Final Mass Effect 2 mission on the way

EA Games and Bioware plan to release the final DLC mission for Mass Effect 2 on March 29.

Dubbed “Mass Effect: Arrival,” the DLC once again puts players in the role of Commander Shepard. This time, Shepard’s mission is to travel across the Milky Way to save an undercover agent who may have evidence of an “imminent Reaper invasion.” Anyone who has played through the Mass Effect franchise knows what that means.

Mass Effect: Arrival will retail for  560 Microsoft Points on Xbox 360, $6.99 on PlayStation Network
and for 560 BioWare Points
for PC Gamers.

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Are you a part of Cerberus?

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If you had bought Mass Effect 2 as a brand new game, you would get an access code to the Cerberus Network which came with a few pieces of free DLC as a nice bonus.

It was also another way of making a brand new purchase a far more attractive option than a used one since the code could only be used once. If you wanted the goodies but bought a used copy, you’d have to pony up $15 for a fresh code. It’s also part of a trend in trying to make new copies of games more attractive to buyers than used ones. And Bioware is raising the ante with even more free DLC for would-be operatives.

According to the announcement on Bioware’s Mass Effect 2 site:

“Free to all Cerberus Network members, the Firewalker pack includes 5 all new missions featuring the Hammerhead. Hovering over the battlefield at up to 120 kilometeres per hour, the Hammerhead also boasts a guided missile system ensuring accuracy even during aggressive maneuvering.”

It won’t kill the thrill of finding a favorite oldie at rock bottom prices, but it certainly gives another reason to buy a new copy depending on how much you think the DLC is worth it since it’s still the complete game without all of the additional stuff. But getting a heaping load of free fun on top of what is already there? Now that’s fan service.

Commander Shepard: The Jerk Edition

I played through Mass Effect 2 as a nice guy, so this clip showing Commander Shepard in full-on Jerk Mode let me know what kind of fun I missed out on.

I should also mention that it’s a sometimes violent, but utterly spoiler-filled, clip, too, in case you’re still trying to make your own way through the galaxy as either a friendly savior or a coldly ruthless space cowboy. But if you ever wanted to know how a recorded store endorsement could go horribly wrong, sit back and just wait for it. Shepard’s in top form here.

Mass Effect 2 minerals, what!

I had meant to post this earlier, but got swamped. Everyone who’s played ME2 has mined random planets for minerals. Minerals, as you know, contribute to research for weapons and ship upgrades. Some people, like myself, compare the scanning experience to that of maintaining a miniature zen garden, while others liken it to watching paint peel.

And there there are those who attempt to make hip-hop gold out of it. See. Love it. It even uses the music from the scanning / probing screen. Warning, there’s EXPLICIT LYRICS, kids.

E3: Thought bubbles from Electronic Arts

Started off the day getting an eyeful of Mass Effect 2 and Dante’s Inferno in a couple of short demos. I’ve got no pics to dress this up, so you’ll have to settle for words for now. I think you’ll be fine. Here are some small bits on each game:

Mass Effect 2: This is being seen as the “dark second act” of the Mass Effect trilogy, much like “Return of the Jedi” was for the Star Wars movies. Commander Shepard reprises his (or her, depending on how you built Shepard in the first game) role as the central character, but this time must hop around the galaxy and try to recruit only the nastiest, deadliest people for his/her group. You can import your character straight from your original Mass Effect save file (if you have it), abilities, choices and all, and essentially pick up where you left off in the last game.

With every sequel, there’s always the promise of more finely tuned gameplay elements, but it was the conversations that caught my eye. While the last game featured two people standing still and face-to-face for verbal interaction, ME2 now features real-time cinematic conversations. For example, the first conversation of the demo took place in a moving car, with stuff whipping by the windows at high speeds and the characters looking far more refined. It was essentially a talk in the car. There’s also an “interrupt” feature via the left trigger, which lets the player take action in the middle of a conversation if the situation calls for it. An example of this was Shepard pushing someone through the window of a high-rise building because he wasn’t being very helpful. The left trigger icon flashed on the lower left side of the screen, and out went the talker.

Of course, story has been the cornerstone of the ME universe, and the sequel looks like it’s going to stress survival. Shepard is not expected to make it through this latest adventure, and we’re told there out of the multiple endings featured in the game, some of them are actually going to involve Shepard’s death. Not in the game over, load saved game sense … as in, you see Shepard perish (or at least it appears that way). The moral of the story is, build a good team, make sure they like you, and try not to get killed.

Dante’s Inferno: I don’t know what this says about me, but my high school assignment that dealt with reading the Divine Comedy and Dante Aligheri’s verbal road map of Hell has remained one of my strongest and favorite high school memories. It required us to create our own version of Dante’s hell, complete with circles, sinners and punishments. By the way, I was a Catholic high school student. Anyway, I remember thinking to myself that someone should make a game about it … and now it’s here.

This epic third-person action mashup features Dante, an ass-kicking knight who is loosely based on the poet who wrote the Divine Comedy. Beatrice, the love of his life, gets dragged into Hell and it’s up to Dante to go in and get her back. He comes in rocking a holy cross and a giant scythe he stole from Death as his main weapons. The most stunning aspects of the game are its sense of scale and visuals, which feature intriguing interpretations of all of the characters in Dante’s Hell. You actually have to hop on the boat on a living boat to Limbo, eventually having to tear the head off the boatman (whose actually IS the boat instead of the guy driving it). There’s also King Minos, the judge of the Damned; Virgil, the poet Dante encounters who spouts line from the Divine Comedy; the unbaptized children, who are a little ticked about being in Hell; and eventually Lucifer himself.

The circles of Hell based on the seven deadly sins are all individual stages of the game, so each stage has it’s own twisted personality while remaining loyal to the poem. You want to see Anger as a putrid swamp? It’s there. You remember how the city of Dis is described in the poem? You’ll see it on a massive scale. Of course, combat is paramount and as gory as humanly possible … as evidenced by Dante completely disemboweling a fat, gluttonous maiden from the inside. The game comes out in 2010.

All right, time for me to run off to see God of War 3 and even more third-person gore. It’s third-person action day, apparently. Maybe I’ll get to play something for once.