In honor of my wife‘s birthday today, here’s a bit from one of my favorite posts of hers. We’re taking care of some errands and going out at least for dinner tonight, thanks to a generous gift card to our favorite restaurant. Guess what it is. Go on, guess.

Enjoy this little taste of an opinionated game review peppered with swearing.

Good Game, Shitty Story: The Mass Effect Experience

Look at that title. I just summed up everything I’m about to say and I don’t even have to say it. I could stand back, look proud of myself and just let the title speak for itself.

However, I’m not. I suspect I will have hundreds of fanboys raging all over the place here if I were to, so I’ll qualify what I just said with some experiences.

For most of the fights worth a damn I used Liara and Alenko, actually.

As I said, the game itself was really good, but I feel I should qualify that too: it was really good when I was playing a Soldier. When I first started up the game, I figured I’d probably play a Soldier because I’m boring and like killing things, but after looking at the classes I figured I’d go for something I don’t usually play, and chose the mage Adept. The combat controls were confusing at first (the game arbitrarily has different movement controls for combat and non-combat), especially since you can’t zoom out, so despite it being third person I still got that “no peripheral vision” feeling that comes with first person shooters. Anyway, I quickly discovered that you can’t keybind more than one ability — despite never using the D-pad for anything the entire game — so if you want to play something that relies as much on abilities as it does on shooting things, and you’re not playing on the PC, you’d better like pausing combat. A lot.

After dealing with the flow-breaking pausing, or just ignoring it and shooting things for the entire first mission, I finally said “fuck this” and re-rolled. Maybe it’s because I could dump all my points in assault rifles since I knew I wasn’t going to use anything else, maybe it was because I’d gotten the hang of the way combat worked, but I immediately had much more fun with the Soldier and went on with the game. I did get a couple abilities throughout the game (well, “a couple” isn’t accurate, I had almost as many as Liara by the end) but most of the time I forgot they existed and just shot things till one of us died. The only ones I ever really took advantage of were my party resurrect and the one that reset all my abilities so I could use the resurrect again. These two got used a lot, too, because the entire party liked to huddle around me, and if I was behind cover, instead of going off to find their own cover nearby, they’d stand in the open near me and get killed. Despite this, the way the fights are set up I was grateful to have party members, especially later on when Kaidan and Liara both got Lift.

Lift is awesome.

As for the non-combat parts… Well. I often found it stupid that one charm speech would cause people to rethink their entire diabolical plan/career choice/life, but I guess it’s better than requiring five conversation trees of the exact same thing. There was also one thing that bothered me with the reporter coming to talk to you sidequest… I knew it was the Renegade option to tell her to fuck off, and I was going for a Paragon, but I chose it anyway because I’d previously promised Emily Wong, another reporter and recurring quest NPC, that she would be the first to get an exclusive interview. Apparently I wasn’t supposed to remember this promise because it never comes up again and everyone acts like you’re an ass for not doing the interview, and there’s no way to tell people I refused in order to keep my promise to Wong (thereby doing the right thing). Why make things like that a dialogue option at all if you’re going to assume the player will completely forget about them?

Other than hiccups like that, I really enjoyed the dialogue parts. I’m one of those OCD types who will get as much information out of an NPC as possible, which often led to spending ridiculous amounts of time chatting, though. Rarely in a game am I so eager to get back to the action after spending time in town as I was in Mass Effect.