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Default Mass Effect - Reviews @ Boomtown & Gameplay Monthly

June 17th, 2008, 20:18
More Mass Effect reviews are up, this time from UK site Boomtown, with an overall score of 9/10:
Still, despite my best attempts to think of something else negative to write, BioWare have quite simply surpassed their previous excellent efforts to deliver what is arguably the best single player RPG to emerge on the PC since Deus Ex…The words stunning, engrossing and addicting just don't do this game justice, and if it wasn't for my belief that no game will ever be truly perfect (as well as the vehicular silliness and the occasionally suicidal squad antics), the score you see below would have crept into double figures.
Over at Gameplay Monthly they have a more critical view with a little less exuberant score of B-:
In conclusion, Mass Effect is a game full of bad design decisions. The decisions themselves aren't bad enough to completely break the game, but are bad enough to make the game less than good, let alone great. While some may think I'm overly critical of the title, and BioWare in general, I must point out that games such as Fallout and Planescape Torment were far superior in terms of their core gameplay elements, and were released years earlier than this title; if anything, Mass Effect is a step backwards in single-player role-playing games. Simply put, the game could have used another two to three months in development. Combined with the game's length, Mass Effect is a mediocre diversion, unworthy of more than half the praise it receives, but a diversion nonetheless in this single-player role-playing game drought. Granted, role-playing game lovers will play the Hell out of it, but, in the long run, it won't make a lasting impact in the same way other titles have.
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June 17th, 2008, 20:18
Wow, the GameplayMonthly one is way too critical. Some of the point are accurate, like the repeating Planets, side missions and questionable combat mechanics and tactical system. But lots of the points I just completly disagree with.

Lets start with voice acting: How can you complain about a game where every NPC you can talk to has a voice and its not saying the same lines over and over? I don't remember seeing that in games on PC in like… ever.

Then the review mentions that all the companions are disinteresting… Well some aren't very interesting, sure. But the alien ones were all interesting to me, so I just plain disagree with him on that.

Short gameplay. Dunno about this one, seemed to take a lot longer then 25 hours for me. And this doesn't take into account the replayability, which this game gives more of then most.

So while I agree that this game isn't quite as good as some good oldies like BGII, its still a lot better then most other recent RPGs. For example, can you honestly say that this game was worse then KotR, KotR2, Oblivion, NWN and NWN2? I sure can't.

It should be mentioned however that Mass Effect PC is suffering from many technical stability problems atm. I haven't seen any reviews mention this, but the game freezes on my PC on a preiodic basis and lots of people in Tech Support forums mention the same problem.
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June 17th, 2008, 21:16
The greatest problem with Mass Effect is that essentially, it's not an RPG. I'd rather call it an action-adventure title. What irritates me the most is that the gameplay mechanics are utterly broken by e.g. mods giving certain bonuses/penalties to some armour/weapon attributes, yet there's no clear way to know what beneficial/adverse effects act upon the player and the NPCs. That's utter bollocks, and is a shining example of how not to screw up a game. Again I must say that this is due to the game having been developed for a console and thus dumbed down. Then again, I wonder why a proper character sheet was NOT (edit) implemented in the PC version, with bonuses/buffs, etc. displayed.

Regardless, the game is lots of fun, but has MANY shortcomings. Any review giving it 85%+ has lost its credit in my eyes.

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Last edited by r3dshift; June 18th, 2008 at 10:43.
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June 17th, 2008, 23:38
Agree with r3dshift. Personally I give it a strong 7. It's slick, it's pretty, it's got alright plot. None of it really hangs together particularly well though. Some of the dialogue's appalling, and the dialogue circle bizarrely doesn't seem to always say what you choose.

I just get the nagging thought in the back of my mind "Why don't you stop playing this, and play a proper third-person shooter, or a proper RPG that does all this better?" Which is a shame, as there was a lot of potential there.
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June 18th, 2008, 01:15
I'm curious, did you guys try/like Vampire: The Masquarade, Bloodlines? I'm asking cause I'm seeing some criticism of the shooter/rpg hybrid systems here.
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June 18th, 2008, 01:32
There are lots of purist who read this site, and despite their constant disappointment, they never seem to take a game for what it's worth. Mass Effect is a fun game that can take around 40 hours to beat if you do everything you can find. Plot is linear and the very quick if you just play the plot missions. Unfortunately the side missions are very weak in this game so I almost recommend skipping any that don't sound very interesting to you. Reused indoor environs take away from the immersion, and the driving areas are rote after you've done a few of them.

