Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Video Game Log: Mass Effect (XBox 360)

I received three video games for Christmas: Mass Effect, Lego Star Wars 2, and Heroes of Mana. I plan to create posts for each and update them as I play the game. So, without further ado, my log of Mass Effect begins here.

1/2/08: Log started. Perhaps a little late, as I am already about 12-20 hours into the game. Still, there appears to be plenty of the game left. Love the game; stayed up until about 2AM playing last night. I like what BioWare kept from KOTOR (varying degrees of depth of dialouge, mostly free range of movement) and what they added (separate meters for goodness and evilness, actual real-time control of your character, a usable journal, an ignorable "codex"). Plus my ship is so much cooler than the KOTOR ships. So that's good.

1/3/08: Two things are really friggin annoying. When you die, the camera looks down on your corpse from above while rotating and the screen goes to a red tint. The problem is that you have to look at your corpse for a good 5 seconds before you can select "Resume", "Load", or "Quit". Resume loads from your last save, so that's nice. Also, you can carry a max of 150 items, but any item can be sold to a merchant or converted to "omni-gel" (a resource that you always have more than enough of) to make room. Items are only viewable where you can use them: weapons/armor on the equipment screen, upgrades on the upgrade screen (those are the only items). Of course, this means to find and get rid of your weakest/worst items, you have to go to multiple places. And just to be mean, the upgrades are sorted by level in descending order, but when you convert one, the current selection jumps back to the top (this doesn't happen when selling to a merchant, thank god).  The worst part of this inventory management is when you reach the limit and acquire some new items. You have to choose which of the new items (or possibly all of them) you want to convert; you cannot choose any of your existing items or put the new ones back down or anything. I've lost out on some badass armor because of this. 

1/10/08: I beat the game the other day. It was a less difficult ending than I had hoped, but the story was good. John told me that apparently the game has "New Game+" built into it in a Diablo-2 style (Normal, then Hard, then Insanity). That's certainly a plus for replayability. The achievements also support this; one of them is simply "Complete 2 Mass Effect Playthroughs on any setting." As far as I can tell, you would need to play through the game at least four, possibly five times to get every achievement. I think that's great; on my first playthrough, I got 430 gamer points (by my reckoning, I missed 205 potential points). My general rule is that at least 50% of all gamer points should be unlocked by a basic playthrough of the game. So this works. And I do play to play through at least one more time.

1/15/08: My second play-through as pure evil is going well. With the different dialogue and different order of tasks, the story flows quite different. Garrus is becoming much more of a badass, and Wrex is quite fond of me. Not sure if I really want to [[SPOILER]] on Virmire (note to self: implement spoiler Javascript). This will probably be my last update, since I can't imagine too much more can be added to my thoughts. 

If you like RPGs, and especially western-style ones, you should buy Mass Effect. If you hate RPGs, then stay away, obviously. If you want an introduction to the genre and don't want to step backwards in time, Mass Effect is a good place to start.

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