Archive for Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect and its incomplete Trilogy bullshittery

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on November 2, 2012 by Rabidgames

Oh boy, it’s Mass Effect time again, which means, EA and Bioware have rightfully deserved another rant from yours truly.

What happened this time?
The greedy bastards have announced the “Mass Effect Trilogy” – you can buy all 3 games at once. So, is it just like another GOTY/Classic/Complete/all-in-one edition, you know, including DLC?

Mind you, we’re talking about BiowarEA here. The very same guys who introduced a reaperfucking Prothean in an expensive (and by no means expansive) DLC pack, who chose to implement multiplayer (including micro-transaction crap) into a singleplayer franchise which influenced our beloved singleplayer experience, and who created a bullshit ending which obviously was the result of some delirious brainstorming of a 12-year old on the crapper.

Anyway, long story short, the Mass Effect Trilogy will contain … well, the 3 core games. DLC? Forget it. IGN has a nice list which shows what each version gets … You’Re done comparing? Yep, 360 gamers are fucked the hardest. No Overlord, no Kasumi, no goddamn Shadow Broker … PS3 gamers can look forward to the irony they’ll get all story DLCs of Mass Effect 2 – except the most important story-related one, Arrival. How the fuck does this even make sense? On another obvious note, Mass Effect 3’s From Ashes won’t be included in any version. What did you expect?

But here’s Rabidgames’ real raging point: That Mass Effect Trilogy will most likely cost the same price on 360 and PS3 – but then, PS3 gamers will get several hours more content. Or if you translate it into money: if 360 gamers want to buy all the DLC packs, they have to shell out additional 2240 Microsoft Points … almost 20 pounds more!
Of course, everyone might end up buying stuff such as Arrival, From Ashes, Leviathan, Omega and so on … It’s safe to say while it’s a good chance for PS3 gamers to finally play the original Mass Effect, PC and 360 gamers should stay away from that daylight robbery.

Then again, you might say, BiowarEA need the money … after all, we live in hard times, we all suffer a financial crisis, don’t we all have bills to pay, and the bosses might need golden swimming pools … But wait a minute! If EA really needs our money that bad, aren’t they shit at planning then?

Just look at The Witcher 2: An independent studio can manage to release a game on PC, release it for the 360 a year later, including free(!) DLC, and the PC gamers get the updates and DLC for free(!) as well. How on earth can they pull it off? If a small Polish developer can pull this off without going out of business, why can’t the big dogs?

Rabidgames rages: Seriously, fuck Mass Effect. BiowarEA have managed to collect more negativity around the series in 2012 than everyone thought was ever possible. And they’re still going on and on. And the worst thing is, there are still people out there – gamers, not PR cunts – who fucking defend EA for greedy bullshit like this! That’s the worst of it! Expect many copies of the Trilogy rip-off to be sold.

Mass Effect taught us one lesson: If you are looking for mature and responsible customers, don’t bother looking at gamers. It seems the likes of EA, Activision and Ubisoft have brought up a generation of brainless moronic drones who drool over shelling ever more money for stuff that should have been included from the beginning in the first place. And there is no end in sight!

Mass Effect 2 or Episodic RPGs

Posted in Played & Explained with tags , , , on March 6, 2012 by Rabidgames

First of all, this review will contain tons of potential spoilers about both Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2.
Consider yourselves warned.

Rabidgames regards Mass Effect 2 as a complicated game – the experience ranges from excellent to annoying to outright retarded.

Technically, the game worked fine except for one thing: First thing that happened when Rabidgames started playing Mass Effect 2 by importing his character was a freeze – yes, the one after 10 minutes of cutscenes you cannot skip – way to go! This bug has not been fixed for years although it is well known. The fix is as weird as Bioware is lazy: Switch off your controller after the Normandy has been shred to pieces and it’s allegedly fine (it worked for Rabidgames) … what irony the import seems to be fucked for quite some people in Mass Effect 3, too.

The Story

Yes, the story is the reason why Rabidgames chose the headline “episodic RPG”. Mass Effect 2 doesn’t feel like a huge game, it is rather a collection of a not-that-great story arc combined with tales about different characters. Most of the single stories are connected way to loosely to guarantee a coherent experience.

To cut the story into bite-sized pieces is not necessarily bad in theory. In Mass Effect 2 however, we have about 6 missions which really deal with the Collectors, the main threat of the game, while there are almost 20 side missions which are considered main missions as well – without basically any link to the main story. And make no mistakes, this week – spending more than half of the game taking care of personal luggage while whole colonies get harvested feels like a troublesome case of misplaced priorities (looking at Mass Effect 3, it seems history is bound to repeat itself).

