Over the past month or so, I’ve found that my schedule has taken a more hectic and unpredictable turn. Obviously, having a baby around really shakes thing up and it’s pretty hard to plan anything. Whether that be an outing on the weekend, or simply planning to catch up on some TV or gaming in the evening. Whatever I end up doing, I need to be able to drop it at any given second. I’ve found this taking a strange toll on how I play games. I feel like whatever time I have to play games has to be well spent. From the day GTA IV was released, that’s all I was playing. Until this past week. I reached a mission in the game this is pretty lengthy, multiple parts, and has no checkpoints. After the third failed attempt, I put GTA IV back in its case and decided I was going to leave it for a while. But where things get strange, is in the game that followed…
My local video store has this awesome habit of clearing out previously played games by putting them on sale at two for $40. Of course, the shelves are stocked with horrid movie licensed games and Japanese RPGs which North Americans simply don’t get. But I often find recently released titles in the mix, and at $20 a pop, they’re pretty hard to pass up! I smiled as I walked into Rogers Video last weekend as I noticed the big “All previously played games, 2 for $40” sign and quickly made my way over. I snatched Condemned 2 off the shelf without a second thought, but had a hard time finding a second game I really wanted. After much consideration, I decided to go with Mass Effect. I figured if I wasn’t into it, then I could trade it in at EB and likely get more than $20 for it. Not being the biggest RPG fan myself, and having been turned off by the gameplay footage I’ve seen, I was fully expecting to put an hour into Mass Effect, then turn around and trade it in. I’m now about 5 hours in, and I’m fully hooked!
I love how RPGs are now trying to broaden their audience by taking some of the more tedious aspects of the game out of your hands. Micro-management of player stats being one of them. Mass Effect allows you to fully manage your own character and your group of allies, right down to each skill point. Or you can allow the game to automatically level them up for you. I’ve chosen to manage my character, but let the game handle my squad for me. After all, I don’t have a ton of time to put into gaming these days, and I’d rather spend that time playing the game, rather than spending time on the manage screen.
Of the reviews I’ve watched and read, combat was frequently noted as lacking and being somewhat tedious. I could see this, if you’re constantly pausing the action to assign actions to your squad-mates, but you don’t have to play that way. I chose a class that my character specializes in weapons and biotech. So while I can do some magic shit, like toss a dude in the air, I can handle a pistol and shotgun like no other. There’s an option to allow squad-mates to freely use magic, which I’ve enabled. So I’m only pulling up the action wheel from time-to-time. This keeps the action fast paced and my interest piqued.
Back Stories and Plot Lines
Wow, this game is deep! Between missions, you roam around your ship and talk to the crew. During conversations, you can dig up personal history or find out about the origins of each species. I’m blown away by how much back-story each character has, and how they’re all inter-connected. It’s also pretty cool being able to treat people differently depending on their actions or the conversations you’ve had. There’s a couple people I’m really not fond of, and I’ve let them know it. Where as, I’m moving more down romance lane with others.
The main story lines has really grasped me as well. And as much as I want to do some of the side quests, I’ve been putting them off so I can find out how things are going to unravel. By the looks of things, I’ll be replaying it once I complete the story.
I’m really enjoying Mass Effect so far, especially considering I never thought I would bother with it. If you’re of the same opinion that I was, I suggest you go out and give it a rent. You might be pleasantly surprised.