Doom's Diary: Mass Effect 1 Part 1 - Elevator Music

Posted by Irishdoom (332 posts) -

Reviews are so 2010. So instead of adding to the massive list of user reviews for Mass Effect 1, I figure I'll do some random writing about my experiences with the game when the mood strikes me. I've never played the series at all until now, and my only solid knowledge about the series going in is that it's in space, and the main character's name is Shepard. My current plan is to play all 3 games in succession. I don't know how many parts there will be (though I'm guessing 3 per game) and I don't know if I'll even finish. But when it gets down to it, I want to talk to SOMEONE about my ME1 experiences, and neither my wife nor my boss are interested. Here goes.

Irritating Point #1 - ME1 pulled a dastardly move on me at the beginning. You see, I didn't want to fiddle with a "custom" character. I don't care what my guy looks like, nor do I care if I have a different name that nobody ever says anyway. So I wanted to just play as John Shepard, as designed, and leave it at that. So why the hell isn't it clear that to CHOOSE A CLASS I have to go the custom route? For me, custom is eyebrow width, lip redness, and hair color. Along with the opportunity to name my guy "Douchebag Rob" if I so choose. Class in an RPG however, is NOT my idea of custom. So I quickly clicked through, and figured at some point in game they give me a chance to choose my class.

Wrong. So 2 hours in or so, I started over. I muffed up some point expenditures anyway, and once I got to see some of the game I had a better idea of what I'd want to do. Luckily I'm old and slow at these games, so 2 hours ain't a whole hell of a lot.

For my 2nd start to the game, I went with Vanguard. If I can pick shit up with magic in a game, I want to do that. And if I can pick shit up with magic and STILL be good at shooting things in the face, I do that too. So Vanguard it was.

I know this game, at least the first, isn't really about the combat, so let's get that out of the way. It's alright. It's one of those weird situations where it controls as if I'm playing a shooter, but I'm not sure if it's actually just a bunch of dice rolls. That feels weird to me, just like it did in Fallout 3. Can't devs just decide games are either shooters or they aren't? Don't make me think the game is skill-based if it isn't, and vice-versa. Also, I like cover mechanics in shooters, but in ME1 the cover mechanics are "imprecise" to be nice about it. It also doesn't help that my squad mates tend to get in my way and steal the corner covers I'm trying to use to survive. But hey, you get to shoot stuff, and there's loot, so that's good.

Irritating Point #2 - the hacking minigame. Listen, I'm approaching 40, and my reflexes aren't what they once were. I'm not going to do well at a "simon" minigame to hack stuff. Give me some kind of puzzle, please! I find myself saving before each locked container, otherwise I'd be constantly out of that magic gel. That somehow opens locked containers. Is it like the vegetable oil and stuck ring trick or what? Is this magic gel actually WD-40?

But hey, this isn't about the action-y parts. This is about the story.

And I gotta tell ya, this story is delivering. If you want to Space Opera me, you best come with the ancient civilizations. What's that you say? Mysterious, supposedly defunct Ancient Aliens? I'm in. There are just enough recognizable actors to make me happy, and I'm also pleased I don't know who the hell is voicing Shepard. He should be an unknown. The pacing, at least up to the point where I am, when I just got my own ship, is solid. You are allowed to waste a lot of time getting to that point. And waste I did, wandering around Citadel like the completionist tool that I am, picking up and completing side quests like crazy.

Irritating Point #3 - What's up with the elevators? Is this some loading necessity? (In which case I'm ok with it.) Or is this just about "flavor?" (In which case I'M NOT!) I found it mildly cute the first time. "Oh look, I actually have to RIDE in the elevator - like all the way!" But by midway through that first ride, I was way over it. Is there some skippable-ness to the elevator rides that I'm missing? I'm using the rapid transit whenever I can, but for true exploration sometimes you gotta ride those stupid things.

But I digress. The story is awesome. I know that's a lame descriptor, but that's all I can come up with right now. It's intriguing when it needs to be, and it does a great job at inspiration. There are at least 3 different times thus far where the combination of story, music, and presentation all came together perfectly to make me go "wow, this game is good." I hope there are many more instances of that as I progress. I guess we'll see in Doom's Diary: Mass Effect 1 Part 2, whenever that may be.

#1 Posted by Irishdoom (332 posts) -

Reviews are so 2010. So instead of adding to the massive list of user reviews for Mass Effect 1, I figure I'll do some random writing about my experiences with the game when the mood strikes me. I've never played the series at all until now, and my only solid knowledge about the series going in is that it's in space, and the main character's name is Shepard. My current plan is to play all 3 games in succession. I don't know how many parts there will be (though I'm guessing 3 per game) and I don't know if I'll even finish. But when it gets down to it, I want to talk to SOMEONE about my ME1 experiences, and neither my wife nor my boss are interested. Here goes.

