Mass Effect 3 - General Discussion

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Mass Effect 3 - General Discussion

Postby Twilight on Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:47 am

((add on, for good measure: Hopefully, starting next week, I'm gonna begin a LIVE let's play of the ME trilogy where I'll be going into ME3 blind and we'll have a skype channel goin so people can come in and join me in commentary and such, so stay tuned for more info as it develops 8D))

Ok, so the game comes out tomorrow, (today for some people), and I noticed there's lot a lot of talk on it of any sort. So I figured I'd start what's likely to be one of the most divided threads in the forum seeing as ME3 is going to be a huge love or hate game depending on your level of tolerance/ignorance of certain kinds of bs, and even levels of fanboyism vs not.

So, since the only thing I have to talk about is the demo and whatever I can remember of the messy script that leaked out a few months ago, let's start with that.


Multiplayer: Yeah it's pretty good.

The rest of it:

EEEEEEEHHHHHHHHHHHJJJJJJGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Ok so, ever since EA got a hold of Bioware things seem to have taken a turn for the worst. That's no secret. The world's biggest indi company that focused on making great RPGs has been dragged down into making a Gears ripoff with vague RPG elements in it.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, I'm actually rather fond of the action gameplay, but the thing is, the only reason I'm ok with this is because I walked into Mass Effect expecting it to be an action game, not an RPG.

The first game worked fine, and the second one kind of did too, though it took a lot of flack. The only thing that really shone through it was that the characters were so damn likable. However, the dumbing down of RPG style exploration and mini-sandboxing to linear shooting gallery to shooting gallery does seem to have ceated a spike in love/hate in ME2's core play.

Ultimately, that'll come down to a matter of personal preference, but there's no denying that Bioware has let the RPG world behind. Not a bad thing either, mind you, if they really wanted to go that route, and it's probably a little bit unfair to expect a company to only do what we want them to do as opposed to what they want to do, but with the whole EA business, it's hard to draw the line between where Bioware is doing what they want and where EA's marketing team is restricting their direction.

Personally, I'm not bothered by the actionness, but I do understand why that'd set off a lot of people in regards to the game.

So the core game itself is either hit or miss, but I'm more inclined to analyze that which makes the ME series meaningful and one that I personally consider to be a dozen-fold more important, and thrice as much hit or miss that'll be present in this game: The story/writing.


*spoiler alert*

As a disclaimer, I personally find the ME3 writing so far, attrocious, but I'm gonna do my best to be at least somewhat impartial in my FU and be as logical as possible, instead of just hating on it like every other online reviewer does.

It would be unfair to say that Mass Effect's writing suddenly got bad in ME3. So, I'm gonna backtrack to ME1, where the narratve storytelling was excellent, to ME2, where the red flags started cropping up and see how the transition from great storytelling to whatever the hell ME3 is happened.


To go through this analysis, I'm gonna be using professionally accepted storytelling tools and devices to dissect the good things and the bad things about... all the things!


MASS EFFECT 1

Worked great because it knew what it was. It's story can be boiled down to a single chunk of text:

"When Commander Shepard is zapped with visions of an ancient apocalyptic threat, he/she acquires permission from the galactic council to investigate the mystery behind this visions and capture the agent working towards bringing this disaster on all galactic civilization."

Here we have a concept, an idea of what's going to be the core of Shepard's quest in ME1. The whole thing is an investigation. You're searching for clues to find Saren and information on the Reapers. That's the point behind doing everything you do in ME1 up until near the end when all the mysteries unravel and it becomes a climactic chase to catch the bad guy before he succeeds in his own mission. Every single mission you take on matters to the end result. Saving Liara, because she's the prothean expert that'll help you with the cipher. Finding Benezia because she's your greatest link to Saren, and doing all that weird Thorian crap because that's how you get the cipher in the first place.

You have your classic three act structure as defined by three major disasters, which bridge into one another completing a climactic story that ties succinctly at the end. (more on that if requested)

Everything else is really just padding. Extra stuff that's in the game to complete the player's immersion in the universe. None of which is essential, all of which is optional, and a lot of it is well written enough to where it's never jarring or a hassle to go through. This is the bit where you get to know all your crew mates and do missions for them, or go do random side quests for people in the worlds or for Hackett.

