That's my last Prince of Persia experience.
 
Mass Effect felt like a summer blockbuster movie to me or the characters did at least. I thought the game was grand. Dark or not, I look forward to seeing what's in store.

Posted by Damien

I, too, have faith in ME2.  The difference between the Mass Effect franchise and the Sands of Time trilogy is that I feel, ME2 is expanding upon a theme previously found in the original, while PoP totally changed directions.  The original Mass Effect had some pretty dark moments, especially toward the end.  On the other hand, Sands of Time felt almost like a family-friendly film, no blood or gore.  Warrior Within totally changed that image, and it dramatically changed the series.  And have faith in the doctors at Bioware.

Posted by Feser

The plot of the game is you are collecting badasses like treats at a candy store, and Bioware is trying to put a little variety here. In the first demo, they made special mention that the first badass you recruit  (I can't remember his name) is not a psycho killer and actually blabs on about philosophy. I think it might be interesting that they throw this crazy chick into the mix.
Posted by Shiftshaper

I thought you were just being paranoid until I saw that subject zero trailer...All I know now i that I hope I get to kill her as soon as she shows up, so he doesnt break constantly break immersion by spouting her B-movie one-liners "tough chick" routine nonsense on MY intergalactic spaceship damnit! 
 
Still, I think you're overreacting just a bit. We've only seen a fraction of the game so far and Bioware's last title's marketing wasnt exactly representative of the final product either.
Posted by InfiniteGeass

I really do hate the whole 2nd game in a series taking a darker turn and then the 3rd one being about the protagonists redemption. It is so played out.

Posted by hakunin

You know, people who have actually played the game have come out and said that Subject Zero was one of their favorite characters. I hate how everyone is "OH MY GOD, SHE'S THE WORST CHARACTER EVER" based of a one minute clip.

Posted by SirPsychoSexy

This is bioware we are talking about, have a little faith.

Edited by Brendan
Online
Edited by Geno

Technically Shepard is who you want him/her to be, so if you don't want it to be all emo you can just opt for the paragon choices. The first one wasn't exactly all bright and happy anyway with the whole "reapers are going to kill every civilization in the galaxy" story. 

Posted by Red

Mass Effect 2 does look pretty awesome, as well as most of what they've shone. The Project Zero trailer was really the only thing that got me worried with all of its swearing and "chick trying to be cool" and blatant sex appeal.
I really wish BioWare would tone it down a little content-wise. Am I the only one who think that Jade Empire had the best romance sub-plots of the BioWare games? It rode the fine line between creepy and satisfying on a tricycle. 

Posted by Bozo

 Baditude ? Come on. Yeah, maybe it seems a little grittier, but I don't feel that in the context of the game it will be all that bad.
Subject zero.... I actually was surprised. I haven't seen many games portray a woman in this way. It seems kind of original to me.
Am I missing why its so bad that she's bad?

Posted by Rowr

i gotta agree that character looks ridiculous, i can only hope i get an option to backhand her in the game.
 
As far as worrying about limbs being able to be shot off? Thats kind of par for the course for a shooter now days, and it IS a shooter, no matter how terrible the shooting was in the first. Really combat is the only thing im concerned about. I think comparing it to warrior within is a bit much - this is a trailer for just one character, and you know bioware like to switch it up with characters.

Posted by Shiftshaper
@Bozo said:

" Baditude ? Come on. Yeah, maybe it seems a little grittier, but I don't feel that in the context of the game it will be all that bad. Subject zero.... I actually was surprised. I haven't seen many games portray a woman in this way. It seems kind of original to me. Am I missing why its so bad that she's bad? "

Are you kidding me!? There are countless examples of "bad chick" characters and movies and games, they tend to have no deep story, emotion, dreams, or anything. The extent of their chracter is "I'm a bitch and i'm hot." 

 
@hakunin said:

"You know, people who have actually played the game have come out and said that Subject Zero was one of their favorite characters. I hate how everyone is "OH MY GOD, SHE'S THE WORST CHARACTER EVER" based of a one minute clip. "

That trailer was supposed to show what kind of character she is, I think it's reasonable to form an opinion based on that. 
 
Then again, I could be wrong, but that was the impression I got from it.

 
Edited by atomic_dumpling
@Driadon said:

" Put it simply: blame the marketing machine on EA. I'm going to give Bioware the benefit of the doubt that they know what they are doing. I mean, come on, Dragon Age's "new shit" was entirely EA going "OMGZ THEY HAS GORE IN DEH GAEM! LETZ MAEK IT HXC!" Same could be said about the marketing campaign train wreck that has been Dante's Inferno. "

The marketing for DOA was the most misleading ad campaign I've ever seen. Luckily the game was nothing like the pathetic "blood and boning" advertising to sucker in the horny 14 year olds. I expect the same holds true for ME2, meaning the PR is presenting the game as something it is not. I hope it's going to be far more mellow than what they showed so far.
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