Mass Effect 2 PC Games and Downloads
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Released on 29/01/2010
Two years after Commander Shepard repelled invading Reapers bent on the destruction of organic life, a mysterious new enemy has emerged. On the fringes of known space, something is silently abducting entire human colonies. Now Shepard must work with Cerberus, a ruthless organization devoted to human survival at any cost, to stop the most terrifying threat mankind has ever faced.
To even attempt this perilous mission, Shepard must assemble the galaxy’s most elite team and command the most powerful ship ever built. Even then, they say it would be suicide. Commander Shepard intends to prove them wrong.
Mankind’s Future is At Stake
- From the makers of Star Wars®: Knights of the Old Republic™, Dragon Age: Origins™, and Mass Effect™ comes the dark second instalment in the thrilling Mass Effect Trilogy!
- Command a unique team of amazing characters on a perilous mission in the most dangerous regions of space.
- Players of the first Mass Effect can import save games to continue the story of their own Commander Shepard. New players will find a thrilling stand-alone adventure awaits them, a polished and action packed journey that surpasses the first game in nearly every possible way.
Intense Third Person Combat
- Take cover, command an elite squad with ease, utilize 19 weapon classes including heavy weapons, and unleash deadly powers against your foes with an all new and improved combat system.
- Increased intensity with precision shooter controls to let you control the action and overcome insurmountable odds.
- Featuring a new location based damage system: target key weak points, and blast off limbs, ignite enemies, or cripple and disable enemy troops.
An Entire Galaxy to Explore
- Travel the distant and deadly reaches of space to assemble your team for the mission at hand. A cast of amazing characters await discovery on a variety of dangerous, visually stunning worlds.
- Survey unique planets and embark on side missions to uncover more secrets in the Mass Effect universe.
Robust Character Customisation
- Choose a player class, customize your appearance, and tailor your own abilities and strengths. As you progress, so do Shepard’s abilities.
- Control the conversation. Improved conversation system where you can take matters into your own hands – often with the liberal application of force.
Here’s what the press say:
“A Masterclass in Game Design” - Games TM: 10/10
“The seemingly impossible has been achieved” - 360 Gamer: 9/10
Mass Effect 2 is simply awe-inspiring - X360: 10/10
The first Mass Effect was a very good sci-fi action RPG that began to border on greatness as it reached its climax, but was let down by a rather plodding start, some niggling inventory issues, wonky vehicle sections and a duck-and-cover combat engine which couldn't quite escape its stat-churning roots.
I for one quite enjoyed it, but only after bumping the difficulty right down; ignoring the unintuitive squad commands in favour of walking right up to enemies and making my highly-powered Vanguard character shotgun them in the face.
Mass Effect 2 is a very different beast. Doing away with pretty much all of the negatives and telling a much darker middle chapter to the trilogy, this is the highly-tuned, lavishly polished shooter RPG hybrid that the first game promised to be, and a title even non-RPG fans should look at recruiting for their collection.
Not that RPG fans should feel left out. If like me you lost yourself in Dragon Age: Origins, you'll be right back at home here. Mass Effect 2 is every bit the classic BioWare game, complete with dialogue trees (now with options for mid-convo interrupts), moral choices (now with much more compelling consequences), complex party characters with deep back stories (now with a Dragon Age loyalty system), and a wealth of different ways to play depending on the class of character you punt for in the game's opening act.
If you ARE an original Mass Effect player though, you'll be most looking forward to continuing the story using your original iteration of Commander Shepard; carrying over your moral choices, as well as any credits you had left at its finale. Handily, you can redefine your ME1 character's class at the outset here; encouraging you to explore a different way of playing the game (thank God - my shotgun-only routine was getting old), and enabling you to take advantage of the far superior shooter setup.
Channelling Gears of War via Ghost Recon, Mass Effect 2 can lay claim to the most satisfying real-time combat engine yet seen in an RPG. The big improvements from its forebear are the new snap-to-cover button, and the simplification of squad commands which see you direct partner one with the left d-pad button, and partner two with the d-pad right. Coupled with the returning power wheel, which pauses combat to let you set attacks, improved damage-mapping across different body parts, and Halo-style regenerating health, and you've a system which is intuitive, sophisticated, and highly adaptable.
