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Default Mass Effect 2 - Review Flood #1

January 27th, 2010, 14:41
Originally Posted by ToddMcF2002 View Post
The plot, action, dialog and consequences were the core strengths.
Yes, exactly. ME was loads of fun because its core, those things the game was all about, was what I liked the game for. OTOH, all the other RPGish things were nothing to write home about, on the contrary. Skill system, items, stats, tactical gameplay, non-combat gameplay — all of these were seriously lacking. But I happen to like these other things in my RPGs. And now I hear that they even removed the inventory while at the same time saying they listened to all the feedback? How is that an improvement? It is if you want your games completely streamlined, but I'd rather have a good, working inventory than none at all. Here's a quote from the gamasutra article:
We wanted to make sure that absolutely every issue that was brought up was addressed… so the press had nowhere to go, and all the critics had nowhere to go, because we had made an attempt to hopefully address all those issues in some capacity.
I don't actually feel represented in that statement. Then again, it's probably because I'm not part of the press that they were really talking about.

Ah, I must sound jaded. Maybe it would help if I saw ME not as an RPG or even FPS-RPG hybrid (there are only three of those from what I know), because clearly (to me) it isn't one. I think DArtagnan has it right — it's an interactive movie more than anything else, and Bioware even said that's what they wanted to achieve (in different words I guess). So, how about using IM-RPG as a new sub-genre?

The main reason why I felt in one way disenchanted with ME1 before and with what I know of ME2 now is that I expected the ("non-core", see above) RPG elements to be very solid, when apparently they can't be in this type of RPG.

But I realize that you need to take a game for what it is, and there's still much to like in ME and probably more so in ME2. Dragon Age, by the way, seemed to have had IM-RPG tendencies.

"Mystery is important. To know everything, to know the whole truth, is dull. There is no magic in that. Magic is not knowing, magic is wondering about what and how and where." ~ Cortez, from The Longest Journey
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January 27th, 2010, 14:52
The plot, action, dialog and consequences were the core strengths.
To explain my biggest problem with mass effect 2;

The main story is compelling, but it's annoying that it is put on complete pause while you are getting your companions (there is one exception). In Mass Effect 1 your companions were woven into the story to find Saren. Now it feels like the main bad guy is woven into a story to find a dozen companions.
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January 27th, 2010, 15:39
Originally Posted by Anderson View Post
That's sort of my point…it's why you see the lack of enthusiasm and picking at review scores. People aren't exactly rooting for the game to do well. In fact, I'm imagining that some people sound almost disappointed, because in a way, Mass Effect represents a threat, or at least a trend they dislike.
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
But is there anything wrong about that, though?
Oh no, not at all. I'm not complaining or criticizing, just observing. I find it interesting to watch the two subcultures (PC RPG and console forums) and how radically different they are towards this game.

Each crowd has their prevailing biases, preferences, opinions, etc. Nothing wrong with that. They are just extremely obvious with Mass Effect.
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January 27th, 2010, 15:49
Originally Posted by Zloth View Post
Great guns what an opening!! That's got to be the best "learn how to walk" tutorial I've ever seen. It also has a mighty good excuse for why your high level character suddenly forgets all his/her/? skills. It even gave me an excuse to touch up my character's appearance a bit (though it could have provided better tools for doing that).

As for role playing - yeah, it's pretty light on that so far. So what else is new? It still lets you pick a class and develop your skills. More importantly, it lets you make choices that affect how the game goes. It may be RPG-lite when you compare to Dragon Age but it has stronger RPG elements than something like Deus Ex.
For some reason, I can't access a manual with my steam purchase, but from playing through the tutorial and part of first mission. It looks like they really dumbed down the character progression. For purposes of this type of gaming, I am fine with streamlining the inventory system, but do not like what appears to be a drastic simplification of what was already way too simplified character progression imo.

Granted rethinking some of the powersets from the original was justified. But now a main character only gets 6 very simple powers/traits with only 4 ranks in each and only 4 powers for team members (am I missing something?) Why did they need to simplify this even further. Plus no xp for kills and xp for what appear to be silly achievement type thingies.

This is really becoming closer and closer to an action console game, where you find or can buy "powerups" to certain abilities throughout the game. However, it could be argued that many of these games have more robust progression.

