All words presented in this blog are purely opinion, not fact - unless specifically stated otherwise in the post.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Mass Effect Re-Post

So a while ago on another blog I wrote a review of the first two Mass Effect Games. I decided to post up a review of the third one but nobody reads that blog anymore, soI figured I'd do it here. It's not ready yet, but it's probably going to be related to the first review, so I'm posting it here - as a really scummy way of doing a blog post today as I have nothing to talk about.

Here it is, Mass Effect 1 + 2 Review completely unedited from when it was posted almost 2 years ago:

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I completed Mass Effect 1 in late 2007/early 2008 and I thought it was all right, nothing special. I was expecting much more from what was advertised, but even so I enjoyed it. It had a good story, a large, interesting universe full of colourful characters (in some cases that was more literal than figurative).
Then in January 2010 I took on the challenge of beating Mass Effect 2. Sadly I didn't have my old save for a number of reasons, domino effecting into the culmination of me pressing yes instead of no when the x-box asked if I wanted to delete all saves on the memory card as well as the hard drive.
This, however, did not deter me from playing through the game with no save data. It, however, was not what I had expected. I was expecting the game to ask me who died, or how I saved things, what had happened in the previous game in order to continue this game as if I did in fact have a save file. Instead it killed the character I was proud to save. It destroyed the council when I made it safe, and it destroyed an entire race of aliens when I set them free.
So as you could probably guess, the universe was not as I left it, nor as I expected it.
Still I pushed on. I moved forward. I played the game and I'm glad I did. It was a great story, wonderful characters, the characters initial ineptitude compared to my ME 1 character's total badassery was completely justified by him free falling from space with a broken space suit and dying upon impact with a planet after the Normandy was blown up.
All in all it was a good game with a great ending that made me scream at the scream for ME3 not being released until next year, but still there was something missing. I had a feeling I knew what it was; the feeling of knowing that you had taken your character through from Eden Prime all the way to the Omega Five Relay suicide mission. However I had no way of knowing if this was the truth. A few times over the past year, after purchasing it and Mass 2 for the PC, I tried to re-play Mass 1 in order to take one character all the way, but I never got very far. I always knew what was coming; who I had to take out next, what everyone would say, but then suddenly I was in the zone. I had just completed HALO Reach and really itching for a good Sci fi so I picked it back up, and it was awesome.
No longer jaded, or corrupted by advertising or press releases I could play it for what it was; a fully functional Science Fiction Action Drama. I played through the game, defeated the Geth, then Saren and when I watched Joker and the rest of the Alliance Fifth Fleet destroy the blasted reaper I couldn't help but cheer. I had saved the council, put Captain Anderson on the bench and even convinced Wrex to pretty much perform genocide against his own species. All in all it was a good day.
A good day which would be made better by my installation of Mass Effect 2.
Thirty minutes later the installation was finished. I double clicked the shortcut and was thrust back into the amazing universe that ME2 offers. The first thing that struck me was how much more interested in my characters welfare I was than when I was first starting from scratch on ME2. I'd been through a lot with this character, James Shepherd and I had fought off the Geth, we'd defeated Sovereign and now we were being blown out of the sky by an 'unknown' ship.
Sure I knew it would happen, sure I knew who was doing it, but it still felt more real than when it happened to 'New Shepherd' on my first play through. The simple fact that I'd played through a game with this character really did make a huge difference. I thought the game was great before, but now...

The games mix RPG elements with a fully functional TPS system with surprisingly good results. Often times when playing an RPG Shooter both aspects feel thinly spread, as if doing less of one and more of the other would have made a huge improvement, but with the mass effect games it works. You start off with a single point in one special ability and then throughout the thirty levels you gain extra points to spend as proffered over the abilities you have. Each ability can be levelled up three times and on the third time you are given the choice of making the ability even more powerful, or the same power but spread over an area.
This is the entire extent of the RPG side. sure it has weapon upgrades, and armour upgrades but I don’t think that they have been RPG elements for some time, if they were games like Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare and Halo Reach would be considered RPG FPS and I think that's just stupid.
The rest of the game is a very effective TPS that works incredibly well with each of the weapon types. Sniper rifles, Assault rifles, shot guns, or pistols, the weapons all feel genuine, the level of accuracy degradation and weapon power all seemed perfect for each weapon.
I have to say, however, after jumping straight onto ME2 from ME1 the introduction of ammunition did feel wrong, it felt as if it were simply added to get in the way of my sniper rifle. A fair point I suppose, considering with the previous method I would just snipe everyone to death before they got close enough to see me, let alone fire, but I was still annoyed to have to switch over when I was doing so well.

Gameplay aside I don't think it even needs to be aid how amazing the universe is. its bright, vibrant, dramatic, colourful, exciting, and strangely realistic. This is exactly what I feel the galaxy would be like if things took the same path.
The Characters are developed, even the ones you can't speak to. Walking passed random people you hear conversations, snippets of a person’s life, and I couldn't help but want to stop and listen to their problems, even if I couldn't help.
The Story is one of the best on a games platform I have ever played through, and I don't say that lightly.

If I did have to have a real problem with Mass Effect it would be the planet scanning. In order to gather minerals, which you have to do in order to even reach the final mission, players must either pray that they collect enough on missions (which they won’t) or go to un-explored planets and use an incredibly tedious scanner, scroll over the whole planet in order to find rich deposits and then use them to upgrade the ship.
I don't think it’s a necessary part of the game. It only serves to lengthen the gameplay by making the player hunt down unexplored planets and, occasionally find an anomaly which will result in a short mission.
The game would benefit much more if either the scanner was something interesting, a mini-game for example, or non-existent.

However, that said it’s only a minor issue, and for the most part it’s not exactly the holy grail of usability issues.


Finally, upon completing Mass Effect 2 for a second time, I sat back and breathed a sigh of relief. I had been right, the missing ingredient was attachment. I played through Mass Effect one and two with the same save file and felt more connected because of it, and now, if I keep my save, it seems that not only will I have the Alliance and the citadel behind me in the fight against the reapers, but I will be backed by an army of Krogan now that I have cured the genophage, a fleet of Quarians, since I remained in their good books, an army of Geth since I re-programmed the heretics, and an army of Rachni as I allowed their queen to escape.

Good Game.
Really. Good. Game.

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So, yeah, that was the review, its a fair bit old, but it'll do.
 MassTube
- James
 P.S. As little as I care about the olympic games it occurs to me that not many people in my life time will be able to say 'I lived in a city holding the olympic games, during the olympic games' so yeah... go me.

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