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November 6th, 2012, 16:45
Originally Posted by ChaosTheory View Post
Perfect example of how everyone's interests are different… I thought the best part of the game was visiting all the other planets and investigating the little mysteries. The Mako was a great way to do it IMO. You actually felt like you were exploring.
As you said, different interests and all that.
I may have felt like I was exploring, but after a planet or three Iīve also felt like I was exploring pointlessly, so for me all that planetary stuff was mostly to the experienceīs detriment.
Player got usually alerted about a side quest upon entering a system via comm, getting to main objectives pretty much always meant just driving to "!" and there was rarely anything unique off the path. Pretty much the only moment where the exploration felt truly rewarding to me was discovery of the prothean sphere and the only side quest where an "open world-y" approach resulted in a suitably meaty experience was Bring Down the Sky.
ME2 preserved the "investigating little mysteries" aspect, it just cut to the chase, so to say, and added more level variety, which is why I actually consider its exploration aspect to be better than in ME1, even though the actual process of exploration just boils down to checking the systems for anomalies .
I liked how the Mako was used in ME1īs main quest though - these parts were all linear, but worked well at providing breaks from gameplay mold and adding scope to the locales.

That said, when looking at the trilogy as one huge game, I donīt really mind ME1īs side quest planets since they do add a sense of scope and sorta frontier vibe to the setting, but by the time ME2 starts itīs pretty much a been-there-done-that matter and I welcome the change of foci in the gameplay mix.

Originally Posted by ChaosTheory View Post
collecting the stuff for the rather useless side quests (matriarch writings,
Are you kidding!? Matriarch writings are crucial in ME3īs Conrad Verner encounter!

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Mass Effect had the mystery going for it - as it was the first game. It also wasn't streamlined into oblivion - which was a huge issue with the next two games.
No, it wasnīt.
ME was already a streamlined iteration of KotOR, an already streamlined game.
Like ME2 and ME3, combat gameplay is already "shooter with powers", except shooting sucks, powers lack variety and punch (maybe except for singularity and lift) and interesting encounter design is almost non-existent. Plus, a pretty significant chunk is spent fighting in Mako, which is effectively free of RPG influences.
Loot system is horrible, inventory is horrible and frogger minigame is omnipresent.
A lot of time dialogue choices result in Shepard saying an exactly same thing.
As implied above, exploration carries some atmosphere, but from the gameplay standpoint itīs a filler through and through.
All in all, ME1īs "RPG aspects" bore a lot of redundancy and were often detrimental to the experience. Streamlining them "to oblivion" was an act of mercy .

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
It felt non-linear to a much larger degree as well,
That may be true on the level design front, but when it comes to high level structuring, personally I consider ME2 to be the game that provides the most non-linearity in the trilogy.
Both games have mandatory prologue, both games have about the same amount of "planetary side quests" and in both games the meatier quests are designed to be completed in one go.
The difference is in the distribution of what I consider meaty content.
Prologues, endgames and running around hub(s) aside, both games come with the set of meatier self contained "episodes". ME1īs episodes are longer and usually more elaborate (Liara rescue being an exception) than the ones in ME2, but ME2 contains much, much more ofīem.
Also, ME1 effectively has only one hub warranting quest-related re-visits, whereas ME2 has four.
For better or worse, ME2 was simply designed as a game with a slimmer core story than ME1, but made up for it by containing a crapload more of not core plot related stuff. It can also be completed without ever visiting the Citadel, Illium or Tuchanka or engaging in quite a few of those meatier quests, whereas in ME1 pretty much all thatīs meaty is mandatory.
As a result, for me the sense of free roaming is stronger in ME2 than in ME1.
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