I really did like he voice acting, long conversations, combat system and story despite a very shallow side quest system.
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June 18th, 2008, 04:29
I personally enjoyed Mass Effect a lot, and think it's a great game. I feel the story is a bit too thin, but it would defiently get somewhere between 8 and 9 from me (out of 10, where a perfect 10 is not possible). The gameplay, characters, game world, sound effects/music and so on is very solid.
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June 18th, 2008, 05:19
Mass Effect isn't exactly the best rpg I have ever played but I am getting board of fantasy rpgs and there are very few sci-fi or modern rpgs so I am glad they came out with this.
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June 18th, 2008, 09:04
Originally Posted by Melvil View Post
There are lots of purist who read this site, and despite their constant disappointment, they never seem to take a game for what it's worth.
Exactly. This is the biggest source of disagreement on this site. Every time I read how someone finds the game so utterly flawed, I remember just how much fun I had playing the game compared to others. Of course, that is a deeply personal experience that one cannot copy/paste on someone else. Your opinion and enjoyment may vary.

But when someone suggests playing a proper FPS instead, I think by myself, but Mass Effect's combat is so much more interesting. Sure, the mechanics are not the same as in most FPS games, but I have so many more options in Mass Effect than just aim and shoot. Granted, the aim and shoot does not work like most shooters, but that's the whole idea.

Why not play a real RPG then? Well, this certainly isn't as tactically strong a game as Planescape: Torment or Baldur's Gate II. If you want that, play those. I do not think Mass Effect was ever intended to tread in those footsteps, despite Bioware's pedigree.

When I look at the presentation, the dialogue and story, I certainly see something that I enjoy a lot more than Planescape: Torment. Now, that statement may anger hordes of PS:T fanboys , but it doesn't mean that ME's dialogue is necessarily smarter. It's certainly more cinematic and exciting.

So again, if you're looking for a PS:T, of course you'll be disappointed by Mass Effect. But then again, I'm not of the opinion that the only True role-playing games are the PS:T's and BG's.
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June 18th, 2008, 09:44
Hm, gameplay monthlys grade is more down my alley then the 9s its getting everywhere. Played it at the XBOX though so the combat was far far to action heavy. Felt like Halo with a uninterested rpg interface tacked on. The combat on the pc seems more tactical.

The end truly put this game over the edge to the "meh" category. Nice to see people liked this on the pc. I was thinking that most people would shy away from the rpg light perspective and the to heavy combat focus (FPS action wise)
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June 18th, 2008, 10:42
Originally Posted by Melvil View Post
There are lots of purist who read this site, and despite their constant disappointment, they never seem to take a game for what it's worth. Mass Effect is a fun game…
I know this was not targeted at me in particular, but let me react to some of the points mentioned. I am by no means a purist, but since someone else inquired as to whether it's the hybrid nature of the game that I find non-pleasing, the answer is: no. I definitely LOVE Bloodlines, I think it's one of the best cRPGs to date. Let's face it, however, that the combat mechanics (and especially the clumsy cover system) in ME are utter crap. It's more a TPS than anything else, but it's still crap. No major problems with the TPS viewpoint, but then don't tout the game as an RPG and elaborate the mechanics properly.

Also, I never said it's not a fun game. It is, but it could have been a LOT better and if not for the superior atmosphere, well-forged characters and passable story, the game would be nothing special. Nothing at all. And one more thing: the so-called and overhyped 'revolutionary' dialogue system is bollocks; more often than not, regardless of what you choose to say, the dialogue flows in a pre-determined way. Sure, the voice acting and the cinematics are impressive, plus you get paragon or renegade points based on your quasi decisions, but you have no real say in the happenings, and that's a bloody damned shame again.

As it is, I'm already replaying the game a second time, just because I enjoy its general atmosphere so much. However, this is not to say that I am fond of the game mechanics; I'm more or less willing to turn a blind eye on them for the sake of enjoying the atmosphere, but there are some really fouled up design decisions there.

