Experienced Points

Experienced Points
What’s Wrong with Mass Effect 2?

Shamus Young | 13 May 2011 21:00
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****END SPOILERS****

Nearly all stories have a few holes in them. Even Tolkien, one of the greatest storytellers of the last century, had a few gaps in his story that have nagged people over the years. But this ... this is a legion of yawning plot holes, and this is only a partial list. Sure, you can go back and manually patch up some of the story with some heavy use of "Fanon," but that's not the same as having a well-made story in the first place.

Mass Effect 2 is NOT a horrible game, it's just far short of the usual BioWare standards. It says a lot about the quality of BioWare that their worst story in a decade is better than most other games out there.

Is this a trend? Some people are worried that EA is pressuring BioWare to dumb the game down for the shooter crowd, but I don't think a change in storytelling is a deliberate move on the part of BioWare. I think this is the natural result of trying to do too much, too fast. They used to do just one game at a time, now they have two franchises going, while they are also working on The Old Republic. That game will (according to rumors) have a full "single player"-style story for every class in the game, which is like trying to write a dozen games at once. I think the usual BioWare writers are working on TOR, which is why Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age 2 have seem like such a departure from what we've come to expect from this company. They were probably written by junior writers who needed a bit more practice before they could author something as ambitious as a multi-title story arc. (The way game credits work, it's very hard to judge who actually did the writing. Pretty much anyone who attends a meeting can end up with his or her name in the credits.)

Sure, I'll be there for Mass Effect 3. Where else would I go for huge, high-concept stories with a diverse cast and a rich setting? I'm critical of BioWare's recent changes because I want to let them know that this stuff matters. They weren't knocking themselves out for nothing all those years. They made some amazing stories, and I want to encourage them to continue to do so.

We'll see how it turns out when Mass Effect 3 hits next year.

Shamus Young is the guy behind Twenty Sided, DM of the Rings, Stolen Pixels, Drawn To Knowledge, and Spoiler Warning. Don't even get him started on the Mass Effect 2 DLC.

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