There's actually nothing overly complicated or super extensive about the ME1 story. It's just told well.


MASS EFFECT 2

Ok, I'm gonna try to do that single sentence story again and see how it goes.

"When Commander Shepard dies and is revived by galactic terrorist group, Cerberus, he/she.... is instructed to recruit several specialists so that... they can.... do things?"

Honestly, what was the focus of that game? Let's go in and look at things a little more deeply.

So the basic goal you have in the game is that you have to find the collectors. This could easily be another investigation system just like ME1's was. But instead of investigating anything at all, Shepard goes around picking up a bunch of people who are absolutely essential (not) to this investigation. Eventually you get one collector attack on Horizon which doesn't really serve a purpose other than to meet up with Kaishley, and then eventually, the only reason you even make any progress is because The Illusive Man had OTHER people doing investigations for him. HE finds the derelict reaper, HE finds the Omega 4 relay, HE finds... no, sets up the attack on Horizon so you can get a lead on the Collectors... Hell, he's even the one to bring Shepard back from being dead. He's more of an active character in this game than Shepard is. All Shepard does is go grab people, do favors for them, and then do the two or three missions that The Illusive Man has for him/her.

Now, in ME1, all of your squad mates, with the exception of Liara, were actually fairly unessential. You didn't really have to get to know them or do anything for them, and the only one that really contributed to your mission was Liara because of her expertise. Wrex and Garrus' usefulness, aside from lending you fire power ran out after you leave the Citadel for the first time, as does Ashley and Kaidan's after you leave Eden Prime, though, arguably, Kaishley's usefulness is necesary because of what happens on Virmire, so even then they got a chance at a comeback. A good one at that. But ultimately, you didn't really need to become their buddy or anything. It wasn't essential to the plot, and thus, optional in the game. Awesome optional, but optional nontheless.


In ME2, it is ALL about the team. The vast majority of the game is spent on you looking for these people and then being their b*tch for a bit so they become your best friend. I wouldn't mind if it was more seamless but let's look at what we got here.

((add-on)) It has been brought to my attention that putting together a team with all of these individuals of different ranges of skill and specialties was based on the fact that no one really knew what you were going to go up against, and various people of diverse skills had to be present as contingencies for whatever might happen... The problem with this is NOT that most of these people are useless to your mission. The problem is that most of these people are just not useful in the game. It's fine to have contingencies, but if the story doesn't make good on all the effort you put into getting all of these people to follow you, then, from a storytelling point of view, what the hell was the point?

We know Bioware, we know what they're capable of, they could've been really clever and had different kinds of end runs for the game based on maybe, various paths you could take, where you would require different specialists for different tasks that would actually render them essential in the mission. But as it stands right now, a lot of your people were just backup fire, and it really seems like Cerberus could've just supplied you with a bunch of soldiers. Furthermore, Cerberus could've done it's own f*cking recruitment and given them to you and save everyone a lot of trouble.

Garrus: Epic sniper/infiltrator, we know he can get **** done and he's worked with Shepard in the past, and is most people's best friend in ME, ever! Great!

Jacob and Miranda: Well they're Cerberus operatives who were assigned to you by TIM himself. Miranda I understand, 'cuz she's his elite beat agent. But Jacob's... just kind of there. Still. Human male and female available for your romance purposes.

Tali: On the same boat as Garrus, plus the addition of being knowledgeable in all things Geth, which considering it was a HUGE deal in ME1 that the Geth were worshiping the reapers, it seems really out of place that they weren't helping the Collectors, which would've given Tali a more essential role, but didn't. Missed opportunity. She's also like Shepard's little sister who's obligated to be a recurring character for the emotional value. Understandable.

Mordin: Mordin is also somewhat of a missed opportunity. He could've been really epic if he'd help you with his biological research on the collectors to device counter measures, like weaponry against them. This was explored a little bit by him making that collector, paralizing mosquito horde repellent stuff you used in Horizon, but even that got nixed at the end of the game and it never came up again... Hell, during the suicide mission you're even supposed to send Mordin back to the ship 'cuz he can't do anything there to help you XD

Legion: Had a reason to follow Shepard around. Not assigned to you, you just get him. Forced his way into your team. Acceptable.