Trimmed and binned
That's backed up by a vastly streamlined inventory system, which sees you upgrading your basic weapons and armour in your ship's lab and simply assigning them to your three-man (or woman, or androgynous alien) team at the start of each story mission. Medi gel also makes a return (now used to revive fallen squadmates) and different types of ammo will come in handy, but both are accessed from the power wheel during combat.
But that's it, as far as items go. No searching out rare armours, concocting salves or working out what to buy, sell and dump. It's a brave move that makes Mass Effect much more approachable for RPG newcomers, but might leave diehards who enjoyed the inventory-balancing metagame a little bit miffed.
The big effect on the story is that you spend more time playing missions, and less time hopping around menus. This can only be a good thing. There are pages of Codexes to read (or listen to), but unlike Dragon Age they only support the story with race background, rather than cataloguing your actions and telling the plot directly.
BioWare knows that many players will care more about shooting aliens, recruiting characters and being an interstellar hero or badass than reading up on The First Contact War or the Krogan Genophage, and it's for that reason they've spent the most time making worlds which are utterly believable, characters who enrich the experience, and missions that will live long in the memory.
Like the inventory system, the storytelling has had all of the flab trimmed and binned. The intro is fast, explosive and dramatic; the main structure is outlined within an hour, and you're soon out amongst the stars in the bigger and better mark-2 Normandy, recruiting party characters and tangenting off into sidequests with far more gravitas than the first game's flimsy extra-curricular activities.
The RPG, evolved
Gone is the Mako's woeful driving, too. And the numerous barren planets you explored on it. In come on-foot exploration and planet scanning to replace them. The former means lots of enjoyable hacking minigames. The latter is a minigame in itself. Either way the upshot will be more resources and credits for upgrading your ammo, equipment, and the Normandy itself. It's all just another example of the way BioWare has distilled the RPG to its basic essence, while preserving a deep level of customisation and achievement at its core.
All of which we reckon will take you over 30 hours to polish off, taking time to immerse yourself fully in BioWare's bleak, fragmented galaxy; enjoying the shooter-infused RPG story alongside a healthy wedge of sidequests; seeking out the resources to enhance your squad and ship; picking your words carefully to get Paragon or Renegade points; and scouring the Codex to get a good feel for the political machinations underpinning it all.
And you won't mind devoting that much time in the slightest, since it looks jaw-dropping, sounds every bit as good as you'd expect from a triple-A orchestral-scored EA game, and boasts the added benefit that your every choice will form the basis for the final chapter in Mass Effect 3.
Where its forebear bordered on greatness, Mass Effect 2 reaches that benchmark early and then goes a galaxy beyond.
+ A supreme shooter-RPG hybrid for fans of both genres.
+ Effortlessly streamlines the RPG genre without removing its core components of customisation, choice and consequence.
+ An epic 30+ hour galaxy-hopping story with real replay value.
- RPG purists may miss the inventory management.
- If you really, really hate cutscenes and dialogue trees, this might not be for you.
- Download the DLC and you'll need to be connected to Xbox Live to load the singleplayer mode.
BioWare teases new game - but what is it?
RPG kings BioWare are clearly a busy lot. After all, we know the developer's already hard at work on Dragon Age II, Star Wars: The Old Republic and - presumably - Mass Effect 3. Now, however, the developer appears to be teasing an entirely new game.
EA, the developer's owner, released a screenshot and a video of the team's next game yesterday. It's a fleeting glimpse, but the clip clearly shows a soldier of some kind taking aim through some manner of rifle in what appears to be a modern day battlefield.
Guess what? The internet's gone crazy with speculation, with the chief suspects being a Mass Effect-flavoured prequel or a sequel to Shattered Steel, a stompy robot game the developer made back in the mid-1990s. Given the modern-day setting, at least we can rule out Dragon Age.
What do you think? An old franchise getting a revival? Mass Effect getting some kind of flashback teaser? One of EA's other properties - like Crysis, perhaps - heading down an RPG route? Or is it something else entirely?
We've got no idea, but apparently all will be revealed at the VGAs next month.
One of the most acclaimed role-playing titles of all time is finally making the jump to PlayStation 3 with the January 2011 launch of Mass Effect 2.
The title was released on Xbox 360 and PC in January 2010 and received a host of perfect review scores from various publications, becoming the highest-rated title in developer BioWare's history.
