Mass Effect 2 Q&A

We grill Mass Effect 2's head honcho about BioWare's sci-fi sequel

Mass Effect 2

PCW: Mass Effect's inventory system was missing options like "leave" or "take this, not that" which made item management and character outfitting a bit of a struggle. How has Mass Effect 2's inventory interface been improved?

CH: The inventory system is completely different. Nothing about inventory management from the first game is in Mass Effect 2, though all of the actual functionality it provided remains. Basically we took the whole thing out and replaced it with a bunch of different systems that do the same thing. Part of the problem is that, in that first inventory system you could do a huge number of things. You could manage the load-out of your team, you could customize your weapons, you could do all of this stuff through that interface. Now we have separate ways to do these things.

So you can very intuitively manage the load-out of your team, then go to a different system where now you're upgrading your weapons and that feels more intuitive. We've essentially spread things out over several different areas where you can actually do these things in a more natural way and it's a lot more fun.

The other thing that allows us to do, is that each of those aspects can go a lot deeper. For instance, the way that you customize your armor and your appearance and your weapons is a lot deeper than we could've gone before, when it was all managed by one interface.

PCW: Last question. Gameplay and auto-narrative closure aside, today's video game stories seem incredibly shallow. Even the best bits of BioShock, which seem genius next to the D-list riffing in a game like Doom 3, feel a bit superficial when scaled against books like Cormac McCarthy's The Road or Neil Stephenson's Anathem or Alan Moore's Voice of the Fire. Your reaction?

CH: It's a complex issue with lots of factors. I think part of it is that in books and movies, and I'm sure someone can Google this and see if I'm right, but I think there are just many, many more books that come out per year, and many, many more movies, relative to the big games that get played. I think the fewer works you have in a medium, the more mainstream or accessible they have to be. If games were consumed in tenfold numbers, then you'd have more opportunities to find different genres and niches in terms of the story, and more exploration into really personal and small-scale stuff.

If you look at the entire spectrum of games made, there are definitely some that veer off the beaten path, but they often don't do well enough commercially. They just don't capture the huge mainstream audience that's required to make back the money necessary to put together a triple-A, really high-quality game. Unlike a movie, we can't go on location and have actors show up and film them. Even if you want to make a small private game, if you want to have actors and sets to comprise a story of the caliber you're talking about, you still have to build those actors in your game, you have to build the sets, and you have to build out the overlying technology in general. That's still very expensive. So I think that's one factor, the fact that ultimately a game has to be able to appeal to a broad enough audience.

But I think there's maybe a bigger factor, which is...gaming's just a different medium. I think we have to acknowledge the fact that it's a different medium, that the way a game affects players' emotions in terms of narrative is fundamentally different. If you compare the same elements from a game story to a movie story on paper, certain things won't match up, but I can tell you, I've had a number of game-story experiences that were as profound as any movie I've seen, one of them being ICO.


For me, ICO was about a nine-hour game, and you play for about eight hours leading a little girl through dangerous situations. As you move around, she's holding your hand, and you feel the tug of her hand on your controller for eight hours. But then in the ninth hour, you lose her, and suddenly, you don't feel the tug of her hand on your controller anymore.


The way that ICO ends, it affected me more powerfully because of that emotional rollercoaster they put me on than I think maybe any movie that I've seen. And it's because, in an interactive way, they tapped into something about how I connect with a human being in a way that a movie can't. So I think that if a comparison's to be made between games and other mediums, it has to be made in terms of the result of the experience.

PCW: Mass Effect 2 release dates...still on track for an early 2010 release?

CH: Yep, absolutely.

PCW: Thanks Casey.

Follow @GoodGearGuide on Twitter: @GoodGearGuide

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matt Peckham

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?