At least at first glance, I would argue that Deus Ex is in many more ways an rpg in terms of character progression as you had to make meaningful choices about what to upgrade and how that suited your style of play.

As previously stated, I am ok with linearity and streamlining if that's what I know I am getting into and its well done. But if I am playing anything that claims to be an RPG, I at least want meaningful character progression and growth options. For the most part, this really seems to be a true FPS with ability to pause and direct teammates. That's fine and is probably a good game, but not really an rpg much at all for my tastes and predilections.
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January 27th, 2010, 16:13
Originally Posted by dagoo7 View Post
Plus no xp for kills and xp for what appear to be silly achievement type thingies.
This sounds very good to me, actually. Bloodlines worked like that. You got XP points only for finishing a quest or certain progression points in the story like successfully entering a house, or for successfully making use of your particular skills like hacking, sneaking, talking, etc. This meant that you could focus on your actual goal rather than thinking about how to maximize your XP through combat all the time, particularly if you played a very weak, stealth based character.

Don't know how it works out in ME2 though. Less ranks sounds like a natural "evolution" in the game's sense, because they were very inflated in ME in the first place — you could put lots of points in lots of skills that barely made a difference. I'd rather have more different skills myself, but from what you said it seems that ME2 is only being true to itself by unraveling what ME1 tried to hide.

At least at first glance, I would argue that Deus Ex is in many more ways an rpg in terms of character progression as you had to make meaningful choices about what to upgrade and how that suited your style of play.
That's what I already thought about ME1 compared to Deus Ex. Keyword is meaningful choices in regard to character development.

"Mystery is important. To know everything, to know the whole truth, is dull. There is no magic in that. Magic is not knowing, magic is wondering about what and how and where." ~ Cortez, from The Longest Journey
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January 27th, 2010, 16:15
Originally Posted by rune_74 View Post
Like I have said many times before the jaded rpg fan is getting old and stale. Dragon age was fun for me, if it wasn't for you? Thats your problem, just don't try to tell me what is and isn't an rpg. That would make you a hack.
Well excuse hacks for having opinions that don't coincide with yours but if Interactive Movie 2 is an RPG, then Far Cry must be too. That would certainly coincide with what gets labeled as RPG these days. Also, I don't recall anyone saying DA:O wasn't an RPG, just that it wasn't a very good one.

Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
What I don't get, is the guy earlier in the thread who is striking BioWare off his list, despite preordering ME2. I have no idea why you'd expect ME2 to be anything other than a refinement/development of ME1.
That's the problem, I did think ME2 was going to be like ME1, I've only learned in the last 3 days it's been "streamlined". I'm not doing something silly like vowing to never purchase another Bioware game but they've lost the instant buy status I've always given them. And it's only pre-ordered because I needed something very simple for my mother-in-law to get me for xmas.

Originally Posted by Thaurin View Post
You're angry, but this is nonetheless a pathetic and pretentious comment. I understand from this post that you only like RPGs (and then only a certain kind of RPG) but to insinuate that only that kind of game can be art or made with passion is just mindless arrogance.
I'm not talking about any art and passion, I'm talking about the art and passion that Bioware used to have. They used to make RPG games by RPG gamers, now their about the almighty dollar and "streamlined" "interactive movies".

Originally Posted by Thaurin View Post
I always fail to understand how some seem to believe that anyone who would have the audacity (or fried console brains?) to enjoy a game like Mass Effect must be a "console gamer that can't be bothered with stats or inventories." After all, the game is "just another action game." As if action gamers don't have the wits to bother with anything requiring the amazing intellect to tackle a *real* game like a hardcore cRPG.
Hey, I liked ME1, it was a fun game. It got lost in a few points and it was pretty simple from a design and gameplay aspect but it was fun. I'm sure ME2 will be a fun game too, but it sure doesn't sound like an RPG. I like all sorts of games: FPS, RTS, TBS, and especially RPGs but this is a RPG site covering RPG games.

