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Gaming: Completed Mass Effect

I did plan to use a new image but it's so much easier to reuse the same one than find a new pic and resize it. Plus the Normandy still looks great.

As expected, the length of the game and my diminished play time meant that my replay of Mass Effect took some time, with almost a month passing between this post and the one I made about starting it. I have completed it now though and my opinion hasn’t really changed. The combat was definitely better this time around having a full biotic Shepard partied with Tali and Ashley, instead of my original soldier-heavy choice of soldier Shepard with Wrex and Garrus, but it’s still not great and fights against biotics (which actually aren’t that common) can leave you ragdolled on the ground unable to move while your health is drained, which is never fun.

The sidequest worlds with the Mako are bad, all looking like randomly generated lumpy terrain with almost no thought put into their design (especially when compared to the decent design of the mission worlds, which are all unique and clearly structured with a lot more thought). Exploring them just feels like time-killing busywork rather than something fun. They could be removed completely and the game would be better for it, if a lot shorter.

The game is greatly elevated by its story, writing, characters, voice acting and the strength of the universe Bioware created. In something like a Japanese RPG or even a modern Western RPG like Fallout 3 that would be akin to saying that everything about the game is good except the bits you actually play, but I would comfortably hold up conversation quests as the third major play element of the game, with plenty of choice, options that vary based on your actions and stats and plenty of item, money and experience rewards given for them. In fact I think the game could even be improved by stripping out most of the combat and Mako exploration and building up the conversations into something like Star Trek, where meeting new species, visiting worlds and solving problems through dialogue would be the focus.

General endgame spoilers follow for Mass Effect:

With Fallout 3 and Final Fantasy 13 being the only other RPGs I’ve played this year Mass Effect was like finally playing one written by and for adults, where all the writing felt like people had put actual effort into pretty much all of it. I think the finale is genuinely great, scaling the Citadel Tower from the outside with Sovereign’s giant claws grabbing at it in the distance, the conversation with Saren (who himself is a decent villain, not just EVIL) and the choices you have in how the game ends all really nail the feeling of an epic confrontation with the fate of the galaxy in the balance.

I don’t remember the checkpoints being as bad as they are, which is surprising as that’s a major personal bugbear. It rarely autosaves or checkpoints you and sends you way back if you forget to save, something I never quite adapted to as much as I should have done. All in all my save file timed it at about 32 hours to finish, which would be slightly higher with deaths and restarts. Raptr says I played for 48 hours but that’s not as precise and includes times the game was paused while I was on the web (which is why Splinter Cell: Conviction is my most played game on Raptr at 49 hours). I’d put it at somewhere between thirty-five and forty hours, a respectable length for an RPG (even if a lot of that is driving around in the Mako).

Now I can finally play the sequel, which I’ve been waiting to play since it released and have owned since August. Hopefully it won’t be another month before I’m able to get it completed.

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  1. December 3, 2010 at 15:28

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