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Default Mass Effect - Review @ Boomtown

December 12th, 2007, 02:03
Boomtown has a review of Mass Effect that says the setting is derivative but the story is still outstanding. The score is 9/10 and here's a bit on that famous dialogue system:
The dialogue system meanwhile, is equally impressive. It provides you with the ability to choose next dialogue option before current speaker has finished talking, thus eliminating the long pauses in conversation which have plagued Bioware games in the past. These options appear on a wheel at the bottom of the screen, and supply the context of your character’s dialogue rather than the entire text. Additionally, the options always appear in the same place on the wheel – top right for paragon (good) dialogue, bottom right for renegade (evil), centre right for the middle of the road, with the left hand side providing further investigation options, along with charm and intimidation, dependant on your skills. This means that if you are playing a consistent role you don’t even have to pay attention to the text – you can just flick the stick to the relevant position when the wheel pops up, and thus keep listening to the conversation without a break in concentration. This system is backed up by superb voice acting throughout, and does much to create and maintain the impressive cinematic style of the game.
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December 12th, 2007, 02:03
Paragon is not "good" and renegade is not "evil".
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December 12th, 2007, 10:45
True, but then again …

Paragon points are often awarded for being open minded, understanding and polite whereas Renegade points are achieved by being self centered, bullying (I said it so it IS a word ) and having a "my way or the highway" kind of attitude. Though clearly not as extreme as the Light Side vs. Dark Side in KoTOR, it still isn't "pleasant" to play a Renegade in Mass Effect.

"Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could've been a republic in a dozen moves." - Commander Vimes in Thud! by Terry Pratchett
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December 12th, 2007, 12:11
Wonderful. Role-playing reduced to "click A for good, B for evil."

It's a shame Bioware can't seem to go beyond cliché in their good/evil stuff. It's clear they try, like the Closed Fist/Open Palm thing in Jade Empire, but somehow it always ends up as strangling kittens versus clothing the hungry and feeding the naked. Or whatever.
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December 12th, 2007, 12:25
It would be very hard to have many shades of grey, I think. Even now, you have many false dialogue options, like in most RPG's from the past. They could probably make a really good RPG with a lot of depth to your choices, but you'd be done with it in five hours. Replay value would be high, but I'm not sure if that'd be enough to build a compelling story.

What would be an example of an RPG that did this right?
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December 12th, 2007, 12:49
The Witcher.
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December 12th, 2007, 12:58
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Wonderful. Role-playing reduced to "click A for good, B for evil."

It's a shame Bioware can't seem to go beyond cliché in their good/evil stuff. It's clear they try, like the Closed Fist/Open Palm thing in Jade Empire, but somehow it always ends up as strangling kittens versus clothing the hungry and feeding the naked. Or whatever.
This is one of the reasons why I am done with Bioware formula. The story lines feel very "repetitive."

Originally Posted by Thaurin View Post
It would be very hard to have many shades of grey, I think. Even now, you have many false dialogue options, like in most RPG's from the past. They could probably make a really good RPG with a lot of depth to your choices, but you'd be done with it in five hours. Replay value would be high, but I'm not sure if that'd be enough to build a compelling story.

What would be an example of an RPG that did this right?
Although I haven't played the Witcher yet, it seems to have achieved something interesting, which allows the players sympathize with the protagonist as well as letting them feel a part of the imaginary world. Also, System Shocks and Deus Exes offered some interesting choices but Bioshock seems to have been simplified for mass audiences in this respect.

I haven't played the Witcher yet but, if I am right, it seems to have managed to do what Deus EX: Invisible War couldn't. Without implementing the clear-cut good and evil scheme, it lets the players feel the choice more personal by offering a sympathiz-able protagonist and an immersive world, which has deeper similarities in the players' world.
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December 12th, 2007, 14:23
It should be mentioned that no matter whether you go down the Renegade path or you go down the Paragon path (or stay on neutral ground for that matter), you're still trying to save the galaxy. The Renegade path is not about you seeking power for yourself, but rather about following a strict military code where human needs outweigh those of other races. You're not hesitant about taking on the role of judge, jury and executioner if the need arises, but even if the end result is executing the person in question it is always based on firm belief that you're doing the right thing for the good of humanity. I've only run across a single quest where the Renegade Shepard's ego resulted in a bloodbath but not only was that the intend of the quest giver all along but this quest is also only available for Renegade players.

