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Have never played Mass Effect 1.
The story is almost non-existent. Evil aliens who you will barely ever see (and are only pawns of the evil aliens from the first game), are trying to kill lots of people. You must destroy them. There are no twists and there isn't even really a villain apart from generic alien species. Several people will refuse to join you in your aims for tiny undeveloped reasons and the only problem in the plot is presented by a ridiculous example of railroading. The plot has no impact on either prequel, or sequel except for something that's treated almost more as a throw away fact, without impact on what's happening. Monster of the Week is perfect for this
The combat isn't ever quite frenetic enough to be a shooter, nor really has the strategical depth for an RPG. You can choose from a few abilities, micromanage the position of you're allies and on normal you really should only die once or twice in the entirety of the game. The few times my squadmates decided standing on top instead of behind cover was a good idea, I found it simple enough to finish off the rest by myself (including what I felt was the hardest boss fight of the game). Combat is cover based and most problems can be solved by time and caution. The last boss fight doesn't even need that. Despite this, the actual missions are varied and excellent.
Dialogue/decisions show you which is the ruthless and virtuous decisions and allow you to choose between the two but not much else. You can know the outcome without even reading what will be said. If you're evil or good enough red/blue options become available that will always solve the problem. (Two team mates trying to kill each other? Select the blue option and they will agree that they're both in the wrong and immediately learn to co-operate.)
The crippling of the choice system removes all effort and reward from building relationships and solving the very clever moral problems. It's made worse, instead of understanding a character, all you need to earn a team mates loyalty, is complete a side quest. Emotional attachment not required.
But despite this and the setting is detailed and the game can be moving and heart pounding. Mass Effect is more enjoyable than it has right and you would be mad to miss one of the ultimate gaming trilogies. The genre is addictive and only Bioware really makes games like it.
Therein lies your problem.
There are no twists
The Normandy crew getting kidnapped isn't a twist? The Protheans being the Collectors isn't a twist? The revelation of the Human-Reaper isn't a twist? All the character related subplots with their own particular twists aren't, well, twists?
there isn't even really a villain apart from generic alien species.
Then what was that Harbinger fellow? A particularly disturbing batch of tapioca-induced food poisoning?
Several people will refuse to join you in your aims for tiny undeveloped reasons
Only undeveloped if you haven't played the first game.
The plot has no impact on either prequel, or sequel except for something that's treated almost more as a throw away fact, without impact on what's happening. Monster of the Week is perfect for this
This is so painfully vague as to what the fuck it's talking about that I have no idea what to even really say.
and on normal you really should only die once or twice in the entirety of the game. (...) I found it simple enough to finish off the rest by myself (including what I felt was the hardest boss fight of the game).
Well, no shit, Sherlock. You're playing on Normal. Hardcore and Veteran are vastly more challenging.
The crippling of the choice system removes all effort and reward from building relationships and solving the very clever moral problems.
How? I honestly don't see how it detracts from the situations in-game; the Paragon/Renegade system doesn't detract from Mordin's soul-searching or from the conversations with Samara, or the familiar friendship between Shepard and Garrus. Whether or not you're Paragon or Renegade doesn't change that some of the biggest choices in the game - whether to convert or purge the geth heretics, to destroy or preserve the genophage cure, to destroy Kasumi's greybox, to rescue the factory workers in Zaeed's revenge mission, to spare or kill Samara, Sidonis, Ronald Taylor, etc.
It's made worse, instead of understanding a character, all you need to earn a team mates loyalty, is complete a side quest. Emotional attachment not required.
And? Considering you, the character, are going out of your way to help them and risking your life to assist them in dealing with their personal problems, that is a pretty big thing. These are characters who, almost without exception, care more about actions than words. You earn their loyalty through proving yourself willing to be a good leader and by being willing to help them resolve their issues. That doesn't require heartfelt interpersonal sobfests - that requires action. I fail to see why this is a bad thing.
what is this i dont even
Nah, just kidding...
All I saw on this review is "NONONONONONONONO" to things that are all there. Story? It's there. Twist? Yep. Villain? You bet.
I bet you really did play the game by just choosing either the top right or the bottom left option, otherwise you'd have understood the characters.
And how can you say that the prequel has no impact when you have never played it, let alone have a save file to transfer to the sequel to see the repercussions of your actions?
As for the combat, YMMV. Though I think you should play it on one of the higher difficulties before you say that it is too easy. Normal is the second lowest, FFS. Personally, I thought it was pretty fun - some classes more than others.
Anyway, this is easily one of the WORST reviews I have ever read.
