From the House that brought you that last stuff – more of the same!
“How do you stop something so powerful?”
In the world of Mass Effect, terrain deformation is powerful! Any obstacle taller than a gradual incline that isn’t a chest-high wall or an open window completely resists navigation. I can just picture Anderson looking trapped as the Reaper gouges a ten-centimetre trench around him and he can’t go anywhere for lack of a jump button.
Though I know this is more or less how things were in the second game, having that pistol constantly raised to eye level except when Shepard runs just looks odd to me. Typically you only sight a handgun if you’re expecting to shoot something in the immediate future, not as a constant state while running to safety and dodging explosions, laser beams, and chunks of molten steel. At the very least it should automatically lower the gun while keeping the same hand position a moment after the last time it was used. I swear this is what an FPS protagonist would actually look like running around with a gun in their face at all times.
Even running full speed through this tutorial area, the player is still not fast enough to prevent Anderson from shouting at them to hurry up three times before they get close enough that he’ll put a sock in it.
I have Shamus Young to thank for my developing this pet peeve, but I cannot stand it when scripted NPC’s spout off random lines from a tiny pre-recorded pool every few seconds, especially when they’re telling you to hurry up, and even more so when there’s a room full of valuable loot in the way and you have to sift through all of the objects while they loop over the same lines ad nauseum. The same logic applies to combat taunts.
Nothing breaks immersion harder or faster than when a supposedly sentient human turns into a psychotic robot-parrot the moment you stop moving, and it should really be an easy thing to fix. All it takes is a longer delay between lines and a few minutes spent writing a basic logic system which shuts the character up after a while (with an appropriate closing line like “Fine, I’ll watch the door.” or something) and stops the same line from being repeated multiple times.
If a player is taking more than 20 seconds to do something, they have almost certainly heard your NPC and are deliberately delaying to do something more important. So put a lid on it.
I know I already had a go at the sound effects last update, but good lord it sounds like a midnight viewing of Mars Attacks on that plaza. Even the Husks want to get away from it!
The prodigal son returns. Video game parents really do have an absolutely wretched track record of keeping track of their young, defenseless children. Then again maybe this kid just has a death wish, because he just turned down the help of the solider who once faced a giant three-eyed Terminator-man-sludge-fetus in single combat and emerged the victor. It rubs me the wrong way how heavy-handed that line felt. I should already have the feeling that I won’t be able to help him; did he really have to break character (not to mention the fourth wall) completely and tell me that?
“We need to go to the Citadel… talk to the Council!”
Uh… Anderson? Were you not on the Council? Unless Udina took the position in this playthrough I don’t think there’s any possible continuity where Anderson didn’t wind up heavily involved with the Council. Did he resign? I really wonder if this is something which branches out depending on the ending of the first game, or if it’s one of those smashings-together of disparate choice branches which Bioware did so much of in Dragon Age 2.
“No but you were a Council Spectre – that has to count for something.”
Are you legitimately taking the piss out of how little being a Spectre mattered in Mass Effect 2, Bioware? I mean, I know you couldn’t have possibly expected us to fall for this line after we received no authority, support, or respect from the position whatsoever throughout the entirety of the last game… right?
The line also makes no sense at all even if Anderson is an ex-council member. Wouldn’t that count for a great many somethings? Now I really wonder if this dialogue branches based on your choices from the first game.
Well that was new. It’s downright weird how smooth that fall from the crumbling building was compared to the stiff and unnatural combat animations. I know that Bioware uses a great number of stock animations for their rigs out of an internal library that’s shared between all of their games (for instance, there’s a distinctive “pay up” gesture you can see in everything from the first Mass Effect to Dragon Age 2). It’s a very efficient way to make content like in-game cinematics without having to micro-manage a character’s poses and behaviour so long as the library is big enough to cover most environments and situations. Perhaps some of these are getting out of date?
Shepard zooms in and out of cover here. It’s obvious that after testing the game they decided to speed up most of the combat actions to raise the pace of the game. I’m of two minds when it comes to this: from a gameplay standpoint it sounds like a great idea that will make controlling Shepard feel tighter and more responsive, but from an art standpoint it looks immensely awkward because these are obviously much longer animations that have been sped rather than new ones of the appropriate length. At the end of the day I’ll gladly take the more responsive controls over visual fidelity, but they honestly should have at least tweaked these animations some after jacking up the speed.
The reason it looks like the game is being played in fast-forward is because not everything in an animation scales correctly with time – gravity and inertia for instance. If you simply double the speed on a four-second jump animation, the character falls and recoils from the impact twice as fast: gravity is doubled and inertia is halved. This looks very unnatural because it’s physically impossible to do. This is the same reason you can usually tell that something looks amiss in sped-up film footage from old movies and aren’t fooled into thinking the people on the screen are actually running faster so much as you are that time itself has sped up.
