Friday, July 18, 2008

Mass Effect

In between flying missions in EVE I have been playing Bioware's Mass Effect in the background. This crpg/third person shooter hybrid was heaped with praise in its XBox 360 incarnation so I have been looking forward to the pc version for some time.

Its far too early for a definitive evaluation but first impressions are a little mixed.

On the positive side the rpg elements feel very like KOTOR Bioware's previous space based crpg. This is surely a good thing because KOTOR was one of my all time favourite gaming experiences.

On the negative side the rpg elements feel very like KOTOR. I played that game. I enjoyed it a lot. I am not sure I want to play it again.

One carry over feature that is currently bugging me is the implementation of a "morality meter". In Kotor your choice of actions and in particularly your choice of dialog options earned you points from either the light or dark side of the force, increasing your powers in the relevant light or dark side skills. In Mass Effect your choices earn Paragon (broadly good) or Renegade (broadly nasty) points. From what I have read you really need to focus on one of these in order to maximise that trait and fully open up at least one line of dialog and quest options. This annoys me because neither the sacharine sweet paragon nor the ruthless renegade stereotypes appeal to me. I find myself naturally opting for a middle path. I am concerned that this will prevent me from maximising either stat and hinder my game progress.

While KOTOR stuck to its crpg roots with a superb turn based combat system Mass Effect becomes a squad based third person shooter during combat. This is an interesting change but since you seem to spend at least as much time talking as shooting it remains to be seen whether this novelty will be enough to hook me in.

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