Mass Effect 2 follows the adventures of Commander Shepard, a heroic starship captain who is forced to work with a shady organisation to investigate the mysterious disappearance of humans across the galaxy.
As players explore the vast game universe, they will take part in violent shootouts, visit strange new worlds and recruit a team of some of the galaxy's most skilled operatives, getting to know each of their quirks and individual histories along the way.
The PlayStation 3 edition of the game will include all the content seen in the Xbox 360 and PC versions, as well as hours of bonus content to help introduce players to the rich Mass Effect world.
It will also help to whet the appetite for Mass Effect 3, the epic conclusion to the trilogy which is currently in the works at BioWare.
Video Games Awards reveal games, games, and more games
This weekend saw the Video Game Awards rock the US of A, and while there were prizes, speeches, and parties, there were also announcements of new games. Lots of them. Here are the biggies.
Mass Effect 3 is on the way from BioWare. The sci-fi sequel will see Commander Shepherd protecting the Earth from alien invasion, and will be hitting the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 somewhere around Christmas 2011. We love the first two games, so we're excited.
Sticking with RPGs, Bethesda's unveiled Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the sequel to sword and sorcery classic Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. It's coming out in November, 2011, but we've got no firm word on which platforms it's going to land on just yet, or what kind of epic fantasy story it's going to tell.
Hellboy director Guillermo Del Toro's working on a game for THQ called inSane. Aside from the fact that it's out in 2013, that's literally all we know about it from the reveal.
Prototype 2 is on the way from Radical and Activision. The sequel to the superhero open-worlder features an interesting twist: rather than pick up the story of wall-crawling mutant Alex Mercer once more, you're cast as the man who has to bring him down. No platforms have been revealed, but the game's on the way in 2012.
Finally, we knew it was in development, but now we also know Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception will be hitting PS3s in America on 1st November, 2011. Whether Europe gets it the same day we don't yet know, but it's nice to know roughly when to expect it.
But it wasn't only action and role-playing fans who have things to look forward to following this weekend's Video Games Awards in the US. Sports gamers are getting a few treats, too, with new instalments for the SSX and Forza series being announced.
SSX: Deadly Descents reinvents the classic snowboarding game for the current console generation, although no formats - or dates were revealed.
According to the publisher, EA, players will explore the story of a team who seek to be the first to descend the faces of the most treacherous mountain ranges on the planet. The team will travel the world to face the worst that Mother Nature can throw at them. From the peaks of the Himalayas, where the air is so thin that riders have to descend through the death zone at breakneck speeds to keep from blacking out, to the solid ice ranges of Antarctica, where a sunlit line is the only survival option when temperatures drop 50 degrees centigrade in the shade.
Sounds great. If you're a driving fanatic, though, you'll be excited to hear about Forza 4. The latest game in Microsoft's simulation racing series will be revving up on the Xbox 360 in the second half of next year, and although details are scarce, you can expect some kind of tie-in with Top Gear, apparently, and some Kinect integration to boot.
It's more good news for Assassin's Creed fans after yesterday's revelation of a May announcement of the next game in the popular franchise. BAFTA has released its list of nominations for this year's videogame awards, and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood has received the most nods of any game, featuring in a total of seven categories.
It seems the members of the BAFTA panel were big fans of Ezio's latest adventure, as it scooped nominations for Action, Artistic Achievement, Gameplay, Multiplayer, Technical Innovation, Use of Audio, and the biggie: Best Game.
In the latter category, Ubisoft's game faces some stiff competition from FIFA 11, Heavy Rain, LIMBO, Mass Effect 2 and Super Mario Galaxy 2. Call of Duty: Black Ops missed out in that category, but was nominated in six others. Mass Effect 2 also had six nods in total, with Sony's gritty thriller Heavy Rain picking up five, while Super Mario Galaxy 2 and indie darling LIMBO both got four. Surprisingly, Halo: Reach only featured in two categories: Multiplayer and Technical Innovation.
Meanwhile, the mass-market success of Microsoft's Kinect ensured a strong showing in the the Family category, with nods for Dance Central, Kinect Adventures, Kinect Sports and Kinectimals. Flying the flag for more traditional control are LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 and the terrific Toy Story 3.
