Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mass Effect Thoughts.


First, I have something to say. I think Mass Effect made me a better PC gamer. No bullshit. I’ve already explained that I am not much of a PC gamer. Never have been, mainly because of the controls. I found I had little patience for learning what keys do what on a keyboard and remembering them. I do play a couple of MMOs, but the controls are so dummy-proof that there’s no way I can mess that up.  

When I first started this game with my Adept, I was a little shaky with the controls, which resulted in a few unfortunate—yet hilarious—deaths, but I stuck with it because I was enjoying the game. (Or it could’ve been the trademark Aries stubbornness coming out.) Then, I created a Soldier while playing my Adept and became really comfortable with the controls. By the time I piddled around with an Infiltrator and a Vanguard, I was whizzing through missions that took me some time to complete as my Adept (and even my Soldier).

This game was much more impressive than I thought it would be. Sure, friends told me it was a great action game with a solid storyline, but I still held off.

Once I got into this game, I was amazed at how rich this universe was. In some ways, you’re sort of thrown into the story. The world has an established feel to it, if that makes sense. Rather than there being a lot of time introducing you to everything cool and exciting in the world or starting you off early in Shepard’s career, you’re immersed in the world and learn about it more as you advance through the game until you feel like you’re really a denizen of this world.

The Eye of Sauron... er.. the beacon.
You do have a codex that provides you information about the races, wars, and various other things, though, that don’t necessarily affect the main story. I read it frequently in the beginning, but after a while, I didn’t really need it to learn most things because I often found these things out through conversation with characters in the game. I love exploring worlds completely, so I talk to whoever I can and do whatever I can. Speaking of conversations, every line in this game had spoken dialogue, even the conversations you would overhear was all voiced (and nicely so). Character interaction in this game was excellent. I think I played the game more for the interactions than the shoot ‘em up part.

 The story was amazing and executed with such craft that, when I neared the end, I didn’t want this game to end. I’d really come love and hate many of the characters, becoming more emotionally attached than I intended. You can tell they really spent time and effort creating this world, these characters, and this story.

One of the things that I liked about the story is that it presented you with plenty of complex moral choices to make, even if you’re taking the paragon path. There’s many moments in the game that are blurred between black and white, and you just have to go with the decision that you feel is best (or the decision you feel your character would make). Do you save the hostages or do you go after the warlord? Do you intimidate/charm this person to end a situation without violence?

I'm being inspirational here.
There was also plenty of action to keep my brawler side happy, as well.  I didn’t find many of the enemies challenging once I got the hang of the game and the controls, especially late in the game when I was nigh unstoppable and could run into a room with my soldier and just start taking out everything standing. (Okay, a few enemies can STILL be a pain in the ass late in the game like the Geth Colossi, and I really hated the Husks, too.)

Where it lacked in difficulty, they made up for it  by having plenty for me to shoot. I never thought it’d be so satisfying to shoot a bunch of robots for more than half the game. I’m sure once I play the game again on a harder mode I won’t say they’re easy again, though.

Another thing I liked is having the option to play as a woman. I appreciate that they wrote the story in a way that works equally as well for a female character as it does a male character.  They did nothing to diminish the female Shepard’s role unlike some other games who add a lot of unnecessary, mindless crap to a female’s story. Sure, there are a few areas in the game where a character you interact with will call you a beautiful woman or be a complete pig (and maybe the same holds true for the male character), but there’s usually plenty of room there to put them in their place.  Other than that, the story stays the same no matter if your flavor is male or female.

There wasn’t much that I didn’t like about this game. The two major things that bothered me most were the in-game romance and driving the Mako.

Two things I hate together!
I’ve already ranted about Mako, but in a nutshell, I didn’t appreciate the controls on it at all. While it was needed to cover long distances and to protect me from hazardous atmospheres, it was the most cumbersome experience that I have ever had with a game’s vehicle.  You only have two options when driving Mako. You either play a game of stop-and-go in order to keep the vehicle in control, or you decide to not give one single damn and drive it wide open.

 I did a little of both. Mako has a few redeeming qualities, though. The weapons on it are useful, especially the cannon against Geth Armature, Geth Colossi, and turrets. It also has a gun you can utilize while waiting for the cannon to cool down.  It’s also convenient to use as something to hide behind when picking off the enemies you’ve weakened. (You only get half of your XP for killing something while in Mako, but you can use it to soften up foot soldiers with the guns and then get out the tank and finish them off.)

My second issue? The romance.  This was probably one of my bigger peeves than Mako.  Okay, let me explain. I don’t have anything against the fact that there’s “romance” in this game at all, but it seemed somewhat forced on me. If I showed any interest in the two love prospects I’m allowed in this game (Kaidan or Liara for Femshep), then my actions were misconstrued as romantic interest. I just wanted to get to know my crew, and in the case of Liara, also learn about different cultures.

I asked all my crewmembers about their background and life because the stories are great, but it just seemed extra “attentiveness” was tacked on to my questions and responses toward my love interests, and there was no real way to get around it without being a total bitch to them. I wish that had been treated more as a side mission—like maybe throw in some responses that hinted at something “more” and inquisitive responses that were neutral.

There was no "Pump yo' breaks, homeboy..." option.

Also, I didn’t like how this “love” had to develop around the major missions. The main storyline isn’t that long in this game, and you’re only allowed to establish your relationship after each major mission. So, if you’re like me and do all the side missions, you’re left with big gaps where you don’t talk to your love at all—at least not about romance, anyway. This is another reason that I think it could be treated like a side mission. It would give those who want the romance some time to flesh this out and make it mean something. This game does such a wonderful job on giving this story, this universe, so much weight, yet the romance lacks terribly—and can come off, as is my case, inconvenient.

However, those issues weren’t enough to deter me from the game. Overall, this was an enjoyable game, and I’m glad that I decided to finally give this a play. And yes, I’ve already started on Mass Effect 2.

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This blog is a mishmash of thoughts, pictures, and rantings among other things about games I've played, games I will play, and games I am currently playing. From time to time, I may post book reviews that I've written that are about different games and/or game worlds. Feel free to recommend games or add me on the platforms I've listed. I don't do competitive multiplayer much anymore, but I'm always down for some co-op these days. I'm usually DigitalTempest everywhere unless otherwise specified.

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