View From the Road

View From the Road
Why I'm Not Playing Mass Effect 2

John Funk | 1 Feb 2010 21:00
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In case you somehow missed it, last week saw the launch of BioWare's Mass Effect 2, the bigger-and-better sequel to the already-beloved Mass Effect. Judging by the opinions of everybody I know, it's a pretty damn awesome game. Escapist Senior Editor Susan Arendt is adoring it, as is each of our coworkers who come by her desk during the day to chat about it. One of my good friends from college tells me that, hands down, it's the best game he has ever played. Reviewer after reviewer has piled praise upon it; ME2 currently has a stunning 96/100 on Metacritic (not that you should use Metacritic objectively, but just sayin').

So why don't I have any intention to play it, when I know for a fact that it's something I'd probably love? Well, the short answer is "because I never played Mass Effect 1." There we go, column over - see you guys next week!

But no, that's no excuse at all, is it? I've got a 360, I've got a gaming PC (although I didn't when ME1 came out, being a student, and that's my reason for missing it), and there was plenty of time before ME2 hit shelves to correct this mistake. It would have certainly paid off, too - I'd get to play two awesome games, one of which I'd have enjoyed all the more for getting the immediate context of its predecessor.

But nope, I didn't do that, either. And here's why: Games like Mass Effect are simply too long for me these days. It's the exact same reason I haven't started Dragon Age: Origins yet, either, despite getting it as a very thoughtful gift - the idea of starting a 50+ hour epic adventure makes me less likely to play the game. It's huge, it's epic, it's deep. Frankly, it's overwhelming.

Part of this I can chalk up to my job - as awesome as getting to make a living writing about games is (and make no mistake, it is awesome), it is still a job. We don't get to spend all day at the office just lounging about with controllers in our hands when there's work that needs doing, and our weekends and free time are often occupied with playing games we've been assigned for reviews. This past weekend, I curled up with Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, next weekend my time will be monopolized by White Knight Chronicles. This doesn't mean that we don't get to enjoy the games when we play them (hopefully, anyway), it just means that for me, picking up a huge title is getting harder and harder to justify.

"But wait a moment, John," I can hear you saying. "A look at your Steam page reveals that you've spent almost 200 hours in Left 4 Dead 2 since November, and what about the fact that you really don't want to know what your /played time in WoW is?" Even if you aren't saying it, you should be, because it's a damn good point - what's the difference between using my free time to tackle Icecrown Citadel with my guild in WoW or filling up the generator in L4D2's Scavenge mode, and using my free time to chip away at fighting the Darkspawn in Dragon Age or collecting Space Hamsters in ME2?

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