The winners will be announced at a ceremony on March 16, which will be streamed live on the BAFTA website.
Are you fighting fit? You'd better be because this week it's all about combat at Game. And we're not talking about a small schoolyard scrap, but massive all-out battles with hundreds of warriors online simultaneously; immersive science-fiction firefights in dingy deep-space cantinas; and legendary beat-'em-up battlers lining up against each other. Pull your gloves on, it's clobberin' time/p>
Mass Effect 2 is the sequel to the critically-acclaimed, chart-busting and award-winning action/role-playing science fiction epic original, Mass Effect. Once more, Commander Shepherd must assemble an elite squad prepared to take on a near-suicidal mission to save humanity and its space colonies.
Mass Effect 2 is a serious improvement on the already outstanding original, boasting faster and more fluid firefights and squad controls; huge new areas of space to explore, unravelling a new and terrifying plot; sharper and more serious choices that will mould the game to the way you play.
Combat doesn't get bigger than in MAG. It stands for "Massive Action Game". And with up to 256 online soldiers fighting it out on one battlefield simultaneously, MAG does exactly what it says on the tin.
MAG is a first-person shooter that delivers larger, more action-packed battles: bigger maps, more vehicles, faster action. Airdrop into battle, grab a vehicle, find your squad and get ready for the fight of your life.
And in MAG, the harder and more often you fight, the better you get: combat experience translates to promotions. Command eight man squads, 32 player platoons and even an entire 128-person army.
In Tatsunoko Vs Capcom Ultimate All Stars, the ultimate fighting contest crashes onto the Nintendo Wii. Ultimate All Stars brings the ultimate beat 'em up legends to an arena with the ultimate in user-friendly fight controls for novices and the ultimate in skill, strategy and depth for hardcore brawlers.
Four button controls are simple for fight novices to get to grips with, but for advanced masters, Aerial Rave air attacks, Baroque extended combos and Mega Crash defensive moves are designed to bring the pain.
Tatsunoko Vs Capcom Ultimate All Stars features a line-up of over 20 legendary fighters with Capcom series legends from Street Fighter and more facing off against fighters from Tatsunoko's popular Japanese anime series.
Last night, the videogaming community got together for the BAFTAs. It was a typically glitzy event, filled with red carpets and tearful speeches and hosted by Dara O'Briain, and Mass Effect 2 was the night's big winner.
BioWare's brilliant sci-fi sequel netted the Best Game award, while Quantic Dream's PlayStation 3 exclusive adventure game Heavy Rain won big with prizes for Technical Innovation, Original Music, and Story. No arguing there.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood won Best Action Game, while Super Mario Galaxy 2 won Best Gameplay, and elsewhere there were awards for Civilization 5, which won best Strategy title, God of War 3, which picked up the gong for Artistic Achievement, and F1 2010, which won best Sport game.
We're not done! Best Family Game went to Kinect Sports, Bad Company 2 picked up an award for its audio, while Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit won the best Multiplayer prize - too right, we can't stop playing it.
All in all, a great night for videogames, and a great night for gamers everywhere. It's been a brilliant year for quality titles, and the best news of all is that this year promises to be even better!
Mass Effect 3 isn even out yet, and publisher BioWare is already discussing the future of the space-RPG series. Mass Effect 4 would be the obvious next step, but the Canada-based publisher is thinking along different lines. A Mass Effect MMO, then? Director Casey Hudson suggests that such an idea "makes sense"
"We've been trying to think of a way that makes sense for people to experience Mass Effect with their friends,"said Hudson, speaking to US magazine Game Informer. "We haven't yet come up with a way to do that, so we don't have anything to announce at this time. But obviously multiplayer is something we want to do more of in the future."
Mass Effect 3 won't have a multiplayer component, so Hudson suggests that might emerge in the form of an MMO. "A lot of people say that they want to see an MMO that kind of makes sense for this universe," he teased.
"Part of what you're trying to do is save the universe so you can live in it. That's part of the promise for any great IP. It has to be a world worth saving. Mass Effect has that quality to it.
"If you get rid of the Reapers and win that," he added, "wouldn't it be amazing to just live on the Citadel or just take a ship to Omega? That makes sense."
