I was going to write a rant about the current state of video games, but I just happened to finish off ‘Mass Effect 2’ (wikipedia) after 25 hours of (clocked) gameplay. That should tell enough.
Back in the early 90s when Origin Systems released ‘Wing Commander 3’ (wikipedia), the game was generally lauded as the first ‘Interactive Movie’: the game featured (beside the normal flight combat model) full-motion video cut-scenes and introduced an ‘interactive’ story line. Why do I bring this up? Everytime I play a Bioware game, it reminds me of playing WC3. From Knights of the Old Republic to Dragon’s Age (on xsamplex), each Bioware game is a game that features a linear combat system on top of an interactive story. And like the other games, Mass Effect feels extremely ‘boxed-in’ or ‘rail-roaded’ as some people prefer to call it: You cannot get lost and at all times combating enemies feels like a turkey-shoot fest. While the maps are gorgeous, I felt myself dragging my heels to get into combat just to get enough squad points (“what?”) to make it through the final missions (“huh, already”). And that’s basically the game: make enough squad points (“grind-grind”) so that the right story-line (“win! kerching!”) pops up at the end. Just like Wing Commander 3.
However, the storyline is incredibly compelling: there are the cliches and the ‘corny’ conversations, but generally speaking, the story is extremely well packaged. The story writers did extremely well at the end of the game despite the ‘run over the mill’ boss fight against the Reaper/Larve. The last fight can be described in the following words: “Hey, you’ve got to hit the eyes LOL”. Boring.
Is the game good then? Would I recommend it? Yes: sure, but only if it’s rental for consoles (Xbox, PS3). For the PC: I don’t know yet. If you’re into Bioware games you wouldn’t care about my words. If you’ve never tried Bioware games before, don’t let other games reviewers fool you: this is not an RPG nor is it a true third-person shooter. However, if you love interactive games, this game is definitely for you. You’re going to love to click the blue or orange texts or press the left and right buttons at the right time.
11/30/2010: Orange and Blue, via Reddit.
A couple of images after the fold.