In Mass Effect you can often achieve the same end by manipulating the situation using your Charm (Paragon) or Intimidate (Renegade) abilities - if you've invested enough points into these abilities - so unlike the "Kill the Kitty" vs "Save the Kitty" choice, you don't always have to choose between the extremes (i.e. Good vs. Evil), but rather what arguments you'll use.

Yes, it is still far from perfect, but unlike most other alignment games where evil equals stupid, Mass Effect's "Evil" path is actually playable and makes sense if seen from a bitter perspective.

*edit*
Oh and the paths in The Witcher is mostly about choosing a side in a conflict. The is no good or evil, merely shades of grey. Don't get me wrong I love the Witcher and have nothing bad to say about the game, but I think it is a bit unfair using the Witcher "choice model" as a comparison when talking about Good vs Evil choices.

"Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could've been a republic in a dozen moves." - Commander Vimes in Thud! by Terry Pratchett
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December 12th, 2007, 15:28
Originally Posted by fatBastard() View Post
Oh and the paths in The Witcher is mostly about choosing a side in a conflict. The is no good or evil, merely shades of grey. Don't get me wrong I love the Witcher and have nothing bad to say about the game, but I think it is a bit unfair using the Witcher "choice model" as a comparison when talking about Good vs Evil choices.
The Witcher is a perfect choice for making a comparison between the usual Good vs Evil choices. Take the first act for example, do you side with the witch who, from my point of view, has done her fair share of evil deeds and good or do you side with the more disgusting villagers who definatly have done more evil deeds than the witch.

You said that The Witcher is all about shades of grey. Well tell me then what is good? What is evil? There are no pure good and pure evil choices in life. There is only life. Is it evil to kill a deer to feed your family? or good because you can feed your family. Well then, what about if that deer's young died because you killed it. Then is it evil? Or let's take a more human aproach. Is it evil for yourself to steal from someone to feed yourself and your family? What about the person you stole from, they might not be able to feed their family because you stole from them, is it evil then? or good? Let's take a more religious view of good and evil for a second because that is where the words good and evil really come from anyways. Is it good for a religion to convert other religions to their faith or is it evil because they are subverting a people and their culture and possibly destorying families in the process (cults would be a good example of this). So you see in MY perception there are no pure good or evil choices, only your perception of what these choices mean to you.

With the witcher its all about perception (just like real life). Do you percieve the villagers are doing whats right or the witch. It does come down to making a choice in the matter but isn't that what real life is all about, picking a side that you think to be the right.

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Last edited by skavenhorde; December 12th, 2007 at 15:48.
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December 12th, 2007, 16:02
Mass Effect is all about playing a role in a story. It doesn't really work as an open-ended galaxy where you can do whatever. Yes, you can go wherever you want and explore at some point, but the side-quests usually aren't that spectacular, anyway. It's a different kind of game, I think, and Mass Effect is good for what it tries to do (make you part of the story).

Another thing that I want to say is that people that try to play the game as a shooter a la Gears of Wars will totally hate the game. It doesn't have very good FPS mechanics and it will feel weird. It's much more fun to use your skills to good effect. Just thought I'd mention that after seeing someone in a video podcast say he hated it and "died like a thousand times."
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December 12th, 2007, 16:45
Originally Posted by skavenhorde View Post
The Witcher is a perfect choice for making a comparison between the usual Good vs Evil choices. Take the first act for example, do you side with the witch who, from my point of view, has done her fair share of evil deeds and good or do you side with the more disgusting villagers who definatly have done more evil deeds than the witch.

