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Mass Effect
November 28, 2007 5:26 AM   Subscribe

Mass Effect has been released. So why should you give a damn? Developed by Bioware as the spiritual successor to KOTOR, Mass Effect has received many positive reviews, has a unique and widely touted conversation system, features omnipresent videogame voiceover actor and "that guy" Keith David, and was briefly banned in Singapore due to a human female/monogendered species sex scene.
posted by aerotive (78 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
So basically, you're going to stick a post on the front page for every game Bioware makes.
posted by arnold at 5:44 AM on November 28, 2007


After clicking several of your links, I still don't care.
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:46 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Looks good. And now I know who Keith David is!
posted by Pecinpah at 5:47 AM on November 28, 2007


Dudes, what about this game? (NSFW; titty-fucking and animal torture). Hear about it here, first!
posted by Mister_A at 5:53 AM on November 28, 2007


I care, enjoy videogame posts, but will be receiving this game for Christmas and so can't participate for fear of evil, evil spoilers. And jealousy. And gas? Maybe I'm a bit gassy too.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:02 AM on November 28, 2007


Astroturf grows greener in the blue.
posted by furtive at 6:12 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Astroturf...

... except aerotive has been around for a while and isn't likely to be a throwaway shill account.
posted by lodurr at 6:22 AM on November 28, 2007


Mass Effect is a great game. The fact that it is an item you can purchase for cash money doesn't automatically mean a post it about it is astroturfing.

Just like the fact that you've heard of Jade Raymond doesn't mean Assassin's Creed sucks.
posted by emmastory at 6:29 AM on November 28, 2007


I played Mass Effect at a friend's place and really, big fat meh. It's incredibly polished and well done but it doesn't extend the genre in any really new way. Honestly on a fun scale I'm having way more of a blast with The Witcher!

And the vaunted conversation system is nothing more fancy than a logical extention of the way conversations were handled in Ultima 7.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 6:29 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


But it's only available for one of those clunky console thingies that you hook up to your TV. I don't even have a TV. Let me know when they have a real version out. One that runs on my PC.

Oh, and bluegrass isn't environmentally friendly.
posted by gregor-e at 6:33 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


The reason I give a damn about this game is that singapore is an authoritarian state?
posted by DU at 6:36 AM on November 28, 2007


Too hot for Singapore!
posted by Mister_A at 6:39 AM on November 28, 2007


Mass Effect is a great game.

Oh- it's a game. The FPP didn't manage to mention that. So why should I care, again?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:42 AM on November 28, 2007


I'm saving Mass Effect for next year, though it has grabbed my friends list quite thoroughly. Currently I'm playing Orange Box, Kane & Lynch, Halo 3, Guitar Hero 3, Call of Duty 4, Assassin's Creed, Rock Band, Crysis and skate. I'm very glad I don't own a Wii at the moment. And that my girlfriend lives in another country. And that my friends are gamers.

This is one of the best years for (my kind of) gaming in the last decade.

To my mind, Mass Effect is just one example of an artform spreading its wings and beginning to challenge how it is viewed by people at large. That's not why you should care, it's a reason you could care, Keith.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:57 AM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Mass Effect is the reason that I've mostly stopped playing Super Mario Galaxy. Mass Effect is so engrossing that I can't stop when I do play it. I record one level of SMG for youtube every night, then I go right into Mass Effect. Every day. For the past week.
posted by yeoz at 7:01 AM on November 28, 2007


Also the reason why I've been late to work every day. :<
posted by yeoz at 7:03 AM on November 28, 2007


A question about Guitar Hero games:

Couldn't you just get a real guitar? These games seem like playing air guitar with props. What's the attraction? Jus' sayin'.
posted by Mister_A at 7:07 AM on November 28, 2007


I don't know about this game and I am not afraid to admit that the only link I clicked on was to the (admittedly disappointing) sex scene. With that said, I like the point in the sex scene (near the end) where the alien takes a step back and looks like she cracks her next in anticipation for the upcoming gymnastics. It's like "Alright, its go time! Rawr!"
posted by arcticwoman at 7:12 AM on November 28, 2007


Oh, and bluegrass isn't environmentally friendly.
posted by gregor-e at 9:33 AM on November 28


I can't think of a single appropriate Earl Scruggs joke about this for the life of me.
posted by stavrogin at 7:12 AM on November 28, 2007


Couldn't you just get a real guitar? These games seem like playing air guitar with props. What's the attraction? Jus' sayin'.

