Mass Effect 2 and Conker's Stories

Been thinking about Mass Effect 2's story after abandoning the game in my second play through pretty much immediately, and how while I thought that it was the strongest thing about the game in your first time, it totally falls apart when you see the same scenes play out with the only difference being some slightly different dialog from Shepard. The Illusion that any of your decisions have weight is lost, except for the one where you can choose to be all Paragon or all Renegade for a minor reward at the end. I've been thinking back to replaying Conker a few months back, and how that game didn't offer any illusions of control, and as such offers a much more compelling  and honest narrative.
  
Not to say everything in Conker still held up, the a lot of the crude stuff wasn't nearly as amusing to me as it was even a few years ago. The Great Mighty Poo song in particular seemed much more unpleasant than it was funny, but really it was Conker's portrayal which I really dug that time. He really seemed like an honest character, being somewhat of a dick at times when he didn't like people, but not always as ME2 would have you do going down the Renegade path. What I got out of him is best seen in the lines "Aren't you a little short to be a grim reaper?" "Well, how many grim reapers have you met before, mate? What, what am I supposed to look like?" "Yeah, that's a good point, and well made." It's really interesting to as while Conker starts off as a dick, when called out on his dickishness, he backs down pretty much immediately, which to me makes him seem honest. He's a very cynical squirrel and is quick to make dick comments, but he usually knows when it's important to take a more responsible tact. He's sensitive to context, which is something the all renegade or all paragon Shepard isn't. 
 
I played as a middle of the road Shepard myself, treating every dialog option tenderly, looking for options which people wanted to hear instead of going for Paragon or Renegade, and in the end I guess I payed the price by losing half my team in the suicide mission. It's just a bit of a bummer than the game punishes me for trying to make a choices in real time, instead of all in advance.

18 Comments
19 Comments
Posted by TheMasterDS

Been thinking about Mass Effect 2's story after abandoning the game in my second play through pretty much immediately, and how while I thought that it was the strongest thing about the game in your first time, it totally falls apart when you see the same scenes play out with the only difference being some slightly different dialog from Shepard. The Illusion that any of your decisions have weight is lost, except for the one where you can choose to be all Paragon or all Renegade for a minor reward at the end. I've been thinking back to replaying Conker a few months back, and how that game didn't offer any illusions of control, and as such offers a much more compelling  and honest narrative.
  
Not to say everything in Conker still held up, the a lot of the crude stuff wasn't nearly as amusing to me as it was even a few years ago. The Great Mighty Poo song in particular seemed much more unpleasant than it was funny, but really it was Conker's portrayal which I really dug that time. He really seemed like an honest character, being somewhat of a dick at times when he didn't like people, but not always as ME2 would have you do going down the Renegade path. What I got out of him is best seen in the lines "Aren't you a little short to be a grim reaper?" "Well, how many grim reapers have you met before, mate? What, what am I supposed to look like?" "Yeah, that's a good point, and well made." It's really interesting to as while Conker starts off as a dick, when called out on his dickishness, he backs down pretty much immediately, which to me makes him seem honest. He's a very cynical squirrel and is quick to make dick comments, but he usually knows when it's important to take a more responsible tact. He's sensitive to context, which is something the all renegade or all paragon Shepard isn't. 
 
I played as a middle of the road Shepard myself, treating every dialog option tenderly, looking for options which people wanted to hear instead of going for Paragon or Renegade, and in the end I guess I payed the price by losing half my team in the suicide mission. It's just a bit of a bummer than the game punishes me for trying to make a choices in real time, instead of all in advance.

