My review of Mass Effect 2 will go up later tomorrow; in the meantime, consider this a preface.

As time goes on and technology advances, developers are capable of delivering bigger, deeper adventures that feature gigantic size and scope. At first, it was all about size: the bigger it was, the more amazed we were. Remember the impact Grand Theft Auto III had on the gaming market? If it was bigger, there was more to explore, although not necessarily more to do . Also, because we were still somewhat limited, the lack of detail would contribute to a corresponding lack of player involvement.

But these days, every virtual landscape supported by a big budget and talented developers can be both enriching and entrancing. However, as the environment becomes more authentic and more believable, it also becomes more important. In other words, I think we've reached the point where if we're not a fan of a particular theme or setting, no matter how great the game really is, we'll always feel a little…out of touch. We'll feel as if the designers sort of missed us; like we're outsiders. Perhaps it's akin to all the girls who were dragged to the theater to watch "Star Wars" by their boyfriends. They're pretty sure that what they're seeing is special in some way, but that "way" just isn't resonating in their minds.

Take Mass Effect 2 , for example. The sci-fi setting is quite vast and intricate; it actually does remind me a lot of "Star Wars." There are different species of humans and other creatures, there are space stations and a whole universe of planets and moons and what have you, and you even travel about on a full-fledged spaceship. Therefore, the sci-fi enthusiasts will almost surely be hooked from the outset. In contrast, I have always been partial to the more medieval surroundings; i.e., the sword 'n staff theme rather than the guns-in-space theme. Therefore, I can absolutely guarantee that if ME2 was identical in terms of story, presentation, gameplay and just about every other element of game design, only it was set in a time of yore, I'd be overjoyed.

As it stands, I sort of feel like that girlfriend back in 1978 who could only shrug her shoulders after watching the movie and go, "well, I'm glad you liked it." And as theme becomes more and more crucial in our increasingly larger interactive experiences, I have a feeling that personal preference will begin to play a more significant role than ever before. There are some potentially universal themes, though; I'm not sure how anyone could be turned off by the Uncharted setting. I mean, it's like Indiana Jones and who didn't like that? …well, wait…I'm sure there's someone. The point is, we must always remember that for games that strive to engage us on every possible mental level, we will have to make the connection ourselves. And if we can't, something will just feel out of place.

Finally, I would like to add that I try not to let personal opinion impact professional reviews, so don't think that this editorial gives away a lower-than-anticipated score. I will assign the score I think it deserves, with only a dash of my personal reaction. Call it reviewer tilt, if you like.

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frylock25
frylock25
9 years ago

im gonna guess that your review will be 8.9 – 9.3 thats just my guess. find out tomorrow.

while i do want to play this just to play it, i might not have the time for a while. maybe your review will make me want to play it more Ben. im sure it is a great game as i have heard a lot of good stuff about it. so many games to play i will add this to the list and work towards it.

doesnt gta3 seem like it came out a long time ago? like twice as long as it actually was.


Last edited by frylock25 on 1/21/2011 9:41:57 PM

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

A very long time ago, but it was the first time a game made you go. "I can just wander around this giant place and do whatever I want? Cool."

frylock25
frylock25
9 years ago

speaking of gta, the theme of vice city would be what everyone loved isnt it?

i still remember the tank code and how fun that was to get a hold of. man i loved playing those old gta games.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

Not in my case, I found the 80s setting very lame and I couldn't get into it at all, I was born in 81 too.

ps3sownsxbox360
ps3sownsxbox360
9 years ago

yes the demo really sucked

Jawknee
Jawknee
9 years ago

Indeed but the final game is a lot better. And this is coming from me, some one who really couldn't care less for Mass Effect.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
9 years ago

How does that comment have anything to do with the article?

Beamboom
Beamboom
9 years ago

I think he misread "theme" to become "demo"…
Oh well, with that nick one should be surprised he can read at all… 😀


Last edited by Beamboom on 1/21/2011 11:18:50 PM

Douchebaguette
Douchebaguette
9 years ago

Ah, the importance of themes.

This is a reason why FFVI & FFVII are awesome.

FFVI: apocalyptic steampunk.

FFVII: distopian cyberpunk.

————————————-

I may add that the still camera shot allowed the artistry for older games to shine more, whilst camera scoping now is so flashy & realistic along with the less prerendered & close to realistic graphical design that you can't really sit down properly to a game such as FFXIII & let the the setting engrave into your head as much as the older titles would. Perhaps. I try.

Oh, and Mass Effect 2 is a must buy.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

SE thought they could fool us in FFXIII by putting us into a little tube in which to move and then creating large sweeping backgrounds to dazzle us.

