Mar. 15th, 2012

eponymous_rose: (ME | Victus)
Because I do these for all my fandoms, eventually, have The Epic Mass Effect Introduction Post! Mass Effect was sort of my gateway gaming experience, and I finally got into it after seeing a post on my flist, so hey, maybe someone else is just waiting for an excuse?

Okay, and also I wanted to do something geeky for Pi Day. Happy 3/14! Well, belatedly, because it took me longer to write this up than anticipated.

Mass Effect is a trilogy of sci-fi games for the Xbox, PS3, and the PC (I've only played the PC versions of all three) - the first came out in 2007, the second in 2010, and the third just came out last week. It's produced by Bioware, a Canadian video game developer that I first heard about via its employees doing an awesome smack-down of someone on the forums complaining about the same-sex romance options in their games. So that's a plus. (Note for Dragon Age players: yeah, Mass Effect does better than nearly any other sci-fi game I've encountered when it comes to acknowledging the existence of queer and/or female gamers, but that's not saying much. Expect a bit of a step backwards on that front, though the games do eventually stagger into the 21st/22nd century.)

Logistics-wise, Mass Effect is a cross between an RPG and a shooter, with its primary focus being interactive storytelling. Being someone who rarely has the patience for RPGs, and who finds shooters boring as heck, the way I latched onto this game surprised me. Generally speaking, you wander around the universe in a more-or-less free-form exploratory way, you stumble across plots, and you eventually find your way back to the overarching story. Whereas most games would have dialogue cutscenes between battles, the Mass Effect games keep it interactive throughout - so you can decide how your character responds to any given query, probe for more information, be sarcastic or sympathetic or totally uninterested, have your character get romantically involved, and occasionally make massive, galaxy-shaking decisions. Those decisions (and your user-created character) carry over from game to game, and affect your gaming experience in a variety of ways. Essentially, the game adapts to your decisions.

So it's up to you: should you be someone who upholds the law at all costs? Someone who does whatever it takes to get the job done? Someone who spends all their time (and credits) buying new fish for their fish tank? The choice is yours!

(This is a more-or-less spoiler-free intro! That took some doing, let me tell you.)

The Epic Mass Effect Introduction Post, or: what the heck have I been on about this past week )

Okay, for all the gentle mockery up there, I really do think this is a seriously impressive trilogy of games - especially given its sometimes self-deprecating sense of humor - and I'd be thrilled to see more friends giving it a shot. Don't take it from me - the first game had great reviews, the second won Game of the Year, and the latest game in the series has received perfect scores from something like 50 big-name reviewers, so far. Bioware is pretty darn good when it comes to listening to the fans and making the right changes. So if you've ever wanted to tool around the galaxy in your own ship, now's your chance!

But, you know, make sure you have the time. It took me a while to get into the first game, but without even realizing it, I got completely sucked in. Even if you just blast through and only do the main plots and ignore most conversations, you're still looking at about 60 hours for all three games. Taking your time, it's more like 100 hours (it's like... three seasons of a TV show). And because of all the decision trees, there's a ton of replay value. And ME3 has a new multiplayer mode that's a lot of fun as well. And there's the downloadable content for extra gameplay. Er. Yeah. It's a lot of great stuff.

The cool thing is that the first two games are often on sale via Steam (all you have to do is install the Steam platform, find the game you want, make the purchase, and it's yours to download whenever you want - I often have to uninstall and reinstall due to disk space issues, and I've never run into trouble). I got the first and second games for $15 total. Given how many hours of awesome that works out to, that's a pretty sweet deal. Full-price, they're $20 each, which is still a fantastic deal. The third game just came out, so it's still expensive (and only available to download via Origin, which is EA's answer to Steam), about $60, but it should come down in price fairly soon.

And with that, I will finally stop typing. Whew. If you know folks who might be interested in the game, feel free to send them here! If you're already a fan and have spotted the many mistakes I've made in this post, please do point them out. Or just point and laugh. That works, too.

I should go.


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