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Playing Old Games: MASSively EFFECTive

Posted by: Ben Berry at 11/30/2010 1:26 PM
As probably the least hardcore of our regular contributors, I often (almost always) find myself on the trailing end of video game trends. Unless it's new in hockey, Star Wars, or motion control, I'm rarely an early adapter, simply because I have other hobbies that take up a lot of my extra money. So it's usually at least a few months after a game has released that I wind up picking it up. Sometimes months becomes years, as was the case with Mass Effect.

I had been planning on playing it at launch, but I never got around to it. After pre-ordering Fable III for my niece via Amazon, I had a $20 credit towards any video game purchase. Amazon recently offered some special deals and in the end I was able to pick up Mass Effect 1 & 2 for the combined total of $18, shipped. I picked Mass Effect because it was supposed to have the same type of immersive game play I really haven’t experienced since Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, and also because the storytelling and UI that BioWare says will be the focus of The Old Republic got their beginnings in the creation of ME.

If you’ve played the game, the first hour or so feels a bit slow, and then really picks up with some gusto. While the game is now several years old, I still don’t want to give too many spoilers if like me, you sometimes get behind in playing some of the big name games. But I would like to share the following:
  • Side missions. While they often feel somewhat haphazardly placed as a way to broaden the content instead of being a valued part of the story; they can be important in terms of what you do at the end and how you do it. I’m not saying do them all. I’m simply saying do some. I finished the game at level 39, and probably could have stood to have been a few levels higher. That would have come from playing more side missions.
  • Don’t neglect your teammates. The depth of the story comes truly from the crew, not the main storyline. Even though it’s well constructed, don’t rely on the big timeline to get you the emotional connection to the game.
  • Explore. A sandbox game is designed to give the feeling of looking around. Take advantage of that; there’s lots of cool stuff out there if you look.

I left this game really impressed and reminded of what a video game can do/be. The fact that I did it with a game that’s 3 years old was even more impressive.