VideoGamer.com: What inspirations did the team look to for the game's shooter and action aspects?
CH: Now that we're doing a sequel we can look to the first game in terms of the things we did right and the way people want to play this kind of experience, and also the feedback for how to improve it. Again, we've got countless data points out there from people who've played it and ideas on how they would like to see it improved. But then the other part of it is we are out to compete with the very best shooters in the world, in terms of being able to pick it up and have fun playing it. We're looking at the top shooters that are out there, whether it's third-person or first-person, just looking at the very best games, the way they feel, the way they move, and making sure we compare Mass Effect 2 side by side, and keep tuning it and developing it until it feels as good as the best games out there that you're going to play.
VideoGamer.com: How has squad control been improved?
CH: There are some subtle things we've changed that amount to some big differences in the way you play it. One of them that's, again, simple, but it makes a huge difference, is in Mass Effect 1 you could direct your squad, so this is on the Xbox 360, to a location where you would want them to move or take cover. But, because there was one button for two squad members, they would end up fighting each other on the way there. Then they were stuck in the one position - you can't tell one to go to one place and the other to go to another place. On Mass Effect 2 we split the two buttons. Now you have one button on the d-pad, on the left side, for one character, and on the right side of the d-pad is another character. So you can point to the ground where you want them to go. That means when you come to a doorway, if you want them to take position on either side of the doorway, and then you're going to go in, and they'll take cover and cover you as you go in, you just click left and then click right as you point to the sides of the door, and they run into position.
It makes a huge difference. It helps them find a path to the right location, but then you as a player also have so much more control over how you send your squad in. You can send someone into cover and send somebody else charging into the next room while you take cover. You can come up with all kinds of interesting tactical options doing that. Plus they're context sensitive. So if you point at the ground they'll run up and try and take cover at that point on the ground. But if you point to an enemy, then they'll attack that enemy. If you map a power - that's one thing we've added to Mass Effect 2, is the ability to map powers to buttons on the controller so you can fire weapons and powers in real time. So you can still pause the game. It's got a similar combat system where you can pause the game, issue tactics to your squad and choose powers you want to fire. But from that screen you can also map your powers to buttons so you can fire them in real time, and you can do that for your squad members as well. So now if you have a biotic who's good at, say Biotic Pull, you can map that to that part of the d-pad. Now, when you hit that left side of the d-pad or right side of the d-pad, corresponding to the character, if you're pointing at an enemy, they'll pull that character and throw them into the air and throw them off a cliff or wherever you happen to be. It's just a couple of simple things that allow us to give a lot more control to the player in real time.