GTWS(N)BPBAA Part Deux: Yet Still More Gaming Distractions

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User Info: Mertato

Mertato
5 years ago#171
Thanks for the extended thoughts, Zack. I'll be buying The Old Republic once I'm finished with Mass Effect. I'll have some thoughts on it tomorrow to add to what Travis said. By the way, did you play From Ashes yet?

With Plus you can buy Journey one week early with today's store update. Knowing that it would be fairly short, I played through it tonight. The game is absolutely beautiful and lived up to my expectations - when the soundtrack is up, I'd say that's a definite buy too.
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User Info: the_love_less

the_love_less
5 years ago#172
Travis, I'm playing ME on 360 and would be down for some MP. What's your damn gamertag, though?! I've asked you like 5 times. At any rate, I know that I've never been as into ME as the rest of your guys, and I tend to sort of play devil's advocate a lot of the time, but really, I'm just not that into ME3. I think my issues are summed up pretty much with one of the first choices you're asked to make: if you want to play in "RPG mode". I'm only around 6 or 7 hours in, but it's already very apparent that the game is not really built on the RPG roots that the series started on. I took issue with this in ME2, with the choice to remove gun and armor customization and stats, which was replaced with a much more streamlined and ultimately less engaging form of management, but found it ultimately forgivable due to how strong the writing and character interactions were. However, the latter seems to have suffered as well in ME3; character interactions seem forced and corny, and the writing is laughably bad. Most of the side quests I've stumbled upon literally appear out of thin air, and have virtually no context whatsoever, as 90% of the time they seem to be triggered not by actually talking to anyone, but by overhearing conversations. My "choices" in conversation generally seem to lead to the same result, though in either harsher or light hearted tones, and the whole experience just seems to be lacking the soul and depth that the previous entries had. Obviously, it's too early to make any sort of real judgement, but from to start the game has left a bad taste in my mouth. It seems to me that the game has been dumbed down almost entirely. All the focus on smooth and flashy combat has certainly payed off, though, as the game looks and plays very well. So I guess there's that.
"This is Planet Earth, Agent White. Do you read me, over? Today I kept the peace on this planet. Over? This planet's very peaceful. Over and out."

User Info: Trambient

Trambient
5 years ago#173
Gamertag = Travicedtea

I won't really comment on the story until I've hit the meat of it, but I disagree wholeheartedly with your take on the gameplay. I really don't feel like it's been dumbed down at all, and I honestly think it's the most intelligent gameplay in the franchise, by far. Whether or not it's an RPG, in the traditional sense, is up for debate I guess, but the customization and its effect on gameplay is undeniably more involved than ME2, and undeniably more intuitive and more strongly implemented than ME1.

I also seriously don't think the whole "Story/Role-playing/Action" option is at all the big deal people are making it out to be. You can play the game the way you want to. It does something I think all games striving to reach mass appeal should do, which is to present a more streamlined option for those that want it without sacrificing anything that fans of the genre (at least as it's been presented in this series) have come to expect.

Oh, and yeah, finished From Ashes. The mission itself is pretty typical of the rest of the game. It's plenty of fun, but nothing out of the ordinary (kind of like Kasumi and Zaeed's loyalty missions). The actual character manages to shake up your perception of a piece of the fiction, but not really in an overbearing way. I still haven't used him in battle, but I can safely assure anyone who thought that they intentionally took this character out of the original game that.... well, I just seriously doubt it haha. He has interesting things to impart, but it has such a passive impact on the overarching plot. His background is interesting, but he has no more of a presence after a brief interesting story than Kasumi or Zaeed did.
A penguin?! And he's been drinking!

User Info: Trambient

Trambient
5 years ago#174
Can't comment on the plot yet, still, but I'd defend the writing (at this point, anyway) in an argument.

The humor is still there, despite the graver tone of the game, and it's honestly laugh out loud funny to me. I probably had a smirk on my face more consistently during dialogue in ME2, but the irreverence of certain aspects, and just the effortless ability of the game to draw on our understanding of the series for humor is seriously amazing. This is also the only game I can remember playing where the hopelessness of a scenario was this resonant.

I don't know, I'm still not far, and a lot hinges on how the game continues to play out, and is overwhelmingly dependent on how it ends, but so far, I'm honestly really enjoying it. Losing a lot of conversational control over Shepard is definitely jarring, and it'll take a really steady hand for this game, from a writing perspective, to top ME2 for me, but it's on a solid track so far.

and the writing is laughably bad

I just honestly don't know what you're comparing it to. I feel like I'd not only have to reach outside of video games to get to that conclusion, but out of the sci-fi genre almost entirely.

I'll give you that the means by which you pick up the majority of those random Citadel quests, though, is super phoned in.
A penguin?! And he's been drinking!

User Info: Anderjak

Anderjak
5 years ago#175
Played Journey. Recommending it to everyone. I think I'm adding it to my "necessary interactive experiences" list. Definitely worth playing at least once in your lifetime.