's a bit like saying, "Hey, kids, why play Madden? Could you just go and play REAL professional football?"

or: Hey, why play Halo when you can go to Iraq with a real rifle?

Why play glorified air guitar? Because it's fun, damnit. I say that as someone who does play guitar, albeit badly.
posted by dismas at 7:16 AM on November 28, 2007


I'm very glad I don't own a Wii at the moment. And that my girlfriend lives in another country.

I had something witty to say about cause and effect, but I thought better of it. Almost.
posted by rokusan at 7:18 AM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Hell, I play guitar pretty well and I love Guitar Hero. I don't fault people for having the "but it's not real" reaction, but it's an argument from a naive perspective. It's a game. It's fun.
posted by cortex at 7:18 AM on November 28, 2007


I can't think of a single appropriate Earl Scruggs joke about this for the life of me.

It's for the best. You don't want that guy pickin' on you.
posted by cortex at 7:19 AM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Well it's only a tiny little bit like saying that. Anyone can learn how to play guitar, but few of us can "learn" to be 260 lbs of muscle on a 6'3" frame, dig?

I'm not slagging video games, I like 'em! I just don't get the ones that are all about pretending to do something that you can actually do. For instance, I can not, in reality, kill dwarves, turn people into sheep, summon demons, or freeze my enemies, so it's fun to pretend to in a video game.

Anyway, to each his or her own, I suppose; I prefer games that are not based on some sort of more-or-less attainable activity.
posted by Mister_A at 7:21 AM on November 28, 2007


Couldn't you just get a real guitar? These games seem like playing air guitar with props. What's the attraction? Jus' sayin'.

Randy: Well you kids wanna see something really cool? Check this out.
(Randy picks up a guitar and starts playing Carry on Wayward Son)
Once, I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion.
I was soaring ever higher.
But I flew too high.
Though my eyes could see I-
Stan: Dad? Dad! What are you doing?!
Randy: I can actually play a lot of these songs on a real guitar. You want me to teach you boys how?
Cartman: Uhh, that's gay, Mr. Marsh.
Stan: Yeah, that's stupid, Dad.
Randy: But... But this is real.
Cartman: Real guitars are for old people.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:22 AM on November 28, 2007 [6 favorites]


I really don't understand what your beef was, arnold, considering that none of aerotive's other MetaFilter posts have ever featured a BioWare game?

Were you foretelling the future with omniscient powers -- or just being a dick?
posted by cavalier at 7:23 AM on November 28, 2007


Mister_A, look at the time = reward. I know people who've been playing guitar for 13 years and they ain't exactly Hendrix. I've been playing Guitar hero for a few days and I feel like a (nerdy) rock god whenever I do well on a song.

Also, the two things aren't mutually exclusive. I know plenty of musicians who love Guitar Hero. And people who play golf who like Tiger Woods. Skaters who like Tony Hawks. And so on.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:31 AM on November 28, 2007


From the game site: "The galaxy is trapped in an endless cycle of extinction. Every 50,000 years, an ancient machine race invades the galaxy. With ruthless efficiency ---"

Ruthless efficiency, you say?
posted by Termite at 7:33 AM on November 28, 2007


I prefer games that are not based on some sort of more-or-less attainable activity.