Irritating Point #1 - ME1 pulled a dastardly move on me at the beginning. You see, I didn't want to fiddle with a "custom" character. I don't care what my guy looks like, nor do I care if I have a different name that nobody ever says anyway. So I wanted to just play as John Shepard, as designed, and leave it at that. So why the hell isn't it clear that to CHOOSE A CLASS I have to go the custom route? For me, custom is eyebrow width, lip redness, and hair color. Along with the opportunity to name my guy "Douchebag Rob" if I so choose. Class in an RPG however, is NOT my idea of custom. So I quickly clicked through, and figured at some point in game they give me a chance to choose my class.

Wrong. So 2 hours in or so, I started over. I muffed up some point expenditures anyway, and once I got to see some of the game I had a better idea of what I'd want to do. Luckily I'm old and slow at these games, so 2 hours ain't a whole hell of a lot.

For my 2nd start to the game, I went with Vanguard. If I can pick shit up with magic in a game, I want to do that. And if I can pick shit up with magic and STILL be good at shooting things in the face, I do that too. So Vanguard it was.

I know this game, at least the first, isn't really about the combat, so let's get that out of the way. It's alright. It's one of those weird situations where it controls as if I'm playing a shooter, but I'm not sure if it's actually just a bunch of dice rolls. That feels weird to me, just like it did in Fallout 3. Can't devs just decide games are either shooters or they aren't? Don't make me think the game is skill-based if it isn't, and vice-versa. Also, I like cover mechanics in shooters, but in ME1 the cover mechanics are "imprecise" to be nice about it. It also doesn't help that my squad mates tend to get in my way and steal the corner covers I'm trying to use to survive. But hey, you get to shoot stuff, and there's loot, so that's good.

Irritating Point #2 - the hacking minigame. Listen, I'm approaching 40, and my reflexes aren't what they once were. I'm not going to do well at a "simon" minigame to hack stuff. Give me some kind of puzzle, please! I find myself saving before each locked container, otherwise I'd be constantly out of that magic gel. That somehow opens locked containers. Is it like the vegetable oil and stuck ring trick or what? Is this magic gel actually WD-40?

But hey, this isn't about the action-y parts. This is about the story.

And I gotta tell ya, this story is delivering. If you want to Space Opera me, you best come with the ancient civilizations. What's that you say? Mysterious, supposedly defunct Ancient Aliens? I'm in. There are just enough recognizable actors to make me happy, and I'm also pleased I don't know who the hell is voicing Shepard. He should be an unknown. The pacing, at least up to the point where I am, when I just got my own ship, is solid. You are allowed to waste a lot of time getting to that point. And waste I did, wandering around Citadel like the completionist tool that I am, picking up and completing side quests like crazy.

Irritating Point #3 - What's up with the elevators? Is this some loading necessity? (In which case I'm ok with it.) Or is this just about "flavor?" (In which case I'M NOT!) I found it mildly cute the first time. "Oh look, I actually have to RIDE in the elevator - like all the way!" But by midway through that first ride, I was way over it. Is there some skippable-ness to the elevator rides that I'm missing? I'm using the rapid transit whenever I can, but for true exploration sometimes you gotta ride those stupid things.

But I digress. The story is awesome. I know that's a lame descriptor, but that's all I can come up with right now. It's intriguing when it needs to be, and it does a great job at inspiration. There are at least 3 different times thus far where the combination of story, music, and presentation all came together perfectly to make me go "wow, this game is good." I hope there are many more instances of that as I progress. I guess we'll see in Doom's Diary: Mass Effect 1 Part 2, whenever that may be.

#2 Posted by Irishdoom (332 posts) -

My apologies for the length, but I can't make a "blog" post unless it has some meat! :)

#3 Posted by Wampa1 (592 posts) -

@Irishdoom: I figure you'll be quite happy that in ME2 and 3 Bioware clearly decided to just make a pure shooter and drop the vestigial things that drag down the combat in 1. Even better? No more elevator loads!

#4 Posted by Irishdoom (332 posts) -

I mostly want to "get through" ME1, but have a feeling I'll be as completionist about it as any game I like. :)

#5 Posted by Irishdoom (332 posts) -

One shameless bump for the evening crowd.

#6 Posted by RVonE (4476 posts) -

@Irishdoom: Thanks for that. I'm probably in the minority but I still love ME1 the most of the three games. It has some huge issues for sure, but I think it succeeded the most in creating that feeling of amazement that suits a space opera and offers the most coherent narrative vision, I think. It's sense of atmosphere is, in my opinion, just a notch above the other games not in small part because of the amazing soundtrack (ME2 and ME3 have decent soundtracks but they sound a bit more generic with most of the tracks having an orchestral arrangement). Also, it is the only game of the three that paints these incredible vistas when you get to visit all the different planets.

About the elevators, I loved them. I remember right before ME2 came out some dev said something about having listened to user feedback and since users supposedly hated the elevators, they took them out. Then, when ME2 came out, we discovered that what he actually meant was that they replaced the elevator sequences with a schematic representation of an elevator moving through an elevator shaft. Good times were had on the BioWare forums that day.

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