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June 18th, 2008, 12:17
The cover system is clumsy, agreed, but I actually like the combat mechanics. The dialogue wheel "innovation" was pure PR, yes, but I actually like it. You know, I don't especially need to be able to affect the outcome of a game. So again it is what you look for in a game. It doesn't meet your expectations in that regard. Therefore you find it crap that it's missing those elements, while it doesn't really bother me so much.

I also don't think a game needs those elements to be called a role-playing game. But who cares what it's called, anyway. I don't think you should buy games based on whether someone calls it an a) or a b).
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June 18th, 2008, 18:27
Originally Posted by Sergius64 View Post
I'm curious, did you guys try/like Vampire: The Masquarade, Bloodlines? I'm asking cause I'm seeing some criticism of the shooter/rpg hybrid systems here.
I love Bloodlines, yeah, still think it's great. That's not to say I didn't groan at the sewer sections, or the unwieldy shooting combat in general.
Originally Posted by Melvil View Post
There are lots of purist who read this site, and despite their constant disappointment, they never seem to take a game for what it's worth…can take around 40 hours to beat…side missions are very weak in this game…Reused indoor environs take away from the immersion, and the driving areas are rote after you've done a few of them.

I really did like he voice acting, long conversations, combat system and story despite a very shallow side quest system.
Yeah, that's a fair appraisal. What's wrong with being disappointed by it, yet still recognising that it's a quality product around the 7 mark? As I said it's slick, it's certainly got enviable producton values (yet despite this it STILL has some godawful writing and VA in places), it's solid, but there are definitely some important shortcomings. It's certainly not almost the perfect RPG and/or third-person shooter experience going, which is what a lot of reviewers have seemingly been espousing. That it might be the only TPS/RPG hybrid going might make it "the best TPS/RPG in existence!", but in a market of one that praise rings a bit hollow.
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June 18th, 2008, 22:08
Originally Posted by r3dshift View Post
I am by no means a purist, but since someone else inquired as to whether it's the hybrid nature of the game that I find non-pleasing, the answer is: no. I definitely LOVE Bloodlines, I think it's one of the best cRPGs to date.
Originally Posted by Dyne View Post
I love Bloodlines, yeah, still think it's great. That's not to say I didn't groan at the sewer sections, or the unwieldy shooting combat in general.
So wouldn't you guys say that other elements in an rpg overwrite combat mechanics and their troubles? Sure both Bloodlines and ME shooting systems were questionable, but didn't their roleplaying elements stand out so much that combat mechanics take a background role? To me the combat in a story driven RPG is just something I have to do to get to the next story part. Sort of like having to go through a maze to get the cheeze in the middle. Unless combat mechanics are so god damn awful that the pain of going through them outweights the fun of finding out more about the story, they really don't need to be looked at all that heavily.

Originally Posted by Dyne View Post
Yeah, that's a fair appraisal. What's wrong with being disappointed by it, yet still recognising that it's a quality product around the 7 mark?
Thats a question of scale I suppose, but to me 7 is as C. Meaning, just barely passable. And the game seemed a lot more then just passable to me. I had more fun with it then with many other recent RPGs that keep getting 90s in their reviews.
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June 18th, 2008, 22:21
Bioware games have never been great in terms of gameplay; Bioware's strength is
that they know how to tell a compelling story that gets under your skin. Every review I have seen, even those who don't like the game that much, say that Bioware has told a very moving and touching story in Mass Effect.

Might I also add that if you put points into charm or imtimidate you get different dialogue options?

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June 19th, 2008, 00:05
Originally Posted by Sergius64 View Post
So wouldn't you guys say that other elements in an rpg overwrite combat mechanics and their troubles? Sure both Bloodlines and ME shooting systems were questionable, but didn't their roleplaying elements stand out so much that combat mechanics take a background role?
To me the combat in a story driven RPG is just something I have to do to get to the next story part. Sort of like having to go through a maze to get the cheeze in the middle. Unless combat mechanics are so god damn awful that the pain of going through them outweights the fun of finding out more about the story, they really don't need to be looked at all that heavily.
I'm with you in that I'm more focused on plot and characters than loot and killings. Yet combat is what you tend to spend a lot of time doing in RPGs. For me, ME's combat lurches dangerously around boring and unsatisfying, which is a bit of a problem as there's a lot of it. With a few exceptions, it's the primary means of solving side quests. This brings into focus the repetitious nature of the side quests as well, as they're all fought in the same 2 or 3 building types, against the same force dispositions. That one of the other ways to solve certain side quests is zoom in on a planet and click a button, or land and play Frogger, is a little distressing too.