I've sunk 12 hours into ME3 so far, all in one sitting; in fact, I skipped a night of sleep to do it! I've played From Ashes, and am a fair way through the story, I think, without feeling like I'm rushing things, but the narrative is still at a very slow burn (as expected, considering the circumstances).

So far, I love the combat. I love mods, and upgrading weaponry, and having much more control over the weapons I have. It's a nice in-between with the systems of ME1 and 2. Having more armor options as you progress through the game is nice as well. I get Trav's comment, on some of the dialog running away with itself a little, but it still largely holds up to the old school Paragon/Renegade options being in generally the same place. I fear the Anders situation of DA2 is a little easy to fall into, though, where you can kind of accidentally romance someone at least a tiny bit. It seems better controlled, and with a bit of buffer, but I just don't feel that way about Vega, sorry. (Also, anyone else think he turned out to be a better character than expected? The delivery just sells it for me. I don't know.)

I think the writing is pretty standard for the series. Like, I think the good and bad even out to about where ME2 was. There are some awkward deliveries and some jarring lines, but by and large, the writing is snappy, interesting, and, especially when it comes to certain characters, hilarious. (I've never laughed so much at Wrex's dialog before, and he was always a pretty jovial guy when not in the thick of things.) There are character contrivances which annoy me, largely including (without spoiling anything) a new ally who was a former Normandy crewmate, but this has more to do with the design and the cliche of it all. The actual writing of the character is spot-on, for the most part, if hokey. Then again, ME has always embraced a bit of the hokeyness.

The issue, I feel, is that the game got a lot of upgrades in other areas, but not so much in the writing and voice acting. The characters look better; the animations are, by and large, stronger and more interesting, with fewer "stock" animations (thanks largely to turning a lot of dialog into non-camera locked, no-choice dialog for many characters), better cinematography, better use of depth of field focus, et cetera. It looks like a more believable game (save for the occasional weird and funny glitch/bug). Yet, the writing is still Bioware, and I think it's hitting this weird variation of the Uncanny Valley, where the characters are visibly far more believable than they used to be (though still not exactly "realistic"), and the music sets a more serious tone, and the lighting and color choices all have a specific feel, but the writing itself is still Bioware. So many other elements raise an expectation, albeit unintentionally, that the writing technically fails to meet.

Still a good deal better than the writing in most games, but that's a different discussion.
An elephant is a mouse built to government specifications.

User Info: Anderjak

Anderjak
5 years ago#176
So much of this game is far less stupid now. I'm not constantly scanning. The Normandy is still fun to navigate. I get to pick up where I left off with ME2 (holy crap, even all my models and my space hamster! AND MY FISH!). The battle system is given an extra veneer of polish. The extra elements, like the war readiness setup and the return of some ME1 bits (like the shops accessible from the Normandy!). I'm just... I'm really digging this a whole heck of a lot. The game's definitely got its share of small legacy problems and a few new ones which are more concerning my own aesthetic taste, but it just feels so good to be back in the saddle again.

Yeah, getting quests via "over-hearing" is a bit silly. I don't like it much. At the same time, though, I'm spending far less time trying to find the dang places I have to go to get stuff done, so it balances out for me.

Also, yeah, From Ashes is pretty typical stuff. Feels like an early add-on, which is fine. The character you get's actually pretty handy, but he just doesn't fit in with my usual team dynamics and strategies. I like the thing just fine, fits fairly nicely within the story (didn't even notice I was doing it until I saw the objective!), adds enough to the game without seeming an odd addition.

Also also, how cool is it that there are alternate appearances for allies by default now?!
An elephant is a mouse built to government specifications.

User Info: the_love_less

the_love_less
5 years ago#177
So I played a few more hours last night. I'll admit I may have been overly harsh, but I can't shake that a lot of the game just feels off to me. I think ultimately what it comes down to is that, to me, so much of it just feels forced. I think it may be that the darker tone of the game just isn't reflected very well in the character interactions and cutscenes. The opening sequence, for example, seemed to be trying way too hard to me. The talking between Anderson and Shepard seemed forced and awkward, and the scene where you're taking off and the kid you tried to save earlier gets shot down was just... hilarious, honestly. It's like the game is trying really really hard to portray emotion and drama, but for whatever reason just falls flat. Admittedly, this isn't all the time, but more often than not, in key moments, awkward lines, facial animations, and sketchy voice acting really ruined some of the scenes for me. For the record, I'm comparing the writing on a whole to the first and second game, the second in particular, which I thought was incredibly convincing in its delivery.

As for the gameplay itself, perhaps dumbed down isn't correct. I'm not saying it's unintuitive or anything like that, because it's not. I agree that it's the cleanest it's been, but I was one of the few people who actually enjoyed the UI of the first game, I guess. I am glad that gun modding is back, though. Ultimately, it just feels a little too linear for my tastes. I do appreciate the accessibility of it all, but part of me enjoyed getting lost in the Citadel, and exploring planets. Hell, I even liked scanning planets. It just felt to me like the first two games required more work; now things seem just sort of handed to you. With all that being said, I am enjoying the game. Not as much as the first two, but I'm hoping things pick up a little bit. I think maybe after I run though it, I'll go back and play the whole series from start to finish to get some more perspective on things. Maybe I'm just jaded. Who knows. At any rate, I'm glad you're all enjoying it so much! It's nice to see some more activity on the board; it was getting a little too quiet.
"This is Planet Earth, Agent White. Do you read me, over? Today I kept the peace on this planet. Over? This planet's very peaceful. Over and out."