That's fair enough, but the Wii has seen huge popularity and success based largely on Wii Sports - tennis, bowling, golf, baseball and boxing. All 'more-or-less attainable' activies, yet people still like to play games of them too. I guess they play them for fun.

I like Guitar Hero, but when it got to the point where I'd have to practice for an hour to be able to pass the next song I decided I'd be better off spending that time learning something new on my real guitar. However, it's still fun to go back to Guitar Hero from time to time and play a gig at Stonehenge.
posted by Elmore at 7:36 AM on November 28, 2007


Mister_A writes "Anyway, to each his or her own, I suppose; I prefer games that are not based on some sort of more-or-less attainable activity."

Don't modern era war games fall into the category of "attainable activity?"

Anyway, yes, you can learn to play guitar. Learning to play it well enough to get onstage and amaze a crowd takes a lot of work. So, maybe attainable, but not likely for most people. It's still a fantasy, especially the part about being a rock star, which is only attainable through some luck, as well as talent and work.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:37 AM on November 28, 2007


Don't modern era war games fall into the category of "attainable activity?"

Attainable, yes. Enjoyable in reality, no.

Being in a rock band is (I imagine) a lot of fun in real life. Getting shot in the stomach, not so much.
posted by Ryvar at 7:51 AM on November 28, 2007


With Guitar Hero or Rock Band, it doesn't take long to get a feeling of being able to play well-known music on the guitar. And doing it as a Rock Star. Heck, with Rock Band and three friends, you can get the feeling that you and your friends are playing the music as a band - and the drums can get pretty close to reality, apparently, and the singing part requires actual singing.

How much time would it take learning the guitar to be able to actually play Bark at the Moon, Hangar 18, or Knights of Cydonia? I can guarantee it takes a LOT more time investment than I spent getting good enough to beat Guitar Hero 2 on expert.

That said, just playing Rock Band for a week has me seriously considering learning to play the drums.
posted by evilangela at 8:03 AM on November 28, 2007


Being in a rock band is a lot of work. Being on stage and playing? Lots of fun. Loading in before and out after a show? Work. Booking shows? Work. Acquiring new equipment is fun if it's not under duress, but most of the time it is under duress. Repairing and replacing equipment that shits the bed? Pretty much never fun.

Practicing together is, on a good day, a fun, satisfying kind of work. Writing can be fun. Jamming around like idiots is usually pretty fun, but it can get in the way of the work that needs to get done if you ever want to do anything besides jamming around in the basement.

Running through a song for the fortieth time to try and work out some stupid detail that just won't behave is just plain work.

Doing all that work to go play a show that no one comes to, where the sound equipment and/or the sound guy suck, for peanut-to-nil at midnight on a weeknight when you've got to be at work the next morning? That's some demoralizing shit, and you better be just plain goddam bouyed by the joy of doing music if you want to live through several iterations of that.

All that aside from the fact that learning to play the guitar well enough that people won't want to leave the room immediately when you pick it up is a lot of work. Years of work.

Most people who play Guitar Hero are jumping straight to the fun and fantasy part; practically speaking, that shit is a mix of unattainable and undesirable. Being in a band beats the shit out of a bullet in the gut, but it's not something most people would be happy to be forced into.
posted by cortex at 8:06 AM on November 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


Yea, playing in a rock band is a lot of hard work. You know, I think my problem with Guitar Hero is just that I would feel like a douche doing it. It probably is fun, though, and I'm not trying to spoil anyone else's fun. Rock on!

PS I would try it if it was at someone else's house, as long as my kids were around to be properly mortified.
posted by Mister_A at 8:11 AM on November 28, 2007


That sex scene sucked.
posted by patr1ck at 8:16 AM on November 28, 2007


Oh, forgot to mention,


GET OFF MY LAWN YOU DANG KIDS!