However, almost each single mission plays in its microcosm – and there we find an actually fleshed out world. Most loyalty missions are designed in an intriguing way, letting you know more about the character or his species, and getting to know this character better. And make no mistake – the main missions about Cerberus vs The Collectors are great – especially the suicide mission. The very last mission is where Mass Effect 2 and Bioware really shine – it is an epic tale of drama – especially when playing it for the first time. Rabidgames was shocked as hell when (the loyal) Miranda took a shot and collapsed … luckily she survived but that moment was a good example how can feel connected to characters …

But the ending twist is incredibly weak … a fucking Terminator embryo? Really? Sure, it makes sense to harvest humans due to their diverse genetic code and the fact Shepard brought down Sovereign … but it still sucks! Bioware could have chosen a different form at the very least. The other “twist” – the Collectors are degenerated Protheans – came as a real surprise in Rabidgames‘ first playthrough though.

As in the original Mass Effect, the lore is simply awe-inspiring in its complexity and detail: Be it the council which refuses to acknowledge the Reaper threat, the fleshed out universe with hundreds of planets – dozens of them with a short backstory themselves, the inclusion of new races, the fate of the Protheans … it is all there to be explored. Yet, Rabidgames still feels it has been done better before – in part 1. You got to talk to new species, you tried to understand them … in Mass Effect 2, you mostly read about Vorcha, Hanar, Volus or Batarians. Sure, it is easier to do that in the introduction of a series, but places like Ilium or Tuchanka offer some insight admittedly, but Rabidgames feels something is missing in Mass Effect 2.

The characters

They deserve to be reviewed as an own category because Bioware put a lot of time into designing them.

Let’s start with our dear friends from the first game: Kaiden respectively Ashley play a very minor part and can therefore be neglected. Wrex (if he survived, of course) has started uniting Krogan clans. A clever Krogan all of a sudden … It’ll be interesting to see the differences in Mass Effect 3 when we’ll try to recruit the Krogans. Tali’s fate has 3 possibilities: Either she is exiled, not loyal or still a member of the Quarian society. Sounds interesting, too. Garrus is the most interesting character because he is the only one who can have paragon/renegades paths in both games (and in Rabidgames‘ humble opinion, he is the best character anyway). Liara has changed significantly – from the naive scientist to the all-knowing Shadow Broker.

It still seems odd we will be able to play those characters again in Mass Effect 3 – all other characters introduced in Mass Effect 2 won’t be in the crew. Bioware, that fucking sucks. Why? Rabidgames wants Mordin and Legion in his team, for fuck’s sake!

Oh yes, the other characters: Mordin is awesome. He is a mastermind who has done good and bad and a really deep character who reflects his decisions. Has Rabidgames mentioned he wants Mordin in his Mass Effect 3 squad? Damn! Grunt is a blueprint Krogan who is not really that interesting. He teaches us a bit about Krogans, but that’s it.

Jacob is a boring, pure paragon character (though not as whiny as Kaiden was). He’ll die in the Renegade playthrough. Miranda is useful in combat (not for just staring at her ass, mind you) but not that interesting as a character, either. She’s not really the pure Cerberus officer in the end anymore (she even defends Paragon Shepard’s decision to blow up the base) … Jack is a fucking walking apocalypse – an interesting character who sadly is not explored that much.

Thane only serves one reason – to introduce the Drell. It works. The part time Assassin was really helping to understand the weird Drell culture. Samara and Morinth represent the bright and the darkest sides of the Asari culture. Interesting in theory, but Rabidgames didn’t give a fuck about any of them. Legion is the last but definitely not the least addition – and mainly because of his influence on the lore: the Geth are not the pure evil we’ve always thought, and its/their thought processes are hilarous.

Kasumi and Zaaed just tell some stories … Zaeed’s stories are sometimes funny as hell, Kasumi’s not so much.

The Gameplay

Compared to its predecessor, the gameplay has evolved and mostly improved. The clumsy battles from Mass Effect have made way to some almost Gears of War like fighting. It plays smooth and more tactical. But while shooting has improved (but still not en par with proper shooters), your abilities have degraded. You still have quite a lot (depending on your class) but your squad mates are stuck with meager two abilities until half of the game at least – sorry guys, that’s just not enough variety in battle. Plus, it renders characters such as Jack pretty worthless …

The Paragon/Renegade choices are still there, and while most are of a more personal nature, they might still have grave consequences in Mass Effect 3. The interrupt options are a decent addition – be sure not to miss ’em!

The upgrades are fun to develop – but near the end of the game, you still get them in missions – yet they do nothing any more (thanks to all the DLC). This could have been implemented way better. That’s a blatant design omission.

