Mass Effect 2 will light up the holiday season.
BioWare is clearly the king of the cinematic RPG presentation, and its E3 demonstration of Mass Effect 2 made sure everybody knew it. The demo started off with some quick basic facts to make sure everyone's on the same page. Shepard is still the main character in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect is a trilogy centered around bringing one character through three parts of a story. The presenter also made it quite clear that Mass Effect 2 has its own goals, namely building up a team of the best and brightest as well as generally being a darker game.
While this is well and good, the later parts of the presentation were so full of vague ideas and double talk that it's hard to be sure of anything about Mass Effect 2's story other than the one piece of spoiler that they've been touting for months. People think commander Shepard is dead. This is obviously not possibly further from the truth as Shepard was running around demonstrating the new, more precise shooting system that should clear up a lot of the combat struggles of the first game. Shepard also showed off the new interruption system in conversations with several NPCs. In this system a mention of one NPC who thought Shepard may be trying to extort money from them brought up an exclamation point tied to the left trigger, which when pressed, gave Shepard the option to interrupt the conversation and inquire how many credits would be offered. This looks to be a very clever expansion of the standard conversation system of most of BioWare's games, opening up a lot of additional choices to think about during the dialog scenes.
Don't assume enemies are down just because they lost a limb.
And Mass Effect 2 really loves your choices. So much so that every choice you made in Mass Effect 1 is coming over. So not only do you have your stats from the first game, you have all the consequences, recruited party members, and lost comrades from the first game following you over. And while Mass Effect 2 will be accessible for newcomers to the series, this will surely help contribute to the epic feel of this trilogy for players of the first title.
And that's where things get hazy again. It was made clear that Shepard can die in this game, and not like just getting a game over, but dying in a way that the rest of your party then moves on without you. Thus putting the emphasis on you to build a competent group of companions so that they're up to the job. They even showed what was described as a scene where this can happen. The presenter explained that while people who have Shepard survive the entire game can expect to be able to continue playing after the credits roll, those who don't will have the game finished when they get the credits. However, how can this fit in when the first thing the demoer said was that the Mass Effect trilogy is meant for you to take ONE character through all three stories? Will this be a simple situation of multiple endings? Will it be a Chrono Trigger styled experience where you need to have your party attempt to counter your character's fate? Or is this all smoke and mirrors meant to confuse everyone to build more suspense for the game? Hopefully BioWare will explain it, otherwise you'll have to wait until early 2010.