January 11, 2009

On Finishing Mass Effect

I'm very slow to playing video games recently because I'm a college student who cares about her grades.  This means 1) I don't have a lot of time to play them because I'm busy studying, and 2) when I finally do get to them, they're old news.  So I understand if this Mass Effect stuff is old news to you by now.  But there is something that kind of bothers me about this game, and I want to rant about it.

Spoilers Alert Even Though This Game Has Been Out For About A Year

As many of you may know, this game is all about choices.  I like this in a game.  It helps with your investment in a character that you should sincerely by invested in.  You choose your characters background story, her gender, her career, what her face looks like... and then you choose how the stories goes from choices there on.  You can even get a love interest, which has sparked some unnecessary controversy from FOX that I'm only going to dignify with this link here.  You can choose between the path of Paragon, a genuine good guy, or Renegade, an anti-hero. Or you can be in the middle ground.  This helps make the story your own.  Of course, for all of you who are not hiding in an academic cave, you know this by now and don't need another advertisement for it.

This is the thing that bothers me: how little an ending can change from what I deem to be a HUGE choice.  At the end fight with Sovereign, a force that could end all of humanity as your character sees it, you can choose to either have the space fleet heading towards you aid the Council that you have been serving for a good part of the game and not head straight for Sovereign, or have them focus solely on Sovereign and essentially let the council die.  

I, being the trekkie that I am, remembered Spock's famous line" "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."  The universe could go on without a council.  So I take the gentler response that results in the Council dying under attack by a ton of enemy ships. (I could be an asshole and say "Let them die!" or be tactful and say "Focus on Sovereign".  My character said the latter.)  The Boyfriend tells me at the end soon after that killing the council affects absolutely nothing when it comes to the final fight with Sovereign.

Um, excuse me?

That's a huge deal tactically.  Sending all your manpower to save one ship while trying to destroy another even bigger ship that is planning to destroy all of humanity (I repeat, destroy all of humanity) makes a big deal on the battlefront.  And BioWare decides to give the space fleet fight the same outcome regardless?  What the hell?  Every other choice before that makes a bigger deal down the line.  Ugh!  At least punish me for being an super duper altruistic Council saver if I put all of my force there instead of killing the main bad guy that will kill all of civilization!  

I was a bad gamer and went back and changed my decision so that when the sequel comes out, that decision doesn't bite my character in the ass.

All in all, I did like Mass Effect.  The game play is good, the story is great and of course being a stereotypical girl the romance thing was appreciated.  I will still recommend it to my friends who haven't played it yet.  And recommend it to my readers who haven't played it yet.  It's a great feeling knowing you're playing a character that's very much yours in a video game that isn't the Sims 2.  

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