The DLC packs

This might be interesting for players who bought them years ago when they were cheap and are not sure what to do with it now – or for people who want to complete Mass Effect 2 before importing a character into Mass Effect 3. OK, let’s start with all those weapons and appearance packs – just forget them. They’re basically crap and wasted resources. If you want one certain weapon though knock yourself out – it’s not that they’re expensive …

Zaaed is not really necessary although he is a good addition to the squad (thanks to his Inferno Grenades) and his stories are awesome. Plus, if you bought the game new back in the day, he is free anyway. Same goes for the Normandy Crash Site (short collecting mission without any fights) and the Firewalker pack (the Mako was bad but the Hammerhead is outright boring).

Project Overlord has a decent backstory but the sections with the Hammerhead are a fucking pain.

Kasumi‘s mission is fun to play – first we have nice little adventure mimicking the Ocean flicks, then it’s taking on a shitload of enemies and a boss himself. Plus, you get the best SMG of Mass Effect 2.

Lair of the Shadow Broker is undoubtedly one of the best DLC packs ever and definitely worth the money. The story is great, the battles are challenging … but the boss design sucks. You basically do the same stuff again and again … why would anyone empty a fucking shield or barrier bar again and again? Why? Apart from the tenacious boss fight, the Shadow Broker’s base gives you lot of options to choose from after completing the DLC: Background checks on your squad, changing your squad’s abilities and getting freebies are just some of them. BUY!

Arrival is pretty vital to understand the beginning of Mass Effect 3. There is also a sneaking section (although very easy) and a “Survive 5 waves of enemies” arena battle – Rabidgames has to admit he failed since his Adept was not really well-equipped there …

The Stats

Here are some random stats Rabidgames shares with you for no reason at all:

Playtime: 75:53
Credits: 186.123
Palladium:       828.446
Iridium:           958.413
Platinum:        791.694
Element Zero:  227.537

All squad members were loyal, the whole crew survived.
Rabidgames played as Paragon Adept on normal difficulty and imported his old Shepard (Ashley’s dead, Wrex, Rachni Queen and Council survived).
Each and every planet has been scanned and at least one probe has been sent there (including Uranus).
FYI, all the bonuses for importing a character and replaying Mass Effect 2 helped to reach Lv. 30 and get everything bought and upgraded.

By the way, if you want to have a look at the suicide mission gone horribly wrong, enjoy:

Rabidgames is divided: Yes, Mass Effect 2 has more content than Mass Effect 1 – basically 30 hours more. That’s quite something for your money. And while the story is not as deep and the RPG parts have shrunk, Mass Effect 2 is still a decent game which tells a more personal story instead of a universal one. We’ll see what all our choices really mean pretty soon …

Mass Effect 3 Demo or Not Overwhelmed

Posted in Played & Explained with tags , , , , , on February 14, 2012 by Rabidgames

OK, Rabidgames played the single player demo for the upcoming uber epic sci-fi RPG soap opera Mass Effect 3.

First of all, the narrative comes off incredibly weak (does it really say Bioware?). Before the game starts everyone hates you, then humanity loses contact to everything, you get summoned to help them, the Reapers attack, all hell breaks loose, you’re the good boy/girl Shepard again and the tutorial starts.

Wait? While the Reapers annihilate humanity all around you and your lonely squad mate … you have to play a damn tutorial? Yes, you do. As a result, there is no insane action, and nothing feels epic about the start. Nothing. What about a virtual reality tutorial where Shepard is practising … and then Mass Effect 3 starts? Sounds better somehow.

And it doesn’t stop there. While the Reapers wreak havoc and kill humans by the dozens in nanoseconds, you are supposed to gather forces throughout the galaxy to ultimately come back to earth and liberate our dear mother from the Reapers. Hang on a minute … Wouldn’t the Reapers have cleansed the earth within hours, them being eternal and powerful and deadly? Anyway, you will likely spend (in-game) weeks cruising the galaxy looking for help in Mass Effect 3 Also, former friends Cerberus try everything to kill you despite them being the focus of the Reapers as well (OK, Rabidgames admits there is hope Bioware finds a clever solution for this weird logic).

OK, the gathering allies part. Fucking hell Bioware, you are really stealing from your own backlog, aren’t you? And do you think no one will realise? Ever? Mission failed!

Let’s see:
Reapers threaten galaxy ————–Darkspawn threaten Ferelden
Spectre Shepard ———————– Grey Warden
Unite all peoples of the galaxy —— Unite all factions of Ferelden

That’s a tad too obvious, don’t you think. It smells like Dragon Age Origins all over again. Just because it worked once does not mean you have to recycle it!

Alright, so the narrative either doesn’t make sense or it’s a cheap rip-off. But what about gameplay?