Originally Posted by Thaurin View Post
Oh, excuse my cold tone. It's been happening since the dawn of multi-platform game development and even before that. I agree with Anderson that Mass Effect 2 and its similarly executed RPGs are likely to be perceived as a threat to traditionally-made PC RPGs. I also remember a discussion blaming the current big-budget environment as the culprit. These days it is almost impossible to do an AAA+ title, target a niche market and still not lose money. Dragon Age: Origins is probably the closest to that you've seen in years (and still it gets bad slack as a dumbed-down console kidding game from some people!). Whatever the reasons, I'm glad I'm into multiple genres and platforms and I like high production values. It is true then, maybe, that it's a sad time for those who are stuck in the '90s, still longing for those 2D isometric, turn-based games that had you reading walls of text as you reloaded your latest save continually after a party-member perma-died. I liked those, too.
No bother, we're all friends ( I hope ) just having a passionate discussion.

If ME2 was labeled as a shooter w/ conversation choices and it was made by Irrational, I wouldn't be upset one ounce. But it's my own fault, after BG 1&2 (which I didn't even care for) and NWN+expansions I've had Bioware on a pedestal. Unfortunately Bioware was the last good American RPG developer and with them abandoning "hardcore" RPGs I fear the death of AAA RPGs. This is also why I have such high hopes for Obsidian and Alpha Protocol, hoping they take up the mantle.

Ah! 2d isometric turn-based games, those were the days.
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January 27th, 2010, 21:01
Originally Posted by k1000 View Post
It doesn't bother me that Bioware does games like Mass Effect, what bothers me is that all their games are like that. Same thing with Bethesda. Dragon Age is a step in the right direction. But why does every game need to be streamlined? Why can't they do once in a while a hardcore RPG?
Yeah, its quite a pity the RPG mechanics were so much streamlined. I always get sceptical when a things gets so unisono praised. We'll see.
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January 27th, 2010, 21:12
If Mass Effect 2 was an European RPG, the scores surely would have been much lower.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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January 27th, 2010, 21:24
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
If Mass Effect 2 was an European RPG, the scores surely would have been much lower.
How so Alrik? Do you mean if it was the same exact game by a lesser known European developer or that if it was developed like a European game with more "European" tastes it wouldn't be as popular?

I would agree with you either way but I'm curious which you meant. Is it a statement on the media's gaming tastes or the American media's ethnocentrism?
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January 27th, 2010, 22:22
Originally Posted by LuckyCarbon View Post
That's the problem, I did think ME2 was going to be like ME1, I've only learned in the last 3 days it's been "streamlined". I'm not doing something silly like vowing to never purchase another Bioware game but they've lost the instant buy status I've always given them. And it's only pre-ordered because I needed something very simple for my mother-in-law to get me for xmas.
It was already streamlined. They haven't streamlined it further so much as made changes in response to criticism of the first - they were utterly clear they were doing that in every preview and interview.

This is the way BioWare works. Baldur's Gate had dozens of "empty" wilderness areas that I loved to explore but the broad public criticised that, so Baldur's Gate II stripped them out entirely - not a single one. You've created some mythical image of BioWare that just isn't accurate - they have always been quick to adapt to improve sales (and no doubt, they believe they are improving the games).

In fact, if we go way back to the beginning, their first games where Shattered Steel and then they shopped an RTS tech demo - it wasn't until Interplay suggested adapting it to D&D that the whole RPG specialist thing was born. Perhaps they would say that was the plan all along but I see a company who always ruthlessly adapts and iterates, rather than a hardcore RPG developer swayed by the dollar.

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January 28th, 2010, 02:48
Originally Posted by LuckyCarbon View Post
Well excuse hacks for having opinions that don't coincide with yours but if Interactive Movie 2 is an RPG, then Far Cry must be too. That would certainly coincide with what gets labeled as RPG these days. Also, I don't recall anyone saying DA:O wasn't an RPG, just that it wasn't a very good one.
Funny, you felt compelled to tell me what is an rpg. Your opinion is your opinion…you know what they say, opinions are like butholes everyone has one.
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January 28th, 2010, 03:28
Originally Posted by LuckyCarbon View Post
How so Alrik? Do you mean if it was the same exact game by a lesser known European developer or that if it was developed like a European game with more "European" tastes it wouldn't be as popular?

I would agree with you either way but I'm curious which you meant. Is it a statement on the media's gaming tastes or the American media's ethnocentrism?
I think what Alrik meant is the following:
Remove the Bioware name, add a European developer's name of your choice - but not somebody known in the AAA world like Crytek. Then send out review samples of the exact same game. The metascore average would be significantly lower. Same for Bethesda's games since Oblivion. And not just in NA, in Europe too.