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
9 years ago

@Worlds…

Kill-Tubes?

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

Yup. I blame myself for not believing it when the first news of the killtubes began to leak. I would tell myself, "Nah these are just a few bad examples", "FF has never disappointed", "it will make up for a few small linear screens", or "FFX was mostly linear."

Oh how wrong I was. And now I know what to look for in the reviews of XIII-2.

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
9 years ago

What I don't understand is Famitsu's review of it. I know that when the game actually got in the hands of Japanese gamers, the reception was not so positive, but as I remember it Famitsu wasn't exactly incisive.

Beamboom
Beamboom
9 years ago

Wow…!
I do of course agree that the theme do matter along with other personal preferences (ref my aversion for anything too linear), but I would have thought that no sci-fi interest is required to enjoy this particular case – just a general patience to enjoy fine storytelling.

PorkChopGamer
PorkChopGamer
9 years ago

Agreed. Though, he didn't say he didn't enjoy it. BTW, I dig that Spider Woman pic.

Beamboom
Beamboom
9 years ago

Strictly speaking you are right. He did however roleplay your girlfriend moaning "well, I'm glad you liked it", and that's pretty close imo. 😀


Last edited by Beamboom on 1/21/2011 10:36:43 PM

PorkChopGamer
PorkChopGamer
9 years ago

True. How some one scould 'shrug' at ME2 is beyond me, but I'm constantly surprised around here…

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

I can't blame the dude. Lots of people don't understand why I can't be entertained by COD for more than a few minutes. And I can't be bothered to watch a "College Gross Out" type of movie.

PorkChopGamer
PorkChopGamer
9 years ago

@ World

You're right. I just find ME2 to be in that universal category. I know guys (and a girl) who don't do any other sci-fi except ME2 and a few other games. ME2 is just great.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
9 years ago

ME2 is entirely sci-fi. In no way is it universal; nobody I know is even remotely interested.

Beamboom
Beamboom
9 years ago

But the TOPICS are universal, Ben. Racism, human nature, politics, greed, love, pain, grief, betrayal… These are timeless elements often found also in fantasy litterature.

PorkChopGamer
PorkChopGamer
9 years ago

Exactly, Beamboom. The 'Sci-Fi' aspect of it takes a backseat to the three dimensional characters, the world, and its fantastic stories. The fact that the doors slide open automatically shouldn't detract from that at all.


Last edited by PorkChopGamer on 1/21/2011 11:31:48 PM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
9 years ago

So? You're not going to convince me that anybody who likes great stories but doesn't like sci-fi will still love ME2.

"Universal" means my mother would love ME2's story…and that isn't going to happen. People can shove ME2 down my throat all they want; the plot has holes and the mundane often overrides the significant. It's hardly perfect. I don't think we can overlook that, either.


Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 1/21/2011 11:33:14 PM

Temjin001
Temjin001
9 years ago

"Racism, human nature, politics, greed, love, pain, grief, betrayal… " but BeamBoom, if you dress that all up in a Mario or Barbie theme it wouldn't be all that interesting to me…

"Ken: Barbie, we can't be together anymore.
Barbie: it's someone else, isn't it? ISN'T IT?!
Ken: We're just not the same people anymore… we've changed….
Barbie: NO! I didn't change. You did. I was always here fo….

anyway… puke

I think I've made my point =p

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

But Ben, you don't like anything Western either, but RDR was good fun for yourself and many others on a universal level was it not?

frylock25
frylock25
9 years ago

does your mother game at all?

PorkChopGamer
PorkChopGamer
9 years ago

Plot holes? I played two times from two ME1 saves and it flowed seamlessly with no major plot snags. Maybe that's where the holes come in for you.

Underdog15
Underdog15
9 years ago

I'm pretty sure I still plan on eventually giving ME2 a shot, but I can guarantee you it won't be at the top of my list.

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
9 years ago

@Underdog,

I feel the same way. Review scores will have an impact as well.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
9 years ago

PorkChop: No, the plot holes come in where characterization and the events don't really match up. The writing and pacing can be off. But as I love literature, I'm extremely critical when it comes to this facet of gaming.

World: It's true that I'm not a fan of Westerns but because we've never really had much of a "Western" genre in gaming, I was only referring to movies, really. It's why I didn't think I'd like RDR.

But sci-fi has been a part of gaming forever and I know what it's like, and I know I'm not partial to it.


Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 1/22/2011 1:08:30 AM

Shams
Shams
9 years ago

I'm impartial. Not partial to sci-fi, nor partial to dragons and unicorns. I'll check out either, if the game's got something going for it other than what is only skin-deep.