/old
posted by Mister_A at 8:16 AM on November 28, 2007


Lawn care is a lot of work.
posted by cortex at 8:17 AM on November 28, 2007


I have mixed feelings for Mass Effect: the rpg part it's just awesome well written and don't fall in the Star Wars clone category. But the action part it's not very good: the AI it's below standard, the interface sucks and the Mako (an armored car you're going to drive a lot) it's a real nightmare to drive and fight with.

It's still way better than Jade Empire and with a stronger and better written universe. It's just the second setting they made from scratch: let's give them time to polish it.
posted by darkripper at 8:28 AM on November 28, 2007


I'm about 18 hours into Mass Effect and while I'm enjoying it, it's far from perfect. In fact, it's deeply flawed.

The inventory system is annoying, inconsistently implemented, and pointless, to boot. The game is full of identical corridors, cloned environments, and enemies who don't just have bad AI, they've got NO AI. Which is good, because you can't directly control your squad members. You can tell them to go stand over there, you can tell them to follow, but you can't actually individually directly them in combat, a puzzling decision because switching from character to character and chaining their actions and movements was one of the most fun elements of KOTOR. The dialogue system is nifty, but largely pointless, since the branching dialogue rarely leads to additional information or quests.

It's puzzling that the developers wasted so much time and effort on highly detailed descriptions of planets that you'll never land on, yet didn't bother to expand the environment templates beyond blue and futuristic and red and futuristic.

The galactic map, which you use to navigate your spaceship through the galaxy, is less than good. If you're in the map, you can't access your quest journal. Annoying. If you're in the journal, you can't tag a location on the map. Perplexing. You can't flag star systems as "explored", which becomes a problem when you're treasure-hunting for tokens to finish side quests and can't remember the names of the last twenty planets you've surveyed.

You can almost see how this game got watered down and compromised. A major plot point that happens about a third of the way in would seem to have far-reaching ramifications for the universe at large, but it's dropped and never mentioned again. Maybe they're saving that plotline for part two.

Other reviews of the game I've read have carped about texture pop-in and loading times, but I haven't been bothered by that so much, though it is puzzling that these faster than light starships seem to have elevators straight out of the 1920s.

All that said, I still like the game. Tossing your enemies around with the biotic powers is fun, parts of it are very pretty , the character models and voice-acting are well above average.

I hope Bioware learns some lessons, patches the game, and supports it with downloadable content from now until they work the bugs out and release the sequel. I still want to play in this universe, but not as enthusiastically as I had hoped.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:42 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sorry to contribute to the GH3 derail, but for your software nerds out there, I saw an interesting article on why GH is good software : It helps users kickass.

As for Mass Effect, this has been heavily hyped for a year, and it's one of the titles I consider when I think about getting a 360 (in addition to my Wii). Anyone have a hard time swallowing these triple A titles for $65 a pop though? Since I've waited this long, should I wait till there is a "Platinum Edition" re-release?
posted by butterstick at 8:47 AM on November 28, 2007


Darkripper and BitterOldPunk have pretty much summed up everything that's not so great about Mass Effect. That said, it's still wildly addictive. Why? The story. Think about that. When was the last time a video game propelled you to the end on the strength of its story alone? I think Mass Effect is a giant step in the evolution of gaming as a "legitimate" art form and the quest to prove Roger Ebert wrong.
posted by Rangeboy at 9:01 AM on November 28, 2007


That said, just playing Rock Band for a week has me seriously considering learning to play the drums.

Please do. Bands will always seek drummers, let alone of the female persuasion. And drumming is fun. The neighbours will hate you.

I was underwhelmed by KOTOR, so I probably won't check Mass Effect out.
posted by ersatz at 9:06 AM on November 28, 2007


real guitars are for old people.
posted by delmoi at 9:15 AM on November 28, 2007


A question about Guitar Hero games:

Couldn't you just get a real guitar? These games seem like playing air guitar with props. What's the attraction? Jus' sayin'.
posted by Mister_A at 7:07 AM on November 28 [+] [!]