Luckily, that’s where Mass Effect 3 shines. You can play the way you want to – and you can develop your character more than you could in Mass Effect 2 – even in the demo! Grenades are back, your health doesn’t fully recover any more, and you have more abilities to choose from. Above all, the enemy A.I. has improved a lot. Those Cerberus guys you face try to flank you whenever they can, they move around and duck to avoid your fire and the turrets are a cool addition as well. Your squad mates are still a bit dumb though. Rabidgames also learned the hard way that taking cover does not always spell safety in Mass Effect 3. If the angle is right (or wrong) you get still hit. Good move, Bioware.

Rabidgames wonders: What’s wrong with the world? Bioware manage to develop a game with good gameplay mechanics yet they completely fail to craft a decent story around it! Maybe there is more to come, but there are big black holes sucking in logic anywhere. Even if the action is fine, the narrative falls flat on its sorry ass – and that’s basically the death penalty for a Bioware game. Let’s just hope the story is not as bad as it seems now …

Mass Effect or A promising start

Posted in Blast from the past with tags , , , on January 22, 2012 by Rabidgames

Although Mass Effect was published roughly 4 years ago, it feels like forever. You don’t believe Rabidgames? Mind you, barely 7 years ago, we were all playing GTA San Andreas, wondering about the incredible size of its map …

Anyways, in order to prepare for Mass Effect 3, Rabidgames had to play Mass Effect again … wait, had to? Yes, because our dear Krogan friend Wrex only lives when you import a save file where you saved him. Of course, you could also buy Mass Effect Genesis (the comic which told the story of Mass Effect to the PS3 newcomers before starting to play Mass Effect 2) … but fuck that! Yeah, thanks EA for making us pay for that DLC.

In fact, Mass Effect was definitely worth the playthrough. It might have one of the last games when Bioware was really independent. It is also a game where the story shines. Throughout 90% of the game, you have no clue what’s going on, but in the end, all pieces fit perfectly. Another great design decision was you could convince the final boss not to fight you RPG-style … sort of, at least …

However, Mass Effect is not perfect. There are some minor gameplay flaws – and a huge one. Rabidgames is not rambling about the awkward combat – that’s actually quite fine. In the beginning, you cannot shoot straight – seems dumb when you’re an elite squad, doesn’t it? But hey, it’s an RPG, so we deal with it. However, Rabidgames cannot deal with the Mako. It’s crap, incredibly fucking awful crap. The controls are awkward and not really responsive, and climbing steep hills is way too sloooooooooooooooooooooow … To make it worse, Bioware chipped in an abysmal world design. Who the fuck enjoys mountain ranges with that unresponsive Makos? Your QA? Damn! Also, Bioware gave us a strong stinking flavour of things to come: All interiors were recycled from 3 or maybe 5 different models. Sounds familiar?

But those issues and the famous long lift rides aside, Mass Effect is a great game. Bioware created a huge and credible universe from scratch – it is both, good science fiction and an allegory to many issues earth has to deal with these days. Just think about the hardly hidden xenophobia many humans still have. Or about all the discussions “what does justice really mean?” – we could ask the Krogans about it … Bioware also did a great job about some of the alien races being really alien: The Rachni singing throughout the galaxy (and possibly victims of the Reapers), the Asari concept of mating, and of course the Reapers who are completely different … that’s what Science Fiction (or Fantasy, for that matter) should be about, and that’s where Mass Effect does an awesome job. Furthermore, while the main story develops in good pace and is definitely great, virtually all important story planets have their own micro-plot which are still related to the main plot. The countless side quests follow their own little stories, too.

Also, thank you Bioware for making achievements useful in-game. Rabidgames cannot believe why virtually no developer uses this option. It makes achievements worth hunting (well, at least more than “LOL, I got 34.454.665” gamerscore points, I am Da Man!). Complete Mass Effect game with certain achievements unlocked, and your next playthrough will be a breeze (unless you play on Hardcore or Insanity of course, but every little help counts there).

However, it is impossible to reach level 60 within one playthrough (unless you cheat exploiting a well-known glitch for hours). Why? Why would anyone play Mass Effect with the very same character again? For instance, Rabidgames finished a playthrough with his level 55 Paragon do-gooder – so one playthrough to get 5 levels (and it’s a big gap from 59 to 60)? That’s not roleplaying, it’s dumb. There are no new extra missions, no hidden conversations, nothing. And all the hassle just for one achievement and some negligible goodies (in Mass Effect as well as in Mass Effect 2) is certainly not worth it. Shame.

Rabidgames says: This game was the perfect start for a trilogy: It started a great story arc with more to come, it introduced interesting characters and decisions with possibly far reaching consequences. 4 years later, Mass Effect has certainly aged well. Of course, there was room for improvement in the gameplay department (especially combat); but to relive the beginning of the story of the first human spectre alone is well worth it. It is also an opportunity to honour Bioware as the RPG giants they once were …