Grunt: Random super saiyan Krogan that was made in a lab somewhere that had absolutely nothing to do with you or the collectors or TIM or anything. His presence was dictated by the fact that your team wouldn't be complete without a Krogan. Totally unnecessary.

Jack: Why??? She's a psychotic murderous criminal with a blood lust for anything Cerberus. Why the hell would TIM want to recruit her? Why the hell would SHEPARD want to recruit her?..... WHY WOULD JACK EVEN AGREE TO THIS??

Thane: A sneaky assassin...... because that's absolutely necessary for this kind of mission.

Zaeed: And ******* mercenary. Again, TOTALLY necesary.

Kasumi: Because Bioware is now trying to appeal to everyone, ever, so we needed a weeabu in the room.

Samarah: Because Asari.

As you can see, a lot of these characters are there for completely arbitrary reasons and didn't really need to be there. This wouldn't be a problem, normally, since ME1 demonstrated that you can have a bunch of characters that don't really do much, but because of the nature of the game you can still come to love.

The problem is the game is almost entirely about them. as I said, you spend the vast majority of the game looking for these people WHILE the collectors are off somewhere else abducting colonies and having fun. And by the time you've got your whole team together GUESS WHAT? Now you have to help them with their silly life problems so they can be loyal to you... Again, I wouldn't mind, if this wasn't the focus of the game.

We're trying to save the universe here, guys! Isn't that just a LITTLE bit more important than getting revenge on a dude that betrayed you once? Or stealing your computer boyfriend because you're Japanese? Or visiting your old orphanage? Or getting adopted (Grunt)?

Actually, why the hell did you need to earn Garrus and Tali's loyalties anyway? Why would Shepard not already have that based on their previous experiences in the games?

And why did that end up determining whether they lived of died at the end? Kaishley died because of an awesome set up in story-telling. Not how much time you spend kissing their asses, so... why the random change?

Alright, I thought of this later in the post, so I'm just adding it in. Shepard's whole work with cerberus was totally out of place also. I know that, since Shepard died and came back at the beginning of the game it's not technically considered a Deus Ex Machina, and it was mostly just a way for Shepard to loose all his/her abilities, but.... why? So he/she could work with Cerberus? Why, though? Shepard could'vestill been an Alliance Spectre and have The Illusive Man start providing tips and intel to propel his/her investigations. Hell, it would've been an awesome twist if you had Miranda in your crew, and the whole time you think she's working for the Alliance and then it turns out she's Cerberus' right hand. Only by that time you've realized that she's awesome... LOL, riiight, and you don't feel like killing her anymore... or do, whatever makes you feel better. But really, they reconstructed Shepard, they reconstructed the Normandy, they gave you the same pilot, they gave you some of your old crew... what was the point? The only big difference would be that not everyone freaking hates you, which makes a lot more sense in context to what Shepard is trying to achieve.

To it's credit, ME2 does set up a number of things extremely nicely. Like the crew abduction and the whole suicide mission. I just wish it had been executed properly as opposed to most of the game being a throwaway set up for an epic climax.



MASS EFFECT 3

Ok... I'm sure there'll be a lot more to talk about when the game actually hits retail, but the intro alone gave me a LOT to say. So, here goes.

Mass Effect 3 begins with Shepard locked away in a detention center, court-martialed after having bl*wn up the Batarian homeworld..... wait a minute, WHAT??

*rewinds*

So, there's a DLC for ME2 called "Arrival" which is, by all definitions NOT an optional DLC. You are OBLIGATED to get this DLC if you want to complete the Mass Effect experience. This DLC is an extension of the story of ME2 which kinda sorta bridges into ME3. During this mission, shepard becomes aware that the Reapers are coming out of dark space and into the known galactic map. He/She determines that they're trying to get to a particular Mass Effect relay so they can begin their epic assault on all galactic civilization. Our course of action? Destroy the relay...

That's all nice and well, except for the fact that the Batarian homeworld is too close to it, and destroying the relay will mean the end of Bataria. For SOME reason, it becomes Shepard's responsibility to decide, NOT whether to bl*w up the thing or not, but whether to let the Batarians know that their doom is coming or not. So you can either a- be an ******* and the doomed batarians won't know, or b- be an ******* and the doomed batarians WILL know. There is NO effort put into evacuating the system as much as possible before bl*wing the thing up, or even an option to leave that decision to ... I don't know... someone who's place it is to actually make that kind of decision. Nope, Shepard has to commit xenocide and there's NOTHING you can do about it. You're a war criminal, great job! (this little spiel will come back later, so keep it in mind).

