We know, we know. The first Mass Effect
was also a "shooter" (note: in quotes), but after demoing a slice of combat in the sequel, we're dropping the quotes. Mass Effect 2 is
a shooter -- if you want to play it that way.
BioWare dropped us into the role of a Soldier-class Commander Shepard and set us loose upon several waves of robotic and human combatants, as we traversed a few outdoor corridors. Our first thought was, uh-oh,
Shepard's still stiff on his feet (loosen up, guy, you move like a tank). But as we pressed up against the first barrier (cover is actually useful!), and rose up our assault rifle, taking aim down sights, it all clicked.
A robotic humanoid was charging, so we aimed at its kneecap and let out a few rounds, blowing off its leg. It crumpled to the ground in a mess of sparks and flashes. We quickly moved the cross hairs over the head of a second robot and ripped it off with another burst from our gun. We pressed forward, ducking behind a low wall, then raised up again firing our secondary, incendiary ammo into a human opponent who burst into flames. Understandably, he panicked, as a BioWare rep explained he would, taking him out of the battle momentarily -- until a squad mate dispatched him.
Two other grunts were camped out behind some cover. The first, we just "Lifted" out, aiming our sights over his position and calling upon our squad mate's primary power with the press of a button. The enemy floated helplessly out and into a hail of bullets. The remaining guy stepped out of his own volition, and we fired a third, concussive round, which soared into his chest and sent him flying onto his back. A few standard rounds put him to rest.
We paused to check our health and noticed we didn't have to use medi-gel (our life bar was full). Was the demo in God mode? Well, yes, but ... medi-gel has been eliminated! BioWare has ditched "health packs" for regenerating shields and
Entering the next corridor, we pulled out the new, enemy-seeking rocket launcher (equipped with a ridiculous supply of rockets -- just for the demo) and blasted apart some turret guns, and then an entire swarm of robots hidden behind a hulking wall. We advanced, too quickly, and hit a snare: melee combat. There's both a jab and slower, more powerful swing, but neither proved effective against the erratic movements of an enemy solider, who slipped past us, retracing our approach, and hid behind some cover. Another rocket ended him. One, final victim, crouched behind a low wall, was easily dispatched by our three-man squad.
Perfect? No. But surely exhilarating. This was a truly new
way to play Mass Effect;
one that we had written off as unplayable in the first game. Mass Effect 2
is a shooter! ... (Now, let's hope BioWare has done something about the menu interface, too.)