To start off GamerNode has an article showing “Why Mass Effect 2 is the future of the RPG”; or why they believe so anyway. Here’s an excerpt:
Well, dear readers, I've seen the future once again. A game has been released that has challenged the RPG genre and is the harbinger of the future of the RPG. It takes everything that is great about RPGs, trims out all of the useless tropes that plague the genre, and delivers an experience that made me realize that this is what I play these games for.
That game is Mass Effect 2 and I'm going to tell you why it's the future of the RPG.
I must say though that while there are some points I agree with, there’s also a fair bit I disagree with. In fact, looking at Mass Effect 2 it makes me wonder whether it really is a roleplaying game (and not just an adventure game with choices), and that has little to do with the streamlining of the stats system. The article poses that Mass Effect 2 removes everything that is wrong with RPGs (and looking at the planet scanning I disagree with that as well), but it also removes a number of things that are right with RPGs; such as letting players define their own character. And his “pauses” in Dragon Age’s dialogs are actually my moments where the roleplaying happens as my character expresses herself. Maybe asking people to use their imagination when playing is too much though.
But then I often get the feeling that what I mean with “roleplaying game” is something completely different from what most people seem to mean with “RPG”.
Anyway, Kotaku found something interesting: a rap about scanning resources. Called “Those Minerals” and made by Kabuto the Python you can hear it on community music site Tindeck:
GameBanshee has a review for the game. If you still aren’t sure whether to get Mass Effect 2 or not, or are just interested in GameBanshee’s views, then read it at the link. Just know that it contains spoilers for the early game. Here follows an excerpt:
Sort of surprisingly, when you create a new character in Mass Effect 2, you’re not given a chance to specify anything that happened in Mass Effect. I think it would have been pretty easy to determine some of the major decisions through dialogue (there’s even a sequence where scientists check your memory), but for some reason BioWare chose not to pursue this option. Luckily, there are some web sites out there that store Mass Effect saves, and so chances are that you can find one that closely matches the way you played.
Otherwise, character development in Mass Effect 2 is roughly the same as it was in Mass Effect. There are still six classes to choose between, and you still gain levels and earn points to spend on powers, but there are even fewer ways to build your character now than there were before, and that’s saying something. For example, Mass Effect had several non-combat talents like Charm and Electronics, and you had to strike a balance between those talents and your combat talents. Now in Mass Effect 2, all of the non-combat talents have been removed, and about half of your new powers involve things like choosing different types of ammunition for your weapons.
I’m sure that you’ve noticed that pretty much all the trailers for Mass Effect 2 only show a male Shepard, and so too the original launch trailer. But as BioWare posted on their blog spigyboy made a version of the launch trailer featuring a female Shepard (the first 20 seconds is spigyboy’s intro):
If you’re curious about the music, it’s Heart of Courage by Two Steps from Hell (both names seeming to sum up Mass Effect 2 quite well).
Regarding the Mass Effect: Redemption comic, RPGWatch reported that the preview for the third issue is available now. You can get the preview dirctly as a pdf-file.
Shamus Young has a three-part article titled “Mass Effect 2: Plot Analysis” (part 1, part 2, part 3) over on his site. Since it looks at the plot it is obviously full of spoilers, so read at your own risk. Here is a spoiler-free excerpt though:
When you plan ahead for a trilogy, then everything can be made to fit, and the three games together can end up greater than the sum of their parts. So many games are written as if each game will be the last, and knowing you have three games to tell your story is a rare and unique opportunity.
BioWare took this opportunity, and pissed it away with Mass Effect 2. The core story is a really small part of the game, which is good because it’s also the worst part of the game. Everything else is polished, engaging, and witty, while the central story features some of BioWare’s sloppiest plot-work in years.
The last review that I’ve seen for the game (so far) is the one over at ShackNews. It’s not particularly long (in fact it’s only four paragraphs) making you wonder why it took them this long to get one up. It’s also not all that positive, even if in the end they mainly conclude that it’s a good game that everyone should play. Here’s an excerpt:
Mass Effect 2 boasts deep role-playing roots but they belie the game's more action-oriented up-tempo pace. It winds up in a design limbo somewhere between the two, held there by vestiges of traditional design that suddenly feel out of place. The worst of these disrupts the natural ramp up in the urge to see what happens next with a time-consuming process of scanning planets for resources needed to upgrade your crews' equipment.
