Zero Punctuation: Mass Effect

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you got to love the song selections yahtzee does each review. fits in so perfectly :)

BTW LOL @ MASS ERECT

I am surprised that the repetitive Simon-says style gameplay was not mentioned by either Yahtzee or in any of the 100+ comments. Penny Arcade picked up on this rather well, but my main gripe with it was that i honestly cant see how surveying minerals can be compared to hacking computers and thus be simplified to pressing 4 or 5 consecutive buttons.

I may as well add my introduction here. Hi.

Review Crysis, if you can crack a smile at the end of that I'll be impressed.

rebochan:
But what I tire of is that I see a really obnoxious trend here - namely, bitching about games in a certain genre merely for being in that genre. I mean seriously, if I pick up an RPG, I want the cutscenes, I want the dialogue, I want the story. If I pick up an RPG and complain that it is giving me cutscenes, dialogue, and story, then I am an idiot. If I complain that the cutscenes were dull, the dialogue was tedius, and the story a waste of time, I'm at least saying something substantial. I don't feel Yahtzee has done that - after all, Mass Effect was marketed entirely on its unique approach to (dun dun dun) dialogue! So complaining about it having a lot of dialogue is pointless because that was what the game was marketed for. If you absolutely hate games with a lot of dialogue (and it is still beyond me why Yahtzee hates them so when he's such an obvious text adventure fan), then you will hate RPGs because that is the whole damn point.

As for the feminine men, I secretely think the reason guys go ballistic over them so much is they are secretely afraid of being attracted to them. Oh, and then there's the fact that using all characters from one series, including two that aren't even close to feminine (and Kuja has a plot reason for the poofy skirt), doesn't do much for showing off a spectrum of JRPGS, now does it?

The complaints are clear to me. The dialog ought to be skipable if the player wants to skip it. It's super easy to program. Also, ever read or heard of the Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan? They're well known for being incredibly dense and slow moving. It's also understood that many people who otherwise like books in the same genre don't like the Wheel of Time series for being TOO dense and slow. I think Yahtzee is perfectly fair to complain when there's too much dialog. As he put it, characters telling their entire life stories to the player.

As for the feminine men, very few guys actually go "ballistic" over them. (Hint: that's why the games still sell so well) A hell of a lot of guys however, just don't get the point of making the hero look that way. The questions these guys want to ask the designer are "WHY?!? Why did you make the hero look like a girl? What purpose does that serve in the game? What purpose does that serve the hero? How does the personality of the hero correspond to him looking like a girl?"

Feel free to reply for the designers and expound on your answer. Excusing one character (Kuja) doesn't explain the entire trend.

Yosharian, to skip dialogue, press the X button. You can't skip cutscenes though.
--
I really enjoyed Mass Effect and, like KOTOR, it really left a mark on my mind. Probably my most memorable entertainment experience this year.

That being said, none of Bioware's games are good GAMES, in my opinion. For me, a game needs to make good use of the controller I am handling. The two joysticks, the two triggers, the buttons. It needs to challenge my reflexes and such. Like a sport. If it has a great story, that's great, too, but first it needs to get the gameplay right. I've never been a big fan of RPGs because of their click-and-watch nature, but at least RPGs like Final Fantasy have a lot of challenge to them. But with Bioware, you could literally beat KOTOR by pressing just two buttons the whole game: target then flurry. I'm not exaggerating. Try it, even on the hardest difficulty. Target. Flurry.

Mass Effect tried to leave the click-and-watch mechanic but I don't think it worked out well. The AI is very bad, and the combat mechanics feel more primitive than what we saw in FPS games 10 years ago.

Also, it smashes very different genres and themes into the game which kinda put me off. The dialogue was great, I really enjoyed it, but I can see how action gamers would get impatient. Look at all the popular action games. They're practically devoid of any dialogue at all. The typical FPS game makes WWF Wrestling TV shows look like Shakespeare in comparison, that's how little dialogue is in an FPS game. The game also constantly asks you to pause the game in mid-combat to switch weapon mods, skills, and other things. Imagine playing Streetfighter and having to pause the game in mid-combat to give your fireball a special boost against green Brazilian mutants. Ruins the flow.