That rather a lot of sense-making, which perhaps suggests this is more than just a possibility we wouldn't be surprised to learn that this was well past the concept stage. In the meantime, sci-fi fans have just a little over six months to wait for Mass Effect 3, which is due to land on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC sometime around November.
Epic intergalactic role-playing game Mass Effect 2 earned an airlock full of awards and plaudits, but that doesn't mean developer Bioware is resting on its laurels for the explosive final chapter of its trilogy. Taking on board fan criticism of the limited options for customising weapons and equipment for your squad, they're bringing back full weapon modification.
Rather than tinkering around in menus, you'll now be able to strip down your chosen weapon and add scopes, barrels and different ammo magazines during live gameplay, with the gun in question laid out in front of you. This will also be reflected in the game's internal economy, with more shops buying, selling and trading parts to customise Shepard and the rest of the team.
t's real and visceralexplained producer Casey Hudson in an interview with RipTen. ou literally see your weapon laying there on a bench, in more detail than you'd otherwise be able to see. Then you can just plug in these mods that you're finding./p>
With the narrative scope of Mass Effect 2 and a more in-depth RPG structure, Mass Effect 3 is shaping up to be the first big blockbuster of 2012, which is when it finally touches down for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
At Gamescom 2011 we were lucky enough to get time alone with Ray Muzyka, co-founder and CEO of BioWare. With an impressive array of big-hitters to his name and the upcoming Mass Effect 3 demoing at Gamescom, there was a lot to get our teeth into.
[GAME] It's great to get the chance to talk to you! BioWare seems to be one of those companies that really gets people passionate.
[Ray Muzyka] Yeah, yeah, we have great fans. And there are a lot of core fans who buy everything we make.
So, in the industry at the moment all the RPG developers are saying they're building a deeper, richer gaming experience. As you're considered one of the leaders in the RPG field, what does that mean to you? How do you build a deep, rich experience?
Well, looking at individual games like Mass Effect 3, we got great reception for Mass Effect 2 but we also got feedback that people wanted a deeper experience in some of the aspects of RPG progression and character development. So when you see the build, you'll see that we've taken that apart and we've tried to integrate it into an RPG-action experience. It's very visceral and intense, but you can also do a lot of things that the fans have been asking for, like weapon modifications on the fly. We have a weapons bench and you can put your weapon down and make modifications to really personalise it and make it your own. And it works really well, it gives a sort of in-the-field kind of perspective.
We've also got some innovations around the way the characters progress. New abilities, and just a more refined system that we've learnt from doing Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2. You can see that there are more interesting, more engaging ways to push your character in Mass Effect 3. The best thing you can do is check it out, then you can see for yourself.
At the same time it's also got an integrated action experience, so it's an RPG and an action game at the same time. There are better movement controls for Shephard and he has the Omni Blade that kind of extends out of the Omni Tool, and he can jump over obstacles now and vault things, and he can grab enemies now and pull them over, and there are some specialisations.
Everyone's talking about Atlas, the giant machine that you can snipe the pilot and get in.
Yeah you can get in it! We're not trialling that here yet, but yeah, you'll be able to drive it.
What are you most proud of in Mass Effect 3?
Well, I think it's more intense in the actual moment-to-moment experience but we haven't lost any depth at the same time, and I think we really nailed the aspects of that. We're in the third iteration now and we're really comfortable with the tools. The team has been able to get to some things that they really wanted to do in the first one and the second one that we now know how to do. You know, we have some things we haven announced yet.
I was going to be cheeky and ask you what they were, but you wouldn't tell me, would you?!
No, no! But they're really good. They're really big things. They're to do with the campaign. They're in line with the experience that we're showing here today, so they're not separate parts.
In the presentations on Mass Effect 3 that I've been to they've been talking about the emotional side of the game.
I think that's been key to all of our games, emotional engagement. Mass Effect exemplifies that as well. The intensity of the experience, the personalisation of your actions and how you're going to play your equipment and your character in the deep RPG system.
And then the story is unusually powerful. It's not the Reapers invading some planet in the galaxy somewhere - now they're invading your home, invading Earth, and they're taking other worlds too. You're still saving the galaxy, but really you're saving your home AND the galaxy, so it a lot more personal. The story arc is very compelling and emotionally engaging.
It's the end of a trilogy, so it brings the whole story to a satisfying conclusion but at the same time it's the beginning of a new galactic adventure, a new galactic war. So it's kind of launching both things.
