Wednesday, August 25

When Hype Attacks

Mass Effect 2 is one of the most critically lauded titles released this year, but I'm not loving it. It has impressive visuals, deep characters and the action is solid, yet I believe there have still been better games released in 2010. It has hours worth of missions, side-quests and a comprehensive array of dialogue options, yet I believe I will struggle to finish it. The reason for this is simple: Commander Shepard. The central character, made to my specifications, Shepard is inconsistent, wooden and painfully awkward. A combination of near monotone voice work and stiff animation, my custom avatar has me at times cringing from a complete lack of sincerity.

Mild Spoiler Alert: The most glaring example of Shepard's erratic manner is during the reunion with Garrus, my favourite ally from the first instalment of the franchise. After listening to the protagonist put his crew, and the inhabitants of Omega to sleep with his droning tenor, the protagonist greets his old friend with his arms stretched out, essentially asking "Yo Garrus what up dog? Gimme some love!" Where did this come from? Since when was the captain of the Normandy so relaxed and at ease? I couldn't link this behaviour to the character I had previously observed for the better part of 5 hours.

Shepard isn't the only flaw in the package however. Textures often fail to load properly when you enter new locations, meaning that those noticeable load times still aren't long enough to ensure that the game consistently looks as good as intended. Further to that, sometimes the action grinds to a complete halt and continues loading. Also problematic is the combat. While I acknowledge that more often than not, it is enjoyable, it plays like your average cover shooter (at least early on, further in I am sure that stronger biotic powers should serve to differentiate the experience from the competition). There is not much here that you haven't seen, or played before in other 3rd person action games. Further to that, the ammunition system is just plain painful. I just want to use my heavy pistol, that is it. But I get 24 bullets for every mission. I could use other weapons (shotgun - short range, automatic pistol - too unwieldy), and I can retrieve more ammo from fallen enemies, but if I'm fighting from a distance, I've got 24 chances to make the galaxy a safer place. 

I am intrigued to know whether I would've noticed the above, had it not been for the relentless hype behind this Game of the Year contender. I still think Shepard would have left me fatigued, however I think some of the other issues may not be so glaring as they are now. I am going to persevere with Mass Effect 2, as I'm sure if nothing else, my brother would not forgive me if I did not play it through to near completion. Otherwise, I may not have found the inspiration to see Bioware's latest space-faring RPG (RPG lite I might add) through to its end.

Who is excited about Mass Effect 2 coming to the PlayStation 3? Who is nonplussed?


  1. I am excited to see it come to PS3, and hopefully the fix some of the loading issues and what not, but what can I say, I am a sucker for a good RPG!

  2. Yeah, I dunno...I'd like to enjoy a nice big Sci-fi adventure, but I can't get excited for Bioware RPGs. At all. Not sure what it is. I think it's possibly extremely well-conceived cliche, the stodgy, admittedly beautiful, opera they cast in fantasy or sci-fi.

  3. Played some more last night, and it is taking a turn for the better. My feelings on Shepard's voice-acting and animation remain largely unchanged however.

    There really are some fantastic characters and situations on offer here, but they are buried under the at times awkward combat, and redundant moral system.

  4. I will still play it, if for nothing other than an RPG that is truly huge, much like Oblivion, which was such an awesome game!

  5. Firstly after our discussion, your a re playing it wrong lol. Vanguards are for run and gunning not hiding then rushing for ammo thats wasting the class.

    Secondly, never had any texture load issues as it was a huge problem in me1.

    Thirdly, Bioware make the best RPG's ever square enix got nothing on them. Sure its my bias coming through becuase they have made most of my most loved games in recent memory. Hell im even playing KOTOR at present. But Shepard isnt supposed to be all cheery and exciting hes a war hardened vet who has very little emotion, and for your info readers tristan over played the garrus whats up dog bit, it is his most cheery line in the game but nothing over the top as implied.

    In all everyone is entitled to their opinion but their is a flaw and its tristans way of using the classes lol.

  6. Reubes, cleaning house! My main issue is simply that I've fallen out of favour with RPGs, the only one I've managed to enjoy in the last five or six years was Mount & Blade, but that's because it's not your average RPG...more medieval sandbox combat simulator. We'll see with Mass Effect 2, though.