Weekend Update

Thanks to extended work hours leading up into the holidays, I got very little game time during the last week – probably less than 8 hours total. This was a reason for a delay in the guild recruitment efforts that I’d intended to accomplish, but I did manage to get a little something done last night during the tabletop session (I bring a laptop with me.) Hopefully this week will be a little more forgiving.

I did manage to pick up Mass Effect last week, and fool with it for a couple of late-night hours over the weekend. It’s pretty neat – the vibe I get from it is sort of a cross between Babylon 5 and the ‘Zones of Thought’ universe from Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky. I keep hearing about how much better single-player RPGs are than MMOs, and Mass Effect is supposed to be one of the best recent examples. This kind of game traditionally hasn’t held my interest, but in fairness I haven’t actually played a single-player RPG since… uh, Baldur’s Gate II, I think. At about 4 hours in, the main storyline is quite well-done but very linear, and I’m not sure there’s all that much to the open-world, exploration part of the game. There are worlds you can survey and stuff, and quite a lot of side missions you can do, but all of it struck me as obviously not what the game is supposed to be about. Despite that, I’m enjoying it – the feel is great – and I plan to drop at least a few more hours into it.

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10 responses to “Weekend Update

  1. Yet, I found Mass Effect tedious and eventually boring.
    The action is oh so, and combat is very unforgiving.
    A single player RPG with guts is The Witcher, or Fable 2 as fine examples.
    But, there is no doubt, Single Player RPG’s are not meant for too much freedom (except for Bethesda and Fallout 3 or Oblivion), so, if you expected an open world with no leading, then no go there…especially Mass Effect.
    Mass Effect is good for control of your vision of morals and direction. You choose who lives, who dies, etc.
    My feeling is the Witcher does this better due to the gray area of the moral system. Your decisions may not be felt for several chapters, and there is never a “yes” or “no” decision.
    Also, there is not too much leading. You must really make an effort to talk to people, get around, and discuss things, or some items will not close off correctly or you lose out on completion of a quest. It does not break the game, you just lose that option. It really makes you think about your choices is all.
    Anyways, good luck on Mass Effect, I hope you find it more entertaining than I did.

  2. I found the early game with the linear story pretty engaging, and liked the dialogue system. The combats were challenging in places, but not overchallenging, if you know what I mean. Once you get command of the Normandy and have the universe in front of you, the tedium factor goes up, I think; it manages to feel both grindy and directionless. I guess what I’m saying is that it tries to give you the illusion of sandboxy-ness but doesn’t really succeed in those terms. I like the overall feel of the setting very much, and regret the lost opportunity – this would have made a splendid MMO, I think.

    I just about have my first cluster explored out. Once that’s done I’ll go back to the Citadel and do the next bits there. I will definitely get at least that far.

  3. The linear story was the best part of the game. The open ended part of the game wasn’t that impressive… a lot of the zones were exactly the same, and the side missions were usually rather simplistic and repetitive. I got bored of those and moved back on to the main mission rather rapidly. I still loved the game and would snap up Mass Effect 2 (or a Mass Effect Online) in a heartbeat.

  4. The Witcher doesn’t come close to anything but award winning tediousness – which I found Mass Effect suprisingly wasn’t – at least not in terms of main content/story. The side missions are reptitive to be sure but then at times I think games put that content in simply because they feel they have to to meet the price tag.

    As much as you seem to enjoy Witcher Openedge (upon which personally I consider you slightly mad), I find its comparison to anything else slightly bizarre when you hold up Witcher as the obvious ‘better’.

    On a side note, I created a character on your EQ2 server Ardwulf!😮 Took me like 18 hours to install, download and sort out the facking US side but i’m on xD

  5. I have to say Mass Effect wins for sheer story telling power. BioWare has yet to make a game that fails to have an entire cast of entertaining characters. Mass Effect is no exception. I hope ya have a blast, I know I did =)