I'm quite optimistic ME2 is a very good game though. So far I've enjoyed every Bioware game I've played.
Something like Assassin's Creed or the first Black & White probably would have been better examples.

Here's some insight into what's going on, from the recently closed Crispy Gamer.

Marketing dollars, their brand name, their past games and the proven interest for the audience of most game mags buy AAA games an advantage. This is probably quite a normal thing which happens everywhere, but as a reader one should be aware of it. The review scale for AAA games starts at 80% resp. 8/10. Everything below that is simply crap. Non-AAA games have a hard time getting 80% at all, independent of their quality.
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January 28th, 2010, 13:18
Originally Posted by Gorath View Post
Here's some insight into what's going on, from the recently closed Crispy Gamer.
Although I get the point this article has an interesting irony that seems to negate its purpose: right before he goes to any depth the writer attempts to redeem himself from what he's about to say:
Make no mistake: Fallout 3 is a remarkable game.
Well… If he recognizes Fallout 3 as a remarkable game then what remains is his very personal purely objective taste - I'm sure everybody has found themselves not enjoying an obviously remarkable experience - everyone who isn't arrogant enough to believe that everything should be measured according to their occasional whims should understand the difference between 'a remarkable experience' and 'I enjoy it very much'.

Frankly as a reader I couldn't care less about whether a reviewer enjoys the game he's reviewing, it's irrelevant - I'll read a review to figure out whether I will enjoy it. What this guy says is that he felt compelled to rate a remarkable game highly even though it wasn't his cup of tea… well… I'll sympathize with his discomfort but doesn't a remarkable game deserve a high rate?

I just read that article simply as a record of the downsides of being a reviewer. I understand it but I guess it's one of the hazards of the job.

As such expect that the high marks that ME2 is getting signify that it's a game most likely to appeal a lot to a lot of people, even with different tastes - and not as a teacher's mark to a student. And as such maybe even the 'extreme' 10/10 is fair…
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January 28th, 2010, 19:02
Bioware is actually making fun of your guys opinion in their game… search youtube for the "Mass Effect 2 game vendor" or something. They know exactly what you think, but luckily they don't care at all.

And what is an Role Playing game? A game where you can actually play a role, or a game with stats, an inventory, and other convoluted shit thats not neccesary in it?

Not that I have anything against a dose of hardcore-rpg once in a while, but come on guys. All the (valid) criticisms metioned here against the game could actually be seen as positive things, if you were inclined so (and most of the reviewers seem to be).
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January 28th, 2010, 20:10
People seem to have very narrow and rigid ideas about what an RPG "ought" to be (according to them, or some definition they claim to be authoritative). Then there is this supposed equation between matching that ideal and being a "worthy" game. RPG Nazis, sort of.

I always smirk when I see the "not a real RPG" hash being slung around. It is so anal-retentive and such a predictable way to belittle a game. It's as old as forums and about as imaginative as a bag of rocks.
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January 28th, 2010, 22:24
Well, when Diablo came out and called itself RPG, there was an outcry… until it was widely accepted as belonging to a new subgenre called Action RPG or perhaps Hack and Slash (not to be confused with Roguelikes) and could be enjoyed for what it was. At least that's what I remember happening back at the Dot and now here. Even "Tactical RPGs" sneaked in nowadays, although I never heard of the term before King's Bounty (or was it Puzzle Quest?) and I for one am glad they did. There's room for a whole lot of RPG types. And while there may never be an actual definition of the term role-playing game itself, I find it relatively easy to tell when certain "elements" are lacking or missing.

ME and particularly ME2, from what I gather, are games that don't seem to fit the ideas that some RPG lovers have for the games they like. It should be obvious, however, that they do some other parts extremely well, which is why I think they just need to get their own subgenre so people can accept them for what they are and don't have to think too much about what they are not. There isn't really a subgenre that would fit, yet — "shooter RPG" is too general and when I compare Mass Effect to FPS-RPGs like Deus Ex or Bloodlines, they are like two completely different pairs of shoes.

"Interactive Movie RPG" works for me. Heavy on dialogue, dialogue choices, presentation and action, (possibly very) light on all the other things. That's what Bioware seems to be gravitating towards. Even Dragon Age was a bit like that, although not as much.

