E3 2010: Mass Effect 2 Gets New Demo and Downloadable Content

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Mass Effect may not have exactly been a groundbreaking game, but for almost everything (*cough* Mako) it did, it did extremely well.  Mass Effect 2 came out at Christmas last year, and EA has not been shy about their plans for further monetization via paid-for downloadable content (DLC).

We here at TechnologyGuide are big fans of the franchise, with a number of staff members having played at least one of the two entries. The game itself is commonly praised as the most popular title available for any system so far this year. One of the problems with Mass Effect 2 is that, despite its lower price tag ($29.99 on PC, $39.99 on Xbox360), there hasn’t been any sort of demo to try it out.  Demos are a longstanding tradition in the PC gaming realm, and they’ve translated well, to a lesser extent, on the console side of the industry.

The demo takes things a step further. One of the favored aspects of the Mass Effect system is that players who finish Mass Effect 1 can import their characters, including appearance, personality, backstory and in-game choices, into Mass Effect 2 and continue the adventure.  The new demo works in a similar fashion.  Users can download the game and are given the option to play through the first two missions of the story as well as an extra bonus mission that’s tangential to the game’s ultimate finale.

Commander Shepard, star of both of the Mass Effect titles, has to escape a space station under attack, after which players can move forward into the game to a place where they must rescue Subject Zero, a bioengineered psychopathic psychic superbeing.  BioWare, a division of publisher Electronic Arts (EA) says that there is over 90 minutes of content in the demo.

The company even brought back actor Martin Sheen, who voices a character within the game, to voice a trailer covering “The Story so Far”, which brings users unfamiliar with the Mass Effect universe up to speed on the story.  The downside to playing through the demo portion of an exciting game is that traditionally, players have to replay the same storylines if they go ahead and purchase the full title.  Not so with Mass Effect 2.

Upon completion of the demo, gamers are given the option to export their characters, replete with appearance, history and game decisions, just like the end of Mass Effect 1. This save file can then be imported into Mass Effect 2, allowing users to continue right where they left off.  It’s a clever bit of software.

In addition to the new demo, BioWare also announced a new expansion pack called “Overlord”.  Overlord adds five new areas to the game for exploration as well as two new achievements. EA charges 560 BioWare points to download it, which is something close to six dollars US.  The demo and content are available today, adding new life to a game that’s already been on the market for six months.

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