Of all your portfolio of games, which was the most challenging in terms of dev work?
They're big games. We have small games, too. We have social games, but then at the other end of the spectrum we have big MMOs like Star Wars: The Old Republic, which has an amazing amount of rich content that people will be discovering for years and years to come. And then RPGs like Mass Effect and Dragon Age. None of them are easy to build, they're all challenging in different ways, I think.
So how about working with a big IP like Star Wars. Is it challenging? Do you have an awful lot of sign off on what you do?
Yeah, yeah, well it's a very tight partnership, very close cooperation and they've been great partners. We've worked with them now for like a decade since Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic I, and now the Old Republic for many years, and they've been great collaborative partners.
We set the game in a period thousands of years before the movies, so it's a really rich period where we get to explore and make new content, and they've been very supportive of that. We've learned a lot about the Star Wars licenses. I mean obviously they're experts on that. They understand the fans, they understand the audiences, and we benefit from that.
So which of your games is most challenging in terms of fan expectation? For example, I notice that RPG fans seem to be much more intense about gaming and all the different aspects of it.
They do seem to be. I mean, they like an intense, accessible experience, but they also want the depth, the richness, the story and the choice. And it's one thing to give a choice, but you also need to show the impact of that choice in a meaningful way, which means creating new content for different paths and non-linear storytelling. It means investing more time in development to enable that choice in a personally engaging way that means something to the player, and so they can see how their character reacts to their events, and the world changes based on their actions. That's part of what makes an RPG satisfying. You see the consequence to your actions.
So based on that there must be a lot of emphasis put on the writing and the storytelling.
Yeah, that's certainly one aspect of it. Cinematic animation is another aspect for the games that have that. World building, you have to change the world if something happens in one area. The downstream effects of changing one line of writing can be massive.
You must sit at events like this being interviewed a lot! Is there anything that you're dying for an interviewer to ask you that you've never been asked?
There probably is but I can't remember right now, it's been a long day! I think someone asked me a question today that I've never been asked which was, 'What were you like growing up?', and I was like, wow, no one ever asked me that before! I used to play a lot of videogames andmy parents let me play whatever I wanted because I got good grades at school. And for me, it was a real motivator, you know. I see it as an art form. I have a passion about the evolution of games. I love the fact that now there so many manifestations of them. It's like movies, there's such a spectrum of different types of games, like there are different movies and books. And those are art forms as well.
I remember way back to the beginning of gaming when kids used to programme their own little pixelly games on a Commodore 64 and the like.
Yeah, and people can program those sorts of games on their mobile devices now, so it's almost come full circle!
And is there any question you get asked all the time that you wish people wouldn't ask anymore?
Well, one question I get asked a lot is, 'What's your favourite BioWare game?' That's a question I can't really answer, and I don't have an answer actually, because I like all of our games. Otherwise, why would we be making them if we didn't like them?! I like them all for different reasons, but I don't like one more than the other.
I'm pretty passionate about all the things we're doing. We have great teams and they're excited about making games and the opportunities, whether it's a smaller social game or an MMO, or an RPG or the strategy games that come out of L.A. And theres some exciting stuff coming out of all of our teams.
Over all the studios is there something that's a big focus at the moment? We see that motion control is a focus for some companies at the moment.
Kinect. We're doing a Kinect version of Mass Effect 3. It's not a seperate version, but it's going to be really cool. It's voice control. We're using voice commands to control your squad so you can tell squad members to do different things, different actions like help me or heal me. Or you can read the voice lines, the dialogue.
I wouldn't say that's an overarching focus though. For our label it's really about our vision, which is emotionally engaging games, and all the games we build are achieving that vision in different ways, but they're all achieving that vision. It's our core value for all our studios, it's how we operate, it's how we build our games, it's how we make decisions.
We want to make quality games for our fans, andbe a really great workplace for employees, a place they can be proud of, and use their passion and entrepreneurship. For us, all these things are important, and that's what makes us a sustainable business.
Like I said at the beginning, you are one of those companies that people do get really passionate about. Why do you think that is?