Because it's all the addictive qualities and competition of Dance Dance Revolution, only retooled for gamers allergic to exercise, tough guy members of Phi Beta Millerhighlife who wouldn't be caught dead skipping about like a nance on a DDR pad, and more or less anyone else who enjoys either music, fun or friends.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:18 AM on November 28, 2007


My fab young cousin is the project lead for Mass Effect :) This makes me happy.
posted by Kickstart70 at 9:19 AM on November 28, 2007


I'm with Bitter Old Punk. This game is indebted to Starflight and its sequels, which were GREAT games in their day. The funny thing is, what, 15 years later and the Mass Effect has really added little, and lost much.

I am continually left to wonder why certain game decisions were made in Mass Effect. The super-slow elevators are just the tip of the iceberg. The inventory system. The positively ridonkulous dialogue that cannot be skipped (to me, it sounds like the writers for Law and Order and Battlestar Galactica had a retarded baby who grew up to work at Bioware). The team members who seem beyond my control. I really don't get it, though I am dutifully continuing my quest through the galaxy looking for something or other.

And like BOP, above, I have NO idea why Bioware gives me endless backstory on what kinds of sandwiches the Turians ate seven centuries ago. It's like Bioware wants to single-handedly write a 90,000 word treatise for the Encyclopedia Britannica entry for "I don't give a fuck."

I don't know how this game got multiple perfect scores. This game is like homework.

Portal was a triumph. Mass Effect makes me wonder why I still play videogames.

<>
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:28 AM on November 28, 2007


ersatz: everybody knows playing drums it's a Risqué Business. I'm not going to be the cannon fodder of your rise to fame. SAY NO to rock stars or prepare to deal with combustion and vomit.
posted by darkripper at 9:30 AM on November 28, 2007


I don't want Mass Effect. I want a BioWare-made KOTOR III.
posted by dopamine at 9:33 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, KOTOR III would have been more fun to play. Unfortunately, it looks like KOTOR III is going to be a MMORPG. Blargh.
posted by Rangeboy at 9:41 AM on November 28, 2007


Bioware's been putting a lot of setting information in their games at least since Baldur's Gate. Usually it's just gravy for nerds who want to spend some time gobbling up backstory. I've always enjoyed it. And for what it's worth, adding reams of text is a lot easier than adding a bunch of new environments.

I really want to play Mass Effect, but apparently BioWare's given up on us PC folk, except to throw us a port a couple years down the line. It makes me almost feel like a Mac owner. I know it's not going to be a Portal, despite all those 100s on MetaCritic (most game critics will fawn over any major release) but I'm fond of the BioWare Formula.
posted by picea at 9:49 AM on November 28, 2007


THIS DOES NOT PRETAIN TO MY INTERESTS! WHY SHOULD I CARE!!!
posted by billypilgrim at 10:09 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Mass Effect: meh.

Rock Band derail: My friends like to point out that the instruments in Rock Band are not real instruments. I like to point out the mic and belt out "Detroit Rock City."
posted by infinitewindow at 10:10 AM on November 28, 2007


I played Guitar Hero and loved it. My wife then bought me a real guitar. It was so frustrating and discouraging I gave up on it. It also made me feel stupid going back to the toy guitar, so I sold GH, too.

So, I'll stick to games where you shoot people in the face, and hope the enjoyment of that is never spoiled by finding out how really shooting people in the face isn't nearly as much fun.
posted by notmydesk at 10:34 AM on November 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


What BitterOldPunk said, plus, screen tearing is rampant and constant in the game.
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:36 AM on November 28, 2007


darkripper: Come on, you'll be on stage with the musicians!

full disclosure: I've also played as a bassist [NOT RHYTHM SECTIONIST]
posted by ersatz at 10:49 AM on November 28, 2007


Most bassists are pretty [NOT RHYTHMIST], in fact.
posted by cortex at 10:58 AM on November 28, 2007


Bio-Ware v Bethesda: Discuss!

