joiedecombat: (surmounting obstacles)
[personal profile] joiedecombat
I finished a complete replay of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 yesterday, in preparation for ME3 coming out tomorrow. In the process I've concluded that the first game handles its story a lot better than the second one, which I think may be a consequence of BioWare's effort at making 2 more of a wide open sandbox for players to play around in. Yeah, it gives you the freedom to run around doing things in more or less whatever order you want, but when you do that, you lose an actual cohesive narrative.

I've heard plenty of gamers complain about games whose stories are on rails, like Final Fantasy XIII - which admittedly took it to an extreme - but personally I'll take that over the loss of an actual storyline.

Which is not to say that the story of a game needs to be completely linear, but this sort of dovetails with ME2's other problem, which is that because the game is based mostly in the character recruitment and loyalty missions, a lot of what you're doing just isn't that important. Yeah yeah, recruit team make loyal, but because all these missions have little to nothing directly to do with your ultimate goal of stopping the Collectors from disappearing all humanity's colonies, that ultimate goal is robbed of its urgency. Maybe it would have worked better if the squad wasn't made up of so damn many characters. They're all great characters (mostly; I could do without Jack) but there's so many of them that the game can't devote enough resources to any one of them and you get things like Garrus calibrating guns forever. And two missions per character that, with the exception of Legion's recruitment mission, don't advance the main plotline of "stop the Collectors" in any meaningful way adds up to a lot.

Dragon Age 2 got away with this a little better because for most of the game there is not an urgent mission waiting while Hawke and company rattle around Kirkwall fixing everyone's little problems (which is not to say that DA2 doesn't have issues with a lack of direction in its plot, but since it is about a complicated situation increasing in tension until it finally boils over, and most of the little missions Hawke is running around doing are both rising from and contributing to that tension, on the whole it flows better). ME1 and Dragon Age Origins did the semi-linear "hit these points in whatever order you want" storyline a lot better, because each point actually advanced the main plotline and they weren't so wide open that the sense of a storyline got lost.

Hopefully ME3 will run more like those two games than ME2 did, because as the climactic final game of a trilogy in which all life in the galaxy is at stake, it really can't afford to lose that sense of urgency.

In the meantime, I've started playing Final Fantasy XIII-2, which is extremely pretty but seriously, wtf is going on? I have no idea. I like Noel, though. I choose to believe he's somehow a descendant of Squall - he looks a lot like him with no scar and slightly longer hair, and he's got that wing pattern on the back of his shirt, and it's not like Final Fantasy fandom hasn't embraced any number of theories on less evidence than that.

(Don't you dare try to fix Noel and Serah up into a romance, game.)

Date: 2012-03-05 03:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Amusingly enough, I could have written this post, almost word for word. Though I finished my ME replays a little earlier.

As for Noel, I put forth wild and completely unsubstantiated speculation that he's a descendant of Snow and Sarah. Though maybe that's because I just like Snow.

Date: 2012-03-05 03:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Or, rather, the part of the post not behind a cut tag.

Date: 2012-03-06 04:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sonufabitch, Emily Wong! (!/alliancenewsnet) D:
Edited Date: 2012-03-06 04:25 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-03-06 05:02 am (UTC)


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