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Saturday, 14 July 2012

Mass Effect Revisited



A good while back, I wrote about being a cheap gamer, and ways with which to further extend the enjoyment of your currently owned games by achievement/trophy hunting.  Besides simply saving me money, this has also been quite effective at giving me a glimpse of games that aren't necessarily experienced when you are just grinding through the main quest-line.  This is particularly true of games such as Assassin's Creed, whereby you could miss large portions of the beautifully rendered scenery if you were to just race through the core missions.  Take an extra hour or two to gather all additional collectibles, and you can check out almost every nook and cranny, and see more of the game that the developers intended you to see.

The main reason I brought up this topic again, is to announce that I have started the very first Mass Effect game again.  According to my list of gained achievements, I had only explored roughly 30% of the full gaming experience on offer.  I was, however, reluctant to start again - the entire series (Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3) represents nearly a hundred hours of game time, let alone dozens of hours for each game standalone.  

I knew it just had to happen though, and I had to switch everything up.  I would play a different character than the stock standard Shepard, with a differing skill set.  I would favour team-members that I didn't really play with last time, form closer relationships with differing romantic interests, and make decisions that went against my natural original play through decisions - that meant this time, I would play an asshole.  Three hours in, and I am having a blast!

My Shepard is no longer the heroic defender of justice; she is a cold, calculating killer, who doesn't want to take crap from anyone.  There is something amazingly liberating playing a character so different from what I would normally play.

Having upped the difficulty to Hardcore, I am immediately impressed upon how much more difficult the game has become, and how much I actually need to think more about strategies, and my characters individual strengths and weaknesses.  As an RPG fan, this is actually a treat - even though it does have the potential to frustrate and extend the length of the game somewhat.  And the best part?  I actually understand what the heck is going on, right from the start!  No longer am I muddling through each dialogue, wandering what on earth a Turian or Quarian is.  I appreciate the dynamics, allegiances and hostilities between different factions.  I immediately recognise old favourites as soon as the appear, and wonder if they will still like me, as I now play a complete knob. I enjoy understanding the allusions to the Reapers, even this early on in the series.

That being said, it is a little difficult to enjoy the lower graphical quality, after experiencing the stunning effects and vistas from Mass Effect 3.  It's also difficult, playing the bastard, to be mean to characters which I had formed a close bond with in my previous play-through.  I find the long elevator rides in the Citadel a bit excruciating, and the custom armour and weapon upgrade system is quite a bore.

As I stated, it's only been about three hours of play time this time around, so I will see if my experience of the rest of the game is enhanced the second time around.  Has anybody else done multiple play-throughs, and found it just as rewarding, if not more-so (let's try to keep it spoiler free)?

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