It’s been under a year since Mass Effect 2 was released, and yet the sequel already has a trailer. That’s alright it my books though, because it looks really bloody cool.

An internet artist who goes by the name of ‘chikinrise’ has devised a very clever piece of cartoon artwork fusing together his love Dragon Age: Origins, and Mass Effect 2. Shepard is sporting some very nicely futuristic Blood Dragon Armour, alongside cartoonish renditions of Tali and Garrus.

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BioWare has recently announced the release of a brand new Mass Effect 2 add-on, “Overlord”, which is available now for 560 MS Points. They’ve also released a trailer and a few new screens to go along with the new content, which showcases five brand new areas for players to explore and two new achievements. The trailer details “Project Overlord”, a plan to gain influence over the Geth by combining a human mind with a Virtual Intelligence (VI). The new DLC sounds like a pretty interesting new addition and the price doesn’t seem half-bad either. Once all this E3 madness cools down I may have to go ahead and pick this one up, because lord knows I could use some more Mass Effect 2 in my life.

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The rumor mill is stirring yet again, and this time Mass Effect is in the mix. According to a recent job posting at the Electronic Arts website, BioWare is currently on the hunt for a new Multiplayer Programmer to “take existing single player user experiences and make them multiplayer safe”. What this means to their existing franchises are unclear, but tons of speculation is looking towards the possibility of Mass Effect 3 going the multiplayer route.

As with anything in life, opinions are wholly subjective based on the point of view of the individual.  In terms of video games, there are categories to help fans and players clearly define a specific classification of any given genre.  But there’s always someone with an opinion even when it comes to those defined categories, case and point?  BioWare’s Daniel Erickson, who during a interview with Strategy Informer, offered up his feelings on Final Fantasy XIII, stating, “You can put a ‘J’ in front of it, but it’s not an RPG. You don’t make any choices, you don’t create a character, you don’t live your character… I don’t know what those are – adventure games maybe? But they’re not RPG’s.”

In keeping with their promise of more DLC for Mass Effect 2, Bioware has news regarding more coming next week. From their official website: “Other than Collectors abducting colonists? Well, we got tons of awesome updates for you!” Read the full announcement after the jump.

BioWare and IDW Publishing have recently launched a Dragon Age themed comic series. It’s available through the iTunes store and most comic book stores across North America.

For a franchise with only one game under its belt, BioWare has successfully ensured that the Mass Effect universe will continue to have as much depth and complexity as ever.  Compared to its predecessor, Mass Effect 2 stands confident as a vastly improved-upon action role-playing game. The presentation of its engaging cinematics, graphics, sound and dialogue sequences, all lend themselves to the game’s polished sheen. Of course, the game isn’t perfect and with only a few missteps it certainly comes pretty damn close.

Taking place shortly after the events of the original Mass Effect, Commander Shepard and his crew are now en route to seek out and destroy any additional geth forces. From the beginning it is noticeable that the game is bleaker in tone and the following events only pursue further down that path. The plot in Mass Effect 2 – in essence – is a suicide mission and not even the hero is safe from what could inevitably be his demise. Also, since the choices you make in conversation could lead to this end result, BioWare has upped the stakes with a new feature to their dialogue system.

Conversations now have an interrupt component in place that will allow you to break up a cutscene with either a renegade or paragon action. This new characteristic takes the scene to a whole new level of fluidity and keeps the feel of the game right where it needs to be. Fast paced and emotionally driven. The voice acting only adds to these sequences and, on a whole, have greatly revitalized what was an epic tale from the start.

The characters in Mass Effect 2 only add to the capacity of the game and, with a combination of faces old and new, you will be gathering ten companions to journey along on your quest to save the galaxy. Granted, some of the crew you obtain throughout the game will be a bit more interesting than others but all will encompass a deeper back-story that will allow you to gain their trust for the mission ahead. Not only will acquiring their trust help you in the long run, but it will also grant you access to an extra ability that each character has available once you complete their given side mission. These side missions are far more interesting and along the lines of the main story when it comes to their presentation and, with that being said, it’s hard to look at them as just side missions. The only thing that makes them so is that fact that they’re optional.

It’s obvious to those who played the first Mass Effect that BioWare has taken into account the amount of criticism they received concerning their combat system. The AI squad mates aren’t anywhere near as inept as they were the first time around. No more charging head on into the line of fire where death surely awaits. Now, more often than not, your crew has enough sense to take cover when coming under fire. However, I did have the occasional problem of this nightmare reoccurring when a squad mate was equipped with a shotgun and couldn’t help but be out of range. A slight oversight that could have been fixed by allowing your squad mates to switch to a more appropriate weapon if needed. Or better yet, by not omitting the squad command to take to the nearest form of cover.

With that being considered, the squad controls have been greatly improved and you can now control the position of each member individually. This greatly improves your strategic performance throughout the game as it gives you a broader range on the battlefield to direct your attacks. One other downside I observed was that the button mapping for the squad didn’t feel as sensitive as I was used to. I found myself having to press the d-pad multiple times in order for them to rally back at my position or to shoot out a quick biotic attack. Be that as it may, this is just a nit-pick and may not be the case for everyone.

The cover system was also very carefully refined. No more running up and hoping that you snap to cover in time before the bullets start flying. This time there is actually a button press involved and it is much more akin to the Gears of War style cover mechanics. However, there are a few aspects that seem to have been overlooked in the process. Case in point; there is no way to crouch. Since combat in this game is a bit more tactical, it would have been nice to maintain just out of reach while trying to flank enemies. Especially considering the higher difficulty settings where these kinds of strategies play a huge role. There is also no blind-fire which seems like it would have been an obvious augmentation from the first game but, alas, it is nowhere to be found.