Really, as long is it isn't COD and all things jingoistically chauvinistic, I'm game…except for most movie adaptations, franchise/label cash-ins, uninspired rip-offs…

Veitsknight
Veitsknight
9 years ago

Just so you know, the reason Mass Effect 2 might seem to have plot holes is that the entire Mass Effect 2 game revovles around forming your team for Mass Effect 3.

ME1: Learned about Reapers
ME2: Team-up agains Reapers
ME3: Defeat Reapers

SmokeyPSD
SmokeyPSD
9 years ago

This article did kindof surprise me alittle bit aswell as for me Mass Effect does make me think of how Battlestar Galactica does scifi. In terms of being more character driven and emotionally driven, even political rather than spectacle and visual. Taking a bit of a narrow view on the whole piece.

Gordo
Gordo
9 years ago

The theme is very important to a story and "vibe" of a game.

I'm looking forward to Mass Effect 2 a lot as I love sci-fi such as Bladerunner, Firefly, Aliens, Pitch Black and Starship Troopers.

I can understand that if you don't appreciate the theme then that does detract from your general enjoyment.

Final Fantasy is always a bit too emo/medieval/anime/cyberpunk for me.
Can't immerse myself into the story.

Similar to Batman Arkham Asylum. If cartoons aren't your thing then you are never going to appreciate it as much as a devotee.

Each to their own I guess… One mans trash is another mans treasure!

Shams
Shams
9 years ago

Don't really know why the sci-fi theme would detract you from the experience, Ben, if it didn't do so in Resistance or Killzone. Granted, ME2 isn't in the same tier as the aforementioned titles in terms of polish and technical prowess, but it was the story and the character development for me that was the main draw. The action, exploration, side missions, and upgrading were really just setting the pace of the story.

*Potential, mild spoilers ahead….

There were so many moments in the story that caused reflection. With the Geth, for example, one questions what is sentience, individuality, collective conscience, and the rights of existence, particularly when one is forced to choose whether to brain wash them to cooperate, or destroy them. Another moment was with one's suspect alliance with Cerberus and the Illusive man. Does one's loyalty to the political wing one belongs to come first, and achieving what can be done and is practical through the powers-to-be, or does one break ties even with one's own to stick to the principles of the greater good, no matter the consequences. The story of the game, and the side missions, are chalk full of these thought-provoking moments that made the experience shine for me.


Last edited by Shams on 1/21/2011 10:38:17 PM

Shams
Shams
9 years ago

I guess if one has certain expectations or preferences from a particular genre, like preferring fantasy to sci-fi, I could see why a theme might detract or attract someone. And it's only natural to compare games within some sorting of genres when one evaluates one's experience with a game. I guess for me, I didn't know what ME2 was before playing it. So, I didn't have any expectations.

NoOneSpecial
NoOneSpecial
9 years ago

Yeah, ME2 was more of an rpg than the aforementioned games. The story was so that if you weren't a true fan of it, then it wouldn't give you quite the level of enjoyment that your favorite genre would. For example I adore cars and by extension, greatly enjoy racing video games to the point that I had pre-ordered the collectors edition of GT5 in June. My birthday also happens to be in June, so I decided to buy Split Second (an arcade racer) I enjoyed it, but I still returned it within a week because I just didn't see myself playing it all that much. Even though it was in the same overall genre, I just didn't enjoy it as much. GT5, however, is one game that I cannot stop playing.


Last edited by NoOneSpecial on 1/21/2011 11:02:05 PM

Temjin001
Temjin001
9 years ago

One of my fav thought provoking segments in ME2 was when Shepard corners Legion as to exactly why Legion chose to wear Shepard's old discarded battle armor. Legion kept trying to create some logical calculated diversion to his question–something like a Red Herring fallacy. But Shepard persisted and got Legion to reveal that he had "no data" for why he wore Shepard's armor. This implicitly suggested to me that the Geth don't quite understand themselves as fully as they think they do and perhaps there's an underlying motive to their actions that they haven't yet discovered.

Good stuff


Last edited by Temjin001 on 1/21/2011 11:06:57 PM

Beamboom
Beamboom
9 years ago

Excellent post, always good to get confirmed that there are other gamers that treasure those reflective moments of a story.

Also, I think games like these prove that the best games do not depend on frames per second, what render engine or other technical specifications are being used. Those things becomes critical only on titles with little more to offer:
Mass Effect 2, with it's Unreal engine and cross platform release is the hands down best gaming experience I have had (still has!) so far on the PS3. And noone shall tell me that I am wrong in thinking so. Content wins.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
9 years ago

In Killzone, it's all about gameplay, not story. I don't really care about the setting when it comes to that sort of thing.

