In my last blog entry, I talked about my backlog problems, and noted my difficulty in breaking free from Mass Effect 1 and moving on to Mass Effect 2. That blog post and its discussion was a bit cathartic for me, and I finally dumped ME1 halfway through my fifth play through and went on to the nearly-universally-lauded-as-superior ME2.
So far, I'm not convinced.
Now granted I'm probably only 10 hours or so in. I'm still tooling around putting my team together. (So far I have Grunt, Jack, the Professor guy, the English-accented merc guy, Archangel and the two Cerberus lackeys.) So I haven't seen all that much of the story, though as of now I'm just about to try to take on some Collector dudes. So with that in mind I'm certainly not making any final judgement or anything.
But as of right now I liked what ME1 was a lot better.
The visuals are empirically far superior to the first game. This isn't just the graphics themselves, but also the menus, the UI, all the overlays and whatnot. All better, for sure. The women are also a lot better looking. I mean Miranda, smoking hot. The best body genetic engineering and 3D modeling can buy.
But everything else? I just don't know.
- All of a sudden I'm playing basically a pure shooter with RPG conversations and character progression. Not only that, but all the skills got dumbed way down. Is that really all the skills you get per character?
- Surveying was stupid in ME1, but they made it even worse here. So now I have to actually SCAN the planet and then launch a probe? What am I playing here exactly? Aren't I Shepard? Don't I have people to do that kind of shit for me?
- We're swearing now? I'm no curmedgeon, I love me some "fucks" and "shits" where they fit. Hell, I listen to the Bombcast for fuck's sake. But now I can't play this game with my kids in the room. Just so they can make it "grittier?" The first time I heard someone swear it totally pulled me out of the game.
- And space travel got a whole lot more confusing. Now I need to worry about fuel, and I toodle around a little toy galaxy in a little toy spaceship to get from place to place. It just feels silly.
- No more Mako missions? Oh wait, that's categorically better.
I'm still enjoying it, and the worm could certainly turn, but right now I'm kind of missing what Mass Effect was that Mass Effect 2 isn't. In a lot of ways it feels not so much a sequel as a total reboot. A sequel refines and improves on the original, it doesn't totally rewrite nearly every system. But that's exactly what happened with ME2. ME1 was a Space Opera, a clean Sci-Fi RPG that sometimes tricked you into thinking it was a shooter. What I've seen about ME2 so far is that it's a gritty, Sci-Fi shooter with a good story. Those two things are actually totally different in my mind.
Again, this isn't to say there is anything I would call BAD about ME2. Many of the changes can easily be recognized as improvements. I like the research elements so far, it's a good story, the characters are great, and it is just a lot of fun. It just isn't really Mass Effect 2.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to see how to move forward in a romance sub-plot with Miranda.