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Mass Effect 2: Mass Overrated (Part 1)

EDIT: Warning - I make frequent use of potentially offensive language, including terms such as "f**k", "s**t" and "Russel Crowe". I also don't take the time to introduce myself. If you're offended by a lack of social niceties, I suggest you avoid reading my blog, watching HBO, and/or meeting Russel Crowe. The guy really is a fuck hole.

I suppose it sets a bad precedent to make your first blog entry a bit of a Negative Nancy cheese and whine festival, but nothing has motivated me towards a profound desire to bitch on the internet like Mass Effect 2. Well, the third Matrix movie excluded. And Russel Crowe. And the Transformers films (the second one especially: May I please go and poke hot pins in my eyes instead?)... Okay, so few things have motivated me to bitch on the internet like Massive Disappointment 2. And that was a bad pun because the first one wasn't a massive disappointment, so it should be Massive Disappointment 1: AKA Mass Effect 2. Only that would be confusing.

This was not a good introduction. This is perhaps more helpful: WILL OBVIOUSLY CONTAIN SPOILERS. It will also, probably, be an epic wall of text. Apologies.

With that cleared up, it will probably be much easier to persist with my inane prose if I just cut to the chase and list the reasons I'm all motivated to hate, so I'll just do that:

NOTE: For any who care, this will be a multi-parter, partially to make it easier to digest, and partially to make it easier to write.

1. The story. LOL. Where did it go? I have 40 hours of side missions, describing such thrilling escapades as bringing an Asari back to her poet Krogan lover, and BUYING FUCKING FOOD, and then 2 hours of half assed "Saron has attacked Eden Prime and wiped out everyblahblah". I mean, "The Harvesters have attacked some other human colony I don't care about and done some stuff and yawn." The quality of the side quests in ME:2 certainly shits all over the generic template missions from ME:1, but ME:2 totally lacks the 'call to arms' - strangers united in the urgent persuit of a common enemy. ME:1's story will not go down as the most profound written word in human history, but it was at least present, and often driven. ME:2 feels like a lazy and half-assed rehash, which makes it extremely difficult to care about the characters who are participating with me. Bringing me to the next point....

2. The characters. GTFO. In ME:1, every character, with the exception of Wrex, joins your crew with a direct connection to the main story arc. The 'common enemy' aspect of the story makes it easy to form bonds with your shipmates. You're all working together to achieve the same result, and you all have some invested interest in success. In ME:2, you meet a few guys and they... "like... sure, we'll come along ~shrug~ whatever, I had nothing better to do, we'd love to help you feed fish to Krogan". To be fair, following the dialogue trees with these new crew members can offer funny, frightening, or poignant insight into their character, and as I said in the previous point, their side missions are orders of magnitude better than any of the ME:1 optional content. But it all still feels... superfluous. I wanted an option to ask every character "WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU HERE?". I felt that Jacob, though being a bit of a douche, was an easy character to connect with. Miranda took a little longer, but her relationship with my dude Shephard was one of the more interesting ones in the game. Other than these two, the only connection I made with any other character was with Tali - shared history, and her insightful side mission really improving that relationship. Martin Sheen's giant prick-tease, telling you where all of your old crew members are just so you can slowly realise you won't be picking most of them up, was frustrating as hell. I wanted characters with whom I felt a bond, not just a nicely designed, nicely voiced, motley crew of weirdos that added nothing to the story by being present other than an opportunity to say "fuck" and officially stamp ME:2 as the "darker" game in the trilogy. YAWN.

3. The combat. Okay, so the combat is better, right? Well... kind of. It certainly feels better. Except for the repetetive level design (left path, right path, blocked in the middle, waves of enemies, rinse and repeat). And the fact that everything is on a grid, like we're in 2001 - crates? REALLY? And the complete lack of any RPG elements, so no immediate reward of loot and experience for kills. And the predictable-as-clockwork pattern to the enemies. And the ammo... Actually, let's stop on that one for a second. Firstly, the exposition: We now use thermal clips because it stops our weapons overheating, and this is the big scientific advance in eleventy-billionth-century weaponry? AMMO?! /clap. Of course, it's far better to have finite ammunition reserves and be forced to run for your life because you can't shoot back, than to sit tight for 15 seconds while your weapon cools down. Also, how the FUCK did a colony from a crash landing, isolated for a decade, also get hold of this 'cutting edge' technology? WHAT IS THE FUCKING POINT OF AMMO? Bioware: Did you want to force me to use all of my guns against my play-style and preferences? Did you roll a die and decide that's the big advance in gameplay you were making for this game? Whatever, you're ALL DUMB. Now, let's talk guns. No loot, just randomly click shit to get a message telling you that you have a new weapon available - a weapon that has no stats. How do you tell if this weapon is better than the last? You equip it, that's what you do. And then you're stuck with it through waves and waves and waves of the same enemy until you can get to another magic locker which teleports all of your weapons to your current location and is somehow better for selling the gameplay than just carrying them all with you. The only good addition to gun mechanics was giving us a BFG-equivalent, even if it does do the same amount of damage as slapping someone with a wet pancake.

[That's all for now, I'm late for work. For those of you who are riveted to my bloggingness-of-awesome, Part 2 will be along soon]
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About faultymooseone of us since 7:16 PM on 05.21.2008