Mass Effect

Uncharted 4 complete + Isey praise + sale = purchase.  Not sure how there was a sale, but it was there and I saved $20.

Uncharted 4

At last record I was about halfway done, which is now complete.  In nearly all respects it is a better game than its predecessors.  It is absolutely gorgeous to look at and the final island you visit feels like a themepark of action.  I am part of the PC cult, so console controls always feel loose to me, and that’s about my only gripe with the game.

Story-wise and writing, Naughty Dog is still champ in my books.  The relationship between Nate and Sam, or Nate and Elena is as real as anything I’ve ever experienced.  Everything flows extremely well from set-pieces to next, and the final battle looks like it’s straight out of a movie.

That’s 2 out of 3 games that hit in the 9/10 area.

Mass Effect

I played “after patch” where the facial animations/art were tweaked.  The game certainly looks different than YouTube videos, but it remains to be said that facial animations are a low point in this game.  I am of the belief that this is due to the same engine for non-humans as humans being used.  Turians, Krogan and Asari do not have facial ticks, or at least we don’t expect any.  We do expect it in humans, and it throws the visuals off.  As a general rule this doesn’t bug me, but when someone is telling me about their dead relative and how painful it is, with a straight face, it throws the event for a loop.

The writing is generally good, and there’s a lot of mood building.  I met two Angarans who complained about studying in Australia, which seemed quite odd to me, considering they are from another galaxy.  I’m 2 planets in (Eos and Voeld) and so far things make general sense.  Not so much purposeful sense, but non-conflicting sense.  Two examples from Voeld, some minor plot spoilers I guess.

First is the Yvera, a whale-like being that lives below the ice, and is revered by the Angara as the only history they were able to keep after the Scourge attack.  The game stresses this point numerous times, how it is unbelievable that these animals would be attacked.  After a bit of running around, you find a doctor who says “there’s a possibility these animals can help us recuperate faster after Kett attacks”.  Then you choose to let them continue the study or turn them in.  Nothing deeper, no proof.  Up to this point, every Angaran agreed that this act was treasonous, and now you have an ethical choice.

The second is related to the main story on Voeld.  After a lot of running around, you end up in a previously shielded cave and free some Angarans from laser cages.  You finally end up in a giant room with a computer in the middle.  This computer is an AI, who professes a self-defense position, while your own AI indicates that this other one is continuously lying.  Ok, I’m thinking this will be neat.  Before you can question it, one of the freed Angarans tries to touch it and starts getting zapped.  You are then presented with a choice of letting the AI live and killing the Angaran, or killing the AI.   Um…why those choices?

There are no links between any of these stories, and you can’t really deep dive on them before you’re given an apparently massive decision to make.  It feels like reading a short story that’s missing a quarter of the meat.  Lots of potential, just odd execution.  The good news is that there is a lot of content here, and a few missed chances doesn’t drag the others down.

The overall lore, codex, and story telling is solid.  Each piece seems to have some meaning in the world.  Small touches here and there make it feel alive.  Someone goes mad because they lost their family.  Another couple huddled for warmth.  It works.

Combat is ok.  Better than previous games, as it’s more action focused than RPG.  I’ve opted for a Biotic approach, with a strong pull/throw/singularity build.  It works really well against non-shielded opponents.  Big bad guys are harder to take down.  I can only use 3 abilities at any one time, which I dislike.  Why give me 25 options if I can only use 3?  Weapons feel weak in comparison, and I am unsure why headshots with sniper rifles are not more accurate/deadly.

I took down an Architect, which is like a Maw from ME1.  A giant robotic snake, with 3 tails.  It was a 20 minute fight, very hectic.  The dodge mechanic was used more than shooting, which while fun to start, becomes quite boring as it drags on.  It provided me with 4 remnant fragments, which relate to crafting, but no extra loot beyond that.  I guess that’s a good reward?

Overall, the game is quite engaging.  The main areas to nitpick are the animations and the story integration.  They remove me from the game when I encounter them, but it’s easy enough to move on from there.

I have some overall questions as to how the game will expand past this point.  It’s certainly an enjoyable game, and better than the general reviews have let on.  I can see myself playing to completion, and getting 100% viability on the various planets.  It’s fun, and really, that’s the entire purpose.

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