Over on Critical Gamer there’s a two-part article titled “Mass Effect 2 Deconstructed” (part 1, part 2). This is another spoiler-heavy article that aims to take a deeper look at the game. The first part looks at what things could’ve been improved and the second part looks at why it’s a great game. Here’s an excerpt:
OK, so Mass Effect 2 is in the middle of the trilogy, its purpose is to bridge the gap between the first and third games. But if the third game in the trilogy is similarly lacking in storyline depth it could do major damage to our retrospective opinion of the series as a whole. A space opera needs its twists and turns and we can’t help but wonder if Bioware had scrapped the over-large roster of companions (bye bye Jacob!), then perhaps the story could’ve been fleshed out a little more. Furthermore, the Collectors contained none of the intrigue or personal incentive of Mass Effect’s villains. Matriarch Benezia lent pathos and mystique to the first game, whilst the treacherous Saren gave us a worthy foe to pursue across the galaxy. The Collectors may have been equally as diabolical in their scheming, but there was no real focal point and no-one to personify their machinations. Instead it seems their purpose was simply to distract us from the Reapers, who are presumably being saved for the final instalment of the trilogy.
For those of you playing Mass Effect 2 on the PC it might be nice to know that BioWare released a patch for it, bringing it to version 1.01. Here are the patch notes:
- Fixed video hitching and crashes related to single core machines.
- Single core users may experience short periods of black screen that may last up a few seconds between level loads, cinematic transitions or movies.
- In rare cases, some single core users may notice dialog lines in certain conversations may be delayed up to a few seconds.
- Fixed an issue where it appears ammunition can be picked up, but can't.
- Fixed an issue where all Codex entries were marked as 'viewed', even if the player chose not to view them.
- Fixed an issue where weapon icons are re-organized after downloadable content is used.
- Fixed an issue where pressing F9 after the mission completion screen reset Shepard to Level 1.
- Fixed an issue where remapping the right mouse button blocks camera control in the command HUD.
- Fixed an issue where remapping the 'use' command affects the decryption minigame.
- Fixed an issue where users were not prompted to restart when logging in to a different EA Online account.
- Fixed an issue where movies do not play in DLC.
- It is recommended that players reset their keyboard mapping to default values to ensure proper vehicle control.
- Added useful messaging during the ME1 save game import.
- Weapon icon for henchmen never changes from Collector Assault Rifle.
- Czech language - Issues with Czech localization (subtitles) were amended, all text was corrected and improved.
- Fixed an issue where the Mass Effect 2 launcher was being associated with files that have no extension.
- Fixed an issue where uninstalling the game under Windows Vista or Windows 7 might uninstall Mass Effect 1.
Since I finished the game myself before the patch was released I haven’t tried any of it yet, but I’m assuming that Steam already updated the game for me.
And to close off there’s a “Strategize” video at IGN that gives pointers for how (male) Shepard can hook up with the female companions. Their help seems pretty useless to me (and boils down to “talk to them a lot and agree with them”), but that’s probably because it’s not really that complicated to romance any of the romanceable characters. It just seems that they could’ve done a bit more with the video. Either way, here it is:
And that’s all of it for now. Though I’ve got some bits here and there for a number of other games as well, I’ll post those at a later date.
[link] to “future of RPG” article at GamerNode.
[link] to planet scan rap at Kotaku.
[link] to review at GameBanshee.
[link] to female launch trailer at BioBlog.
[link] to comic preview #3 at RPGWatch.
[link] to plot analysis part 1 at Shamus Young.
[link] to plot analysis part 2 at Shamus Young.
[link] to plot analysis part 3 at Shamus Young.
[link] to review at ShackNews.
[link] to Deconstructed article part 1 at Critical Gamer.
[link] to Deconstructed article part 2 at Critical Gamer.
[link] to PC patch at BioWare.
[link] to “Strategize” video at IGN.