Monday, February 15, 2010

Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, and Dragon Age

That's a pretty bold title, actually. Not sure if I'll get to all 3 games in a single post.
So, here goes.

I saw that Mass Effect 2 was coming out. Also, that it was going to be on PC. I did some reading, and it became apparent that the graphics would be better on PC, so I took the plunge, and pre-ordered it. In the meantime, though, I realised that my multiple savegames from the Xbox would not be any use, so I grabbed ME1 from Steam for a tenner, and started playing.

Whilst playing through ME1 again (it's still very good, both graphically and game-playably), Mass Effect 2 launched. I wanted to get a whole playthrough done on the first one so I could import a character, but in the end, after Virmire on ME1, I fired up ME2.

First things first, it's quite different, whilst still being almost the same. Most noticable from the get-go is the different inventory. Instead of heaps of weapons (like, say, other RPGs), and carrying tens of items in your inventory, you have very few weapons, with very fixed upgrades. Each mission (more or less) provides a handful of upgrades, from new weapons, to weapon upgrades (+damage, +other stuff), power upgrades, health, etc.

After an initial disappointment (I love lewts) I have to say, it works quite well. But, with a finite amount of cash, it's impossible to buy everything on your first playthrough (unless I really got something wrong). You'll need to import a character to get the cash boost. Fortunately, you can import an ME2 character after your first playthrough.

Next, the characters. In the first one, you found someone you liked, and used them all the time. In fact, there were achievements for doing a playthrough using mostly one character or another. In this one, instead, each character has loyalty, and a reason for adventuring with them. Which works really nicely.

The character skills are cool, too. They work well (except squad ammo, which they'll constantly activate, even when it's counter-productive. Grrr).

The worlds are fun, the chatter is good, and the chance to be nasty or nice is still there, with some occasionally funny results. The end is pretty bonkers, although the bit through the Omega 4 relay reminded me of Reaver space in Firefly (or maybe Serenity). Which is actually no bad thing.

The music is epic. The weapons are fun. The powers are entertaining. Just the level cap is a bit of a shame. I played through on veteran, and did all the missions I could find (basically, scanned all the planets) and made it to level 27. Since the level cap is 30, reasons to play through again are limited. That being said, I started a new playthrough on insanity, and I'm taking a proper beating, even though I hit level 30 in under an hour.

I guess I need to visit a wiki and get all the upgrades, but god-damn, those YMIR mechs are brutal.

Anyway, one thing that became clear was that it's almost impossible to get full renegade without importing an ME1 character. I did every bad thing I could find, from telling the Volus to charge, to turning down romances, but I was still short (and that's with the relevant power maxed, too). And on a replay, you lose your points. Maxing Paragon appears to be much easier - after only a handful of missions on my replay, it's nearly full.

Anyway, the point is, I need to go back and play ME1 to the end to get an importable character, I guess. Danger Shepard needs validation.

Dragon age? I'll write about it next time.

No comments: