The Making of Mass Effect 2

GamesRadar's latest mission is to take us through the development of Mass Effect 2, with much of the decision-making information coming straight from BioWare's Christina Norman and Casey Hudson.
(In Mass Effect 1 we had a successful game,) Norman ME2's Lead Gameplay Designer explained to us. (What do you generally expect in a sequel to a successful game? Usually, you'd expect polish and building on a lot of the features that were already there, but we did something radical with Mass Effect 2.) Where Mass Effect was what Norman calls an '˜action RPG', ME2 is an all-out shooter RPG and has left a handful of forumites complaining that BioWare had stripped the RPG out of Mass Effect altogether. (We had thread titles like '˜Mass Effect 2 is not an RPG' and '˜BioWare ruined Mass Effect' on our forums. It was a small percentage but we noticed,) says Norman. (But we forgot labels and made a great game. Forget about shooter and RPG balance. Let's just make a great game.)


Mass Effect 2's weapons each have their own feel and identity which makes every gun unique. It's something Norman puts down to tweaking hundreds of variables on each weapon and a system flexible enough to match any weapon in any other shooter. She suggested that if you can't make Halo's Battle Rifle using your weapon modelling systems then the system needs work. That's not to say you should re-create Halo's Battle Rifle, only that it should be an option, though you'll find a lot of similarities between Gears of Wars' Lancer and Hammerburst and Mass Effect's new Assault Rifles. So is it fair to say that Mass Effect 2 does take the RPG out of Mass Effect? (It really comes down to how you define '˜RPG',) says Hudson.

(If you define an RPG as a game where you equip your hero by sifting through an inventory of hundreds of miscellaneous items and spend hours fiddling with numerical statistics, then yes those things were intentionally removed from the Mass Effect experience for the sequel. For me however, the best part of role-playing is being the character and that means never being pulled out of the immersion of the world to be reminded that you're playing a game. In Mass Effect 2 we focused on what we love about RPGs an awesome sense of exploration, intense combat, a deep and nonlinear story that's affected by your actions, and rich customization of your armour, weapons, and appearance.)
Customization of armor and weapons? Other than researching small bonuses, the game's 25 weapons and 30 armor pieces (including full suits) are pretty much static. The weapons have absolutely no statistics tied to them anyway, so researching small percentage bonuses isn't really a fulfilling form of "customization". Is Casey referring to the ability to change the color of your armor?

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is a game with armor and weapon customization. Mass Effect 2 is not.