Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mass Effect Completed for the 3rd Time

A few hours ago, I completed Mass Effect for a third playthrough, and yes, I still hate the Mako with a vengeance.

I played as the default-look male John Shepard as a Sentinal and later as a Medic, made it to level 54, and used Ashley and Garrus as my Squad Members; total time, just over 42 hours. I boinked Ash (and she's not a Republican Space Ranger anymore! Yay!) and racked up some nice Gamer Score Points for completing the game on Hardcore, which also netted me a cool Saren Gamer Pic. Only 8 Achievements away from earning them all!

I've found that I've enjoyed Mass Effect more and more each time I've played through it, and the game's added difficulty certainly helps; Hardcore was balanced, challenging, and fun. Ultimately, I'm looking forward to giving Insane Difficulty a try with Liara and Kaidan as my Squad Members, and I'll probably play through as a female Technician for some extra Achievements.

The story in Mass Effect is truly something special, a gem for the medium, and I'm anxiously awaiting the sequel to see how the story continues. The game really is character driven, which is a great thing and adds to the attachment and emotional impact. <SPOILER ALERT> This time, at the game's end of what is still the greatest video game climax I've ever experienced, I ordered the Alliance Fleet to focus on Sovereign, the neutral response, and though the Council is sacrificed and dies with the destruction of the Destiny Ascendant, I like how different the tone was in the final conversation between Udina, Anderson, and Shepard. Where last time it felt very much like a Star Wars Sith ending, this time it felt like an opportunity for humanity, with generally good intentions held. <END SPOILER>

I just wish they'd fix the damn Mako. Aside from handling like junk, how often did I fire only to have my shell or bullets go high of my targeting reticule. I mean, what's the point of a targeting reticule if it isn't helping you aim. .

Aside from that, I've gotten used to the game's clunky combat system and tend to find combat a lot more balanced now. In Mass Effect 2, however, I'd love to see increased Squad AI as well as the ability to issue individual orders for your Squad Members. I'd also love to see more variety in the design of Uncharted Worlds, mines, research facilities, etc.

There's also an occasional bug where your Squad Members go dumb and will no longer follow you, you have to keep telling them to move to a position, and I find this mainly occurs on Feros in the underground tunnels. Also wouldn't mind seeing the mini-game fixed so Easy, Average, or Hard decryption actually takes 3, 5, or 7 button presses respectively. Sounds like a title update needed to me.

Should BioWare release any additional Gameplay Modules, I'd love to see something involving the Rachni or Krogan, and certainly something longer and more elaborate than a simple Uncharted World. I'd also like to see Tali as a possible romance plot option. I mean common, she's the hottest one what with that mask and weakened immune system and all.

While not a perfect game, Mass Effect equals yes, and if you don't have an Xbox 360, I strongly recommend picking up the PC version that releases this Tuesday.

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