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GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 30: Mass Effect 2 and Sequels We Love/Hate

Tim Spaeth's picture

Brad's review was just the beginning; we debate the exhilarating highs and inexplicable lows of Mass Effect 2. Plus: Tim quits games, classic sequels we love, and statistics, statistics, statistics. With Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, Mike "The Outlier" Bracken, Richard Naik, and Tim Spaeth.

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Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   PS3   PC  
Developer(s): BioWare  
Series: Mass Effect  
Articles: Podcasts  

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The Michael Rapaport movie

The movie in question is "Comic Book Villains."

Re: Puzzle Quest Galactrix

Part of the reason there was probably such a disconnect between Puzzle Quest 1 and Puzzle Quest: Galactrix was that Galactrix was originally intended to be its own separate property. See: http://www.joystiq.com/2008/02/23/puzzle-quest-galactrix-re-announced/ The two games share a developer and code, but D3 stuck it with the "Puzzle Quest" moniker rather late in the development process (much to everyone's chagrin, particularly those who played it). Shrewd marketing, yes. A good way to build up expectations for an unproven property? No.

The actual Puzzle Quest II will be out later this year, supposedly.

Couple Things

Props to Brother Gallaway, who correctly surmised that the entire denouement was designed as a platform for me to talk about Space Quest. The topic, however, was never meant to be "Sequels We Love," rather, it was supposed to be "Sequels That Do Something Clever With Their Sequel-ness." For example, Mass Effect 2, Quest for Glory II-V, and Golden Sun: The Lost Age all let you import game saves from their predecessors. Space Quest IV is a game about Space Quest sequels. That sort of thing. But I couldn't articulate that angle during show prep, so we generalized it out to "Sequels We Love." Now that I think about it, though, I can't come up with any other sequels that do something similarly clever. Any ideas?

Also, the original cut of this show had a segment I now refer to as "The Venting Segment." After much debate it was excised for being too hot for the Internet. It was fantastic stuff, but alas, too hot.

Thanks for listening everybody.

EDIT: Metal Gear Solid 4 has you revisit an important location from the original Metal Gear Solid. Another example.

The original Puzzle Quest

The original Puzzle Quest was also based on "Warlords" lore, so there's even more reason for a lore switch having such horrible results.

I would not blame anybody for not knowing about Warlords; basically it was a turn-based PC build units and conquer the world game from the VGA / shareware era. After Warlords II the series sort of petered out on several CD versions, largely a casualty of RTS's like warcraft and better turn based games like Heroes of Might and Magic or Alpha Centauri. In its time, though, it was supreme.


At least M&M Clash of Heroes was a lore sidegrade, with even deeper sources to draw upon. Nothing I like better than to see one developer fix another's mistakes.


I never made the connection between Puzzle Quest and the original Warlords series, despite the presence of the latter's name in the former's subtitle. I used to play Warlords (might have been the sequel) as a hot seat game on a friend's Macintosh a very long time ago.

My Galactrix hate stems from it being 1) Ridiculously overdesigned and 2) A buggy mess on the NDS. Loading screens? Stylus controls that work 80% of the time? No thank you.

Just out of curiosity

Just out of curiosity Brad.... If you didnt want the game to feel like Gears of War, why did you play the game as a Soldier, which Bioware clearly made for the shooter fan? Makes no logical sense.

I suggest you play the game as a Sentintel or Adept.

I played as a Soldier

I played as a Soldier because before ME ever came out, I had no idea how the Biotics/Techs would be implemented. Would MP be limited? Would i run out often? Had no idea, so I chose a straight soldier since I had a good idea of how that would play out.

(it's the same for other RPGs. Until I know how a system works, I try to pick a class that won't be too dependent on resources that may be limited.)

I continued with a soldier since that was what my ME save was based on, and wanted to keep the same character without modifications.

Just to clarify, i am not against shooting. like i said in the podcast, when i want to play something like GoW, i will.. my issue is that i don't come to ME for the action, i come to it for the blend of action AND RPG, and in ME2's case, it's weighted far too heavily on the action side when it comes to level design and quest design.

