August 01, 2013

That's A Wrap: Mass Effect

warning: may contain spoilers

I know Mass Effect is old news to most, but I received a lot of great feedback on twitter during my playthrough, so maybe a newcomer's opinion will spark up some fun. That said...

That's a wrap! A timespan I can't even measure in July 2013 was devoted to slowly hacking away at, and then eventually becoming addicted to Mass Effect on Xbox360.

Shall we begin at the beginning? The setting and story had me hooked right away. ME is kind of tugging at my Sci-Fi heart strings a bit and I thought the premise of the game was great. You get to make a bunch of decisions about your lead character before the game even begins, so you have an idea what you're working with, and the introduction of other characters is steady and appropriate. I didn't find at any point in the game I was confused or lost or unable to follow the story, which is a good sign; it was consistent, linear and entertaining.

I ended up choosing a female Shepard at the suggestion of my twitter friends. She's a bitchy, Earth-born Vanguard I affectionately refer to as LoShep. I chose Vanguard because the reputation surrounding biotics is favorable, but having never played the game before I knew I'd be relying on guns at some points or another. I never did master biotics, but I did fall madly in love with my shotgun, so I think I picked the right one.

I thought the introduction of other characters was smooth and entertaining. The game does a good job making sure you understand what you have to work with and eventually, you understand the need for certain skills. I like that the game has a bit of action/consequence to it, in that you can decide not to recruit certain characters to your team. Personally, I'm a go-getter and insisted on fetching everyone which paid off for me in the end.
My team almost always consisted of Wrex and Garrus. They both have firepower and a bit of biotic and tech abilities so my team was presentable. Wrex is an amazing character. He's got a neat story, a mean look and a hilarious attitude. He kept me laughing the entire game and was always useful in combat. Garrus rounded out the team well and there's something irresistible about the man...

The Dream Team
Kaiden was insignificant and I don't believe I used him once by choice. Ashley is the Queen of PMS and didn't really stand out on the field for me so I never picked her either. I took Liara with me on the mission to hunt down her mother because the game suggested it, and I pretty much forgot about Tali until the end of the game. Honorable mention to Joker. He was fun.

I'm not really the best person to discuss graphics. It's not a terribly important component of a game to me so I don't really spend a lot time analyzing what makes a good and bad game, graphics-wise. The graphics were acceptable, they fit the scenarios and the genre. It was neat seeing different environments as they pertain to different planets. I did notice graphics details were slow to load, especially on characters. Not the end of the world but it defeats the purpose of having them if I'm finished in the menu before the details of a Krogan's face have time to render...
The sound effects in the game were average, which is a little disappointing, because I feel this is the kind of game to impress in that area. There was one major issue (for me) with mixing: the dialogue seemed to change levels throughout the game and the background effects were often poorly handled. There were many times I had to turn down my volume because the sounds were so loud that they were causing distortion, and my television was never turned up very loud. I expect this would be a nightmare if I'd had my receiver and surround sound hooked up. Throw some unintelligible dialogue over that and you've got yourself one pissed off Lo. Thank God for subtitles.
I haven't much to say about the musical soundtrack. The music in the game was minimal and almost never stood out. I doubt music was a major focus for the game makers but it's a shame there isn't a more memorable soundtrack.

So I started playing in the beginning of June, and only just completed the game this morning (August 01/2013) which is a bit pathetic considering I only clocked a little over 30 hours. The first time I played the game I poked around for an hour or two; tackled it again a day or so later for another hour; tried again later for another short bout and then finally decided I'd give it one last chance to hook me and voila: up until 5am for three days, finishing the game.
The reason it took me so long to get into this game is the gameplay itself. What a CHORE! The game really doesn't handle very nicely at all, and please keep in mind I'm an RPGer at heart and shooters are sparse in my repertoire, so the controls were a nightmare for me to adapt to.

Additionally, the tutorials in this game are awful. There really isn't much explanation about what things are or how to execute functions which only made matters worse. I must have been halfway through the game before I figured out how to use upgrades on my weapons and armor, and I actually had to google how to use grenades. I probably spent my first two hours of the game just screwing around trying to learn how to navigate my team, change weapons and use biotics. I hated constantly having to check my map on a different page and I still haven't gotten used to the start button being the menu, 'cause I'm so used to the top button of the controller always being a menu. I kept drawing my weapon for no reason at all.
For the longest time, I couldn't bring myself to the play the game because the thought of arguing with the controls again turned me off, and I felt guilty because I knew it'd be a great game, and I wanted to experience it myself. Eventually I mastered (pfft!) it, and the story picked up enough for me to drown my suffering. After that I was hooked. I clocked 6-10 hours for three days and finally finished it. Granted, I did very few of the optional assignments. I will perhaps tackle them if I can manage another playthrough someday.

I found the difficulty of the game to be what I expected. There were times I abused my controller over the number of attackers while I'm in a tunnel, and the bosses... and the mako! I hate that stupid thing! That mako was responsible for more deaths than the nazis. Absolutely hate it.

At the end of the day, the game is quite wonderful. I would recommend it to certain people. There are a few hiccups, but there usually are in a first installment. I understand Mass Effect 2 to be a much better game, so I'm looking forward to seeing the improvements and additions when I play it... soon!

If you're interested in more of my experience you can as always look to my twitter and search for the Mass Effect hashtag.

1 comment:

  1. Just wanted to say that I enjoyed your Mass Effect review, Lo! :)