I'll start: Bethesda goofed by making Oblivion incompatible with such a large number of PCs that were on the market then. Cool game though.
posted by Mister_A at 11:20 AM on November 28, 2007


I think Mass Effect is a giant step in the evolution of gaming as a "legitimate" art form and the quest to prove Roger Ebert wrong.

Rangeboy, I wish I agreed with you. I like the story in Mass Effect, and it's obvious that BioWare has gone to great lengths to make that story deep and rich and capable of containing several games' worth of content. So I'd say charitably that they've made an incremental step, not a giant one.

But the way the story unfolds points up some of the problems in trying to make a game "tell a story" like a movie.

Branching quest lines mean forcing players to make decisions that will shut them out of parts of the game. Sure, it might add replay value, but if the plot point is twenty-some-odd hours into a thirty-hour game, only the most hardcore or housebound are ever going to see what would have happened had they whacked the foozle instead of saving the foozle.

And from what I've experienced in the game so far the only real difference would be a minute-long cutscene and some reallocated good guy/bad guy points.

It seems to me that BioWare's narrative efforts are fundamentally misdirected: instead of giving me a Galactic Codex filled with verbiage and backstory, let me piece that together myself, through exploration and talking with NPCs. Oblivion was great at this -- instead of plunking down all the info somewhere and expecting you to read it, Bethesda cluttered Tamriel with tiny bits of information and suggestions which individually were of little value but which when amassed painted a picture of the world and its history and your place in it.

And if you're going to make me captain of the coolest starship in the galaxy, you could at least let me fly the damn thing. Clicking on a map is deeply unsatisfying when a faster-than-light battleship should be yours to command. Maybe I've played EVE Online too much.

I don't want to sound like I hate this game: I don't hate it. I like it, and will finish it, and will buy the next one. It's a BioWare RPG, and as a grizzled old gamer whose idea of videogame greatness is the sublime beauty of Planescape:Torment (the ultimate in text-heavy RPGs) and the D&D fun of Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights, I'll buy their games based on reputation alone.

But I think the future of narrative in games is more likely to found in the emergent stories that players create themselves in sandbox games, not the top-down structure favored by Mass Effect, as good as it is.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:31 AM on November 28, 2007


evilangela: With Guitar Hero or Rock Band, it doesn't take long to get a feeling of being able to play well-known music on the guitar. And doing it as a Rock Star. Heck, with Rock Band and three friends, you can get the feeling that you and your friends are playing the music as a band - and the drums can get pretty close to reality, apparently, and the singing part requires actual singing.

How much time would it take learning the guitar to be able to actually play Bark at the Moon, Hangar 18, or Knights of Cydonia? I can guarantee it takes a LOT more time investment than I spent getting good enough to beat Guitar Hero 2 on expert.

That said, just playing Rock Band for a week has me seriously considering learning to play the drums.
Nthed. I play a decent piano, but it took 2+ frickin' years of lessons before I could play the ossia and scherzando cadenza from the first movement of Rachmaninoff's 3rd piano concerto. It's GREAT fun to play, big titanic chords marching up and down the keyboard, but it takes a lot of practice to do that fluidly. I don't even play guitar, or drums, so when I want to just rock out to a classic tune, I can do so at a level that's easily sight-readable, yet feels fun (things like little trills on the guitar can be somewhat replicated with the hammeron/pulloff system of GH/RB). You get the fun of feeling kind of like it's you playing, but without the steep learning curve.

For example, playing Rockband, you get to go all Karaoke even if you're a poor singer (like me) because the game is easy at Easy. Then you can experience the same song as a bassist, or drummer (much, much, much more fun that I would have expected!), or lead guitarist. My non-music loving friend who loves to cook said Rockband was to music what cooking for yourself was to eating: it allows you to appreciate much more what goes on in music, and how the different parts work together.

