Mass Effect 3: Initial Impressions

I have not broken my vow to not buy mainstream games with lots of DLC until the GotY addition with the DLC comes along for cheaper than $60.  But a nice friend lent me his Xbox (mine no longer works) and the game for the time it will take for one play though.

I wanted to hate it.  I was prepared to hate it.  And since a lot of the controversy seems to be about the ending (for which I have mostly avoided spoilers, so don’t be that douche), I’m still prepared to be let down.

But I don’t hate the game.  If I’m disappointed at all, I’m less disappointed than  I was for ME2 — the conversion from RPG to action game already happened.  At least the third game has mechanics consistent with the second game — while I was pretty pissed off that they planned a trilogy but shifted its core mechanics from one genre to another back at the second game’s release, I’m used to it by now.

I find it very strange, however, that there is an option to turn off dialogue decisions.  Was there really people saying, “Gee, those Mass Effect games look fun, but having to make decisions that might affect the game scares me.  I’d much rather sit passively and watch cut scenes with no choices or even the illusion of choice.”  Honestly, if anyone that reads this blog chose to turn off the dialogue options, please explain to me what attracted you to the ME games to begin with.  Although the choices were often illusions and often had less impact than I expected, they still advertised the series as being about tough choices.  Why turn them off?  Why even give us the option to turn them off?

I can understand some of the rage not related to the ending — EAware truly seems to have dropped its core fan base in order to sell a few thousand more copies.  Only time will tell, but the hit to customer trust and loyalty might make those increased sales truly counter-productive.

But I’m having fun, and that’s ultimately what matters to me.  I’m only about 20 hours in, and there seems to be at least one game mechanic that I still do not have access to; however, I find myself interested in the story.  That’s more than I could say about ME2, where absolutely nothing surprised me or really moved me emotionally.  Oh, my whole ship’s crew was captured?  Who cares, I knew nothing about most of them to begin with.  Even at an early point in this game, the writers have, on more than one occasion, made me care about minor characters and what happens to them.  That’s an accomplishment of sorts.

I had said somewhere at some point that if Bioware screwed this one up as much as DA2, if they filled it with generic writing and irritating characters (my feelings about SWTOR in a nutshell), if they made it as vastly different from ME2 as that game was to the original, I was done with Bioware — but so far, Bioware will still be getting my business, and sometime in the future I will purchase the game for PC.  I played through the others three times each—twice each on XBox and once more each on PC—so if the ending doesn’t leave me pissed, I will want to play through the PC version an extra time or two.

Well, Bioware, so far we’re still cool.  Barely.

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