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LONG BLOG

The Mass Effect 3 Wish List

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As Iíve already touched upon, Mass Effect 2 was my game of the year. I literally jumped out of my chair in surprise when I saw trailer that officially unveiled Mass Effect 3 and nearly did it again when I realized we would be seeing it this year; far less time than it took for Mass Effect 2.

It would be easy to ramble for hours about the complex ethical and moral decisions in the game, the stellar voice acting, how I love the Illusive Man as a character but thwarted him at every turn and how Garrus is cool, itís more productive to offer constructive thoughts on how Mass Effect 3 can be even better. As it stands BioWare has set the bar extremely high, so here are a few of the things Iím hopeful that BioWare will address. What I love about BioWare as a developer is that they always listen to player feedback.

1. Improve upon awkward facial animation

As voice acting and writing becomes more and more sophisticated in video games, this is a problem exacerbated by high-definition graphics. When voices and physical movements are created separately it lends itself an awkward mannequin-like physical appearance that makes characters seem stiff and unreal periodically. It isnít really a budget issue so much as an authenticity issue since it pops up in big budget releases like Fallout 3 all the time. I canít propose a solution but I can hope that since a company like BioWare has a habit of honing their skills with each new product, weíll get over this.

2. Fix the stupid allied AI

Some of you are probably going to be thinking ďWhat? Whatís wrong with the AI?Ē The allied AI in Mass Effect 2 isnít the worst, but it shows its true colors on harder difficulty settings. When you rely more heavily on your allies due to harder enemies, youíll notice that they throw themselves into suicidal situations, crouch directly in the open, and periodically climb up and down cover repeatedly. At one point on Horizon Miranda died three times in a row because she kept furiously running into Harbingerís face. I appreciate the human shield tactics, honey, but youíre making me waste valuable medi-gel.


Cover me while I crouch up and down in the open repeatedly!"

3. Cut down or streamline scanning

This is already a pseudo-fulfilled wish, since director Casey Hudson has already confirmed that scanning will be scaled down but wonít be eliminated altogether. I can see scanning working in the right context but the Mass Effect 2 version just cuts into valuable time we could be using to hear Mordin perform Gilbert and Sullivan.

4. Give us more interaction between teammates themselves

I loved the individual personalities in Mass Effect 2. I didnít even mind Jacob, who quickly became known among my friends as Jacob ďToken Black GuyĒ Taylor. I also thought the writers were only brushing the surface when it came to interactions between crew members. The tense standoff between Tali and Legion and the argument between Miranda and Jack were fantastic, and it would be great to see more of these or even just more casual chitchat between squad mates. Some unused dialogue indicates that Mordin and Grunt were originally supposed to have a similar loyalty confrontation, and whatever happened to Jacobís lack of trust towards Thane? With characters as deep as these, thereís always more room for exploration.

5. Donít base moral choice systems on maxing out Paragon or Renegade meters

I can understand the need to build up a skill in order to charm or intimidate people more effectively but Mass Effect 2 takes it too far. In order to use certain Paragon or Renegade dialogue options you need at least 80% of each meter, which takes a fair amount of harvesting points to get. This takes decisions out of our hands because rather than thinking what we would do, weíll be consciously trying to max out either morality meter as fast as possible. I wound up purposely doing loyalty quests in a specific order so I could use the Paragon conversation choices in Tali and Zaeedís loyalty missions.

6. Vehicles?

As it stands Iím very ambivalent about vehicle sections, which have been something of a point of contention lately in Mass Effect. Exploring planetary surfaces and mowing down hapless heretic geth was fun. The notorious unicycle physics of the Mako not so much, not to mention the identical side quests and unnecessary commute times. The Hammerhead in the DLC expansion has vastly improved controls but the gameplay involved with it is very shallow right now. I can see it working, so itís up to BioWare to split the difference.


If nothing else, the Collectors deserve thanks for this.

So what would you like to see in Mass Effect 3? I used to quip about wanting an earlier release date but given the size and scope of Mass Effect as a series, BioWare has taken care of that one.
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About Michael Carusione of us since 11:37 AM on 09.05.2010