When it releases next month, Mass Effect 2 will be the first major blockbuster of 2010 - and in its own words, BioWare's best game ever.
We're excited - and so is producer Adrien Cho, who recently sat down with us for a chat. Here's what he had to say...
How complete is Mass Effect 2 now? You must be pretty close...
Cho: Pretty close. What you're playing today is a few weeks old. We probably have a few weeks of development left. The team is putting the final polish on the game.
This interview is being published on December 17. Will you be complete by then?
Cho: I hope so. I want to send everyone home for Christmas! We would've hopefully started the manufacturing process by then.
Q1 2010 is pretty packed with releases now...
Cho: It's actually still Q4 for EA. There's a whole bunch of titles but I'm not worried about it because it's a great game. It didn't really matter when we were going to put it out, I think it's going to blow people out of the water. You've seen the beginning - it doesn't actually let go once you start, it hits the ground running.
We're so proud of the game that I'm not worried at all. I feel like this is actually the best game that has come out of our studio in the history of BioWare. Ray was talking to me about this; of all the games we've made so far this was able to encapsulate everything we've been trying to do in games and present it in such a digestible form.
Each game we've put out has been great, each game has flaws, where as this one represents the pinnacle BioWare experience. If you're going to play one BioWare game ever in your life, this is the one to try.
What would you say other BioWare series can learn from Mass Effect 2?
Cho: The joy of doing a sequel is improving upon the things you set forth, keeping all of the important elements there but refining the areas where it could be stronger.
All BioWare games focus on good storytelling, that goes without saying. Mass Effect the series leans more towards combat. In the first one we delivered something and we really felt we could improve the combat with the experience in this one, without removing any of the elements that made the first one great.
We knew we had a limited amount of resources, a set time limit and we wanted to hit all the areas that we had criticisms for and make sure that we answered them. People said, 'Mass Effect is a great game but it had long load elevators'. We wanted to address every single thing so... I'm not going to say shut up our critics, but it'd leave no room to deny that this is an amazing game.
What would you say was the most successful element of the first game; the combat, or the role-playing elements?
Cho: I think the story, the setting, the universe to explore... that was the big challenge; setting up this new IP and getting people really interested in it. The second one really just continues that and of course we can make focused improvements on combat and inventory. All those small changes add up to hopefully one of the best BioWare games ever.
What's the biggest difference between the first and second game that means the sequel has to ship on two discs?
Cho: Everything is... better (laughs). Therefore we actually squeezed a lot of content in. The first game was actually huge and I was surprised we managed to fit it on one disc. This time everything's bigger, better, more detailed, the worlds are more expansive, the story's richer, the fidelity... everything takes up more space.