Posted by masternater27

Well the reason you fail is mostly by choosing people that are best fitted for the jobs in the suicide mission.  I played it a lot like you, trying to give the responses that I, myself, would if I were Sheppard.  So I was mostly paragon with a little more than a bar of renegade at the end.  I got through the suicide mission without losing anybody.  But I agree that the illusion kinda falls apart upon second playthroughs.  That's why I'm pretty interested in Heavy Rain.  It seems like your decisions have real consequences and things can play out wildly different.  However I don't have a PS3 :(

Edited by TheMasterDS
@masternater27: Well yeah, I also failed to buy allot of upgrades, may have pissed off Legion without noticing in when him and Tali fought, questioned Jack and thus did not get the loyalty, and failed the Justicar's loyalty mission twice before just moving on, so a lot of the deaths were my fault. A lot of the impression I got from it being punishing going neutral comes from watching someone else play though through it, offering commentary of dialog choices Endurance Run style and eventually watching Jack die because Shepard's Paragon was not maxed out and thus loyalty could not be restored.
Posted by nethanel
@TheMasterDS: For the Justicar's loyalty mission the only Paragon/Renegade check you need is if you want Morinth instead of Samara, I played a mostly neutral Sheperd, about 70% Paragon 40% Renegade and lost no-one, even with Jack/Zaeed unloyal
Posted by Teran
@TheMasterDS: So the problem you have with the game is that you are apparently terrible at it?  I can understand that you may not have liked the story but if you're not willing to invest time into the game you have no room to complain when things don't go your way.  That isn't a flaw with the game, that is another example of how your choices do in fact matter.
 
The decisions you make this game will influence the next just as the decisions made in the first influences certain factors in this one.
Edited by TheMasterDS

The problem I have about the game is that for a game that's main strength is its story is that it doesn't really stand up to other games which stand on narrative strength. namely the ones some would trot out to make the Games are Art argument, such as Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, Bioshock, Conker and maybe Brutal Legend. I won't say I didn't like ME2, and I actually really dug the final mission. Making the wrong decision on the vents gave me a sad death of Thane, and I only used Samara to deflect the insects because I thought her to be my least valuable Biotic, thus more disposable. These decisions and their consequences made the experience come alive briefly, and distilling it to right and wrong choices would've just made it a lot less fun for me. What I'm really getting at is that I don't think that Mass Effect 2 could ever qualify as art as much as any of the above could. 
 
I think that perhaps a meaningful story and the ability to choose a tact are incompatible with each other. Outside of Bioshock's Little Sister Mechanic, which wasn't very good, none of the artsy games attempt to give the player choice, instead developing the character across the course of the game. Jack Ryan discovers his origins and the ramifications of them, Conker becomes serious and sullen when faced with death, Raz looses his enthusiasm as he ventures into the Asylum, and Eddie takes Ophelia's betrayal hard and lashes out in a fantastic scheme which tells you a lot about Riggs. Shepard is just Shepard. He or she starts one way, and pretty much ends that way. It's like Persona 4. While Charlie is getting social links with a bunch of other people, and they're all having epiphanies, he's zero, and thus he will start how he ends. Giving the player choice greatly reduces the amount of character one can bring to table. All the possibilities for Shepard or Charlie hold a lot less weight than the characterizations of Conker or Raz.

Posted by Brendan

If you lost people, it just means you weren't a good enough Shepard ;)
Posted by Fait622

I agree, this is probably the biggest challenge as a story writer for a game. Part of the appeal is the player having input in the story, being able to change the outcome; but the all the different stories need to flow to the same end. It really didn't matter if you saved the council or let them die in ME1 because the other citadel races are still wary of humanity, it didn't really matter if you killed wrex or let him live because you would still get to have free reign on Tachunka. That said the game needed to be built the way it was and this is the first game that gives you even the illusion of your personal choices changing the game world.
Posted by Napalm

Uh, Conker? is this a joke, troll post, or am I thinking of the wrong Conker?

Edited by TheMasterDS
@Napalm: Does it read like a joke or a troll post? 
 
While you're probably not wrong if you're of the mind that a lot of Conker's humor is charactered by some pretty juvenile bits, but it's more the characterization of Conker I was into the last time I gave it a go.
Posted by Napalm
@TheMasterDS: The comparison between Mass Effect 2 and Conker is just... embarrassing.
Posted by TheMasterDS
@Napalm: Maybe you're right, but I think it's fine. They're two games which stand primarily on the strength of their stories, one of which is free form yet ultimately has no development for Shepard, and the other one does the opposite and crafts a solid story for the most important character in the game.
Posted by Fait622
@TheMasterDS:
And don't forget that the N-64 version of Conker's Bad Fur Day had some of the most epic split-screen muli-player ever! 
 