"Mystery is important. To know everything, to know the whole truth, is dull. There is no magic in that. Magic is not knowing, magic is wondering about what and how and where." ~ Cortez, from The Longest Journey
Last edited by Arhu; January 28th, 2010 at 22:38.
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January 28th, 2010, 22:58
Well, for me, I have to say that — so far — ME2 is very enjoyable. I'm not 100% happy with some of the things that were changed (I'm one of those weirdos that liked the elevator transitions in ME1 … 'course, I also bought horse armor). But, I've played just beyond the tutorial level(s) — I agree that was very well done — and the experience to this point is fun enough that my criticisms are very minor nitpicks in the face of it all.

I'm a bit of a traditionalist, too — I was one of those folks who was put off by Diablo being deemed an RPG, but I also greatly enjoyed Diablo (and its sequel). It's hard to see something you're so passionate about change as time and the desires of younger and/or newer participants in the hobby seem to win out of your own more and more. Hey, I was a huge fan of graphic adventures back in the early-mid-80s … and younger gamers often smirk at me when I speak so fondly of those old games.

It's the same thing with the disappearing musical artists. Where once we had people with passion and talent working hard against all odds to get their art into the ears of as many people as they could, today we have executives, producers, A&R types, and faceless composers pumping out usually very enjoyable tunes to which they attach very attractive, young people with better than average singing skills. Game development is similarly less about a talented and passionate programmer/designer working had to get their art in front of as many people as they can. The publishers have come in, with big budgets that give them the creative control. More and more, they're the ones deciding what IP will be developed and how to ensure that it vacuums the money out of as many wallets as possible — who cares whether or not it satisfies Joe Rpg's nostalgic tastes?
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January 29th, 2010, 06:28
Originally Posted by Anderson View Post
I always smirk when I see the "not a real RPG" hash being slung around. It is so anal-retentive and such a predictable way to belittle a game. It's as old as forums and about as imaginative as a bag of rocks.
Forums? What about mega-threads on USENET back to the 80's?!?

Yeah, this sort of thing is pretty old … but then again, genres do help us provide some context - so long as that is why they are used. To me, calling this a hybrid shooter/RPG that has more shooter and fewer RPG elements than the original but is still very story and character driven is a helpful description. Using 'not RPG enuf' to cast aspersions is entirely different …

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January 29th, 2010, 15:17
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
Forums? What about mega-threads on USENET back to the 80's?!?

Yeah, this sort of thing is pretty old but then again, genres do help us provide some context - so long as that is why they are used. To me, calling this a hybrid shooter/RPG that has more shooter and fewer RPG elements than the original but is still very story and character driven is a helpful description. Using 'not RPG enuf' to cast aspersions is entirely different
True. There is a big difference between belittling the game because it doesn't conform to your definition of what an RPG ought to be (and stay forever) versus just using genre categories to objectively describe a game's features, or stating your preferences about the latter.

I think the former is a lazy attempt to lend an air of Objectivity to a subjective opinion. It also smacks of intolerance, the same way that talk of "not a real American" or "not a real Christian" do (though on a much lesser scale of course).
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January 29th, 2010, 16:21
Originally Posted by Anderson View Post
True. There is a big difference between belittling the game because it doesn't conform to your definition of what an RPG ought to be (and stay forever) versus just using genre categories to objectively describe a game's features, or stating your preferences about the latter.

I think the former is a lazy attempt to lend an air of Objectivity to a subjective opinion. It also smacks of intolerance, the same way that talk of "not a real American" or "not a real Christian" do (though on a much lesser scale of course).
I tend to agree in an overall sense about "that's not an RPG" - but the criticism itself can be valid as long as it remains in the realm of subjectivity. As in, that's not MY idea of a CRPG.

Mass Effect, while a good game and a quality title, DEFINITELY didn't fit my personal vision of a great CRPG.

But it should be noted that I'm big into mechanics. What I consider the "entertainment structure" - and many people are into story or atmosphere MORE than that. In terms of mechanics and meaningful development choices - I think Mass Effect sucked bigtime.

In terms of being atmospheric and a wonderful sci-fi movie (albeit quite derivative) I think it succeeded brilliantly.
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