Rockband is immensely fun as a social game too, since there are 3-4 of you playing like a "real band". You've already seen several musically talented people admit that GH and RB are fun games even if you already play an instrument proficiently. And if there was any proof how appealing these games are, a friend of mine who hates music- who honestly says he can't tell the difference between the Beatles and the Monkees- and his wife, who didn't even recognize the Radiohead song "Creep" on the Rockband setlist had a great time rockin' out at my place playing for almost six hours straight last Saturday.
Elmore: I like Guitar Hero, but when it got to the point where I'd have to practice for an hour to be able to pass the next song I decided I'd be better off spending that time learning something new on my real guitar. However, it's still fun to go back to Guitar Hero from time to time and play a gig at Stonehenge.
Well to be fair, at worst the last tier songs on Expert for GH2 or GH3 are hard to sight-read all their solo patterns and require a few minutes in practice to figure out the pattern for a chord sequence, but once you have it you can blow through the song with little trouble. Most of the time they are simple patterns- 1-2-3-4 up or down the fret bar, or a 1-3-2-3 type pattern. There's only a handful you come across for the most part, and at worst the Expert songs have them grouped together so closely it's visually hard to tell if they're chords or sequences, but that only takes one quick go in Practice mode at 50% speed to figure out.
posted by hincandenza at 11:54 AM on November 28, 2007


I agree with everyone about how deeply flawed it is. Still, for me it's the most compelling new thing to come out since Okami (not suggesting that the two games are comparable).
posted by juv3nal at 12:04 PM on November 28, 2007


Oblivion was great at this -- instead of plunking down all the info somewhere and expecting you to read it, Bethesda cluttered Tamriel with tiny bits of information and suggestions which individually were of little value but which when amassed painted a picture of the world and its history and your place in it.

Well if we want to get old'n'farty, this is something that Bethesda did marvelously in Daggerfall (remember the daedra summoning days?), but watered down considerably in both Morrowind and Oblivion.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:15 PM on November 28, 2007


Lentrohamsanin: exactly! I like being able to completely abandon the main quest line for hours and hours while I futz around with alchemy and spell-making, and then when I get back to flogging the plot I'm that much more uber. Mass Effect is so focused on telling a "cinematic" story that sometimes it forgets it's supposed to be an RPG.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:34 PM on November 28, 2007


Well I loved KOTOR and the sequel so I'm in. Hmm..Lets see the PC requirements...

"for the Xbox 360™ video game system"

DAMMIT!
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:48 PM on November 28, 2007


nth agreement on the flaws in Mass Effect. But even with them, I've had all other games on hold for the last week while playing it. Yes, the codex is a tedious way to disseminate information about the races and back story of the universe, but I've found that if you use the "Investigate" option on your multi-racial crew, you can usually get a good chunk of that info with the game's great VO cast.

I've gone on with length with friends about some of the other issues in the game, but it doesn't detract from my experience. I'm really enjoying the game.
posted by eyeballkid at 12:54 PM on November 28, 2007


the game's great VO cast

Just as an FYI, other than the big stars, the rest of the VO cast is made up of improvisers and actors from Edmonton, Alberta. Go Rapid Fire!

I want a BioWare-made KOTOR III.

And I wanted a BioWare-made LOTR RPG. EA was more than likely gonna ass up The White Council, so I say let BioWare have it!
posted by BobFrapples at 1:05 PM on November 28, 2007


I see what you're saying, BitterOldPunk, and I agree with you to an extent. I liked Oblivion a lot too, but as you've pointed out it's a very different kind of gameplay than Mass Effect. You pointed out, astutely, that Mass Effect tries to be a more cinematic experience, and perhaps that's why I thought of it in terms of art. Is Oblivion then not a work of art? I don't know. It's food for thought. All I can really say is that both approaches have their merits, and I'd like to see how different game developers experiment with each one.
posted by Rangeboy at 2:07 PM on November 28, 2007


Well if we want to get old'n'farty, this is something that Bethesda did marvelously in Daggerfall

How many people enjoyed Daggerfall always strikes me. Maybe because I played the original version (no internet at the time: I had to wait a magazine for the patches). The only thing I remember vividly was falling trough buildings. I would totally buy a Live Arcade/Steam remake of Daggerfall.

