Look, I don’t claim to know and fully understand how this videogame industry works. I just have opinions and thoughts and sometimes I put them down on e-paper here for a couple of people to read. But this is just plain confusing. Most videogames release a demo a few weeks prior to their shipping date so curious consumers can get a taste of what they’re selling and maybe–just maybe–decide that they’d really love to play the full experience.
Mass Effect 2 came out on January 26, 2010. The demo for the game hit Xbox Live this week. A-buhhhhhhh…
Right. Well, I somewhat enjoyed the first game and have been curious about what was changed for Mass Effect 2 so I downloaded the huge demo (I think it’s around 1.6 gigs) and…watched a lot of cinematic scenes for a bit. It opens like every episode of LOST, with a “Previously on…Mass Effect” as if this is some kind of high drama TV show that we’ve been watching for years. Our narrator tells us about Shepard and the things he/she did to better our galaxy. The beginning of this demo is basically the beginning of the actual game going off of Greg Noe’s first hour review. The Normandy gets blown to bits, Shepard dies, his DNA is recovered by the secretive Lazarus project, and he’s brought back to flesh through the miracle of science. And you thought you’d totally get to keep your level and hard-earned stats from the first game! Ha!
So, with a new Shepard, we can give him/her a new look. I choose to make him look very simian again, with a low brow and big pouty lips, plus an extremely bad complexion. Scars, pock-marked face, the whole thing. Dark hair and a chinstrap beard round him out perfectly. I was really surprised that the demo came with this as I fully expected them to just give us a static Shepard design to play with. After this, we see a scene with some scientists named Miranda and Wilson looking over Shepard as he suddenly wakes up. Drugs put him back down. The second time he wakes up, the entire base is under attack and he’s being ordered to get moving. Grab a pistol and some armor and then take cover behind some boxes; taking cover is very easy now with the press of a button. It feels natural and awesome at once.
The demo then shows me some stuff I already know, like how to fire my weapon and select a new one. These aren’t geth attacking us, but mechs on the fritz. Find some audio logs and listen to Miranda talk about the progress they made reconstructing me. The hacking mini-game is a bit different from Mass Effect, but not the worst thing in the world galaxy. I meet up with Jacob and Wilson and get a few answers to some burning questions, but we need to get to safety and find Miranda. Wilson believes she sabotaged everyone as the mechs were theirs and rewired to attack innocents. Hmm. I am a born-again Shepard so I don’t really know who I can trust at this point…
Well, for spoilers-sake, I learned that I can’t trust…Wilson. A shame, as that’s a great name. Miranda tells me a bit about her boss, the Illusive Man, and then we’re off this trashcan. Does it explode behind us like a good l’il cliche? Hmm, nope.
This section of the demo ends, and I’m told that everything I’ve done so far has been saved and can be readily used once I purchase the full game. All right. The demo will continue (yay!), but anything else will not be saved progress, and we’re also jumping ahead in time. Text on screen tells us that the Illusive Man has given us the quest to collect a ragtag team of the most elite and deadly characters around. Miranda, Jacob, and I are visiting a prison cell planet called Purgatory (wink wink) to collect a biotic named Jack. There’s a pretty tense scene in the beginning where a turian (I think that’s their race; it’s been some time, people) tells me I can’t bring weapons on-board. I convince him otherwise, and I’m glad I did. Turns out it’s a trap, and we’re doing a lot of fighting here. There’s some larger mechs that are harder to take down, and I eventually died after releasing all the prisoners from their cells in order to free Jack, who is not what we expected. I’m sure the demo goes on a little more from there, but at that point I was extremely tired and decided to call it a night. Might have to give the demo another swing later on as a female Shepard; I’m both surprised and pleased at how much is given to us and how smooth the shooting is. Maybe, just maybe I’ll get a little excited about Mass Effect 2 in the near future.