ME's linear levels, combat-centric missions, and lessened emphasis on quests that depend on thinking were all elements done better in the original ME.

shooting's fine, but ME2 lost its balance, IMO.

Quitting games

Hey Tim,

I'm surprised that no one's commented on your game quitting experiment, so I thought I'd chip in my two cents even though I don't have anything wig-popping to say. Naturally, as a forum commenter I find such measured, mature reactions to your self-imposed sabbatical as "Oh? Why so? Explain." un-fulfilling and lacking the necessary interweb blood and thunder. So I'm going to pull a Call of Duty: Nazi Zombies history rewrite and pretend that when you announced your grand ambitions Brad screamed "Blaspshemy!" while Chi promptly jumped across cyberspace to bite your face off, pausing only to leave a comment about how Brad is a Nazi (Zombie) along the way for not giving ME2 a score of ONE MILLION.

Nah, not really. But Brad and Chi being so chill made me wonder: what is there to say about quitting video games?

I'm not sure. I tried doing the same thing in my college days. Not too much to say motivation-wise, other than my professors rocked out on their age old cultural task of making directionless young people get pretentious. I wish they'd tricked me into getting a degree other than English.

Anyway, "Video games?" quothed I through my daddy's-credit-card purchased latte, "but I, unlike the unwashed horde, am a literary personage! The idea!" So I sold my Xbox and bought The Complete John Galsworthy.

Moral of the story: I frap-fried my laptop sophomore year emulating Majora's Mask during finals. Turns out hunkering down in a cafe and surrounding your laptop with leather towers 3 books high is a guaranteed red ring of death. The crazy thing was I didn't even realize I WAS breaking my self-imposed game abstinence until my motherboard snap crackle popped. "Holy crap," quothed I, "I've been playing this thing for the last four dungeo--I mean, last seventeen hours."

The feeling was something like I imagine must happen to politicians who make their name repping traditional family values while denying their sexuality to themselves. Then years later it dawns on them that they are in fact in a motel 8 with a call boy, and yes, that is a Fox News team at the window.

Overblown analogy, but what I took away from my personal experiment was that video games are something I'm going to just do, and the more I sit on it, the more it's going to explode out from under my chair at some unknown point in the future. I admit that there are a lot of convincing arguments for not playing games--the hours of my childhood spent playing Playstation/N64 games even with my time with the good ones taken out = polyglot bassoon virtuoso--but at this point in my life, occasional trips to that unique art/entertainment head space that only video games can provide are so woven into my sense of what a fulfilling life rhythm is like that I might as well stop drinking coffee, grocery shopping, or trying to make my girlfriend laugh. Not that video games are the most important part of my life, or the best, but when that piece of the puzzle is missing I feel like I'm frowning at the television fumbling through Braid again.

That's just me, though. As a young twentysomething guy who admittedly does live with his girlfriend and own a dog, I still don't have quite the real-lifeyness it sounds like all you Gamecritics guys do. Who knows, I might be more able to divorce video games from my personal identity if I had a marriage to co-steer and kids to raise. Still, I imagine every once in awhile I'd look out my picture window and see a little twelve year old boy who looks a lot like me and a little bit like Link holding an N64 controller and shaking his elf hat sadly.

So yeah, a neither here nor there comment, just my experience with leaving polygons behind. Hope the post isn't too self-indulgent. Meanwhile, I really look forward to seeing how your experiment treats you. As a parting shot, though: if you do come back to gaming, just enjoy it unselfconsciously. There are too many people kicking around being defensive about being gamers and widening their bald spots when people like Roger Ebert say games aren't high art. I might have lost my laptop, but at least my game quitting experience allowed me to say things like the thing I'm going to say right. . .now: I love Half-Life 2 and real world utility can go suck a cow. Booyah.

If you do decide you're better off without games, though, by all means train your kids in polyglot bassoonery, just keep up the podcast, eh?

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