I think it's a trust thing. You can try very, very hard to make games and for us, the quality is very important. And we aren't perfect, we make mistakes and we always take feedback very humbly and say, yeah we can jig that to make our games better. We're only as good as our next game, and we have a promise and an obligation to our fans. And I hope that's how fans see BioWare. I hope they trust our brand to not let them down, and if we ever do we always make sure that we try and improve on it in the next game. It's a promise, I guess, and we want to maintain that quality.
Thanks for giving us the time to talk to you.
Interviewed by Amanda Hepburn
Saving the galaxy is a gruelling business, so why do it on your own? Thankfully it looks like that won't be the case for EA and BioWare's Mass Effect 3, as reports are beginning to trickle in that you'll be able to play the epic sci-fi RPG with your mates.
Word comes from Australian mag Powerplay, with our intrepid friends down under remaining infuriatingly tight-lipped as they tease their November issue.
"Fight alongside your friends as the galaxy goes to war!" screams the mag as they reveal they've been lucky enough to fly to developer BioWare's offices and play the new mode for themselves.
Will it be co-op or straight up competitive play? With the game coming to stores next March, we're sure to find out more sooner rather than later - and it looks like another string to the bow of what's guaranteed to be one of 2012's biggest games.
If you've been eyeing up Mass Effect 3 but worrying that you've not played the first two games, don't worry. Bioware is making sure that you won't need intimate knowledge of the plot so far in order to enjoy this third - and final - chapter in the story of Commander Shepard.
"In all honesty, we didn't do a really good job of new player orientation [in Mass Effect 2]," producer Nick Clifford admitted to IGN. "If you didn't play the first game then two was pretty jarring for the first half hour. If I'm a new player and some guy walks up to me and is like, 'Oh Shepard! Remember that one time?' I would be like, 'No, I don't remember that one time.'"
If you don't import an existing save file into Mass Effect 3, the game will automatically replace any dialogue scenes that rely on prior experience with the storyline to minimise confusion. The game will also feature �tory so far" recaps to bring new players up to speed, and explain just why giant space squids are attacking the Earth.
Not that there's any excuse for not having played through two of the best games of the current hardware generation. Mass Effect is available for Xbox 360 and PC, while Mass Effect 2 is on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. You've got about a month and a half until Mass Effect 3 comes out on March 9th. So go on. Get on with it.
BioWare has stated that Mass Effect 3 will be just as welcoming an experience to Mass Effect newcomers as it will be for long-term fans.
Nick Clifford, head of product marketing for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC title, told IGN that he believes the opening of Mass Effect 2 may have been a little "bewildering" for those who hadn't played the original, an issue BioWare is striving to fix.
"We wanted to make sure that there aren't those moments that the player is like, 'Who is this? What's going on? What are they talking about?'," he explained.
As such, the upcoming trilogy finale will provide plenty of junctures through which newbies can be brought up to speed on the story so far, similarly to how the PlayStation 3 edition of Mass Effect 2 featured an interactive comic retelling the first Mass Effect story.
However, those who have been playing the series since the start will also be rewarded, as save games from the first two titles will still carry across, allowing committed fans to see their own personalised stories to conclusion.
Mass Effect 3 is released in March 2012 and is now available to pre-order both in standard and collector's edition packages.
Completists and people who love to make the best use of their shelf space will be pleased to learn that a Mass Effect Trilogy boxset is due for release on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC in November.
As the name cleverly suggests, it'll contain all three games from Bioware's blockbusting sci-fi RPG saga. This is particularly noteworthy for PlayStation 3 owners, as only the last two games in the series have been released for that console. The first game, which debuted back in 2007, was published by Microsoft and was exclusive to Xbox 360. A PC version eventually followed, and PlayStation 3 owners got to join in from Mass Effect 2 onwards, once EA took over the publishing rights.
The exact contents of the trilogy set have yet to be announced, so it's unclear whether the set will also include all the bonus missions and material previously available as downloadable content.
What we do know is that FemShep, the female version of series hero Commander Shepard, won't be on the front cover. The first two games showcased only the default male version of the character on their cover art, and for the third instalment Bioware offered a reversible sleeve so players could choose. When fans reacted with disappointment that FemShep would be left out again, Bioware tweeted: "Well, we've got a little something special planned for FemShep coming, so keep that chin up. Not with the cover art. We're doing something separate."
Mass Effect Trilogy is due for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC in November.
