I mentioned the other day on the Twitter feed that in the last couple of weeks of the year, I’ve finally obtained my personal “most anticipated” game of 2010. That game is Mass Effect 2.
Now, I love Mass Effect 1. I think it’s one of the best titles to come out in this generation, and I felt it was a perfect blend of action and RPG. For me, it’s almost like getting to enjoy another couple of seasons of my favorite sci fi TV show long after it ended, with better special effects. (Correct guesses as to the identity of the show will get props from me.) Not every part of the game is universally strong, of course… the cover mechanic is pretty shakey and the vehicle parts of the game mixed bad controls and bad terrain in a generally displeasing way, but at least gave you a honkin’ huge cannon to make up for it.
I don’t finish a lot of games. Partly this is because many of the games I play aren’t the kind with a discrete finish line. But it’s also because I find few games compelling enough to drop 25 or 50 hours into them. I either lack patience or have a low tolerance for frustration. Mass Effect I finished twice.
Mass Effect 2 somehow slipped off my radar for much of the year, despite my being all pumped about it when it came out, and despite the near-universal acclaim it accrued. Just about everyone seems to feel that it’s a significant improvement over its predecessor.
But my first instinct is to like it less than ME1. I’m only a few hours in and the jury’s still out, and a number of aspects are indeed greatly improved over the first game. Cover is basically fixed and level design is better, and there are generally more options in the dialogue trees. Plus the graphics are a mite better.
However, ME2 also changes up the action/RPG mix, mostly by de-emphasizing the RPG parts. Charcater development is streamlined to the point where I’m not sure why it’s even there anymore, there’s essentially no “inventory” per se, and the story seems more episodic and the world less open.
Of course, Mass Effect 1 was not an open-world game in any meaningful sense of the term. It did sometimes give me the illusion that it was, which is enough. Maybe I just haven’t seen that part of ME2 yet.
Don’t get me wrong, though – I’m not saying that it’s rotten or that I hate it. I’m about 5 hours in at this point, and I’ve just not fallen in love with it yet.