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Shooting 1UP while Mass Effected

Brad Gallaway's picture

Mass Effect 2 Screenshot

Spent last night and part of today playing (surprise!) Mass Effect 2 on the Xbox 360.

So far it's been a wonderful to return to a universe that I fell so hard for the first time around, and at the same time, I felt a bit of dismay over some of the changes. I'm still extremely early in the adventure so I'm not going to shoot my mouth off just yet (plenty of time for that later) but I will say that the game isn't be the "insta-10" that some readers might have assumed I'd peg it as.

While on the topic of Mass Effect, if you haven't played the first game, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND doing so before starting ME2. To that end, cool guy Andrew Doucet has created a pretty kick-ass PDF that clearly and concisely guides players to a full 100% completion of the original Mass Effect. I used it myself on my second playthrough, and ended up finding a few quests I had never seen before. This PDF is good stuff.

In the meantime, I had a ton of stuff to clear out of the inbox, so here it goes:

I had the chance to play a pre-release version of the new title coming from Nathan Fouts over at Mommy's Best Games—Shoot 1UP. I really can't say enough good things about Nathan and what he's doing. The guy's ideas are just spot-on in so many ways, and this new title is no exception.

Shoot 1UP is a vertical shooter where the hook is that each life collected appears onscreen instantly. By collecting 1UPs, the player rapidly amasses a swarm of clone ships raining shots on the enemy. The cool thing about it was that the spread of ships could take up the entire bottom of the screen, or they could be retracted to the size of a single ship. Even better, when they're spread out, they combine energy and unleash a massive laser that continuously blasts from the middle of the swarm.

If you're a shooter fan, this is some pretty cool stuff going on here. It's fresh, it's original, and best of all, it features a boss that attacks with detachable robo-breasts. Look for the game to hit Xbox Live Indie in February.

Chris Vandergaag over at The SideMission is having an easy-to-win contest with the prize being ANY GAME OF YOUR CHOICE! If you've got a funny FPS story to share, you've got some good odds at winning.

…Now, back to Mass Effect 2.

Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   PC  
Developer(s): Mommy's Best Games  
Key Creator(s): Nathan Fouts  
Series: Mass Effect  
Genre(s): Role-Playing   Shooting   Arcade  

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Mass Effect 1 Rating: 10.

Mass Effect 1 Rating: 10. Mass Effect 2 > Mass Effect 1. Therefore, Mass Effect 2 Rating: 11. Seriously, it is leaps and bounds better than the first one in every way. No hyperbole intended.

that feeling will come back-

agreed brad-
at first the changes made to mass effect 2 startled me since i also held the first game as one of my favorite experiences ever-

but play more and soon you're sucked right back in just like before-

think of mass effect as that girl you had an amazing relationship a couple of years ago that left and you haven't seen since;
then all of a sudden she's back. things about her might be different, like hair color or the existence of a cover button, then you remember, but 10 minutes alone with her reminds you just why you fell for her in the first place.

Extremely disappointed so far

I'm only about 5 hours in to the game so far, but like you, Brad, I'm very disappointed by a game that has been revered by the media like the second coming of Jesus (or an enlarged iPhone).

Dear Bioware,

I've played your game before. It was called "Knights of the Old Republic" way back in the early 2000s and it's still the SAME DAMN GAME. Only the graphics and characters ever seem to change.

Improved shooter mechanics over ME1? No.

Having to pause the screen in order to do anything noteworthy? Still there.

Crappy party management? Still there.

Worthless skill tree? Seems so. (At least this was improved in Dragon Age.)

Over-reliance on simplistic good vs. bad dialogue options? Yeppers.

Let's say this all changes after, heck, hour 10. Did I really need to spend 10 hours--the length of an average, non-RPG game--to get to the "good" stuff? And that makes this, what, a 10? Hell, I found the first Mass Effect similarly derivative and I would have given that a 7 at most. Enjoyable but deeply, deeply flawed and absolutely nothing new.

Now, Bioware's Idea Recycling Program is just starting to piss me off. I know this statement is going to anger the Bioware hardcores, but this is what I honestly think at this point: People were going to like Mass Effect 2 regardless of what was in it. Why? Because they were dead-set on it. If Mass Effect 2 were lackluster in any way, it would have meant the end of their world. That's why games like Halo: ODST get a pass. That's why people keep buying Dynasty Warriors games.

