Thursday, 16 June 2011

Mass Effect 3 – Opinionated Arseholes Who Want to Ruin it for Everyone

(Spoilers galore for those of you who haven’t played ME1 or 2)

Bioware have recently released a load of gameplay footage and new trailers for the highly anticipated Mass Effect 3 – the third and final instalment in Commander Shepherd story to defend the Galaxy from an invading horde of giant alien machines known only as Reapers…

The gameplay footage has been nothing short of amazing, showing snippets of combat with the new Omni-Blade and the re-instated grenade, to a KotoR style workbench for weapons upgrades. They show the emotional side of things – scared kid hiding from the Reapers and female krogan being heralded as the possible saviour of her species.

They also show off the amazing environments that they have painstakingly created, Earth’s gameplay looks to be absolutely stunning, showing their vision of Earth circa. 2180’s with the enormous Reapers touching down and creating Hell on Earth. We also get to see some of the Salarian homeworld of Sur’Kesh, which from the looks of the gameplay looks a bit tropical, and the buildings look like hotels you’d get on the sea front at the Costa Del Sol – well, a bit.

However the thing that has disappointed me the most about these trailers and gameplay videos is the reaction to them.

On so many message boards and comments after articles or videos, there have been so many people saying stuff like “omg this is just turning out to be another Gears of War/Halo/CoD” or “omg this just has too much action”. I have seen a lot of hate online for the trailers shown, and I can’t for the life of me start to imagine why. And as for the action? It’s the beginning of a fucking invasion of the galaxy by giant, seemingly unstoppable machines who don’t negotiate, who only kill, indoctrinate and mulch it’s enemies/victims into new Reapers. This game needs to have a lot of action in it, because the first 2 chapters in the ME trilogy have been leading to the massive fight between the races of the galaxy and the Reapers, to skimp on the action in this 3rd instalment would be a massive “fuck you” to all the fans who played through ME1+2. Like myself.

However, a lot of Bioware fans were bitterly disappointed that DA2 turned out to be a pile of shit – apparently, I’m still trudging through DA1 let alone DA2. And for some unknown reason a lot of people thought that ME2 storyline was terrible in comparison to ME1. I don’t get that, ME1 – test run best starship in galaxy, stumble into fight, find out Saren is a traitor, go to 3 places suggested to hunt for clues (Feros, Noveria and Artemis Tau), go to 4th place for clues (Virmire), go to citadel, escape citadel, go to Ilos, use conduit, save day. ME2 – die, be brought back, work for ethically sketchy possible terrorists in Cerberus, build a crew, fight collectors, gain loyalty of crew, find dying reaper, go through unexplored relay, kick collectors ass. And if you got the DLC then add to the storyline with Lair of the Shadow Broker, where Liara becomes the new Shadow Broker and Arrival where you end up killing around 300,000 batarians – which is the direct lead in to ME3. However add the DLC to ME1 and you get Pinnacle Station and Bring Down the Sky – decent side missions, but a bit chuff in comparison to ME2 DLC.

Sorry but ME2 kicks arse. Just because the gameplay in the fighting is more fluid and enjoyable doesn’t mean that it’s Bioware drifting from RPG to TPS. They said from the beginning before ME1 that the series – always a planned trilogy – was always part action, part RPG. A lot of people bemoan the “fact” that your decisions don’t make a lot of impact apart from the big ones like Ashley/Kaiden on Virmire, Wrex on Virmire and the Council at the end. But Casey Hudson and Ray Muzyka have said on so many occasions that the decisions you make ultimately will decide the end of the story in ME3.

I don’t know why people are moaning about the decision making part of the game, it’s certainly more decision making than a lot of games. And yes it does usually produce the same outcome at the time – for example, it doesn’t matter if you choose renegade or paragon options when talking to the Council after missions in ME1 – they wont believe that the Reaper threat is real until it’s sat on top of them in the Citadel. After then it doesn’t matter if you chose to save the Council or let them die – ME2 still follows the storyline that the Reaper threat was just an elaborate game played by Saren to get the geth working for him. However it’s these decisions that will turn around and have an effect come ME3.

So I have a basic response to anyone who has already slated ME3 as the worst game of all time or another “Gear of Halo Duty”, and that it is lurching aimlessly away from its “RPG roots” – are you completely blind to what is in front of you?

The game is being made by some of the most talented individuals in the gaming industry. To create a trilogy of games that all link in not just through some lines of dialogue like in other games, but in the sense that what you do and how you do things in each game will impact the final outcome in one way or another is nothing short of a feat of absolute genius in game making.

Its RPG creamy goodness is plainly there for all to see, oh yeah you can’t upgrade your strength and dexterity in this game? You can’t mix different plants and herbs to create a healing potion? So fucking what? It’s a Futuristic Sci-Fi game, and they have nailed the RPG elements in both games.

You have dialogue options, some customisations (different in both games, finally looks nailed on in ME3 from the look of one of the trailers) and a solid storyline to see through from start to finish. The Mass Effect Trilogy is this generation’s Star Wars (before the fruity prequel trilogy). I personally cannot wait to see how MY story ends and when I have, I can’t wait to see how my other stories end. This is an epic gaming experience unlike any other, and I would encourage all those who haven’t yet, to jump on the Mass Effect bandwagon now, and enjoy the best games series for years in the next 9 months before ME3 arrives so you can dive into the action knowing the amazing back-story for what it is.

As a final note, people have been heralding games like LA Noire, Portal 2, GTA:IV and Heavy Rain in recent months and years for their amazing storytelling and how they are absolute credits to the gaming industry. This is all true. People have been saying that finally computer games look to be a more creative and popular entertainment medium that films – something that I think deep down we all knew was going to happen at one point or another. I mean what would you rather do - sit for 2 hours watching a film which to be honest is probably absolute chuff; poor film versions of comic books; poor remakes of decent older films or the occasional actually watchable film? OR immerse yourself into an entertainment experience that wont be over in a couple of hours, are usually massively replayable and in a lot more cases the decisions YOU make decide plot twists and outcomes at the end of the game? Well the above mentioned games allow you to do just that, but I don’t think there is another game or games series on the planet (as of yet) which can match Mass Effect for how much the storyline sucks you in, how involved you feel whilst playing and how much the decisions you make change the outcome in the way these games do. As time goes on, computer games will only improve, not just graphically, but in the way they convey a story, and the way they involve the player. I fully believe that Mass Effect will be looked at in years to come as one of the most influential computer games of all time, helping to push computer games into being more popular than it’s cinema rivals.

So to all those who feel that Mass Effect 3 will fail - go back to playing pre-Xbox360/PS3 games that were great, but a lot more simple than the multi genre games you can get nowadays. Because quite clearly, having a multi-genre game is too much for your tiny mind. Cretin.