Shepard is court martialed almost immediately afterwards. 6 months later, he/she is summoned to the Alliance's defense committee because they want advice on this threat that's right at their doorstep.

Yes, defense committee, ask a dishonorably discharged war criminal for advice on how to deal with a situation. Not only that, but also whine and b*tch and cry about how useless you are because you're just the most precious little dumbasses the universe has ever seen, aren't you?

This is where I call major BS right off the bat. Why is the Alliance's defense committee so damn.... useless? Why are they wigging our and panicking? They've been TRAINED for this, this is their job, this is what they're made for, and they should have all manner of strategic movements in place for any conceivable situation which they should be executing, regardless of the nature of the unknown threat. I know it's a storytelling device to put the protagonist in a position to save the day, but this does NOT encompass making everyone else in the universe an absolute retard, in capable of carrying out the most basic tasks that their titles imply.

Meanwhile, your old buddy James is there to back you up. Who is James you ask? You know! James! Your buddy! he's always been there with you! Yep, right up there with Garrus and Tali, you two go waaaay back, or so the game expects you to believe. Naturally, James acts as a subordinate, but seriously, where the hell did he come from? Why does Shepard know people that the player doesn't know? This would be fine in a book where there's a total setting change and where Shepard is still in command of a vessel of some sort, but a game where the player is assuming the role of Shepard, it REALLY sucks when Shepard is doing things the player doesn't know about. Like bl*wing up a freaking planet because you didn't have the money to pay for that DLC or thought it was stupid so you didn't download it T_T

This might've just been the demo, but why was Anderson there? Last I checked, he worked at the Citadel. Even if he wasn't a council member, he was still a figure of extreme importance for the Alliance in the Citadel, why is he here? not doing his job?... Why is he touching Shepard's belly?

During this section you also run into Kaishley, who tries to be friendly with you even after being a total *ssb*tch in Horizon about how you were dead for 2 years and how rude that was and now you're working for Cerberus (which also didn't make sense... let me go back and edit the ME2 section a bit to encompass this, brb). This isn't mentioned in the demo, but guess who owns the Normandy now? That's right, Kaishley. It owns your damn ship.

Even though you're a Spectre, the Council didn't even do anything to you, the freaking Alliance did. And you weren't even working for the Alliance anymore, you were a Cerberus Agent. The Alliance didn't even own your ship! You took it away from TIM and pretty much claimed it for yourself. This is one of the things that irked me about ME3 Shepard, who is now NOT a roleplaying character, but a character who you have VERY limited control over what she says NOT does. Given the nature of the Reaper threat and everything Shepard had been doing by that point, why would he/she defect to the Alliance and allow him/herself to get imprisoned for several months? Why did Shepard not go "F**** YOU IM SAVING THE GALAXY!!" and retaliate? She would've done that for anyone else, why not the Alliance?

And, you know how I said that spiel about the DLC would come back? Here it is. The WHOLE point of bl*wing up that ME relay, and by extension the Batarian homeworld was to delay the reapers long enough so that preparations could be made to retaliate against them. It's a sensible enough reason. Sacrifice a few, save the many. Not unheard of. But... Shepard was thrown in jail right after this happened, and since Shepard was the only one doing anything about the Reapers, that means that nothing was accomplished in those six months that the Reapers were delayed. Which renders the WHOLE DLC useless, unnecessary to the story, and ultimately unfair to the character AND the player. It is not effective, deep or intelligent storytelling, it was a shock value gag.. It was a Michael Bay moment, and you don't even get a choice in the matter because it happens whether you do it or not D8

So, after exterminating an entire alien species for no reason at all, Shepard's advice is requested by the defense committe, because Shepard is apparently a genius, and the reapers suddenly show up on Earth and like... no one sees them coming. Because that makes so much sense. While they're wiping everything out, if you're a h*rdcore (why is that a banned word) ME1 fan, you might remember a very important element in the build up of the Reapers. They always attack the Citadel first. Why? Cut the head off the snake, and the rest of it falls apart, almost on it's own accord. That was a biiiig deal when they were building up the reapers in the first game. Here? It doesn't matter, a LOT of things that were previously established are getting tossed out the window! Ashley now looks like a hooker!

oh, btw, Kaishley is also a Spectre now. Ashley being one -kinda- makes sense if you know what she's about, but Kaidan... why would HE be a spectre? Oh wait, we've gone into Michael Bay territory. The script said so.