You said that The Witcher is all about shades of grey. Well tell me then what is good? What is evil? There are no pure good and pure evil choices in life. There is only life. Is it evil to kill a deer to feed your family? or good because you can feed your family. Well then, what about if that deer's young died because you killed it. Then is it evil? Or let's take a more human aproach. Is it evil for yourself to steal from someone to feed yourself and your family? What about the person you stole from, they might not be able to feed their family because you stole from them, is it evil then? or good? Let's take a more religious view of good and evil for a second because that is where the words good and evil really come from anyways. Is it good for a religion to convert other religions to their faith or is it evil because they are subverting a people and their culture and possibly destorying families in the process (cults would be a good example of this). So you see in MY perception there are no pure good or evil choices, only your perception of what these choices mean to you.

With the witcher its all about perception (just like real life). Do you percieve the villagers are doing whats right or the witch. It does come down to making a choice in the matter but isn't that what real life is all about, picking a side that you think to be the right.
Woah, time out. I never said anything about Real Life Good vs Evil. I thought we were talking about games here. Coming from a gaming scene dominated by D&D titles in the RPG department, I guess I based my measuring stick in terms of Good vs. Evil from experiences with these games.

Playing as a typical D&D Paladin one would gain the "Fallen" status faster than one could say "Smite Evil" if either side was chosen in the end of Act I in The Witcher. Neither are "Good". It is purely a choice of the lesser evil (as she so pointedly mentions herself). That was my point when I said "shades of grey" and while it is perfectly valid to request that more games seek this kind of moral choice in games, it is still not fair IMO to invoke "The Witcher approach" when talking about Good vs. Evil choices.

Again, I really love The Witcher and I think it is one of the best games I've played in a long time, but that doesn't mean that I can't enjoy other games as well.

"Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could've been a republic in a dozen moves." - Commander Vimes in Thud! by Terry Pratchett
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December 12th, 2007, 18:34
Originally Posted by fatBastard() View Post
…I really love The Witcher and I think it is one of the best games I've played in a long time, but that doesn't mean that I can't enjoy other games as well.
That's a good point. Waaay too many posters here seem to think that the only good games are the specific small list of games that they like and that all other games are bad and anyone who likes a game not on their list (or doesn't like one on their list) is stupid, evil, or whatever. There are a lot of people who like Baldur's Gate 2 and Oblivion and The Witcher and Mass Effect and Planescape Torment and whatever (and all possible subsets thereof).
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December 12th, 2007, 18:57
Originally Posted by fatBastard() View Post
Oh and the paths in The Witcher is mostly about choosing a side in a conflict. The is no good or evil, merely shades of grey. Don't get me wrong I love the Witcher and have nothing bad to say about the game, but I think it is a bit unfair using the Witcher "choice model" as a comparison when talking about Good vs Evil choices.
That's precisely it. The evil in The Witcher is understandable, realistic, motivated, and logical — including but not limited to things you have to take a stand on. The fact that things are rarely unambiguously good or evil only makes it more interesting: evil is often very much about your point of view.

I for one can't fathom what's so difficult about doing evil right in computer games, since there are plenty of examples in literature and movies to draw from.
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December 12th, 2007, 19:06
Originally Posted by fatBastard() View Post
Woah, time out. I never said anything about Real Life Good vs Evil. I thought we were talking about games here. Coming from a gaming scene dominated by D&D titles in the RPG department, I guess I based my measuring stick in terms of Good vs. Evil from experiences with these games.
And that's probably pretty much the reason *why* evil is so lame in most cRPG's: the D&D influence.

That said, it's not hard to do evil right in D&D either — take a character in my campaign, for example. He's a veteran on many wars, fearless, honorable, and a true Roman patriot. He also thinks nothing of burning down a village, torturing the men to death, raping the women, and herding off the survivors to slavery, if he suspects the villagers may be sheltering some rebels.

Oh, and he's working for a guy called Caligula in order to get Tiberius (whom he considers a usurper) "retired."

