Without a pause or hesitation Dr. Ray Muzyka, co-founder of one of the most revered role-playing game studios in their industry, decisively made it clear that “Mass Effect 2 is the best yet from BioWare.” The sequel to 2007's popular action-RPG acts as dark interlude in a planned trilogy and as Dr. Muzkya explained in a round-table conference call, the studio has carefully examined and tweaked the weaker aspects of the first game to make for what he calls a more tactical, intense and high-fidelity follow-up.
In the series' opening act, Mass Effect set the stage for a conflict that threatened all organic life. It was up to players to create who Commander Shepard was, who they fought along side with, and how they dealt with the impending Reaper attack. Coming to emotional decisions and engaging in firefights made for a shooter with depth to its story. On the other hand, nitpicky issues detracted from an overall compelling experience. Since its release, BioWare have listened not only to praise but criticism as well, using both to round out the gameplay for Mass Effect 2.
Dr. Muzyka groups the studio's improvements into three categories:
“One of them is the intensity of the shooter experience...[Mass Effect 2] feels like a shooter. The second bucket we focused on were technical improvements. The frame rate is locked in at 30 frames-plus, there's no pop-in, the graphic fidelity is really high, there's fast loading...basically everything is sped up. The third bucket is the optional content; the way that it's integrated in more tightly, it's still optional, but it's got a material impact on your main quest.”
While the first game was criticized for having repetitive, barren worlds to explore, Dr. Muzyka explains that departing from the main quest to explore unique ancillary worlds can have a measurable impact on Shepard's mission this time around. Not only will there be research modifications to make battles easier, but optional side-quests are said to influence your intra-squad relationships and how the story unfolds.
But, revising lacking elements and pushing boundaries technically is only part of what BioWare is about, according to Muzyka. He views video games as an ascending medium of artistic expression that has yet to achieve the same cultural understanding as film or literature, a fact that was made evident by Mass Effect's sensationalized romance scene. In order to “deliver the best story-driven games in the world,” (the studio's mission statement) BioWare have included a greater range and possibility of relationships for ME2, refusing to sacrifice real-world emotions and reactions because of past media buzz.
With the release of the second installment of the Mass Effect trilogy, BioWare aim to build on their legacy as an industry leader. Things like saved data carrying over from the first game to subsequent sequels to influence the story's landscape, and the studio's games expanding into the social networking realm both seem like natural extensions for Dr. Muzyka and his team. To him, BioWare's best work is still ahead of them, with Mass Effect 2 signaling “the next evolution of our craft.”