When the focus is on the plot and the characters, the theme becomes paramount. That's when personal preference for settings comes into play; if I don't care as much about the surroundings and can't get into the history, lore and storylines floating around…we have problems.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
9 years ago

Beamboom: Nobody's going to tell you you're "wrong." But I am going to tell you ME2 doesn't seem as perfect to me as it does to others (regardless of personal preference regarding setting).

But I'll leave that for the review.

Beamboom
Beamboom
9 years ago

Oh that you are of course entitled to.
But if you then started talking about how it "could have been better if it was exclusive", "I spotted a tearscreen", "the game did freeze once", "The Unreal engine spoiled it for me – they all look the same" and those usual rants I'd be disappointed cause that's just *so* totally not what this game is about.

(I do however not expect that from you, just so that is said.)


Last edited by Beamboom on 1/21/2011 11:40:23 PM

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
9 years ago

If you don't expect it from Ben, then why bring it up? If you've read here for any length of time you should already know that the superficial Wow factor of graphics is not a leading indicator of a game's eventual review score. Ben and Arnold look deeper.

Beamboom
Beamboom
9 years ago

I brought it up because of what I often read in user comments (and maaaybe an editorial or two from Ben. Maaybe. There is a weak, partially muted bell ringing in the back of my head).
I would need no more than 30 minutes before I could lay before thee at least 100 quotes along the lines of "Exclusive titles are just SO much better", "a multi? Uninterested", "a multiplat can never be better than an exclusive", "I'll buy it, unless its multi" etc.
What I have tried to say (MULTIple times too 😉 is that the quality of a *really* good game (in my eyes ME2 is just that) depends on so much more than just platform optimized code. Ergo a multiplat CAN be as good, or indeed better, than an exclusive. It not only can, in many cases they *are*.


Last edited by Beamboom on 1/22/2011 12:31:25 AM

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
9 years ago

Yes, and Ben would be one of the first to agree with you. Look, if there is a game that comes on both 360 and PS3 and the 360 version is better, Ben will come right out and tell people that, but what he won't do is talk up an exclusive game regardless of it's quality, just because it's exclusive. That's not something that is going to happen. Nor is a game going to automatically get trashed because it's a Multi-plat game. This is one of the very, very few remaining locations on the Internet, that despite the obvious leaning towards PS3 news actually does give objective reviews of games without the usual spin doctoring and review bias.

Beamboom
Beamboom
9 years ago

You are absolutely right sir, this little corner on the net *is* our eden. But I suspect you think I am talking about their reviews. I do not. I talk about the user comments. Those we write now.
There I have been thumb-spitfired (not that that's any unfamiliar experience) when trying to speak against such claims.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
9 years ago

Well, you have to expect that on a PlayStation site, people will prefer PS3 exclusives.

Personally, I don't think it's a matter of preference; I think PS3 exclusives are the cream of the crop. But then again, I'm not exactly in the minority on that.

As for reviews and editorials, yes, there are dozens of examples of me supporting that which the PlayStation fans might not like. I dedicated entire pieces to telling everyone how great Alan Wake was, and of course, we were the ones who recommended the 360 version of Dragon Age: Origins, and the more obvious, like the 360 version of Bayonetta.

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
9 years ago

Ah, but Beamboom, the user comments are just that, comments. Of all the communities I've been part of in the gaming world, this is probably the most balanced and least afflicted by hype or fanboyitis. I hear your points, but I think that that's less of a problem that you may fear.

Shams
Shams
9 years ago

You weren't a fan of westerns, but that didn't stop you from appreciating RDR and scoring it the same as a personal favorite of yours (AC2, AC:Brotherhood). You didn't seem to mind the sci-fi element of AC, either. But I won't hold it against you if you knock ME2 some tenths of a point out of spite 😉

Regarding KZ2 and R2, besides presentation, and artstyle, really it's theme and story that differentiates FPS's sp campaigns especially from each other, and it's theme and story that causes one to follow a series.

It's really only mp campaigns that revolves purely around gameplay.

Shams
Shams
9 years ago

Also, S.Temjin brings up a pertinent point about FFxiii and even Star Wars. Really, neither of them are pure sci-fi, but a marriage between sci-fi and fantasy.

In my childhood, I adored Star Wars, but didn't care much for Star Trek. It wasn't until I was older that I appreciated the literary value and meaning behind the occasional Star Trek show or movie I'd happen to see.

To me, theme to a movie or game is really just a cover to a book. It won't attract me if the underlying content is lacking, and it won't deter me if it is filled with meaning and artistic value…Well, except for Vanquish. Vanquish rocked!