Role-playing fans are used to risking everything on the roll of the dice, but those gambles are usually reserved for the fictional fantasy tales unfolding on kitchen tables and in college dorm rooms. In 1995, doctors Greg Zeschuk, Ray Muzyka and Augustine Yip rolled the dice in real life when they turned their back on lucrative medical careers and decided to devote their time to making computer games instead. They called their company Bioware, and you only have to look at the games bearing that name today to see if their gambit paid off.
This Christmas week sees Bioware release its first online multiplayer RPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic, while next year brings the third (and final?) instalment in their epic sci-fi saga, Mass Effect 3.
So how did the Canadian code factory reach the top of the RPG tree? Surprisingly, the first game from the newly formed studio wasn't a role-playing game at all, but a 3D action title about combat mechs. Shattered Steel was the title, and by taking advantage of the power of new PC video graphics cards it offered destruction and 3D scope that was beyond the capability of older hardware. Titles like Quake and Half Life were yet to redefine PC gaming, so Shattered Steel's technology earned the fledgling developer a lot of attention.
That attention wasn't enough to stop Dr Yip from returning to life in a white coat, but Zeschuk and Muzyka weren't about to let go of their dream. They wanted to make games inspired by the lengthy Dungeons & Dragons sessions that had seen them through medical school. And they already had the game in mind - Battleground: Infinity.
Don't be surprised if you've never heard of it. By the time the game arrived on shelves it had been taken on by Interplay. The publisher held the video game rights to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons brand, and so almost overnight Bioware went from developing games inspired by the role-playing classic to making an official Dungeons & Dragons game.
Baldur's Gate was the result, and it was an immediate smash. The RPG genre was in rude health in 1998, with The Elder Scrolls, Fallout and Diablo all well established, but Bioware's relative inexperience was balanced with a deep understanding of what made role-playing fun.
Dungeons & Dragons remained the company's bread and butter for many years after, with expansion packs for Baldur's Gate leading into the sequel, Shadows of Amn, following in 2000. Neverwinter Nights continued the studio's D&D heritage in 2002, reviving the classic AOL online role-player for a more savvy internet audience.
While these titles were critically acclaimed and embraced by RPG fans worldwide, they were still very much niche games. Few outside of role-playing fandom were aware of the Bioware name. That changed in 2003, when the company launched its first console game, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. At a time when Star Wars fans were torn by misgivings over the prequel movies, and punchdrunk from a slew of half-baked spin-off games, it was Bioware's narrative nous that saved the Jedi. Epic in scale, and with the freedom to explore the galaxy far, far away, it fulfilled the dreams of many Star Wars fans and earned Bioware a promotion to the ranks of legendary game developers.
Buoyed by this success, the company turned its attention to something new, the first original Bioware title since Shattered Steel, in fact. Jade Empire was the game, and it took the RPG framework and applied it to a tale of rival martial arts masters in feudal China. Kung fu combat added a surprising wrinkle to the familiar cloth, but critics noted that the story was a virtual retread of Knights of the Old Republic, with open-palm strikes replacing lightsabers.
Only a few years later, and with a new console generation to play with, Bioware silenced any doubters with the 2007 smash hit Mass Effect. A slick, thrilling space saga with the pace of an action game and the depth of an RPG, it heralded a new era for the developer. Super-publisher EA swooped in to buy the company, and so began a period of blockbuster genre-hopping that is still in full swing.
Blood-soaked fantasy epic Dragon Age found the company recasting the swords and monster tropes of the D&D years in its own style. Mass Effect 2 reached new heights of cinematic sizzle, showcasing an elastic storyline that allowed any of the characters to pop their clogs during the climactic suicide mission. And Bioware even found time to dabble in less obvious areas, creating a Mass Effect spin-off game for mobile phones and developing Sonic Chronicles for the DS, the first RPG to star Sega's blue spiky mascot.
Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka are still at the head of the company they found over fifteen years ago, and their passion for role-playing is still tempered by a desire to innovate and stretch the boundaries of what can be done with the genre. With its ties to the developer's first breakout smash hit, and its desire to shake up the world of MMORPG gameplay, Star Wars: The Old Republic is perhaps the quintessential Bioware experience. Enormous in scale, complex in intent yet an absolute joy to play.
Let the dice roll.
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