Mass Effect 3 Striving to Fix the Faults of Its Predecessors
By Alex Cranz
If I had to pen a list of the best video game franchises ever in the history of video games (all forty years of history ooooo) the Mass Effect series would sit high up on the list.
The fusion of RPG and tactical shooter has led me to replay the first game on four separate occasions. The branching storyline helped, and the characters, surprisingly nuanced for a video game have driven me to play the game perfectly no matter the amount of time it took. I played through the finale of Mass Effect 2 three times before I managed to get all of my crew out alive, and when the original Mass Effect forced a Sophie’s Choice on me I had to pause and take serious stock of the pros and cons.
These games are hella engaging.
They’re also not perfect. The first game did what a lot of RPGs do and confused tedious busy work with fun gameplay. The second game excised a lot of the tedious RPG elements but at the cost of some of the complexity within the game mechanics. The worst offense of the second game though, was the overwhelming number of playable characters.
Choice in video games is a major buzz word now days. See Brink. But if you give people too many choices then you can harm the narrative. And the wealth of choices in Mass Effect 2 definitely harmed the narrative. Instead of getting to know six different characters we had to get to know eleven different characters. Those five extra were the difference between fun character moments and tedious conversations for the sake of game completion.
Mass Effect developers Bioware realized the same thing I did and for Mass Effect 3 they’ve trimmed down the number of characters made available for missions.
That’s Project Director and Executive Producer Casey Hudson explaining why I’m a Bioware fangirl. When faced with choice versus narrative Hudson and Bioware chose narrative.
They haven’t said how large the Mass Effect 3 squadron of playable characters will be but knowing that it will be smaller and that the focus will be on developing relationships (mind out of the gutter perv!) makes me warm in my cockles.
Because I’ve decided to be a big ol’ Casey Hudson/Bioware fangirl here’s another bit where Hudson talks about bring the RPG element back for Mass Effect 3 but without all the tedium that plagued Mass Effect.
Mr. Hudson never stop making video games.
Last week Bioware broke the news that Mass Effect 3 was being delayed until next year. Take this as a GOOD sign. A delay means high quality and fewer bugs. Usually. And as Bioware got nailed critically for rushing the release of their last two games it’s nice to see them take a step back to ensure quality with their next mainstream release.
There’s more delightful little geeky tidbits about Mass Effect 3 over on the Bioware Forums. And while I’d like to tell you to go read all those tid bits I feel it’s my duty to instead tell you to go play through the first two Mass Effect games again. Then we can have ice-cold Dr. Pepper and talk about our favorite moments in the games. Maybe we can do each other’s hair.