Late to the Party: Mass Effect (Xbox 360)
By FriskyTanuki 01-03-2011 01:32 AM
So I've finally finished the first part of the space epic known as Mass Effect and it was a very flawed experience that still ended well as a pretty good game. This is a tale of playing the Bioware "masterpiece" and what a two year break can do to one's perception of a game.
My time with Mass Effect began in April of 2008, shortly after getting my Xbox 360. I played the hell out of the game up to the point where I picked up Liara and promptly just moved on and ignored the game for about two and a half years. I suppose it was the series of marathon sessions that made me uneasy about going back until I was ready to sink that much more time with the game, so it would sit on my shelf until September of this year when I played the Mass Effect 2 demo and decided to finally go back to finish the first game.
I remembered Mass Effect being a beautiful game and what I saw two years later was a blurry mess that is the buggiest game I've played so far this generation that didn't actually crash on me. The framerate is absolutely terrible, which makes slowdown a consistent part of the experience even in the big fights and sequences that I played through even up to the end with the final boss fight. Screen tearing was also very common when turning the camera to look around, which is necessary to see if any chests or door locks are around since the game points them out when you swing the camera around. To complete the trifecta of a technically shit game, the Unreal engine-based visuals always take a few seconds for the right textures to pop-in, which influences a lot of first impressions of new areas, locations, and even people in the cutscenes when you see blurry textures that makes you think that somebody wiped vasoline all over your TV when you weren't looking. I also saw numerous temporary freezes when the rare autosave happened and whenever the game would try to stealthily load up the next area before I got there.
That this game somehow shipped like this makes me lose a lot of respect in Bioware, who worked on this game for years and clearly rushed it out the door to make it out in time for the holiday season. Patches could have helped, especially for those that played it later and didn't have the Mass Effect hype to make it easier to forgive. This game is a mess and it's only the story that makes up for it by making me want to continue on to see how things played out. The story gave me a huge Star Trek vibe in the way it plays out as Shepard gets to pull off a few Captain Kirk cliches throughout the game. The choices and all that were nice, but the huge gap between sessions allowed me to play through Heavy Rain and that game does the "tense moments with insanely tough choices to make" thing way better than Mass Effect ever could have done. I did stop for a minute to think about who to save both times, but it didn't have the same impact to me due to the myriad of technical issues that pulled me out of the experience all of the time.
The other issues I had with the game are all the more well-known issues with the Mako (Borderlands still fell into this trap despite an advanced notice), inventory management (did Bioware not think its players were pack rats and could use an easy way to clear space?), squad AI (They respawn a lot because they can get stuck easily behind doors), elevators (another part of the technical issues), and autosaving (I'd have not finished this game if I wasn't barely as proactive in saving as I was). I didn't have much of an issue with the gunplay since there were a ton more pressing issues and using the squad commands made it so that I didn't need to kill every enemy myself. It's certainly a testament to the story and quality of the dialog system that I was willing to endure all of these issues to beat the game.
Just to make sure that my experiences weren't unique, I took a look at reviews of the game from back then and it seems like most of them were affected by it buy were able to pass on it because of everything else. The IGN review in particular tries to make a point about the bugs and technical issues , but they sweep it under the rug when scoring it. I don't want to get into any review criticism, so that's all I have to say about that topic. I'm glad that Mass Effect 2 seems to fix most of those issues, though I'm waiting for the inevitable Game of the Year edition that includes all of the DLC with it that seems to be what the PS3 version will essentially be. I'm guessing that EA/Bioware is waiting until after the PS3 version is out to announce a full version of Mass Effect 2 for Xbox 360, so I won't be jumping into the sequel just yet and will just try to complete some of the other long overdue games I've got on my shelf.
|Comments (Total Comments: 4)|
|The Crotch - 01-03-2011, 11:12 AM|
|FriskyTanuki - 01-03-2011, 03:27 PM|
|The Crotch - 01-03-2011, 06:08 PM|
|AvidWriter - 01-03-2011, 09:13 PM|
|Recent Blog Entries by FriskyTanuki|