The game's story and setting is all over the place. The Codex explains all the technology and politics of the universe in great detail, as something that could really exist. It takes itself really seriously, like a Star Trek Technical Manual or a Gundam Universal Century explanation of Minovsky particles. It talks about how space warfare is nothing like the warfare we know of today in the 21st century, or anything that's come before. But then we see the combat in the actual game.. and it's stuff that feels more primitive than World War 1 fighting. Shotguns, assault rifles, pistols and sniper rifles. But the worst thing about it is that the AI is so bad that the realism suffers even more. In KOTOR, we had a similar problem. You're supposed to see the enemies as complex characters, but then they act like zombies, waiting to be cut down. Lately I've had a big issue with media that have a "hardcore realism" attitude but then follow it up with Rambo-style combat.

All this makes me think that Bioware should reconsider how they make games, what platforms they make them for, and who they make them for. Mass Effect is mostly a conversation game. An interactive choose your own adventure novel. In many ways, it feels more akin to Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney-type games on the NDS than it does to something that should be on the 360. I can totally see myself playing this kind of game on my PSP and really enjoying it while riding the bus. What about the Mass Effect experience would really be lost by shifting to the PSP? The core of the game would still be there..

All this griping aside, I'm still glad Bioware took a chance by making this game. I'm an action gamer first and foremost, but I desperately want to see more dialogue and story in my action games. Mass Effect didn't strike the right balance for me, but it at least tried to. Most action games seem to be for a demographic I'm not a part of, and most RPG games seem to be for another group I'm not a part of either.

Oh dear. Poor, innocent Neimo.

Let me explain what's going on. There are only two options.

1. Either they make their characters look like that because that's what white dudes look like to them (tall, floppy haired and silly), or:

2. Those cunning Japanese business men have decided that even if they can't make money out of a decent game, they've got "sexy" men, with exotic (for Japan) styles of dress and hair.

Okay, I said two... but maybe there's a third one.

3. Multiple reports describe Japan as having a "hive-mind" culture, where everyone must have black hair, unless you wish to disgrace your ancestors and such.

Thus, when we (the relatives of blond men from Europe) arrived many years ago, they saw these strange people with their differences. And having been bound to conformity for many a year, when these guys finally got loose, every thing ends up over done.

Then combine that with Americans making comments about "Japanese people lookin' like girls", some people probable hear this, too. These people talk, everyone hears it... Bam! Revenge is girly looking white men, whilst also appeasing sex craving school girls looking for exotic men and nerds looking for RPGs (I am in no way insulting nerds).

Thus, it's revenge, porn and nerd bait, all in one.

I'm probably wrong, but I had fun imagining that all up.

I don't like Final Fantasy games, but I don't mind the metrosexual males of the game (I live in San Francisco, pretty much every young guy has that look, IMO, or a hip-hop fashion sense). FF's metrosexuals just seem like Legolas from Lord of the Rings to me. Pretty boys. Enrique Iglesias types.

Metrosexuals seem pretty popular these days. I think it's because of the "yuppiefication" of wealthy nations. I can see how metrosexuality would be more accepted in the G8 countries than developing nations, too. If everyone you know is farming or in a factory, tolerance of girly men isn't going to be very high. Here in the US, we still have a lot of people who cling to the notion of being cowboys, taming the wild west and slaying indians with six-shooters (ex: the President). They tend to enjoy Harley motorcycles, Nascar, and hunting beasts in the outdoors or something. I believe the US has a much stronger agricultural industry compared to Japan and Western Europe, so there are actually quite a few Americans who are actually doing "manly" work still.

I've always found it hilarious when game reviewers refer to "nerds" in the third person as though they aren't part of that group.

Not your best review, but "Mass Erect" had me chuckling as did the whole Ash Williams thing.

Also, looooved the dig at CAD. It's sort of amusing watching a few people flock to defend the worst "popular" webcomic on the interblog. Especially given your criticism, which was straight on-the-money.

Not just webcomics, but everything seems to be too text-heavy.

Babylon Zoo - havenīt heard that song for a looong time. The guy with the bluray eyes...

Great review!

Destructoid's review was much the same thing. Too much dialogue, and for a game supposedly strong on story, most of the problems are solved by shooting stuff, rather than talky talky puzzle solvey.

Buckley responds!

http://www.cad-forums.com/showthread.php?t=83020

I met the guy at E3 2005 and at a LAN party in Houston. He seems decent enough. The comic, however, started kinda funny but never matured. It fell apart when Ethan, for the 100000th time in a row, made gamers looks 100% fucked in the brain.

