A Strange Turn of Events

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…

Mass Effect

Mass Effect

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!

Gameplay

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.

Combat

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

Mass Effect

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.

Recommended

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.

Rating: 5/5

Mass Effect

24 Responses to “A Strange Turn of Events”

  1. *rubs eyes* I honestly thout this was a game you would *never* be interested in.

    Glad you got into it – what I always said to friends was that if you can look past what it's not (a GOW game /w RPG elements) and look at it like a upgraded version of KOTOR1 you can really enjoy this game.

    I'm actually going to jump back into this once I clean up the GTA achievements

    • Well, it had my attention for the longest time… until it was released. The gameplay just looked too slow and disjointed for my liking. But that's not the case at all.

  2. Yeah, it's a great game in many ways, though where it fails, it fails epicly.

    The inventory system? What a pain. I bought the expansion, but I haven't bothered playing it yet, simply because I have to clean up my characters inventory system, and I cannot be bothered to do so.

    And while I'll go so far as to say that the world is slightly generic, they do deliver it with elegance and in spades.

    Hopefully the sequel will make up for it 🙂

    • Oh yeah, the inventory disaster. I was thinking about popping it back in and you reminded me of that.

      It was actually the reason I stopped playing…I reached the limit and would've spent hours deleting items bullet by bullet.

    • You know, I'm not too far in and had already thought the inventory system was rather weak. The first time I went to that dude that sells gear on the ship, I wanted to sell off some stuff, but didn't know what I was using and what was extra, etc. Kind of silly that there's no some sort of indicator for items that you've got equipped.

      I may have to start paying more attention to this, so it doesn't ruin the game for me in the long run.

  3. I'm curious as to why North Americans don't get RPG's? Turn based RPG's, boy am I a sucker for those. Real Time RPG's don't really do it for me. Despite the fact everyone seems to be recommending this game, I'm too apprehensive about trying it.

    • you play that Penny arcade game yet? I think they did a great job with it.

      I saw on your blog you recommended Lost Odyssey – I'm gunna check that out this summer.

      • I didn't even know the Penny Arcade game was available? Maybe the UK has a different release date?

        You should definitely buy Lost Odyssey. It's… Perfect 😮 The graphics, the writing; it's the best story telling I've personally ever seen in a video game. You won't be disappointed!

    • Well, not all North Americans say "WTF?" to Japanese RPGs. I guess I should broaden that statement to the rest of the world, minus Japan, and those strange enough to be able to relate to what's happening on screen. That shit is just beyond my comprehension.

      Turn-based gameplay is an instant fail with me as well. I won't even give it a try any more. I did with the Penny Arcade game, and shut it off as soon as I stepped up to hit a Fruit Fucker with a rake… stepped back… FF hit me… stepped back… stepped forward and hit FF again… step back… gah! Meanwhile, 3 other FFs are just standing there watching. I can't take it! 😛

      • Funny you say that about the Penny Arcade game. Before release, would have agreed with you. Thought I wouldn't like "turned based combat". The pre-release screen shots made it all look really boring.

        But then I tried it and I'm totally hooked! And now I'm to the point where I'm looking for games with similar combat. From this thread, looks like Lost Odyssey might be worth a try?

        Re: Mass Effect, I did give it a try when it was released last Christmas, but soon gave up. Hard to say why, but couldn't really get into the sci fi story. And as you guys said, just found the inventory menu system a complete waste of time.

  4. 100% w/Sinnix on this. Mass Effect was my game of the year for 2007, and so far nothing in 2008 has surpassed it for me. Halo 3 was a close second. I'm not traditionally an RPG fan, but the fact that game can be as involved or un-involved as you want to make it really kept me into. You can sink 30 hours into it or 12 and feel equally as rewarded at the end of the game. Glad you gave it a shot.

  5. Let me just say this game is awesome! It has got that sci-fi movie feel to it which i love. I personally do not like turn based RPG's but I find Mass Effect very enjoyable because of the live action and deep story. Loving your reviews, keep up the good work!

  6. I actually bought this game at the same time I bought Assassin's Creed at about Christmas in 2007. I've beaten Assassin's Creed now, yet Mass Effect is still in it's original packaging. I just have no incentive to play it at all.

    I've heard quite a few good things about it though, I might actually go open it!

  7. I really enjoyed playing Mass Effect in the first 15 hours and it slowly went downhill. But.. I can't remember the last time I finish an RPG… FF7 IV maybe?? I still give it high ratings and blame me for having a short attention span.

  8. I felt the same way, not really my cup of tea. But I've tried out a few games you recommended or brought to my attention (Boom Blox is so friggin sweet!) and not regretted it so if I ever have some free time I'll probably give it a rent.

    • Isn't Boom Blox crazy fun? Multiplayer is just great, and it's so easy to pick up. Excellent party game, for sure.

      Glad you've found my little critiques useful. And good to hear I haven't steered you wrong, yet.

  9. Dude! Whatever you do don't give up on this game. When the story really kicks in at the end it is EPIC! It is really to bad that the first chunk turned so many people off because the last quarter of the game is where it shines.

    • There was no way I was going to bail on this game. I was so into it, from beginning to end. Finished it a couple nights ago, and you couldn't have said it better – EPIC! The last few cut-scenes were so damn good. And some of those battles on the Citadel were great.

  10. Matt, You convinced me to try Mass Effect, so I picked it up yesterday, and I have been kicking my ass for not trying it sooner. This game rocks so hard. You can get as involved as you want, or step back, and watch the story unfold.

    Thanks for making me stay up till 2am last night playing ME, and now I'm tired and falling asleep at work. Small price to pay!