So anyway, while everything is going explodey with retarded Reapers attacking Earth for no other reason than someone at Bioware said "... THIS HAS TO HAPPEN ON EARTH EVEN THOUGH IT DOESNT MAKE SENSE FOR THE REAPERS TO DO THAT ACCORDING TO THEIR ESTABLISHED LOGIC" and Shepard runs into a child that I wish I could've shot myself.

This kid, this.... puppet, is the most un-kid like kid I've ever seen. Shepard offers help and he retors with "no one can help me"... what kid says that?? What kid turns down help from a trained soldier when there's **** like this going on?? Then, of course, he runs away because I guess that's what kids do. He's also not panicking or anything, he's completely emotionless.

Right after that, Shepard and Anderson patiently walk around a burning building while having the most casual conversation about how the reapers are attacking. Blah blah blah, Anderson's being a little b*tch to Shepard because Shepard did the Reaper's job for them with that Batarian world. Nothing really happens in the rest of the intro that's noteworthy at all, other than the kid dying, which was not only completely ineffective, it was also hilarious and filled me with glee.

Let's talk about this for a second. I had someone telll me that the point of the kid was to symbolize that pretty much anyone can die now. But here's the thing... wasn't that the WHOLE point of Mass Effect 2? That literally everyone could die? That at this point all bets were off about the success rate of the good guys? Why did we need this kid? Was it emotional impact? Because there sure as hell was none. Here's an idea:

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that Shepard is still a b*tch and destroyed that world, got imprisoned and is coming out of it after 6 months of inactivity (their new excuse for getting rid of powers). You want to have a child and establish an emotional impact? Have the kid become part of our squad for the tutorial level. Have the player learn the controls by having Shepard teach the kid how to use a weapon and how to move around to defend himself and survive. Have the kid pick up on what you're showing him fairly quickly so he can actually help you during that intro catastrophe, and finally, have Shepard tell the kid to go on the escape transports to go somewhere safe, ultimately meeting his demise. THEN people might actually care.

A comparison character we all know well enough is Paige. She's a character that was non-essential to the story. She wasn't meant to do anything, there were no plans for her in the future, her sole purpose was to die. But when it happened, it hurt, it sucked, it was horrible, and it was absolutely awesome and it got you invested in the rest of the story whether you wanted to or not! Why was this so effective, where the ME3 child wasn't? Because she was cute! That's it. She was just so damn cute. One trait. One. But that's enough personality, enough likability in the character to make you really feel it when she kicks it. If Paige had just been one of the orphanage kids who happened to be nice to Mace and she got killed, we might not have cared that much. But "cute" is the key word associated with her personality. And that's why it works perfectly, where ME3 fails... Good job, David.


The intro was also poorly "filmed" in the sense that no shot ever seemed to last more than 2 seconds, the camera always seemed to be panning and zooming in and out and jumping all over the place, making the whole thin very eclectic, which was accentified by the over acting the game has employed in an apparent attempt at making things more dramatic and emotional, and failing miserably in the process because, as we've established, there's NOTHING in this whole introduction to make anyone care about anything, ever, and the motion capture has become even worse than before, if you can believe that.


Part 2 of the demo was straight forward enough. It was yet another shooting gallery to shooting gallery style gameplay which was decent for what it was, except for the fact that Cerberus is now being evil, which, yes, TIM was never exactly an angel, but he also wasn't the greates *sshole in the universe. Ambitious, yes, a *******, yes, easy to hate, most definitely, but what the hell does all of this mean? why now? TIM is a spectacularly intelligent individual, and all this crap about Cerberus wanting to cause trouble all over the place while the reapers are attacking... why??? Is it because TIM was working for the reapers? Because that's freaking retarded. That's like the one obvious conclusion that everyone arrived as soon as they saw his eyes! Was it because he's just evil now? Because that's about as bad as a star wars prequel D8 (actually, the writing for ME3's kind of on part with star wars prequels now that I think about it).