User Info: Anderjak

Anderjak
5 years ago#178
It only took the descent of the Reapers on our home turf to finally reunite us in a compelling way.

I'm convinced Mass Effect is just totally an allegory to this board.
An elephant is a mouse built to government specifications.

User Info: Trambient

Trambient
5 years ago#179
God, I lose hours to this game haha. And I still feel like I'm hardly anywhere in the story, I screw around so much.

I have a lot I want to comment on, but I gotta go to bed, so I'll just offer why I'm okay, and even really happy, with the two big conversation changes at the point I'm at.

Lack of neutral option: The tone of the game has really made this feel like an imperative. Shepard has to be assertive in the way he responds, in really any given scenario. Not even just in big decisions, but in the way s/he has to really connect with the people that you've gotten to know throughout the franchise. Honestly, who ever chose neutral anyway?

Lack of total control: Pretty much, at this point, my Shepard talks on his own generally purely based on the precedent I've presented to the game. So much of the dialogue recalls decisions I've made or things I've done leading up to ME3 in my transfer save, it just usually feels like Shepard is still responding in the way I'd want him to.

I dunno, I think these two things have gone a loooong way in making me care more about my Shepard and his journey. He feels like a character with a history, and it's the history I built with all of my decisions, so it's still MY Shepard. I imagine a lot of the dialogue would be the same sometimes regardless of my specific transfer, but there's never anything being said or implied that I specifically wouldn't want Travis Shepard saying.
A penguin?! And he's been drinking!

User Info: Anderjak

Anderjak
5 years ago#180
My Shep has been largely the same way. Still very much in character from beginning to end.

It seems to me that Mass Effect really isn't about the story, and hasn't been since the first one. Like, it's more than that. We know the goal, we kind of know how it ends, but that's not the point. It's all about the experiences, the reasons behind the decisions made, and the people who follow Shepard. I had problems with ME2's narrative, and considered it a drawback, but now I'm conflicted.

There are these little moments in ME3 (I'm up to 20 hours now) that kind of halt me. I'm at the embassy, and I just... overhear a conversation. And I hear the next part the next time I'm walking through. And I hear the next part later, and... There's something about the NPC chatter that seems a lot more meaningful than it did before, probably because they make it so prevalent. ME2, it could be argued, didn't have an incredible focus on how the player was supposed to feel, largely because the whole galaxy was still operating on its own, outside of your interactions, save for a number of people here and there; when you walk into a room, people's lives were normal, untouched by your mission. ME3 is so much about the tragedy of war; every conversation you hear has something to do with what's going on, with the Reapers, with the effects of the war. Some of these stories are a little silly, possibly, but some of them kinda hit you in a weird way, a good way. It's just kind of... special, to see the world around you reacting not only to the things you've been actively engaged in, but doing so in a way that doesn't necessarily relate to you. Everyone's kind of in it together, even though there's a lot of in-fighting and disagreeing.

The previous games touched on the political aspect a fair amount, but never so absolutely as ME3 did. The narrative is very bureaucratic, largely because everything you do is related to the bureaucracy of the Council, the various races, everything. You ever get into a 20-hour point with a JRPG, where you can tell the developers were trying to find ways of lengthening the experience, by adding in these plot diversions which didn't ultimately get you to any more answers, but instead was just an excuse to give you a new dungeon or town or whatever? Well, it's kind of like Bioware saw this, and decided to add meaning to what seemed like meaningless diversions. Yes, you are given tasks which often don't relate to your mission in a direct way, and sometimes you're left wondering why the heck you should help someone you loathe, and at times it'll feel like, by helping, it's one step forward and one step back, as you can never quite tell how some people may react, and how their support can change. And it's still meaningful, because that's kind of what this game is about. It's not all shooting and blowing stuff up. Sometimes, it really is about talking, about listening in, about doing favors which seem meaningless at first but add up in the long run, about being harsh on some people and being gentle with others in order to either do right by everyone or get exactly what you need out of someone, screwing the consequences in the long term.

ME1 and 2 are fun stories with great characters and decent plot points, but ME3 is strangely... Focused. More so than previous titles. I dare say, more so than most any Bioware game I've played. There's something about some of the extra narrative elements they've added in this go-around, thanks to the story they've built up over two other games, that feels more significant than your average RPG hybrid.

There are still more things I dislike about the game, but the core of the experience has hit me so hard that I just... don't care about the negative anymore. I get over it so quickly because it's never bad enough to keep me from wanting to get to the next mission right now. (Seriously, the only reason I'm stopping at this very moment is to get some freaking sleep.)
An elephant is a mouse built to government specifications.
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