Has it never heard that punctuality’s a virtue?
When Harbinger said “Then throw more goons at them!” to the nearest Reaper, I somehow doubt he meant it this literally.
“Welcome back, Shepard. Still working for Cerberus like some sort of… Cerberus… agent? I’ll bet your pajamas have a picture of the Illusive Man on them, don’t they? You horrible Cerberus goon. All this time and you don’t even call? New Cerberus friends too cool to let you hang around with the Alliance? I’ve got one word for you, pal: Cerberus.”
“I’m not going! You saw those men back there -there’s a million more like them and they need a leader!”
Yeah… one that’s not a completely invaluable admiral of the fleet and intergalactic council member. Seriously, this is just narrowminded selfishness from Anderson – he’s far more useful elsewhere, too important to lose on behalf of some front-line grunts, and there isn’t even any guarantee that he’ll actually find any of these soldiers or accomplish anything worthwhile before a random Reaper decides to laser the piss out of him from orbit. He even admits it’s a fight they can’t win and tells Shepard to appeal to the other races for help. It sure would be helpful if there was a big political figure surviving the incident to back Shepard up, like… I don’t know… a renowned admiral/councilman?
This is not honourable or just – it’s plain old stupid and hurts everybody in the long term. Those few soldiers aren’t more important than the rest of the planet; Anderson’s overinflated sense of machismo is not more important than his continued existence.
Oh I see how it is, kid. You’ll take help from random faceless soldiers with worse aim than an A-Team villain, but you won’t take it from Shepard?
Maybe he mistook her for Regina(ld) Cuftbert and decided to take his chances with the Reapers like any sane person would.
Now here’s a kid whose whole world got all twisted, leavin’ him stranded in a vent underground.
He gets up; sets off for the shuttle, where everyone agreed to go in case’a trouble.
Vent slopes up under his feet as if pointin’ the way. He don’t stop to wonder why.
Finds a woman named Shepard, just standin’ near a door. Well, it’s a touchin’ reunion.
He sees what’s left of the city streets – years of work undone in an instant. In the Calamity.
Kid clambers aboard that rickety shuttle. Hears a right peculiar sound. That a survivor?
No mam; it’s a Reaper fella, forced out from beyond the reach. Reaper pops him good. He goes down.
Darn shame about the kid. Never was the brightest bulb.
Somebody clearly has a certain Skyrim mod installed. As he had no characterization I can’t exactly say I’ll miss the kid. Kind of a cheap way to get an emotional reaction from the audience, isn’t it? That said, at least I’m thoroughly enjoying the music for this segment.
Does this mini-briefing screen remind anyone else of X-COM? Between the font, the globe on the left, and the mention of an alien invasion I couldn’t help but picture the city Shepard just left as a dramatically less difficult Terror Mission.
The fact that Earth can apparently hold its own in a ground war against the Reapers long enough for Shepard to go out and solve the problems of every other species clashes harshly with everything we’ve been told about them up to this point. As I said, they’ve been transplanted from their original status as ancient and unknowable machine-gods with power and motives beyond our comprehension to the archetypal evil alien fleet that wants to invade Earth in some oddly specific way (eg. a ground war from a bunch of machines which spend 99% of their lives in space) which will ultimately fail despite its supposedly overwhelming superiority. Hell, they even lifted the Scarabs straight out of Halo 2 – head-mounted lasers and all. What was once sci-fi Lovecraft has become Ed Wood.
Alas, no love for Garrus. Wrex will have to Krogan air-drop from the Skyranger all by himself. As always, the best part of any Bioware game is character interactions like this, especially between characters who have multiple games under their belt to get to know one another (though unfortunately this usually happens between games and offscreen). If other developers should take anything away from studying these games, it should be that character writing of this sort is absolute gold for any game with a properly paced story. Personalities like this stay with people far longer than shiny graphics and “epic” boss fights, and can turn even the most typical game activity into something truly enjoyable.
Incidentally, I see Garrus has finally patched up that nasty hole in his armour.
This leaves me with an urgent question: what are they going to do about players who let Wrex die all the way back in the first Mass Effect? This is rather important, as I am one of them. Will none of these scenes play out the same way, or perhaps even at all?
Dear Salarian “Special” Ops Sniper Unit: As you are no doubt aware, sniper rifles work infinitely better when the intended target cannot see that you are aiming directly at them. As such, it is my unfortunate duty to inform you that standing fully upright, unsupported, on an open rooftop with your rifle in the un-braced hip fire position and also sporting a big angry red laser beam which draws the eye straight back to the shooter is a terrible failure of etiquette on multiple levels. To do something this inadvisable in an attempt to threaten an already livid Krogan is tantamount to suicide. As your race adheres to the theories of Darwinian self-selection, I hereby present you a pre-emptive Darwin Award.