This weekend has been insanely busy, and instead of posting about it and getting caught up, I have elected to spend the entire day playing Mass Effect (the first one) and cleaning. Verdict: I still don’t know if I like it. Ok, I’m pretty sure I don’t like it but I can’t quite pinpoint why, especially when it’s so acclaimed. The fact that I had no problem getting up and cleaning the kitchen, taking a phone call from my mom–this doesn’t say good things for this game.
Leave it to me to tell you about the first game when everyone is shitting their pants about the sequel; I am nothing if not Miss Day Late and Dollar Short (hence all the buying of games from the bargain bin).
To start off, I loved Knights of the Old Republic. No, really loved Knights of the Old Republic.
No, REALLY loved it:
I found it engaging and compelling and just the right level of challenging. I actually completed the game, which is (shamefully) kind of rare for me–if I get bored or stuck or really frustrated, I move on. Anything hard to do isn’t worth doing, right?
Mass Effect feels like a watered-down version of Knights of the Old Republic to me. I should like it, all of the elements are there: space exploration, the opportunity to be Queen Bitch of the Universe, the guy who voiced Carth Onasi…I should like it. But it’s not there. For me, Mass Effect is like going back to that boyfriend you dumped years ago and for a while, it’s ok because it feels familiar, but familiarity doesn’t spark passion and it’s never quite the same as it used to be. Even the Elcor cribbing speech patterns directly from HK-47 made me wistful for the old game, not engaged with the new one.
So far, the story isn’t compelling. I’m supposed to STOP the killer robots from wiping out all of galactic civilization? A galactic civilization that I find highly annoying and wouldn’t mind seeing wiped out? Yeah, ok.
I also don’t like that the dialogue options that you’re given is never what Shepard actually says. Example courtesy shadowstitch:
> How’s it going? > I can’t talk now > Get out of my face
Shepard: “I’ll eat your children and fuck your mother.”
If I’m supposed to be in control of the conversation as the player, the option I select should accurately reflect the in-game dialogue, even if it’s more succinct in the options. When it doesn’t match, it feels like I’m being given an ‘option’ just to placate me as a player.
Switching between weapons in battle or between weapon attacks and biotic attacks seems unnecessarily complicated. I don’t like that you can’t switch between party members–what’s the point of having me level up an entire party’s worth of characters if I can’t control their skills and attacks directly? If Kaidan is the one with lock-picking skills, why is Shepard the one who picks the locks? If Wrex falls in battle, how is it that he is magically revived afterward, but if Shepard falls, it’s game over?
In a gripe that’s likely personal to MY game setup, entering the menu screens causes my TV to buzz horribly. In-game, no buzz, reasonable volume. Menu? It’s like the volume has doubled and it’s ALL buzz. Ugh. It makes me want to spend NO time looking at mission objectives, leveling the characters, choosing weapons and armor–I want nothing to do with anything on that menu screen.
I don’t like to think that I’m penalizing it for being KOTOR-but-not-quite, but I can’t quite figure out what merits it DOES have. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll put a few more hours into it and see if it picks up, story-wise, and draws me in. Otherwise, I’m calling this one a miss.