Funny timing on this, as I actually just bought this game yesterday. I'm someone who does like RPGs, depth, and dialogue, so I personally actually like this game a whole lot... except for one part. And that part is the goddamn fucking Mako APC buggy parts. I was waiting this entire review for you to mention them and was not disappointed. Well, a little, actually - for once you were too LENIENT. "Fat man on a unicycle", while certainly up to your usual standard of awesome comparisons, does not even begin to describe how fully and utterly soul-crushing these experiences are.

That one part on that goddamn planet where you have to drive on the road and there are like fifty goddamn robots waiting to shove rockets up your ass very nearly drove me to throw my controller against the wall, and it's been a very long time since I last did that. Attempting to maneuver the Mako while trying to avoid their rockets and all the while trying to shoot at them while the camera decides that its best location is under your car is more like a fat man trying to ride a unicycle while juggling six bowling pins and attempting to dodge bullets in the Matrix... with his eyes removed from his head and stuck onto his ass.

God, I hated those parts.

Oh, great review, by the way.

J.theYellow:
Destructoid's review was much the same thing. Too much dialogue, and for a game supposedly strong on story, most of the problems are solved by shooting stuff, rather than talky talky puzzle solvey.

Yes and we all played as shopkeepers and cleaners in all those others rpg's because all those quests weren't solved with fighting.
Replace guns with swords and nobody would have questioned the action. Besides the fact that there are a lot of quests that can be done without resorting to violence.

Oh and a)an rpg can NEVER have too much dialogue and b) you cannot say that it has too much dialogue and then say that quests aren't solved enough by dialogue.

Us fat people are actually pretty good on unicycles.

I never found the driving to be actually that bad... except maybe for a certain part where it decided hitting a small flimsy metal pole at low speed was the cue to launch me spinning 40 feet into the air and off a cliff (The laws of physics spent half an hour crying in the corner). Oh, and the time it decided that I'd fallen off the same cliff because I had the front two wheels over it, despite the fact that I have SIX. Plus the fact that the vehicles toughness seems inconsistent at best... You can drop it from a spaceship and have it smash into the ground at the start of every mission and launch it off frickin' mountains as much as you please (for me, lots), but accidently dropping a short distance during one of the more linear icey mission's cliffs and it's game over.

Other than that I enjoy dialogue, so no complaints there. Pushing my way through every dialogue, sidequest and little bit of backstory is what I enjoy, so unfortunatly this has been the first one of Yahtzee's (many) hate-speeches I've had to ignore. And yes, I play JRPGS... bite me.

Oh, and I did it with the blue chick. I figured she'd sprout tentacles or something... I was disappointed.

Dam...Now I don't have a clue what to think of this game

Oblivion made me want to vomit

U gave this a game the thumbs down

and I have no desire to have a blue chick up the chocolate escalator thank you very much

BUT...

I love a good story and I'm not one of them people who twitchs and kills and inicent cevilian everytime there is a cut screen, dialog never hurts.

the graphics look pritty awesome

and all the people who I know that have played it think it's the best thing since jesus (though these people are all probley the nerds that Zero described)

oh well, I'm getting it for christmas anyway so if its a good game I'm happy, if it isn't I'll have another reason to say "humbug" to random people in the street.

For those who hate the Mako levels, I recommend just driving past the enemies instead of killing them all. It's tempting to kill everything you come across since you get XP for it, but just driving on will save you from a lot of headaches :-P

I like Mass Effect! (& I love this review!)
Good job, Yahtzee! :D

A *very* entertaining review!

shihku7:
For those who hate the Mako levels, I recommend just driving past the enemies instead of killing them all. It's tempting to kill everything you come across since you get XP for it, but just driving on will save you from a lot of headaches :-P

BUT IT OFFENDS MY SENSE OF COMPLETION TO LEAVE THINGS UNKILLED :(

Eventually I found out that charging into enemies and running over everything while shooting wildly until I get to them actually works pretty well. And I also found out that you have a cannon instead of just the machine gun. It was pretty good after that.

But my god, they could have used some sort of training for that stupid thing.

Great points especially the nerd bashing but i deffinitly take it with a grain of salt because a good story is my crack. I love great plots and good romance so mass effect was so my game, but understandable it was definitively more like a mod of KTOR, but with alot more awesome. None the less great work love your reviews.

I think the only thing that bothers me isn't the commentary Yahtzee makes, as I found the game spectacular, but the flock of drones falling to his feet to agree that ME was crap when so many shitty games have been released this year to less flak. ME at least met it's goal of being a new form of RPG to try out, and if it's not your cup of tea, it simply isn't.