In other words, he's unquestionably evil, but for good or at least believable reasons.
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December 12th, 2007, 19:36
Originally Posted by fatBastard() View Post
..I really love The Witcher and I think it is one of the best games I've played in a long time, but that doesn't mean that I can't enjoy other games as well.
Originally Posted by BillSeurer View Post
That's a good point. Waaay too many posters here seem to think that the only good games are the specific small list of games that they like and that all other games are bad and anyone who likes a game not on their list (or doesn't like one on their list) is stupid, evil, or whatever. There are a lot of people who like Baldur's Gate 2 and Oblivion and The Witcher and Mass Effect and Planescape Torment and whatever (and all possible subsets thereof).
Exactly! I agree with this. Some people are always rooting for the same kind of RPG and decry any deviation or change in direction that is unleashed. I like many kinds of games. I'd really hate to play only the Temple of Elemental Evils, Plainscape: Torments and The Witchers for the rest of my live. That said, I like evil in games both ways. You can have your realistic, understandable evil if you like, but what about the cliche, mad scientist evil? I like that, too.
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December 12th, 2007, 20:24
Gaming boards everywhere are full of elitists, sometimes psychopathically so it seems. There's definitely an ego factor involved, and often a corresponding cliquism, but buried in the sludge of personal preferences there is also the desire for excellence.

Most of the posters here play a pretty wide variety of games, though there are some that have a crusade for 'teh old times' going on. We get resistance often for posting news about games that diverge too far from the percieved "RPG" category—for instance Bioshock, or Space Seige—but in general, there's a lot of interest on the boards for all types of rpgs, and other genres as well—strat games, indies, shooters and the dreaded action-rpg even.

That said, many people are extremely passionate about what they like and dislike in the RPG realm. The end effect of this can be vituperative namecalling or it can be a valid attempt to hold the genre to an exacting(if self-defined) standard. Good and bad points to everything. Without the passion, you have blandness ruling.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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December 12th, 2007, 20:59
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
The Witcher.
QFT.

Actually, the choices you make in Hammer & Sickle can make the game end *really* fast as well …

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December 12th, 2007, 21:16
Originally Posted by Thaurin View Post
I like many kinds of games. I'd really hate to play only the Temple of Elemental Evils, Plainscape: Torments and The Witchers for the rest of my live.
The games you named here are all different and unique. The main reason why I stopped playing Bioware games is that I feel they are not even trying to be unique anymore. Basically, they are using the same formula with rather superficial changes. No matter if it is in FPS or RPG genres, I have got an impression that Bioware becomes yet another company which are nailed to IP marketing scheme.
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December 12th, 2007, 22:04
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
That's precisely it. The evil in The Witcher is understandable, realistic, motivated, and logical — including but not limited to things you have to take a stand on. The fact that things are rarely unambiguously good or evil only makes it more interesting: evil is often very much about your point of view.

I for one can't fathom what's so difficult about doing evil right in computer games, since there are plenty of examples in literature and movies to draw from.
Aahh … re-reading the entire thread I seem to have caught the ball and charged off blindly in the wrong direction with it

What you're saying is of course absolutely true. Though not even close to a Good vs. Evil choice model, it is a much more "realistic" and believable set of choices you're presented with in The Witcher. Heck, I sat staring the at the screen for a long time before I finally decided which faction I was going to support and that is a great example of an actual CHOICE rather than picking the correct color corresponding to the alignment you chose in the character generation screen.

Sorry about misunderstanding what you were saying when you mentioned the Witcher.

"Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could've been a republic in a dozen moves." - Commander Vimes in Thud! by Terry Pratchett
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December 12th, 2007, 22:25
Originally Posted by fatBastard() View Post
Aahh … re-reading the entire thread I seem to have caught the ball and charged off blindly in the wrong direction with it

What you're saying is of course absolutely true. Though not even close to a Good vs. Evil choice model, it is a much more "realistic" and believable set of choices you're presented with in The Witcher. Heck, I sat staring the at the screen for a long time before I finally decided which faction I was going to support and that is a great example of an actual CHOICE rather than picking the correct color corresponding to the alignment you chose in the character generation screen.
Mass Effect doesn't have "good" and "evil" choices either. There's no "alignment" or any such nonsense. Or are you comparing to some other game(s)?

Playing devil's advocate here, so everything hinges on one choice between two options made in one conversation in The Witcher. How is that so believable?
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