I've strayed a little from gaming chats the past couple of days. I haven't played that much and I guess in general my thoughts have strayed as well. Today, I've been reading up on Mass Effect 2 coming out on the 27th and thought I'd discuss it and the original Mass Effect and how it's started to change my tastes in gaming a little.
I first played the original Mass Effect at a buddy's place and for lack of a better term, I hated it. I was looking for more of a Japanese RPG (JRPG) experience like Final Fantasy and was lead to believe it was. I sat down and started up the game, I can barely remember the start aside from saying "isn't that Seth Green?" and jumping down to the planet and start shooting. I said "WTF" and put it down.
A couple of years later, when I finally got my own 360, I wanted a couple of cheap titles to fill up my library (I like variety) and I found it at 14 bucks. So, I grabbed that, Burnout Paradise, and Assassin's Creed, and went on my merry way. I figured it was worth a shot at that cost, and I was well rewarded.
My first playthrough took me 14 hours. While I was a little let down by that, as I was expecting in the vicinity of 35 hours, the experience itself was mind bending. My tastes in gaming had changed somewhat, I was starting to find turn based fighting in RPGs a little stale. I'm still not a big shooter fan, but this game took it to a different place. Mass Effect, at it's very core, is a shooter game. The RPG goodness is created in the atmosphere of the actions and conversations throughout. The atmosphere, almost a Philip K. Dick styled futuristic twist, was brilliant. The choices one made, sometimes very difficult digital life and death decisions, really made me care about what I was doing and how it affected the characters in game. The growth of the characters in game, as well as burgeoning relationships with other characters really put a lot of depth into the title. The resulting achievements and gamerscore didn't hurt either. :P
After I had finished the first time, the title sat on my shelf for easily 8 months collecting dust. I never traded the game (as per my usual habits) because it simply was worthless. Why trade for a toonie? Not likely. So once again, I picked up the title and started through on a fresh playthrough. This time, I actually got nearly 40 hours of time in on it, going through every nook and crannie and finiding every side quest. I then played through a THIRD time, this time not near as long, clocking in around 25 hours, but simply because my level and gear came through to the third playthrough. I also had the DLC for the third as well (neither of which were very long).
Mass Effect is easily my favorite title on 360. I have more good hours logged on it than any other title, and I've played quite a few. Now, Microsoft is presenting us with Mass Effect 2, a darker, even bigger game with the promise of lots of DLC and more in depth gaming. Sigh... this could spell the end of my marriage. :P Not because Steph dislikes me gaming, but because she is a gamer too and we have both the 360 and her Wii plugged to the same TV!!! :P I'm looking forward to the title, but I gotta say, it's a subdued exuberance. What if the changes they make change the game so substantially that I won't like it? The only problem I had with the first title was a few clipping bugs and a little repetition in side quests. Neither of which were deal breakers in the least. I guess we'll have to wait and see. 15 days to go...
Mass Effect is a good example of a title that Achievements and Gamerscore were a benefit to. My third playthrough was completely Gamerscore oriented, as I was going for my biotic skill use achievements and kill achievements. The newest DLC, "Pinnacle Station", was a combat simulator, so it was GREAT for these achievements. Anyone who says gamerscore is meaningless should take note of how many hours gamers put in just to get them, and then they'll see.
Anyway, that's my rant today. I'll be seeing Avatar tonight, so I'll have thoughts on it tomorrow. People who hate spoilers in blogs like this beware... I'll have them in there.