To start with Game Informer has a list of “What You Didn’t Know About Mass Effect 2”. It has a bullet-point list of stories behind the development of the game. Here’s a sample:
- Boo, the space hamster, is actually voiced by the lead programmer.
- Mass Effect 2 was the first game to use exotic dancers at EA Canada’s motion capture studio in Burnaby, Canada.
- The Main Menu in Mass Effect 2 was revised three times.
- There are 52 custom load screens used through out the game.
- There are over 25,000 lines of conversational dialogue in Mass Effect 2.
IGN has a Second Opinion Video in which a couple of IGN employees talk about what they thought about the game.
I have to agree with Jessica though; I thought the Mako was better than the utterly boring scannign as well and the elevator rides were more interesting than the load screens.
Over on Kotaku they have a fun little image:
The last name is blurred out because it can be considered a spoiler, but you can get the uncensored image by following the link. Note that the joke image is based on this real world image.
The Escapist has two articles. The first is a spoiler-rich article titled “Context Sensitive: A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Dialogue Trees”. Here’s a spoiler-free quote that reflects much how I try to play my character as well:
A bit of background first: I tend to roleplay my characters as much as a game will allow me. Mass Effect's nuanced dialogue choices and character development make it particularly easy for me to really get into the mindset of my Joanna Shepard, who will be kind, patient and caring until you force her hand, at which point she will splatter your brains across the carpet. I make choices not based on what's likely to be the most fun or amusing from a gameplay perspective, but rather what my character would actually be most likely to do. I would've gotten quite a giggle out of pushing that mercenary out the window in Mass Effect 2, but that's just not Joanna's style, so indoors he stayed.
The second article, titled “On the Ball: Scanning, for Fun and Profit”, also contains potential spoilers and talks about (the problems with) the scanning minigame in Mass Effect 2. Here’s an excerpt:
Yet looking back on my time spent with Shepherd and his comrades, I have only one regret: that I spent hours scouring the galaxy for Element Zero while my "to play" stack collected dust.
As Susan Arendt noted in her review, Mass Effect 2's mining system is perhaps the one major blemish in an otherwise wonderful game. What could have added some variety to the experience of exploring the galaxy (similar to the way in which the hacking minigames offer a decent change of pace from the squad-based gunplay) ended up becoming tedious right out of the starting gate. Why did it fail so hard? Let me count the ways:
Personally I’d add to his list that it’s just plain boring, but perhaps he’d consider that under his other points.
More spoilers can be found in Kotaku’s post titled “The Emotion, And Humor, Of Mass Effect 2’ Romantic Interludes”. It’s pretty much a list of videos for all possible romantic encounters in the game. Here’s a quote of the accompanying text (I’m not going to embed all those videos here):
See, I played the game once, and that was it. The way the story unfolded was "My Story", and is now the way I feel events in the Mass Effect universe have taken place. Shepard is a man, and he did the deed with Miranda, and that's how it went. To play it again would feel like going back in time and screwing everything up, Marty McFly style. So I'm not going to do it.
That means I won't get to punch a woman, I won't get to bring Mordin back from the dead and I'll never see Yeoman Chambers get her freak on. It also means I'll never get to see any of these numerous romantic interchanges between the main characters, some of which are hilarious (Tali), others surprisingly touching (Thane).
But you? You can watch these to your heart's content.
Interestingly enough I never got that Kelly Chambers bit when I invited her over for dinner (good thing too as my Shepard was staying loyal to Liara).
IGN has an article titled “Contrarian Corner: Mass Effect 2”. In it they take a critical look at the game, not so much pointing out its flaws (such as the scanning minigame), but more looking at how it falls still short in story telling and interactive cinematic. As such it can be a good article to see how the medium could move forward. It’s a good read, I think, though it does discuss story spoilers. Here’s an excerpt:
The worst outcome in dialogue trees is that they become static, in which button presses in conversation cease being interactions and just trigger another packet of exposition. To wit, whenever the "Investigate" option appears in a dialogue tree, as it does with almost every exchange, the play element turns into a three-minute encounter with an audio book. I realize, in many respects, that's an unfair thing to write, mostly because the audio book is much more interesting than it could have been. But what about listening qualifies as gameplay?
