Thursday, March 15, 2012

And Now, Something Personal

Now that I've established the need for unhappy ME fans to remain civil in this situation... I would like to give my own personal opinion on the game.

By and large, Mass Effect 3 is an awesome game. The graphics are gorgeous, the music is phenomenal, and the characters are all reasonably believable. I love the reintroduction of banter between your teammates (banter, how I missed thee!) and the fact that your crew members now interact with one another and aren't simply confined to one location on the ship? Oh, that made me squeal like a gleeful little schoolgirl. Some of those moments are just pure gold.

And their interactions with your Shepard? It was so genuine. There were parts that honestly brought tears to my eyes.

But... the game isn't without its flaws.

Don't get me wrong, no game is perfect. But some of this stuff is absolutely, mind-bogglingly bad. Like, for example:

1. The journal system. What was once a fairly organized, useful feature for keeping track of side missions has become an utterly convoluted, disorganized mess. Yeah, you have a list of missions for you to do, and even some marked "priority," but it's such a mess that it's stupidly easy to miss out on important time-sensitive missions, causing them to expire when you hit important plot points and thus costing you important resources. It's also utterly useless when you need to go to find most "fetch quest" items, or where and who you need to take said recovered items to, because it doesn't tell you.

Seriously. The journal structure from ME2 worked just fine - why change it?

2. The map system. Another thing that's lost at least some of its functionality. Sure, it looks prettier, but... Function over form, guys. Function over form.

3. MOTION BLUR. Oh my god, motion blur - and the accompanying motion sickness. Yeah, I get it from a stylistic point of view, but it really should be an "opt in" feature, not an "opt out," if for no other reason than the crippling lag it tends to cause.

4. The scrapping of the classical Paragon/Renegade system for that patently ridiculous "Reputation" meter, and the directly-related paring-down and muddling-up of your dialogue choices (which give you either one extreme or another, neither of which tends to be very useful.)

5. Angst for the sake of angst. Attention, BioWare: gratuitous character death does not good storytelling make. When character deaths are done solely for the purpose of character death, they quickly lose their impact and become mundane. Also, when you spend entire missions to save characters only to have them die a pointless death at the last minute (see: Lieutenant Victus) it just becomes gratingly frustrating. It makes you not want to keep playing when everything - everything - is made out to be completely hopeless.

There's a glaring difference between "You can't save them all," and "You can't save anyone," BioWare. You seem to have missed that distinction.

Which brings me to...

6. That thing. You know, that thing that's being talked about?

And by "that thing," I mean "the end."

Now, I could go on a long, long rant about the quality of the last half hour. I really could - ask anyone who knows me. I could rant for pages about the ending of Mass Effect 3.

But I'll save you the novel and just go with three small words.

The ending sucked.

I know you're probably going to counter with "But there were multiple endings!" The truth is, no, there weren't. There was one stock ending with a few very minor changes.

Essentially, when you go to use the gratuitous Deus Ex Machina (which shows up out of nowhere, with precious little in the way of a silly little thing called "explanation") you're confronted by the equally-gratuitous Reaper God or whatever it is, and it proceeds to give you:

a.) a shoddy explanation for the Reapers (they are synthetics created to... kill off organic life in order to "protect" organic life from synthetic life that would inevitably turn on it and wipe it out,) and,

b.) Three different flavors of "destroy galactic civilization." They are as follows.

- Control: You take control of the Reapers and make them leave. The relays then explode with blue energy, leaving everyone more or less stranded where they are.
- Merge: You (forcibly) merge organic and synthetic life, effectively halting evolution. The Reapers leave, and the relays explode with green energy, leaving everyone more or less stranded where they are. . The Citadel explodes, too.
- Destroy: You destroy the Reapers - and all other synthetic life in the galaxy, including EDI and the geth - and potentially destroy all advanced tech in the galaxy. The relays explode with red energy, leaving everyone more or less stranded where they are. The Citadel explodes, too.

I'm not even going to get into the truly epic amounts of Fridge Horror brought on by the destruction of the relays - anyone with even slightly-below-average intelligence can pick it out by putting just a little bit of thought into it.

I will, however, ask: Just what the hell was up with that ending? know what? I'll just sum up all of my problems with the ending thusly:

- Plot holes big enough to fly a Reaper through
- Random Deus Ex Machina
- Glowy Reaper God
- Shepard is OOC
- The Normandy crew is OOC
- None of our choices matter
- Virtually nothing from the entirely of the past two games matters
- All the time you spent gathering War Assets is more or less meaningless
- Fridge Horror


- Mountain Dew destroys galactic civilization.

And there you have it. My (admittedly "not nearly as thorough as I'd like it to be") take on the drawbacks of Mass Effect 3.

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