Gab:

shihku7:
For those who hate the Mako levels, I recommend just driving past the enemies instead of killing them all. It's tempting to kill everything you come across since you get XP for it, but just driving on will save you from a lot of headaches :-P

BUT IT OFFENDS MY SENSE OF COMPLETION TO LEAVE THINGS UNKILLED :(

Eventually I found out that charging into enemies and running over everything while shooting wildly until I get to them actually works pretty well. And I also found out that you have a cannon instead of just the machine gun. It was pretty good after that.

But my god, they could have used some sort of training for that stupid thing.

Just get out of the mako and kill them. That part of the game works better and you get 3 times the xp for killing things on foot. Once you get some decent guns (Spectre gear) you actually do more damage on foot.

About the Mako...

For the first few minutes the controls drove me insane.

And then I realized that the reason I was going insane is that they use the EXACT SAME control scheme for the vehicle as they do for Shepard. Left stick is facing, right stick is move. Once I clued in the Mako control became a snap. You drive the Mako just like you drive Shepard except the steering is slower.

The problem with this approach is that it's hard to wrap your mind around the control scheme for two VERY different modes of transportation being identical. They're not at all alike. Holding the right stick forward and adjusting facing with the left feels so natural for a character, but for a vehicle with six wheels that looks so much like a tank I was expecting more tank-like controls. Left stick controls the left wheels, right controls right wheels. Pull both sticks back to back up, push both forward to go forward, and alternate to turn. Would've been WAY more intuitive given the vehicle design.

I wonder what the UC bulldogs reference is about?

Now the ZP fangirls are at a crossroads:D agree with Yahtzee and you agree Mass effect isnt fun...disagree and your turning your back on our friendly Aussie:D

I didnt play Mass Effect but I like sarcy long stuff filled with visual joy so I dont care.

Well Yahtzee, I've got to say it's time to bid you farewell, just like every reviewer I've faithfully looked up to for a good idea of what's good for gaming. It's not that you've lost your edge. This review is admittedly less funny than most, but it's not like you're not preserving a certain status-quo or losing at the funnier\suckier ratio.

It's the way you review this game. You're reluctant. You're avoiding the content. The only thing I could agree with is the driving, because obviously you've experienced this, but you touch so little else, and every piece of content the game throws at you is accepted as a chore you must fulfill. You just want to finish it, tuck on a check mark, make a bad pun involving penises and get your money. You've lost your immersion as well as your interest, which is odd, considering you've reviewed Assassin's Creed with the patience of a Zen archaeologist, or something.

Suffice to say that by becoming another zombie in an army of dead-line reviewers, you've lost credibility with those who appreciate good, well rounded content. You admitting to not playing the side-quests makes things even worse, as those were things that rounded up the game and gave it a little more color than just resentfully pulling yourself through the story, hating every last thing that prevents you from finishing it. But let's face it: getting from point alpha to point omega doesn't really work in a game with some open ended content. And hey, since when are RPGs _not_ wordy?

And besides, I know you've played through most Final Fantasy games and some Breath of Fire, so don't give me that JRPG hating crap.

Totally forgot about Babylon Zoo's Spaceman.

I liked this review, in my opinion a return to form after the last two. But well yeah, this is a Bioware game, it wasn't exactly going to be dialogue-light. Which I personally don't mind, since I love stuff like Fallout, Baldur's Gate, KotOR and Planescape: Torment. Heck , I even like Icewind Dale II. So I wouldn't quite hold it against Mass Effect unless the dialogue has been done poorly or is just plain boring.

But, amazingly, I also like Nipponian RPGs for the simple reason that they come with tons of easter eggs and secrets, there's hordes of micro-management to do in order to break the game and sometimes it's just plain old, dumb fun to watch the over-the-top story, weapons and attacks the folks at, say, Square-Enix, come up with. For example, I enjoy toying around with a JRPG's ultimate weapon (which is usually ludicrously oversized and often several buildings explode while the character's unsheathing it before the actual attack (combo)) much more than Xrannr's Blade of Unspectacularness which comes with an intriguing backstory but is effectively nothing more than a Longsword +5 (with ooo +4 on enemy AC on a successful D20) and looks and animates like every longsword in the game, possibly with a different colour pallette.

To each their own. On that note:

-> Rebochan, hi :)
"As for the feminine men, I secretely think the reason guys go ballistic over them so much is they are secretely afraid of being attracted to them. Oh, and then there's the fact that using all characters from one series, including two that aren't even close to feminine (and Kuja has a plot reason for the poofy skirt), doesn't do much for showing off a spectrum of JRPGS, now does it?"

