Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Serve the Cerberus

I was really looking forward to Mass Effect 2 following playing the first game earlier this year. I did love the original but it was clearly showing signs of its age. I think with older games of the seventh console generation it’s not the graphics that date the game, more the usability and functionality of the game - such as save systems and upgrade systems and such.

This sequel starts with a bang and is instantly gripping, it has a novel way of resetting Shepard’s abilities so that you don’t start the game with too strong a character. The set-up for Mass Effect 2 works well on the whole, but being a stooge for Cerberus was something I never grew comfortable with. I couldn’t help but shake the feeling they were Space Neo-Nazis – at least The Illusive Man was an intriguing character and that made up for not having to report to the Citadel Council in small way.

The thing I can most commend Mass Effect 2 for is it has such a strong opening, but unfortunately for me this momentum started to evaporate when the game attempted to become more open world. I think this juxtaposition is the main flaw of this game’s narrative, whilst there is supposed to be an imminent threat/danger to the whole galaxy you are still free to dawdle and go about mining distant planets for some element zero or shoot the breeze with a Elcor. I mean who cares if the fate of all civilisation is at stake when you just have to go a drink on Omega, right?

I’m being a little unfair here as I did enjoy the freedom of the varied missions, especially the loyalty ones which proved great backstories and added depth to your teammates. But it was also the point I started to feel a little aimless and my attention started to drift away from the game. In a way I felt like it lost a bit of the urgency and focus of the first game, and there started to be too many third-person shooter elements that became repetitive. Whilst I enjoyed the simplified equipment modification the choices of attack felt all the more limited.

My favourite mission was Project Overlord, I really liked the unethical experimental research storyline and the twisted ethics of merging a human mind to a VI. It felt unnerving and like something out of a David Cronenberg film and had a lot more variety to the mission than most others.

In all I did really enjoy Mass Effect 2 a heck of a lot. Maybe I started it too soon after the first Mass Effect to really appreciate it, but don’t let that take away from what is a fantastic game. It’s a phenomenal space opera with great ambition, imagination and freedom.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Uncharted's Headshot Problem

It has been a while since my last update, a lot of real-life things have got in the way such as a new role at work and the restarting of my home studies. Whilst I have been busy I have been keeping up with my gaming and I finally started the Uncharted series - the first game, Uncharted Drake’s Fortune. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while being a big fan of Naughty Dog and was hoping for Indiana Jones-flavoured proto-Last of Us style romp.

Hmm… I was a little let down to be honest but the game has many great points.

The setting, story, character and voice acting were top draw for me. As a fan of 1980s action movies this film hit all the beats perfectly, without being too drenched in irony. It was fun and exciting, and Drake is at his best when bickering with his allies and enemies. On playing though I realised how much the rebooted Tomb Raider ripped this game off (and improved many things by some margin), but for a game of its age Uncharted  holds up really well, especially in the looks department.

What really let the game down for me was the incessant shooting sections. It felt like: climb up a cliff/shoot some bad guys, solve a puzzle/shoot some bad guys, turn a corner/shoot some bad guys, blink/ shoot some bad guys. Every 10 meters it felt like I stepped into an ambush - that grew old very fast. Also headshots seemed to have no effect so you had to pump about 4-5 shots into someone’s HEAD before they finally dropped. It grew very repetitive having to shoot enemies a set number of times. The puzzles also were far too simple and too few. Uncharted almost started to feel like an on-rails shooter than an exploration adventure/action game at times.

So I was a little disappointed. Maybe I hoped for too much. I’m told the other games improve the game mechanics, but I might give it a little break before returning to the series.

Next up is Mass Effect 2, now there’s something that shouldn’t let me down!