Mass: Effected

I’ve just finished Mass Effect (while wearing jeans, no less, vive le basement libre!), and I am here to say this: Wow.

That’s all, really. It’s a very good game.

It’s not perfect, sure. There are some soft points – very verbose cutscenes you can’t skip, which are fine when they advance the plot and not so fine when they’re the leadup to a battle you keep getting killed in, and the thankfully-brief vehicle sequences that Ben Croshaw has accurately described as handling like a fat man on a unicycle. it’s a bit distressing to find out that in the future, we’ll be sending our finest men and women to war in something that drives like a cross between a Halo Warthog and a willful and particularly stupid puppy. But aside from that, this game is a bucket of awesome.

Thankfully the variety in character creation lets you find a style of gameplay that suits you; anyone’s who’s played Halo with me, or even just discussed urban planning after a few drinks, knows that my preferred perspective on the human condition is through the scope of an overpowered sniper rifle from the shadows behind a rock two area codes away. I have problems with intimacy when it comes to grizzled, heavily-armored alien Space Marines that are enthusiastically trying to kill me with whatever they have to hand. It’s not a thing I get hung up on during a typical day, you understand, but it’s good to have your preferred method of interaction available when things get stressful; I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person with this problem. The only real challenge with it is that there’s a pretty long walk between “I’m trying to shoot you in the head from two kilometers away” and “I’m trying to sneak up and shiv you in the back”. Think of it as an awkward pause in the conversation, if you like. Don’t worry, the punchline’s coming; stay still for one more second.

It’s nice that the game accommodates these little quirks I have. It beats existential dread, I guess; I don’t think it’s a spider.

So I’m playing through it again, because if you play through and pick some different options, different things happen. The only thing I found even vaguely disappointing about the game was that when all was said and done, you couldn’t pick up after you’d won and go screw around finishing up all the side quests you didn’t quite get to the first time around.

I have to confess (and this will make me seem extremely old, but that’s likely OK, because I am literally older than video games as a medium) that my opinion on this was formed back in the stone age, by an Apple ][c Car Wars knockoff called called “Autoduel” – after you’d actually won that game, you could keep playing, because the job of being a courier and driving stuff from city to city didn’t go away, so you could rattle around the very-tiny-in-hindsight world all you like. I can forgive that this option wasn’t available – that final battle changes the fundamental topology of the universe – but it was still such a great game that I wanted to keep playing regardless.

(So I did!)

One Comment

  1. Posted April 25, 2009 at 1:05 am | Permalink

    Now go play Fallout 3, so you can appreciate contrast.