Though the article talks more about making the gameplay more story-oriented (which I also think is a good thing), I’d personally would want to see the conversations become more interactive and less “follow the topics”. I mean it makes sense that when another character is talking you spend some time just listening; that’s how a real conversation tends to go too (and with the added interrupts you keep some measure of control, though I’d like to see those expanded to be less... dramatic). It’s just that “investigation” tends to be a list of topics to cross off.
The final three parts of the “Art of the Game” video series are also available. Here are part 3, part 4 and part 5 (you can also watch part 1 and part 2 if you missed them):
IGN has an interview with Dr. Ray Muzyka up titled “Mass Effect 3 & Beyond”. In it they talk about what the future holds for BioWare and the Mass Effect franchise. Here’s an excerpt:
IGN: Where do you think is left to go in the Mass Effect series?
Ray Muzyka We've always had a trilogy in mind for the first three games in the Mass Effect franchise. And it is a franchise; it's not going to necessarily stop at number three. We've always had in mind a story arc for this trilogy, the epic sweeping story of going across the universe as Commander Shepherd. Within that context, figuring out the details and the features and how the gameplay unfolds, that's more mutable depending on the feedback we get. So we've always said that the first products will be a trilogy. Beyond that, we'll figure out where it goes.
I’m kind of pissed-off about Ray’s comment on the second page about how they define the Shepard character and decided that he/she isn’t gay. Particularly how before release they made such a big deal about how we get to play our Shepard (and mine happens to be gay, thankyouverymuch). I also have no idea how allowing gay options for Shepard would somehow make it a less deep/rich personality (or how, indeed, it would really change much of anything about how much work is involved to create the character). And to be honest it makes me very worried about my Shepard’s future with Liara (though they’re also scrambling back on that relationship saying how Asari aren’t female, contrary to what the game itself says, and how thus a relationship with an Asari isn’t lesbian). The whole thing and their stance on it just makes me angry.
Another critical view, not so much at the game itself and more at people’s perception of it, comes in an article over at The Brainy Gamer titled “Scrambled”. In it the author looks at the view people seem to have about how Mass Effect 2 is somehow the pinnacle in storytelling in games and something that all games will need to improve upon. He poses, and I quite agree, that there are various ‘peaks’ which are all different kinds of genres and ways to bring narratives. That while Mass Effect 2 is really good, it exchanges some limits for others. Here’s an excerpt:
But when we discuss Mass Effect 2 as the game to finally shatter RPG genre limits and chart a new narrative path, I think we project too much on a game that exchanges some limits for others. I want meaningful interactions with my environment, not pop-up notices for glowing blue frames. I want dialogue unbound by a nice/naughty/neutral triad. I want to do trivial things. I want lower stakes. I want to play a game that doesn't insist the future depends on me. I want a game that defines role-playing more broadly than dialogue choices. I want a game that won't insist my actions and movements (what I do, not what I say) are merely bridges to the next fight.
And that’s about it. I had a few more articles, but I feel that they lack interest (such as yet another review at IGN). Hopefully news around Mass Effect 2 will quiet for a bit (though I’m sure that there’ll be news of more DLC/expansions/sequels in the not too distant future).
[link] to didn’t know article at Game Informer.
[link] to second opinion video at IGN.
[link] to Ms. Shepard’s list at Kotaku.
[link] to Context Sensitive article at The Escapist.
[link] to On The Ball article at The Escapist.
[link] to romance videos at Kotaku.
[link] to Contrarian Corner article at IGN.
[link] to Art of the Game part 3 at YouTube.
[link] to Art of the Game part 4 at YouTube.
[link] to Art of the Game part 5 at YouTube.
[link] to interview aith Dr. Ray Muzyka at IGN.
[link] to Scrambled article at The Brainy Gamer.