I hope I'm wrong about that. I hope ME2 does turn out to be a good game. I have a $50 purchase riding on it. I'm not very optimistic at this point.

I'll tell you why I like it

Because it's a sheer joy to play. Every issue that was raised in the first game has been addressed. You get the sense that BioWare is making the right choices to craft a perfect playing experience. Even if those choice might not be realstic within the context of the game world.

Mass Effect 2 is the game BioWare wanted to make in 2003 but couldn't. Forget KOTOR, forget ME1, this is the shining example that should be held up before all to claim, 'Look, here! This is what fine game design is all about!'.

I understand your criticism that it has recycled game ideas, but what form of media doesn't borrow from previous works? ME2 is a grand homage to all the works of science-fiction (good and bad) and inevitably includes cliched tropes we've seen a hundred times before. But those cliches exist for a reason -- on some level they resonate with the human condition. It's the reason they endure. And these cliches are wrapped in a rich and immersive world teeming with life and possibility.

ME2 is the first game in a long time to capture the sense of wonder and discovery I felt with KOTOR. This is the game I've been waiting for BioWare to make for many, many years.

ME 2 Blues?

I get the feeling you're a tad ahead of me, but even six hours in the gameplay changes have yet to really hinder my experience.

There is that initial shock of "whoa, this is different, my options are so stripped I'm wondering if Bioware is starting to think I'm dumb," but after a few hours of poking around and interrogating the living tar out anything remotely sentient, I'm so impressed at how well Bioware is maintaining that trademark ME1 sense of wonder and flow that the gameplay changes are feeling increasingly immaterial.

Of course, the game hasn't started curb-stomping me yet (playing on veteran), and I might be screaming to high heaven for ammo-mana come week's end, but I don't know. My inner RPG mastermind never felt too taxed in ME 1 (he was on-call more than he was at his desk), and if Bioware can keep up the original's thrilling-vistas-of-space vibe while delivering on the high storytelling concepts it's been slinging all across the podcast sphere, I can see me feeling the same way about ME2's gameplay changes the way you felt about ME1's technical hiccups.

And aren't you at least a little geeked to finally play a Bioware game as technologically streamlined as it is conceptually brilliant? B-ware flirts so often with crashing their game experiences with bugs, dumbed down console interfaces, and drab color palettes (DAO) that the import of ME2's presentation runs much deeper than "dood, this game looks sweeeeet"--it means that Bioware is reaching a point where the snags of its medium no longer claw at its artistic vision.

Not that I'm gameplay over graphics by any means. For me ME has never been about the mechanics of how I take down a geth or the exact process by which I make my incinerate burn a little brighter. Chit-chatting with Elcor, exploring the known/unknown universe, and having my squad relationships deeply impact my game's outcome, though. . .that's where it's at. And it still feels like that's where it is with ME2. Six hours in, anyway.

P.S. Sorry, on re-reading I realize I'm assuming your complaints are related to ammo deprivation and the RPG lite feel. Correct me if I'm wrong. Just trying to infer based off of the little Tweet box in the corner.

9-10 hours in . . .

and at this point, I'd have to say that this game is a solid 8 or 9, but not a 10.

In particular I don't like the "Planet Mining" mini-game. Whoever equated looking at a radar screen and some squiggly lines as being fun must be missing a few screws.

Also disappointed that a vehicle is not a default part of the game. On this same website a few years (?) back I criticized the Mako, but looking back now, the Mako, although flawed, offered something that I find lacking in the sequel--exploratory freedom.

I am liking the characters better this time around, especially the female side-kick. The Earthworm Jim-looking doctor is pretty cool, as is the Firefly-like crazy lady.

Thank you brad!

Well, Brad, your review convinced me to get ME, and it is now my favourite game, so i went and got the CE for ME2, and it is one of the greatest games i've played. The "dumbing down" of combat has just improved it ridiculously, it's so much better than before, sure they have brought in shootery mechanics, but no-one thought the combat was the best part.
So far i'm feeling 9.8

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