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In defence of Mass Effect 2 (not that it needs it)

After reading a bunch of 2010 Game Of The Year lists, one thing was clear; people really enjoyed Mass Effect 2 (I was one of them), but there was one thing that stuck out amidst the praise. There were numerous comments complaining that Mass Effect 2 should not have been so highly regarded, because it wasnít actually an RPG, it was merely a shooter. This seems like an odd notion, as I canít figure whether or not the complaints are about the gameís mechanics not being the same as the first Mass Effect, or if itís more to do with the game wasnít ďRPG enoughĒ to be called one.

Lastly, the inventory: almost completely done away with. I canít speak for everyone, but each time I played Mass Effect I ended up with a huge amount of equipment which I hardly used. Selling it all unlocked the Spectre gear which was the best in the game and made almost all the other gear worthless. ME2 got rid of the inventory and focused the game more; I spent less time selling stuff (and trying to remember who needed what) and more time actually playing. There were plenty of other changes, but these three are the RPG elements that I think have been singled out as the things that changed in the sequel which was to Mass Effect 2ís detriment.

Whilst itís completely understandable why people didnít like the changes, I have to look at what I liked about Mass Effect and why the changes didnít alienate me from Mass Effect 2. With the original Mass Effect I enjoyed the story, the characters and the universe that Bioware built. When it came to the sequel, I would have accepted more of the same when it came to the gameplay. Yes, even the Mako sequences which never really bothered me that much. All I was really expecting was a continuation of the Mass Effect story and hopefully new characters and settings to enjoy. What I got were fundamental changes to the gameplay mechanics which I felt improved the Mass Effect franchise considerably.

So, is Mass Effect 2 an RPG or not? It depends what you look for in an RPG; if youíre looking for stats, inventory and dice rolls in the background to determine your effectiveness. If thatís the case, I can see why Mass Effect 2 is disappointing. If, like me, you play an RPG because of itís characters and the world youíre in, and the way you make your mark on both of them, then Mass Effect 2 is a great game. But if you said to me ďI donít like Mass Effect 2, itís more of a shooter than an RPG and it got rid of the stuff I liked from the firstĒ then thatís fine, I get it. Mass Effect 2 is not perfect by any means, thereís still things Iíd like to see improved in ME3.

But it seems like weíre at a point where thereís a feeling that a game can be diminished or embellished (although itís normally the former) on how we put that game in a genre or our own ideas of what it should be. Is it an RPG or is it a shooter? Is it a ďHollywood videogameĒ (something like Uncharted) or is it a ďgame-gameĒ (something like Super Meat Boy). In the end, I feel like weíre trying to almost talk ourselves out of actually enjoying videogames or admitting how much we like them. Weíre letting nomenclature dictate our thoughts on a game, instead of just letting the gameís strenghts and weaknesses inform our views. If you donít like a game, thatís fine, nothing wrong with that. If you donít like a game because of the controls, story or something else, then again, thatís perfectly fine. If you donít like a game because itís been called and RPG and you donít think it is, then does it really matter?
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About Alasdair Duncanone of us since 9:17 AM on 10.13.2007

Alasdair Duncan is that bearded, bespectacled Scotsman that covers PC gaming that is not Fraser Brown. A long time Destructoid community member and forum moderator, he covers adventure, puzzle, FPS and all kinds of games on the PC. Watch, as he adds more games to his Steam library with only the vaguest hope of ever playing most of his games.

Alasdair has been gaming since his mother bought a Commodore 64 back in the early 1980's. He adores Deus Ex, GTA Vice City, Team Fortress 2, Borderlands, Super Mario Brothers 3 and all those weird indie titles on Steam.

You can meet Alasdair at places like PAX where he tries to convince people he isn't a) drunk or b) Irish.

Plus he crave attention via the following:

My Tumblr
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Check how I'm doing with my Backloggery

Ali D waz on the front page!
Objectivity: Are We All Just Fanboys
Why does my wife write fan-fiction?
P2 Press Start: Teenage Kicks


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