Earlier this afternoon, Xfire played host to a live playthrough of a new area in Mass Effect 2 (which you can watch for yourself here), followed by a developer Q&A with producer Jesse Houston and game designer Christina Norman.

Even though I am an immensely busy person (who am I kidding?), I decided to glue my eyes to my computer screen and take it all in for all you lovely Game Rant readers who had to miss it. So if you aren’t completely saturated by information and coverage about Mass Effect 2 (the epic Mass Effect 2 launch trailer released yesterday), read on to get my impressions on the playthrough and some new little nuggets of information from the Q&A.

Disclaimer: If you are trying to steer clear of information before next week, then what I am about to say could classify as spoilers. So, uh, don’t read if you have an aversion to such things.

Mass Effect 2 Developer Playthrough Impressions

The playthrough began with Shepard standing in his cabin on the Normandy. The size and detail within the cabin was noticeably different from the first game, as was the rest of the interior of the Normandy. Producer Jesse Houston explained right here that the Normandy was about twice the size of the ship in the first Mass Effect. After leaving the cabin, game designer Christina Norman took Shepard to the elevator, where a screen popped up to choose where to go on the Normandy and then–whoosh!–Shepard was there. Took about a two seconds, which is obviously a departure from the first game.

Shepard emerged in some sort of laboratory, and this is where you will be able to upgrade and replicate your weapons in the game. One nice thing they pointed out was that any time you find a weapon all members of your squad can use it, instead of having to do the insane amount of swapping in the first game. This is also where they showed the armor customization and how players will be able to change everything about the armor, including color, patterns, and set pieces. I like this idea of customization, because I can say I wasn’t too happy running along in pink armor a few times in Mass Effect.

Next, Shepard was taken to the galaxy map, where players will be able to control the Normandy as it flies from galaxy to galaxy, and ultimately to each planet. Norman said that the ship will use fuel, but she didn’t elaborate on exactly what that entails. Will we have to refuel at certain places? Is it possible to run out of fuel? I like the ability to take control of the Normandy, but I hope the fuel system isn’t annoying.

Norman decides to land on a planet and take on a quest to find a Krogan scientist. She chooses her squad (from ten available squadmates, up from six in the first game), and they hop off the ship in preparation for the ensuing battle. I am an RPG fanboy, so I welcome the increase of available squadmates. This will also help with multiple playthroughs, as people attempt to finish the game with all members at least once.

After plowing through a few enemies, the squad comes upon a wounded enemy soldier and a conversation ensues. The dialogue system looks pretty much like the first game, and that’s a good thing in my opinion. We did get a chance to see the interrupt system in action, as a call comes in for the wounded soldier to report and Norman chooses the option that makes Shepard pull out his gun and let him know that taking that call would be a very bad idea. Upon turning his back, however, the soldier begins to answer it and an icon to hit the left mouse button appears on screen labeled “Interrupt.” Norman chooses the option and Shepard takes a quick potshot behind his back, dropping the soldier and getting a genuine laugh-out-loud from me. Love it.

The battle rages on throughout the rest of the level and Norman really does a good job of letting us see how the combat works. She uses her special abilities incredibly frequently and explains how the cool-down system works in Mass Effect 2 (which will be covered in the Q&A section of this). She is playing a Vanguard, and I must admit, it looks pretty darn cool. The whole Superman/Flash energy bolt thing is pretty powerful, especially if you come out of it wielding your shotgun. It did put Norman in a tight spot a few times, though, and she was lucky to come out alive. Unfortunately, I will have to go with my normal soldier for my first playthrough.

One quick note about the minigames. During the playthrough, we get to see both the bypass minigame for doors and the hacking game for computers. They are both different from the first game and will rely solely on the minigame, instead of character statistics. The hacking system made sense to me, but the bypass system did not. Looks like I am going to have to practice that one.

In the end, after fighting some particularly nasty looking Krogan Berserkers, Shepard and his squad enter a room with a Krogan lying on a table and Houston announces this is the end of the playthrough and the beginning of the Q&A.

Some of the Q&A covered things that have been covered to death over the course of Mass Effect 2‘s production, so I am going to focus mainly on the things that either weren’t heavily covered or were fairly new to me.

Click to continue on to to the Mass Effec 2 Live Playthrough Q&A session details…

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