Showstopping bugs where the norm in that period, even in great games. I also remember having to dump my Fallout 2 for some unavoidable patch.

Myth II (at least there) even had a nice bug that formatted the disk during uninstall :)
posted by darkripper at 2:28 PM on November 28, 2007


This game is indebted to Starflight and its sequels, which were GREAT games in their day. The funny thing is, what, 15 years later and the Mass Effect has really added little, and lost much.

I am still waiting for a decent modern take on Starflight (the sequel to which is on this very computer). The best I could do was Star Control II which I played last year for the first time. That was pretty sweet, but I mean, come on.

Also: Guitar Hero this and Rock Band that. Is there no "Drummania" in North America?
posted by dreamsign at 2:44 PM on November 28, 2007


Myth II (at least there) even had a nice bug that formatted the disk during uninstall :)

Ah, the good old days.
posted by sparkletone at 3:24 PM on November 28, 2007


I don't think a game has to be filmic and story-driven to qualify as art. Rez, for instance, or even Super Mario Bros. In fact, I'm coming to think that the LESS a game tries to ape the tropes of cinema the more likely it is to be staking out new aesthetic territory. Which is to say, I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about. I think the "are games art?" question will inevitably be answered with a resounding "yes", but the medium is suffering from fanboy/developer fed delusions that make for bad games (ie, "shinier is better!", "more explosions = + awsum!") and the perception that games are for kids, which stifles both game-making and game criticism.

Interesting tangent: EVE Online made the New York Times Arts section today. Perhaps the "art" of games will be the sum of the collective actions of players in a rule-bound collaborative space. Who are all drunk, paranoid, and shooting cruise missiles at each other.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:38 PM on November 28, 2007


Yes I agree with BOP re: videogames staking out their own creative niche. Not cinema, so don't pretend to be.

You know, one of the cool things about WoW is that you can climb up on top of stuff just to get a better look at other stuff. Can't do that in a cinematic experience, no matter how slick.
posted by Mister_A at 3:50 PM on November 28, 2007


You know, one of the cool things about WoW is that you can climb up on top of stuff just to get a better look at other stuff. Can't do that in a cinematic experience, no matter how slick.

I take it you haven't played Assassin's Creed.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:56 PM on November 28, 2007


Regarding games=art#movies, I don't have a strong opinion but this discussion always reminds me of the environment in Soul Reaver (I loved the colour of the starting areas) and the joy of running around in Zelda:The Wind Waker, just watching your character move around the world or sailing around. I remember the previews expressing disappointment over the more "childish"/cartoony direction of the visuals and then every single review praising the motion of the game. Still, as far as I've gone, the dungeons are a bit meh.

Most bassists are pretty [NOT RHYTHMIST], in fact.
And pretty homeless if their gf ditches them. Or is that a drummer joke?
posted by ersatz at 4:30 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Eh, they all run together. Accordian = banjo, while you're at it.
posted by cortex at 4:39 PM on November 28, 2007


Eve Online is actually pretty beautiful. And nasty. And boring. And shitty. And then beautiful again.
posted by dreamsign at 6:51 PM on November 28, 2007


where's my lawn care RPG?
posted by AaronRaphael at 8:52 PM on November 28, 2007


Lets see the PC requirements..."for the Xbox 360™ video game system"...DAMMIT!

Bioware is developing Mass Effect for the PC, according to a good friend of mine who works there. No word on when, though.
posted by neuron at 9:21 PM on November 28, 2007



where's my lawn care RPG?

It's not an rpg, and it's not lawn care per se, but there's a game on the way about growing flowers. [youtube trailer].
posted by juv3nal at 10:37 PM on November 28, 2007


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