Morally Effective, Too

I was going to do a post today about what I think of my first two days spent with Mass Effect 2 (here’s a hint, I really like it). Instead, I’m going to save that for another day and focus for now on the game’s morality system. As was true with the first Mass Effect, morality plays a big part of your galaxy spanning adventure. Oftentimes in conversations, of which there are many, you have the choice of making Shepard respond with a positive, neutral, or negative tone. Choose the “good” answer and you win positive karma, which builds you into a Paragon. Choose the “bad” answer and you lose karma, sliding you towards being a Renegade. Choose the “neutral” response and, well, your disposition doesn’t go anywhere.

I mostly don’t have any issue with this system of interaction. I like being able to play out events in different ways to get every possible outcome. What I’m not big on is the fact that you’re incentivized to go Paragon or Renegade. On my first play through of Mass Effect 2, I’m going the paragon route. I choose to earn those all important karma points every chance I get when having conversations, automatically picking the “good” response as soon as it appears. The problem is, that’s not how I would really behave in real life. Out of the three possible responses, the good choice sounds too namby pamby, the bad choice sounds too hateful, but the neutral choice… that one usually sounds just right. You earn nothing tangible by choosing to play it down the middle, though, so it’s really a non-option. That’s a real shame.

What I think I’d really like is a conversation system that’s somewhere between what this game has, and what Dragon Age offered. The choices were much more varied in Dragon Age, and much more ambiguous. Shades of good and evil, paragon or renegade, were much harder to define in that game. That said, the efficiency of getting through conversations in real time in Mass Effect is something I would hate to lose. There’s a lot to be said for an RPG that lets you talk without having to stop and read through multiple sentences of text.

In any case, my Shepard will finish this game as a good two shoes. He’ll then immediately relive his adventure, choosing to be the galaxy’s biggest jerk. I kinda can’t wait to see the hilarious consequences of Renegade Shepard’s actions. Paragon Shepard can be kind of a bore at times.

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  • I agree with ya, I'm more of a middle-of-the-road kinda guy. Playing Mass Effect 1 and even trying to be a jerk I found myself falling back on the neutral choices and even going with goody-little-two-shoes choices at times. I wound up being about 30% Paragon, 20% Renegade and 50% Neutral! GAH! Must. Try. Harder. I should at least pick a side and stick with it.

    This is probably why I'm not a for-real hero or villain, I'm too damned unemotional about things. Makes me wonder if, say, a Cloverfield situation happened in real life if I'd still be like “ya know, I don't really care one way or another about this guy”.

  • Neff

    Damn, that video was amazing. I really am going to have to give ME a second chance.

    Although, it does highlight one of the biggest problems I had with the game… the horrible shadowmap clipping on faces. I had such a hard time sitting there watching shadows go crazy all the time.

    • Maxx77

      The shadows were definitely bad in the first game, along with a litany of other technical and gameplay issues. The story is what gets me through ME1 more than anything else. ME2 is such a huge improvement in every possible way… my advice is to just skip ME1 and go straight to the sequel, or do what Shawn did and play through it as fast as you can on the easiest difficulty.

      • Neff

        I am going to be picking up ME1 from a friend (and letting Borderlands sit idle for a little bit).

        Since I will probably only play through the game once, should I just go through with the stock Shepard or make my own character?

        • If you plan on playing the sequel too it'll only make it more interesting, fun and personal to make your own Shepard and import him/her.

          Plus, don't be like Maxx and be generi-dude! Five your Shepard scars! And stupid hair!! Yeah!!!
          I'm mobile. Please forgive my brevity and grammar

          • Maxx77

            Stupid, slow Internet. Shawn beat me to it!

            Well I'd counter that by saying that you should go with whatever gender and design you like the most. They give you the chance to change it in the sequel, so you won't be stuck with what you looked like in the first game.

            I just happened to go with with the stock John Shepard. He looks just like I'd want him to look like. When I try making custom faces in games, they usually don't look quite right. I think Bioware designed him much better than anything I could ever come up with. And after seeing all the trailers that led up to Mass Effect 1, I couldn't imagine hearing that voice come out of someone else's face.