Thursday, August 6, 2009

Some Mass Effect thoughts

I have been trying hard recently to not purchase a game and then have it sit on a shelf and not finish it till years later. So with that in mind, I decided to play Mass Effect on the PC, a game that I have owned for...well I can't remember when I bought it.

Mass Effect is a game that I have wanted to play for a very very long time. The game was exciting and fun, and I was loving it for about the first four or five hours, that is till I left the Citadel and went to Noveria.

It was on Noveria when I began to curse the combat and squad controls of the game. The difficulty of the enemies didn't help either. The combat is not terrible in Mass Effect, but it does take some getting used to. When on Eden Prime, everything was easy, to easy in fact. So I tried to just run and gun on Noveria, and I was getting crushed. So much so that I almost gave up on the game, it was not fun.

Most people are familiar with Mass Effect at this point, but the game has a third person perspective. So when you have your weapon out, the view changes to a more over the shoulder camera angle, so far not so bad. But in combat you have to deal with weapon heat, weapon kick back, accuracy going down the longer you hold down the trigger, stuff that I was not prepared for when I went to Noveria to face Matriarch Benezia.

I played a soldier with an emphasis at that time on the assault rifle, and I thought that I could just run and gun my way through, turns out that is not the case. Now that I am on my second play-through, I know what the combat is and isn't, and it's made the game much more enjoyable. I'm wasn't a fan of the stop-and-pop combat of Gears of War, but after playing Gears of War 2 which I felt did a much better job, I think all third person action games should try to copy it. I feel Mass Effect would have been much better combat wise had they copied Gears. Just this guys opinion.

But I really believe that my issue with the combat has more to do with the lame squad AI and squad commands. The PC version has a much improved squad command interface over the xbox version, but it's still so limited at times. I have given up on trying to issue movement commands to my squad mates, they are just too stupid to figure it out. I have found that is best to take control of your squad mates ability usage, and instead I will tell them what ability to use and who to use them on. I am finding that on my second play through that is the best way to handle your squad, making combat go much smoother and is much more enjoyable as well.

The only other complaints I have about the game is that the side missions are very mundane and tedious at times, and that you can only land on certain planets in each system, one to be exact. I do have one more complaint; anyone remember the commercials about Mass Effect when the game was first coming out, and how there was this notion that you would have to make choices in the game that could decide the fate of races and planets?

Not in this game. In my first play through(which I know wasn't 100% complete) I had four times that I can distinctly remember making a choice that affected a race or a person. Maybe on my second play through I will run into more instances like the ones I have already had, but as far as I can tell they had little effect on anything going on.

Probably what I most enjoyed about Mass Effect was the story. I thought it was great, had a nice plot twist that I did not see coming, and was best part of the game. I also enjoyed talking with my squad mates. Yes there is just way too much dialog in the game, but each squad member had his or her own personality, and I enjoyed conversing with them.

In the end I think Mass Effect is a great game that is a tad over-rated. For some reason I was just not drawn in like I was in Bioware's other epic rpg, KOTOR. Also, the universe is not nearly as big as one would think, and if you chose to, you could finish the single player with out ever doing any side missions in less than ten hours.

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