Problems I had with the characters during this section... why the hell are Wrex and Liara being so friendly with each other? What's with Wrex telling Liara "I wouldn't want anyone else along for the ride"? If anything, Wrex should be saying that to freaking Shepard. If you saw the Beta leak then you might've seen another line of theirs that half implies that there's a romance going on between them, which further comes out of freaking nowhere and LIARA WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING FLIRTING WITH MY KROGAN? D8

Wrex, for some reason, has gone from being Wrex, and has now become a gung ho, air dropping, Salarian smiting hot shot because.... the script said so >_O Once before did Wrex see a chance to save his people and yes, he had a bit of a moral issue there, but he contained himself, he was open to reason, and it showed a lot of what his character was about (ie. not just a dumb brute that charges into trouble like his race seems to be). And yet, in ME3, since all the canon has left the building, Wrex is about as mindless as the rest of the Krogan.

Uhm... I think that's about it. I'm probably not gonna be doing another one of these since it's probably really big by now... in fact, if you read the whole thing, congratulations, you have awesome patience XD

Though I'll take some time right now to announce that ideally, starting next weekend I'm gonna start a live let's play of the Mass Effect Trilogy, naturally starting with the first two, but going into ME3 completely blind. I'll post more information here later, but right now, the plan is to have a skype channel where we can have people pop in and out and talk about the game, etc. So if you're interested, I'll let you guys know the details later.

For now, I take off. I hope this has been informative, and I hope you enjoy it. Thus far, my only incentive for getting this game, is the multiplayer. The multiplayer which solidifies how this game has gone from RPG to generic third person shooter action title XD

P.S. WHY IS THE WORD BL*W BANNED???
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Re: Mass Effect 3 - General Discussion

Postby Twilight on Wed Mar 07, 2012 4:22 pm

Alright, unfortunately, my efforts to stream video from my 360 or even my TV to my computer so I can do the live LP of the trilogy have been failing, so I might have to post-pone that until I find a reliable method of doing so.
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Re: Mass Effect 3 - General Discussion

Postby WhiteinBlack on Fri Mar 09, 2012 1:52 am

Right now, I'm rushing to complete FULLY my Mass Effect 2 file of my enginner. I want the best experience of ME3. Just got it and I'm really agitated to play it. :mrgreen:
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Re: Mass Effect 3 - General Discussion

Postby Twilight on Fri Mar 09, 2012 1:59 am

Lemme know how it goes. I hear a lot of "good" choice you've made in ME2 have disastrous consequences XD
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Re: Mass Effect 3 - General Discussion

Postby WhiteinBlack on Fri Mar 09, 2012 2:11 am

Oh crap for me... I always go good. In life, I make morally good choices and so, too, do I in games. Honestly, I can't even punch someone in the face in a game with without feeling bad. XD So pretty, much I haven't seen the darker side of ME.
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Re: Mass Effect 3 - General Discussion

Postby Twilight on Fri Mar 09, 2012 2:13 am

Oh you're going down XD
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Re: Mass Effect 3 - General Discussion

Postby WhiteinBlack on Sat Mar 10, 2012 5:40 pm

Well, for one, transferring my Mass Effect 2 file has been extremely awesome. My good side endings and other stuff has been treating me well. But I only got to *SPOILER* so far. The academy place.

However, if downloaded Kasumi Goto for ME2 she makes an appearance. It was fun working with her and the Spectre hunting her. Saved the Hanar and Drell world and got their alligence.
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Re: Mass Effect 3 - General Discussion

Postby wildcard on Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:32 am

Well, just finished the game. Huge build-up followed by a huge let down. That's the best ending they could think of?
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Re: Mass Effect 3 - General Discussion

Postby Twilight on Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:51 am

Yep, and the other ending is pretty much exactly the same only with different colors lol.
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Re: Mass Effect 3 - General Discussion

Postby Sorrel on Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:04 pm

That was quite possibly the most asinine deus ex machina I've ever encountered. I am thoroughly disappointed. Angry, actually.

Also, who the crap wrote this thing? Why are so many characters breaking character?
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