Combat isn't my main gripe with ME though. I found the characters mostly unconvincing and lacking depth, the plot muddled and derivative. As an example, without giving anything away, the Liara talks had me chewing the furniture they were so awful.
Williams was slightly better, in fact she was almost likeable, but the denouement for her romance was bizarre, and a little frightening . Despite being a romantic lead she was still quite underdeveloped an' all.
It's telling that I think the best performance was from Lance Henriksen as a faceless admiral doling out the side quests. Then again, he could probably recite the dictionary and I'd sit up and pay attention, what a voice.
Thats a question of scale I suppose, but to me 7 is as C. Meaning, just barely passable. And the game seemed a lot more then just passable to me. I had more fun with it then with many other recent RPGs that keep getting 90s in their reviews.
That's a matter of understanding a scale of ten points
Originally Posted by aries100 View Post
Might I also add that if you put points into charm or imtimidate you get different dialogue options?
That's another intriguing design decision - you can't fail charm or intimidate actions. You either get the option or it's greyed out.
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June 19th, 2008, 00:53
Originally Posted by Dyne View Post
It's telling that I think the best performance was from Lance Henriksen as a faceless admiral doling out the side quests. Then again, he could probably recite the dictionary and I'd sit up and pay attention, what a voice.
Yeah, that guy was awesome and probably the best in the game. But what about Wrex and to a lesser extent, Garrius?

Liara's mother was pretty good too… And the Asari you rescue from giant ancient plant creature. So its not like all the Asari dialogues were bad.
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June 19th, 2008, 01:04
Originally Posted by aries100 View Post
Bioware games have never been great in terms of gameplay


HUH?!?!

What games have you played?
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June 19th, 2008, 09:30
Originally Posted by aries100 View Post
Bioware games have never been great in terms of gameplay; Bioware's strength is
that they know how to tell a compelling story that gets under your skin. Every review I have seen, even those who don't like the game that much, say that Bioware has told a very moving and touching story in Mass Effect.
I agree. Bioware's gameplay never seems to rise beyond "adequate," and in some of their "classics" (BG2, NWN) it's dangerously close to "barely tolerable."

IMO the best gameplay in a Bioware game thus far is in Jade Empire; the kung-fu stuff was actually sorta fun in its own right, and there was enough variety in enemies, followers, and tactics to give it an added twist. But that doesn't change the fact that Bungie's Oni did martial arts in a (somewhat) similar style of game way better… and that was, like, ten years ago or something. (Oni was a flawed game in other ways, but the *gameplay* rawked in true Bungie fashion.)

As to the stories… I think it says rather a lot of the state of writing in the industry that Bioware's stories are, indeed, among the best in games. Not *the* best — IMO PS:T, The Witcher, Fallout, and VtM: Bloodlines are in another class entirely — but solid and competent enough.

What I like about Bioware games at their best is that they're, on the whole, very well-balanced affairs. While they may not be absolutely the best in any single area, they're not horribly disappointing in any single area either. They're coherent, solid, enjoyable, and hang together well; it's rare to get stupid frustrations like, say, the plot-breaking script bugs (in the release version) and rain that slows the framerate to a slideshow in VtM:B, the almost-unbearably-tedious combat grinds or unbalanced-to-the-point-of-unplayability character classes in PS:T, or the seriously wonky camera controls in NWN2.

I just dived into Mass Effect, and the initial impressions are pretty much what I expected. IOW, good, clean, pretty polished, solid Bioware fun. Sort of like Jade Empire in space. (Then again, I wasn't expecting it to be the genre-defining-once-in-a-decade classic that some reviews make it out to be.)
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June 19th, 2008, 10:44
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
I agree. Bioware's gameplay never seems to rise beyond "adequate," and in some of their "classics" (BG2, NWN) it's dangerously close to "barely tolerable."

I'd say that you're in a very small minority if thought the gameplay in BG2 was "barely tolerable."
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