We've all got opinions and sometimes they differ, so it's not fair for me to try and pick bones with yours. To clarify though I picked every single non-advancing dialogue option in the game that's possible to see in one play through, except for one option that I missed and the Overlord DLC because I didn't play it. What's more I visited multiple worlds multiple times with different character combinations for the sole purpose of trying to provoke interesting responses in my party. The problem was I wanted to roleplay a Martin Luther King style character which meant everytime the option that was appropriate for him was top right and every time it just solved all my problems
I like how this review is basically telling me the game sucks, and then the end of the review says it's a good game. In fact, most of what you said is a mass of contradictions. The setting is boring, but at the same time it's exciting. Combat is too easy, but at the same time it's excellent. And then there's the part where you decided that the plot had no bearing on the original Mass Effect's plot, despite the fact that you said you'd never even played the original Mass Effect, and that it also has no bearing on the sequel's plot, despite the fact that the sequel isn't done yet. It seems like your just trying to find things to complain about.
Okay, second playthrough and I'm enjoying it a lot more than the first time and it's allowed me to pin-down my problem on the original playthrough.
Bioware want you to play a badass soldier. Your choice is between being a trigger-pulling righteous badass and a pistol-whipping righteous badass. On my first go, I tried to play a mediating life-venerating self-sacrificing character and was forced to take the same good-dialogue options every time leading to me insta-winning every situation and still being frustrated as what seemed like a reasonable dialogue option turns into another put down. The second time I've tried playing a nice guy who hates people and it allows me to think about my choices again and most of the dialogue options fit the character. It says something that actually a lot of the paragon/renegade options are EXACTLY the same dialogue word for word in a lot of the situation. Bioware just had less choice in the game than usual
I enjoyed this game much more than the original Mass Effect.
The first game was nowhere near as light hearted, and spent a lot of time dabbling in boring, political nonsense.
This game allowed more emotional involvement in just about everything.
Bioware are at their best when they're filling their games with interesting characters and dialogue.
And they're at their worst when they try to pander to the lowest common denominator and make a game for young teens, ala Dragon Age 2.
Ah well didn't last. I couldn't quite get to the end of my second playthrough without giving up on the game again. I'm doing an insanity playthrough now, skipping the dialogue and it's a much more enjoyable experience.
Other complaints. There is no story, there are no character arcs, Shepard is the same at the end as at the beginning and crew character progression relies not on the events that are happening, but on you listening to them for a few minutes every hour or so, made worse because by the end of each character progression you have three or four people trying to have sex with you (and they are emphasising the sex part) which ruins any illusion or relationship somewhat.
There is no plot structure. The game has a nice begin and establishes the threat very well but the only thing they can throw in in the way of a conflict is such jarring railroading (as I've mentioned) that it doesn't feel much like a conflict. Especially since you either resolve it immediately or forget about it and never resolve it. It's more like a reminder that you should try and finish the game than anything story significant. The ending is marred by a stupid choice and whilst very exciting, just shows a trailer for the third game rather than any sort of conclusion (a very very cool trailer I might say though)
There wasn't even a decent protagonist. Just some pansy who you would kill three or four times every fight who had no motivation and was actually just being mind controlled by a enemy not appearing in this game. It's not even a spoiler since they don't mention it until the last minute of game.
What's more none of your choices have any visible effect in the game. They're all being saved up for the next game (which is a brilliant way of getting people to pay £80 rather than £40 I might add, and has worked on me). The actual important choices aren't in the dialogue but in what missions you do and what missions you don't.
In the end, the game has great spots of humour, poor combat, poor story, poor choices, poor RP Gish in general, but is very very good at getting across cool and exciting (even the music fits this, with none exciting music being irritating unoriginal synths at best) the shots in the cutscenes are all ridiculously beautiful (the opening shot of the sun on the world and Shepard freefalling is probably my all time favourite cinematic shot).
Badass is the word. If you want to feel it, this is your game. If you want a story or an RPG, it's not. I would compare it to nonsensical action movie and that's almost definitely what they were aiming for, something absolutely brilliant in terms of action but made much deeper by mindblowing cinematography and a great conceptual backstory even if there is no plot to back this up.
...there are no character arcs...
What. Seriously, what? What do you call the loyalty missions, then? Did you never talk to them between missions? Jack in particular has some excellent character development. I went from hating her to wanting to hug her over the course of the game. They might be short, but they give good insight into the characters.
There wasn't even a decent protagonist...
Antagonist. Screwing up basic terms like that won't do much for a review's credibility. Additionally, if he was just being mind controlled, then isn't the controller the antagonist? You know, the guy who controls all your enemies, is abducting humans by the shipload, and is melting them alive?
...[your choices] are all being saved up for the next game.
Well, who would buy/watch/play only the middle part of a trilogy? That's like the worst possible thing to do. It's like complaining how they didn't rescue Han in The Empire Strikes Back, or how Frodo was captured in The Two Towers. If you're going into a story-heavy series, you have to expect loose ends or choices that haven't had their full consequences shown.
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