  6. @Shamutanti
    I find its comparison to anything else slightly bizarre when you hold up Witcher as the obvious ‘better’.
    Do not forget to include Gamespy, PC Gamer, and the other million buyers who are crazy then ( and feel it deserved the GOTY awards).
    The fact remains, the systems in place in Witcher were well done, the overall story is top notch, and the morals system was a treat.
    Mass Effect is so black and white (just like Fable), and you can either choose good or evil. Our world does not work that way, and maybe this is where your disconnect with Witcher is.
    Some people could not decide how to approach the situation, and felt the need to treat it MMO style, by running to quest after quest instead in the hopes of progressing.
    When it came to combat, this is another area that Mass Effect fell flat on it’s face also. But, so did Fallout 3, and maybe that is another difference. People enjoy different mechanics, and to me Witcher was spot on. Fallout 3 and Mass Effect failed for me.
    I will agree the story in Mass Effect was well done, and the conversation system was cool…but broken combat and long winded discussions to get to a simple yes or no (good or evil) just drove home the tedium is all.

  7. The systems in place were clunky, obtrusive and sometimes just simply badly designed, generating frustration born from simply being awkward rather than challenging. The story was amusingly laughable (although I can’t think of many rpg stories within the last 5-6 years which havn’t been) and in places the game felt strung together – plus the addition of sex cards was nothing but flipping for the teenage vote. The morale choices within Witcher were no different in my eyes from anything else out there. In fact I felt a bigger amount of morale concern “who do I let die?” in Mass Effect than any choice I had to make within Witcher.

    Personally I found MAss Effect contained a good investment of time and there was little that annoyed me. Even the combat flowed (within reason) and there were few times I felt the combat was over problematic but Witcher’s combat was just… arg. I actually feel a slight cramp in my fingers just thinking about it.

    I honestly can’t see what is appealing about the Witcher. Not a single thing through the game stood out. There wasn’t one aspect that made me go “oh, that’s nice”. Which is probably why I get somewhat confused by the sheer amount of love the game gets (and how in the world they managed to shift an updated version and make even more money off it). Although truth be told I don’t rate 95% of any review based magazine/website and any form of ‘Game of the Year’ yaddayadda gets a simple shrug from me. I havn’t been a fan of that form of media coverage for a long time now, but I’m a bit of an ol’ fart in I expect far more (like the old days) than what I get now. Plus alot of the fan craze around most games is laughable (e.g. Mass Effect fans vs. Netjak).

    I always try and find the good in something but i’m lost on Witcher.

  8. “Game of the Year” tends to really mean “Game that spent the most ad dollars with US,” near as I can tell. I don’t have much faith in reviews – at the very least, reviewers seems to have different tastes than I, and at any rate the quality of video game criticism is pretty deplorable.

    That said, I did watch Yahtzee’s review of the Witcher, and while I understand that he just doesn’t like RPGs, it did convince me that that thing has a strong adolescent wanker thing going on. It is on my list of things to pick up… when the price goes down to $25 or so. I got Mass Effect for that much.

    Nor am I tremendously interested in Fallout 3, having no experience with the earlier games and a limited tolerance for the first-person view. I own more FP games than I have any desire to play already – that is, Team Fortress 2, and a couple other things to dabble in. I have no reason to think Fallout 3 is anything but excellent, but no reason to think I’d like it, either.

    I am finding Mass Effect generally engaging, and have noted no serious problems with the combat, although it’s somewhat fussier than I’m accustomed to and I’ve had a hard time with some of the encounters. I can clearly see that the side stuff is much less worth bothering with than the main story, and the inventory management system, while supposedly improved from the console version, is still pretty lousy. I also think that the dialogue system in a bit deeper than Edge is implying, but that could be illusory.

    The big issue I have with it is the feel, which is also its biggest asset. In the early part of the story, it does a really good job of painting a picture of a large, complex universe behind the scenes, but when you actually get to tool around in that universe it seems awfully small and limited, and the stuff you can do in it is equally limited. There’s some cool encounters (investigating a distress call, I found a small outpost overrun by giant freaking sandworms. Startled the crap out of me, and my wife when she heard me yell “what the FUCK!” from downstairs.

    The big asset, as far as I’m concerned, in single-player RPGs is the ability to manage the time invested in them more easily. Spend 4 hours a week on it and I’ll feel like I get my money’s worth out of it in a month or so. In an MMO I feel like I’m paying too much if I don’t get at least 10-15 hours a week in, and that’s a pathetic time investment compared to what some people put in. This is a part of the reason that EQ2 is working so well for me right now – I can put in an hour or two and make decent progress in a night.