Mass Effect 2: Post 05

As we all know, BioWare games focus on shooting and talking. We’ve gone over the shooting enough for a pretty decent look at the system. Let’s dig into the talking.

Conversations are largely the same as ME1. There’s a wheel. Requests for more information are on the left. Options that move the conversation forward are on the right. Upper options are paragon responses. Lower options are renegade responses. The system wasn’t broken and I’m happy with it. However, they added a couple tweaks that improve the experience from ME1, and I’ll outline them here.

  • For one, people actually move about during a conversation. I’m not talking about moving their hands through the same three styles of gesturing. I’m talking about walking away, stopping, looking back over their shoulder, coming back, sitting down on a sofa, leaning forward, then standing back up again — all while doing the same three styles of gesturing (heh). Definitely feels more natural and gives you more to look at.
  • For another, there are now actual interruptions — the type promised, but not delivered, in ME1. While in a conversation, or cutscene, you occasionally see a [LT] (paragon) or [RT] (renegade) icon pop-up on the screen, quick-time-sequence-esque. If you press [LT] or [RT] during these moments, your Shepherd will do something fitting.
  • For example, I was talking to a lone woman on the outskirts of a settlement and spotted some armed thugs approaching us, preparing to fire. As they aimed their guns, [LT] popped up on the screen and I was sure that I would save her in some way if I hit the button. Indeed, when I pressed the button I threw her down behind cover and saved her life. It made the scene much more exciting and let me feel like I’m an active participant.
  • Even better, on this playthrough I’ve been choosing every paragon dialogue option without thinking. But as the camera lingers on a crate swinging overhead of the about-to-be-combatants with whom I’m speaking, [RT] pops up on the screen. I hesitate for the briefest of moments before hitting the button, unable to resist the renegade points that come with releasing the crate. In other words, it’s easy to consider the paragon/renegade points and make a reasoned choice. But this new pop-up system really challenges how you want your character to act.

Aside from the system itself, I can say that ME2 is definitely more wordy than ME1. There are more dialogue encounters and more words per encounter, I’d guess. And I certainly believe I’ve spent a lot more time speaking with my henchmen than I did in ME1. In terms of feel, I’d say ME1 had a ratio of 75:25 for combat:talking. ME2 is more like 50:50. I think it’s a pretty good blend. To be honest, I’m happy either way but I’ll admit ME2 is closer to my preference with the pacing. As for what’s being said, I’m saving that for a future post — after I finish the game.

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