Tagged: Bioware

Stats! EA Rolls out N7 HQ, details your Mass Effect multiplayer career

Several things happened to me this year that I didn’t expect. I got into my first MMO, I got hooked on roguelikes and I spent a bunch of time playing Mass Effect 3’s Multiplayer mode. As I’m sure you know, I am not the multiplayer kind of gamer. I like stats, not leaderboards, so the whole “I got most kills” bragging stuff doesn’t entice to me. I didn’t play it for long (22 hours, apparently) but I did come to enjoy it until I got bored with the handful of maps and the repetitive waves of enemies. Oh, and the constant nudging to spend money on capsule toys full of junk.

I only bring it up today because EA has rolled out it’s stat-focused N7HQ site and I remembered my Origin login to get inside. I’m surprised I managed to rank so high; I’m usually in the millions on leaderboards and I haven’t touched the game in months. What you see here was the most interesting stuff but you can dig into your character roster, all the way down to your current multiplayer character skill trees. I tell ya, me and that Level 14 Female Sentinel had fun detonating tech armor and taking guys down with only a pistol and Warp.

Done Playing: Mass Effect 2 (Xbox 360)

I finally managed to get the cryptic end-game choices just right in order to unlock a specific Achievement and thought it was well beyond time to make my first (and last?) post on Mass Effect 2. Rather than attempt to pussy-foot my way around any spoilers, and with little interest in simply explaining how the game plays, I thought I’d put on my Something-to-Say hat and jab at a big idea for a little bit. I’ll take no credit for coming up with this as I’ve heard tentative whispers echoing the same sentiment since we all started working through the game, but I will throw my voice behind it: Mass Effect 2 could be the touchstone for a new generation of games.

I’m not trying to say fantasy and swords and swarthy English accents are going away, there will always be people passionate about making and playing RPGs like that. But the way Bioware has boiled down the traditional role-playing elements while whipping their shooter gameplay to a deliciously frothy consistency has yielded an experience that has me ready for more; a second playthrough, a new book, Mass Effect 3. That I — the guy whose RPG lust peaked and crashed with Final Fantasy VII — am anxious for anything I can get my hands on probably says it a lot better than anything I can put into words.

Beyond myself, though, Mass Effect 2 shows that you can mix role-playing games with more than just grid-based strategy as long as you tailor the experience accordingly. RPG fans don’t need the bro-heavy antics of Gears of War or the cruel challenge of Ninja Gaiden. Fans of those action-oriented games most likely don’t want a laundry list of sidequests or endless skill trees and gear to manage. Mass Effect 2 almost effortlessly combines the two while tapping into this modern age of mashups where spastically short internet media is subconsciously changing the experiences we enjoy. Eighty hours of gameplay is a great return-on-investment but most people don’t feel they need that exhaustive of an experience these days.

Boil it down and it’s not much different than aping Halo’s console-shooter controls, Kill.switch’s cover mechanics, or the ubiquitous good/bad morality system of half-a-million other games. It’s like Bioware took those little iterative steps for ten years, jumped into a time machine, and brought it all back to 2010. Instant evolution without all that tiresome waiting. I’m getting way over my head here but I wanted to put this out there so when Final Fantasy plays more like Brute Force than Blue Dragon (yeah, think about that!) I can say I kinda saw it coming.

Done Playing: Mass Effect (Xbox 360)

Put a bow on it...

As is often the case, just after my last post on Mass Effect I wound up finishing the game and putting off the final recap until I’d forgotten most of what I’d done. Trying not to give away super specific stuff I’ll just say that by the end I wound up taking the high road — the Paragon, goody-goody route — until it came to dealing with that damned Council that was always dogging me. I conveniently chose to “sacrifice them for the better good of civilized kind” but really I was glad to see them go. That’s… probably had an effect on my standings in Mass Effect 2 but it somehow made humans look like the hardasses of the universe and got us in charge of The Council 2.0. Happy coincidence, that.

Having played Mass Effect 2 by the time of this writing I will say that if you have any interest in experiencing the original, do it first! Mass Effect has a massively effective bucketload of glitches, hitches, and rough edges that make it look like a PlayStation 2 game from 2001 in comparison. I’d like to go back for a few Achievements but having watched Katy play through it as I’m playing the sequel I don’t think I could stomach it for even the 14 hours it takes to speed run the main story.

My final play time was somewhere around 27 hours and I’d definitely had my fill of Bioware’s expansive galaxy by then. The framerates go to hell by the second half and the hard-to-differentiate gear makes inventory “management” a painful misnomer. Still, there’s a great sci-fi universe to explore in Mass Effect and as much backstory as the sequel offers there’s nothing like experiencing it first hand, even if you run through it being a jerk to everyone.

First Post

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.

Now Playing: Mass Effect (Xbox 360)

Still working my way across the Traverse, I have slowly become side tracked by side missions (go figure!) and wound up driving around, planet-side the last day or so. I found some space monkeys and tried really hard not to shoot any of them, I went to the Moon to deal with a rogue A.I. and admire Earth, and now I’m out in uncharted territory looking for Geth bases. This lead Maxx and I to a little e-mail chat about the Mako and how, even though it’s a nightmare to drive and it flops all over the place uncontrollably, I still like driving it.

There’s something about the way it bumbles around that just makes me giggle and running over Geth is pretty hilarious. There’s also something about the terrain of these generic and feature-less lands that reminds me of the crusty old 3DO game, Off-World Interceptor. Watching the video above, though, it’s apparent that the similarities begin and end in my youthful memories. I remember, now, that Off-World was one of the first 3D games where I felt I was really driving around some big open desert world. You pretty much died if you weren’t on track and picking up Fuel but every now and then I’d shoot off the path and peek around the landscape before I exploded. I feel a lot of that same excitement any time I touch down in Mass Effect. I know I should be going straight for the goal… but that Anomaly is just over that hill. And, and there’s probably some unmarked debris right over there. That looks like a good spot for it!

For real, as soon as I finish off these Geth bases I’m going back to story missions hardcore. I’ve gotta rocket through this game and move on to the sequel before all the good stuff gets spoiled!