As of August 19th, 2012, I have finished the first installment of the Mass Effect trilogy. For most, that won’t mean much, almost as if I was empathizing with the fact that they never finished Super Mario Bros. 3 (even when you were shown how to get easily to World 8 in The Wizard). But the fact is that I didn’t actually start Mass Effect until a month prior. That’s where I deserve the obligatory “Where the fuck have you been?” and “Why the hell were you playing Trials and Fez instead?” Well, I just wasn’t that interested.
Long long ago, in a small duplex way up Old San Jose Rd…
To illustrate why this seems like eons ago, the guy who first showed me a Mass Effect preview has since moved out of the small duplex (where he showed it to me) and into another apartment with a girl, became engaged to this girl, bought a house with the fiance, broke off the engagement and moved out, and I haven’t seen him since. The ex-fiance has since been through two more guys, who each had their own set of issues, which would sometimes boil over at parties, making me uncomfortable and want to leave, so now I don’t drink at her parties just in case the mood strikes me to drive somewhere else. Without a daytime television program, it takes the better part of a decade to witness that much drama. That wedding I mentioned was set for the day before the Beijing Olympic Summer Games, if that helps set some sort of timeline. I didn’t even have an Xbox back then, and the hottest shit anyone could play was Guitar Hero II (I was a maniac on that orange button).
The Mass Effect preview video I watched wasn’t a trailer so much as it was one of the developers narrating some of the game’s development, specifically how battles would play out. The developer showed how the player would give his or her team commands, both in movement and abilities. One could even choose which weapon his or her team members would use. This was all during battle; while fighting a large robot thing, the developer would essentially pause the game to issue placement and ability commands to his teammates, then take cover and shoot the enemy a few times. Rinse, Repeat.
That looked too involved and not fun. Fable was about the level of depth that I was into. In fact, Fable was about the fucking pinnacle of awesome games for me at the time. I enjoy games where I can upgrade my characters and their weapons, but there is a limit to how deep a management system can be and still hold my interest. I first realized that there can be too much to upgrade and manage when I played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (made by BioWare, who also made Mass Effect). My character had a lightsaber, and I was ready to make him break something, but upon finding a battle, I had to choose my defensive and offensive attacks from a menu, and order them correctly to successfully parry and strike my opponent. Within two battles, the game had become tedious and cumbersome, so I ejected that disc and moved on to Morrowind. The battles in Morrowind were better since they were action-based instead of real-time-strategy-ish, but even the smallest details around inventory or skill-sets were managed by the player, and every detail was seemingly important. People fucking love SW: KOTOR and Morrowind, and I’m sure they are fantastic games, but the player involvement ran too deep for me to enjoy. And I was instantly reminded of these disappointments when I watched that first video of Mass Effect gameplay, so I decided then, all those eons ago, that it wouldn’t be a game for me. Continue reading Years Late to the Mass Effect Party