Will it be on the PS3 or won’t it? Will Shepherd be in one piece by the finale or won’t he? Will you be able to jump twixt the sheets with the entire cast, or just its female members? Questions hang round Mass Effect 2 like bits of shrapnel in zero-G. Here are answers to a few of them, care of game producer Adrien Cho.
VideoGamesDaily: So, Mass Effect 2. The first one was obviously a highly acclaimed game, but it came out in the midst of a lot of exclusive content on Xbox 360. Do you think it got a fair share of the attention?
Adrien Cho: I thought actually Microsoft was a really good publishing partner, they really supported us, and they recognised what a unique IP Mass Effect became. And they helped foster that, and allowed us to do a lot of different things. And with a sequel now I think we’re able to branch out more with EA to an all-new audience. So I felt that we’re only going to be able to reach out to more people with the new game, hopefully people who didn’t get a chance to play Mass 1. One of the goals was to say “hey, give it a try – we’ve made everything a little more accessible, combat, the shooter aspects of it.” We want people who’ve never even played an RPG, who don’t consider themselves RPG players, but are maybe drawn towards the sci-fi aspects of it, the shooting aspects of it… This game will hold up with the best shooters out there, and you get some real cool role-playing elements as well.
VGD: With the greatest respect to the Old Republic guys, I feel like their title and many others in this genre has this sterile feel to it. Whereas with Mass Effect, the environment is much deeper, much richer.
Cho: I’m so proud of our art team. The end product is just amazing.
VGD: All these effects, all these lighting and filter tricks – you just don’t get that level of quality in many PC titles…
Cho: I think we really pushed the hardware a lot in Mass 1, and the great thing about Mass 2, with all aspects of Mass 2, is that we’re even more familiar with it. So from a gameplay side, from a design side, to the writing, we’re able to squeeze even more out. By the time we shipped Mass 1, we started to plan for Mass 2, and we immediately knew the areas where it was like “hey, I think we can do this better, we can get more detail in it.” And you can just see the environments, they’re absolutely amazing, like – you get this expanse of city out here, the flares, the buildings…
VGD: I like the grain effect in the distance.
Cho: Yeah, the fog – even the small stuff, seemingly the background stuff is just as detailed, if you look at the walls…
VGD: This is Unreal Engine 3 tech, right?
Cho: It’s Unreal. We’ve really pushed Unreal. I don’t recall a game using Unreal tech that looks quite like ours, and I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved with the art style.
VGD: And you were an artist originally, so presumably you’ve had a personal investment in this aspect of the product.
Cho: I was lead tech on Mass 1, and I continued to do that role a bit into Mass 2, but I evolved into more of a production role, and I gave up the tech/art role too a good friend of mine. But early on when we started Mass 2, one of the things we felt we could improve upon was the blurred textures. That’s part of the nature of the technology we’re using, but I was like “we’re going to solve that problem.” So I bet my friend – the lead cinematic animator – a case of beer that we will fix that problem. I’ve got a lot riding on that! [laughs] Aside from the pride, I’ve got some beer to make sure that the game looks a high def and as polished as possible.