Deconstructing the game: Mass Effect

Anyone following me on twitter can see that my relationship with Mass Effect has been one of love and hate; mostly hate. I remembered really liking the game when I started it up back in 2007 but that was a very busy year work wise for me and so I never got too far on the first planet I traveled to, Noveria. When I returned to the game I only felt it was right to start over so as to get the full experience and then just plow through to the end.

While playing through the game I ran into a lot of hurdles toward my enjoyment of the experience. For every ten issues I would have, however, one great moment of sheer brilliance would show up that would keep me playing. I guess you could say it was similar to my experience with Hotel Dusk in a way, except Hotel Dusk wasn’t by a “AAA” developer and also isn’t an RPG.

Mass Effect is a great story wrapped around a game marred by a lot of problems that really get in the way of the actual gameplay being fun enough for all the effort put into completing it. While playing through the game I kept thinking about how much better SNES RPGs handled some of the same things that Mass Effect tried to tackle on almost every level such as inventory systems, switching partners, informing the player of how to play when a new vehicle is introduced (hell, ALL of that is in Chrono Trigger alone, let alone others), etc. and so forth.

On the modern western RPG front, there were many more times playing Mass Effect than in another game, Fallout 3, where I asked myself how the game could make it out to market in the state that it was in. That’s pretty bad because FO 3 had falling bodies from the sky and the occasional hard lockup that could potentially cost the player a few hours of their time. To say that Mass Effect was a bit of a technical mess would be an understatement.

For as long as I can remember many people have been saying that Bioware is the king of RPGs, but for me Square of the 90’s dwarfs them by a long shot. It’s a shame that in 2010 there aren’t that many great RPG developers any more; perhaps it’s time for a new group to rise up?

And before anyone decides to ask, I played the game as a female named SAMUS who never knew her parents and was the last one alive after some massacre on a ship. This story kept coming up during gameplay and I thought that was pretty badass.

Now for what I didn’t like, or what made me shut off my system for the night: