Saturday, 16 January 2010

Where everything is blue and gravity is all messed up

Magic doesnt belong in a futuristic setting, not usually anyway, and many previous attempts at the fusion between magic and science have failed miserably to acheive some kind of happy compromise. If powers are done at all in the future, they're done in a vaguely sciency way. Star wars had its use of the force which was quasi-magical which worked with mixed results in the films. It was cool but when they tryed to explain it with science it was awful (see medichlorians) and ignorance was definately bliss.

The Mass Effect universe has powers too, and in mass effect they only come in one colour, blue. They do a much better job of explaining the biotic powers in mass effect than star wars did, with the science fiction behind it seeming vaguely plausible and quite interesting. The powers available are a lot like the force but with some interesting things mixed in as well.  But no force lightning I'm afraid, which is a drawback.

The adept is the master of biotic powers in mass effect and playing this class will mean that most of the damage you deal will be from using your powers, allowing you to potentially control and decimate the battlefield.

Having played the adept last time in ME1 I'm curious to see what changes have been made to the class.

Push is maybe the most obviously useful power for biotics and will likely form the backbone of combat tactics using the adept. Enemies can be forced about violently in various directions of your choosing (except for towards you) and this power looks like it does damage on the hit, and then when the enemies crash into objects, ceilings and possibly even each other. This power should be very good fun and useful for repainting space stations with the brains of mercenaries.

Pull works the same way it does for Vanguards, though I guess for Adepts it just adds another direction to move enemies in, apart from that it seems the same and would be good for use in conjunction with the other biotic powers. Maybe you could set up an endless loop of push and pull on the same target, allowing you to yo-yo them to death.

Shockwave is also available to adepts as well and again, works the same way as it does in vanguards. It makes a bit more sense for the adept to have this power and could be used when all of your powers have been used up and the enemy is still charging towards you.

Warp is a power that debuffs an enemies shields, barriers and armour very quickly. When cast at a target warp will weaken their armour and do damage to it over time, setting them up to be destroyed by your team mates firepower. It looks cool as well, and lights up the enemies in the usual biotic blue.

Singularity is an interesting power for the biotic and only the adept is good enough to use this skill. It generates a miniature black hole in the air and this quickly sucks in your enemies and pushes them about in its orbit. This looks most useful against melee type enemies like husks as can be seen in the video. In ME1 I rarely used this power on other enemies but it can be useful for dragging enemies out of cover, and out of combat for the duration of the singularity. I can see this being used to control the battlefield and to block off corridors of advance (or retreat) for the enemies. As with all the biotic powers it looks just as blue and just as good looking as powers should be.

But whatever happened to Lift? This amazingly effective power is conspiculously missing from ME2, I had great fun lifting an enemy into the air and then allowing my team mates to shred them up in the air, or better still lifting an enemy into the air and then blasting them away with a push. This was horrendously good fun on the final assualt on the citadel section of ME1 sending enemies out of the gravity of the station to drift away to their deaths. Many krogan battlemasters met their end that way.

I guess Lift is missing thanks to the improvements they've made to the other powers, seeing as you can control the direction of push and pull it follows that you could simply control it to force the enemies upwards into the air. I can see this being just as effective as Lift, but only with a little practice.

I've got a feeling that maybe not all of the powers for each class have been revealed. For example Barrier is missing from the Adepts skills and yet some of the screens for the game show enemies using biotic barriers on themselves.  It would be odd to give this useful power to the enemies in the game, and not give it to the characters. Stasis is also missing but I never used this so thats okay with me.

Its hard to tell exactly how the use of biotics is governed in ME2 but I think its a combination of the old system of cooldowns, and a regenerating mana type system. If you look in the video theres a little blue bar under the weapon display, this moves slightly when the character uses their powers. Some powers like Push dent the bar only a tiny bit, but Singularity looked like it took a lot out of it. This was a level 20 character in the video though, so you'll probably not have as much mana at lower levels.

The Adept is a powers class like the Engineer and as such only has access to the heavy pistol and the submachine gun. Its good to see that they havent stranded the powers classes with just the pistol in ME2 and it gives these classes at least some versatility in their use of guns. The guns give an option for backup of your powers use as well as another way to stay alive when low on powers or waiting for cooldowns. If things get really bad in combat you can always resort to your heavy weapon, if you have one. There are some situations though where I think biotics would have only limited use, and only having these wimpy guns to back you up might result in some interesting deaths.


The main problem I have with the biotic thing is that my impression of these powers from the books were that they were extremely rare. With only a tiny proportion of any races population being sensitive to biotics at all and the enormous costs involved in training and using a biotic I would have thought it would have been less common in the games. Its seems as though half the universe are biotics in ME2 with pretty much all of your team mates (the ones confirmed anyway)  having access to some of the biotic powers. I guess this kind of makes sense, seeing as you're working with the best in the galaxy but a lot of the enemies have powers as well. It kind of takes the impact out being a biotic but it also stops these characters from being overpowered at the same time. I'm sure it will only make the game more interesting and it will be great to see how the enemies will use biotic powers on the player and their team.

I played the adept all the way through on ME1 and had a great time of it so I'm hoping it will be just as fun in ME2. Last time it was cool, but had its problems, the main ones being the repetitiveness of constantly spamming the powers and the physics engine being inflexible and not allowing as much cool stuff to happen as I would have liked. In this it looks like the physics engine will allow cooler things to happen to your enemies and use of powers has an extra depth to it which may prolong the life of the adept, before it gets boring using them.

I'll definately play the adept this time as well, maybe even porting my old character, erm... thingy sheperd from ME1. Much gravity will be distorted, and much 475 nm light will be emitted by my crappy little TV.

Next time I'll be forever done with blue, wobbly clouds of energy as I look at the Sentinel, the last class to have access to them.

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