No, not really. We are usually just plain annoyed at having to roleplay as one of those ladies AGAIN. Feminine-men-who-are-totally-normal-and-accepted-by-their-equally-over-the-top-peers-in-their-fictional-worlds-btw have been hogging the spotlights in JRPGs over the past few years and as JRPGs typically center around a single protagonist, it'd be nice to see a little more protagonist variation rather than the next make-up revolution (Will he use mascara AND pink lip gloss, or not? Does he use an extra conditioner after taking a bath under the village waterfall, or not? Now on Next Big JRPG!). Why not make an actual woman the protagonist for a change? Aya Brea did pretty well, I remember.

Fortunately, things are (gradually) changing. I really enjoyed being able to switch characters in Final Fantasy XII, and playing Okami was an awesome experience. Maybe the day will come when JRPGs took a look at the western archetype, and offer a character creation (or select) screen at startup. I'd certainly appreciate that.

Hey guys, you might want to look into the CAD rule... it's a method for making CAD actually amusing... and I'm wondering if anyone named their char Adrian Shepard, that would also be amusing... "So THAT'S what happened to him!".

Anyway, I can't help but love these reviews... Yahtzee, you are one of a kind... a professional game reviewer with BALLS. It's so refreshing to see you rip into a game, no matter how good it may or may not be, because every other reviewer just gushes over every over-hyped failed abortion of a game in varying degrees, and just brushes everything under the carpet as they tack some arbitrary score onto it. You tell me what I want to hear from those hype-mongers... what SUCKS about a game. Thank you so much for bringing to light, in hilarious detail, what others devote a weak little paragraph to.

Moving on, I'm actually pleased in an odd sort of way that they at least TRIED with the dialogue. Since Oblivion's nauseating success, I, as a fan of western RPGs, have been quite afraid that other developers would follow in Bethesda's evil footsteps and condense RPG dialogue down to that same level of "See Dick. See Dick run. Run, Dick, Run!" While "WALLS OF TEXT/DIALOGUE in generic sci-fi setting #4429" is not the best way to do things either, I'll take it over "Morrowind for Ritalin-inhaling retard children with a graphics fetish" any day of the week. The hair on the back of my neck still stands on end at the mention of Fallout 3, though...

I'm surprised that he complained about the amount of dialogue in the game, it's presented in such a great way. Most RPGs I've played have even more dialogue. I agree with the comments on the Mako and the comments at JRPG's.

Great show Yahtzee, you know what would be great to review, The Witcher, the title alone is worth a couple of gags. But it is really a seriously fun and addictive game.

Booze Zombie:
Oh dear. Poor, innocent Neimo.

Let me explain what's going on. There are only two options.

1. Either they make their characters look like that because that's what white dudes look like to them (tall, floppy haired and silly), or:

2. Those cunning Japanese business men have decided that even if they can't make money out of a decent game, they've got "sexy" men, with exotic (for Japan) styles of dress and hair.

Okay, I said two... but maybe there's a third one.

3. Multiple reports describe Japan as having a "hive-mind" culture, where everyone must have black hair, unless you wish to disgrace your ancestors and such.

Thus, when we (the relatives of blond men from Europe) arrived many years ago, they saw these strange people with their differences. And having been bound to conformity for many a year, when these guys finally got loose, every thing ends up over done.

Then combine that with Americans making comments about "Japanese people lookin' like girls", some people probable hear this, too. These people talk, everyone hears it... Bam! Revenge is girly looking white men, whilst also appeasing sex craving school girls looking for exotic men and nerds looking for RPGs (I am in no way insulting nerds).

Thus, it's revenge, porn and nerd bait, all in one.

I'm probably wrong, but I had fun imagining that all up.

I guess that could be the case, but I have a different theory, in fact, if any of you didn't get this before, you should slap yourselves on the forehead.

They're not pandering to boys with these protagonists, they're pandering to that unavoidably creepy fanbase that builds up around every attractive (sometimes not so attractive) boy character. By that I mean: they're trying to sell it to the yaoi fangirls.

Great Roast.

One thing thou. I have always liked Your review's because it isn't a in one of the 2 catagories that review's tend to fall in. Eigther its a sales speach or a fanboy opinion. I actually feel smarter on if it is worth buying or not when I am done. However one thing people keep on proding in my face is the conversation wheel that Mass Effect features and you dont really touch it at all. Its one of the main sell points of the game and you dont really tell me if its good or bad.

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