Squirels vs. Teddy Bears FTW!
Edited by Napalm
@TheMasterDS said:

" @Napalm: Maybe you're right, but I think it's fine. They're two games which stand primarily on the strength of their stories, one of which is free form yet ultimately has no development for Shepard, and the other one does the opposite and crafts a solid story for the most important character in the game. "

Congratulations, you missed the entire point of Mass Effect 2.
 
As if this retarded comparison of Conker and Mass Effect 2 isn't already invalidated, the above comment surely invalidates it.
Posted by Teran
@TheMasterDS said:
" The problem I have about the game is that for a game that's main strength is its story is that it doesn't really stand up to other games which stand on narrative strength. namely the ones some would trot out to make the Games are Art argument, such as Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, Bioshock, Conker and maybe Brutal Legend. I won't say I didn't like ME2, and I actually really dug the final mission. Making the wrong decision on the vents gave me a sad death of Thane, and I only used Samara to deflect the insects because I thought her to be my least valuable Biotic, thus more disposable. These decisions and their consequences made the experience come alive briefly, and distilling it to right and wrong choices would've just made it a lot less fun for me. What I'm really getting at is that I don't think that Mass Effect 2 could ever qualify as art as much as any of the above could. 
 
I think that perhaps a meaningful story and the ability to choose a tact are incompatible with each other. Outside of Bioshock's Little Sister Mechanic, which wasn't very good, none of the artsy games attempt to give the player choice, instead developing the character across the course of the game. Jack Ryan discovers his origins and the ramifications of them, Conker becomes serious and sullen when faced with death, Raz looses his enthusiasm as he ventures into the Asylum, and Eddie takes Ophelia's betrayal hard and lashes out in a fantastic scheme which tells you a lot about Riggs. Shepard is just Shepard. He or she starts one way, and pretty much ends that way. It's like Persona 4. While Charlie is getting social links with a bunch of other people, and they're all having epiphanies, he's zero, and thus he will start how he ends. Giving the player choice greatly reduces the amount of character one can bring to table. All the possibilities for Shepard or Charlie hold a lot less weight than the characterizations of Conker or Raz. "
You are talking like a blind movie reviewer.  Your experience with the game is so alien to the rest of us we are having trouble believing you actually played it because nothing you've said makes any sense.  You clearly haven't played the same game I played if you didn't see character development.  Complete blindness is the only explanation for that as character development is the most noticeable thing in the game.  If you talked to your allies who they are at the end of the game is not who they were when you recruited them.  The same is true for Shepherd.
Posted by luce

ahh...conkers bad furday

Edited by TheMasterDS
@Fait622 said:

" @TheMasterDS: And don't forget that the N-64 version of Conker's Bad Fur Day had some of the most epic split-screen muli-player ever!  Squirels vs. Teddy Bears FTW! "

I think I've touched on that bit having lost its appeal, but then I appreciated the characterization of Conker as a quite cynical squirrel, but if I could say anything about him he's sensitive to context. He's rude to people who doesn't deserve his attention, he's apologetic if he thinks better of something, he reacts to death and he's capable of joy, though also of forgetting.
 
 @Napalm:
 Well sure, I suppose there is a bit at the end where you define what your policies as a leader are and you actually get to make decisions. Then again, had I played through that part knowing the right answers as some have suggested I would be deprived of that decision making process, only having to choose the actual correct answers. 
 
@Teran:   Sure, they have their arcs, but Shepard starts a dick and ends a dick or starts a cop and ends a cop. There's a thin line in which you can change that up and a few decisions, but they are all largely inconsequential.
Posted by Napalm

Can we save everybody a headache and just lock this?

Posted by TheMasterDS
@Napalm: That seems a bit harsh considering all I'm doing is comparing some games that I think have pretty interesting narrative bits. Is it the part where I decided it was more relevant to Mass Effect 2 than it was to Conker and had it posted to the Mass Effect 2 board that bothers you? Would it have been better had it simply been posted to off topic, the Conker Franchise page, or was a blog only?