sábado, 4 de fevereiro de 2012

Mass Effect - Review and Analysis

So last time I did an analysis was quite a long time ago and I haven't posted in a while, I've been busy with some game projects.

So Mass Effect is an western RPG released in 2008. Here is a trailer if you never heard of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqJuJTIus7U

I'm normally not a fan of western RPGs, because I rarely get immersed since the choice making system hardly interests me because I feel like the storyline ends up worse because of it, but Mass Effect managed to stay with me during the entire experience, so I finished the game.

The battle system is ok. It's a shooter with RPG elements. Basically you get to equip weapons and armors, manage inventory, choose special ammunition. You also level up and you can customize your character by choosing specific points to invest in to. So far it's basic RPG stuff with a space theme. But when you get down to the battling it's a shooter. A cover-up shooter. So basically you have biotic powers, special weapons, customizing options, but the battle boils down to hiding behind something and shooting until the enemy is dead. That's it. If you hide in a place too close to the enemy he might try to swarm you. If you hide too far away your shots might miss more. All the customization you do  pretty much boils down to being able to kill enemies faster or surviving longer. It's unrewarding, which is bad.

It can be fun though, shooting things and hiding and stuff. But it feels kinda dumb. You rarely die in the main combat system and when you do, it's because you didn't hide in a good spot. Or you didn't hide at all. Not smart. So is this a good battle system to make? Not really. Sure, it's fun and it uses the old and tried formulas of rpgs in general, but it doesn't try to be anything more and it feels dumbed down. The inventory system is also as well a pretty big let down, since your inventory ends up full of useless stuff that you have to manually delete. That can take a while. Bad design decision.

Outside of the main battle system you get a bunch of quests that you can go do. Sometimes it's boring, others it's good. I didn't do all the quests, maybe around half? The NPCs are pretty interesting though. They rarely make you go "Wow, this dude is amazing, what a complex person!", but they never make you go "damn, they rushed this one". But the quests feel quite generic and repetitive. It could've been done a little bit better, but then it's optional content, not sure how much polishing should go towards that since developers have to meet deadlines. But the player ends up with a "another quest like that..." taste in his mouth. Not good. But not that bad either, specially from a game creator's point of view.

There's a vehicle though, called Mako. It sucks. That was a horrible design addition, it feels clunky and it takes quite a while to finish battles in it. Maybe if it had some overpowered, some cool weapons and maybe if it made you feel powerful it could've worked. But it's just bad in every sense.

Other than Mako, Mass Effect doesn't really do anything too wrong gameplay-wise. But it never does anything in a excelling way either.

The main battle system is average, but better than the tank

The Story
This sucks. No, really. It feels like an action movie. So this bad guy wants to destroy the universe and you have to stop him! No plot twists. No shocking revelation. No objective change. No new perspectives. The plot feels generic and weak. How did they mess this up so badly? Except that they didn't really mess up, they just didn't try to do it. The plot is weak because it doesn't even try a little bit to be strong. This is ridiculous, really. This sort of story should go in to an action game, not in to a RPG-like something that wants to tell a story.

The universe, though, is pretty well fleshed-out. The races and NPCs, the technology, the dialogs, the way things interact is pretty good. It feels immersive and detailed. Immersion is important. But it feels like the game created this amazing world for you to play in, but it didn't really try to create amazing things for you to do. Sad, sad. But it is a great universe.

They suck. Even worse than the story. It's a bland, non-interesting cast. They have no motive, they pretty much just follow you around in your quest to save the universe for nothing. It's ridiculous, really, they could've all been removed and everything would stay the same. You could take away the characters and make the game a solo game and it would be the same. You could change the main plot to becoming a pole dancer and keep the same characters and it would be the same. This is sad.

The characters try to have some back story, but it's all bland and non-interesting. And they're all "fleshed out" through conversations, they never develop the character through story and plot. This is just ridiculous. This is why they say games have bad writing. Please, I beg you, make your own characters better (:

The models are pretty well detailed. The citadel looks pretty. Everything has a good degree of quality. It lacks artistic power though, I mean, everything is pretty but nothing is beautiful, but I guess that's because of the setting. It's worth of praise, though.

I don't remember the soundtrack, so it's not memorable, but not annoying either. The sounds effects feel good too. I suppose it all works together to create the immersion.


Don't look in to Mass Effect for anything but for a direction in to creating and detailing an amazing universe. The writing(story and characters) is mediocre, the main battle system is simple fun but otherwise average. But from this game you can get some knowledge for improving your game universe and you overall immersion, both of which are important(specially immersion), so maybe you should check this game out. If you have the time.

From Google images, expresses how I feel about the tank. Don't make anything like this, please

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