Thursday, 11 December 2014

The Quest for the Next Mass Effect

It took a while till the new generation of consoles started getting games that do justice to the new hardware. It wasn’t easy; the first Big Name Title I got for my PS4, Destiny, turned out to be a great first person shooter game but also the lousiest game in living memory when it comes to things like plot and character. The contrast between the two was just too high to fathom.
But there is goodness to be found, so I thought I’d run a brief overview on some of those. These are not proper reviews but more like first impressions. Read on to learn more about my quest to find Mass Effect’s replacement!

Dragon Age: Inquisition
By far my most anticipated game of 2014, being that it comes from BioWare – makers of Mass Effect – and being that it had Patrick Weekes – one of my favourite authors – writing it.
My initial reaction, however, has been that of disappointment. This is a vast game, one that could easily suck 200 or even more hours of one’s life on its campaign mode. And that’s without taking into account that you can redo the campaign and play completely different characters! Why am I complaining? I’m complaining because I don’t have that much time. In the balance between expanse and getting to the point, I prefer erring on the side of the latter.
By far my biggest complaint thus far is to do with the combat system. I found I could play it in one of two ways: either use the tactical mode for precision management of what each of my player is doing in combat or simply hold the fire button pressed and wait for the baddies to eventually die while with minimal intervention on my part. Yes, that first option doesn’t only sound great, it is great, but seriously – there is not enough time in anyone’s life to micro manage the frequent combats this way. Thus I end up dealing with combat the mundane way.
I find playing Dragon Age a very similar experience to playing the very first Mass Effect. Having arrived there after playing Mass Effect 2 & 3, combat was a boring and tedious affair, but I went through the motions because I wanted to see what happens and I wanted to do good by my favourite characters. The key difference is that Dragon Age takes much longer to get to the point, but it does seem to get better the deeper I’m in.
I just hope it would end up delivering on my time investment.

Shadow of Mordor:
If Dragon Age takes its time, Shadow of Mordor is the exact opposite. This is an intense game from the word go, whose main achievement thus far is enlightening me to the fact a career in sneaking behind orcs and slitting their throats should have been high on my priority list.
Seriously, this game offers a great balance between strategy and action. Your goal is to eliminate baddie captains, but you can’t just storm your way through. You need to gather intelligence and work your way to them. If you lose, that orc captain you were after gets stronger, which means your next attempt will be much harder!
Intense and rewarding is the name of the game, with even the controller itself joining in with sound effects. My main complaint? You can’t pick Shadow of Mordor up for a short go, because saving the game returns you to your spawn point instead of where you actually got to. Which means that unless I have two hours to spare, it’s hard to just pick this game up.
Sad, because this means I probably won't be able to give this game the attention level it deserves.

Super Smash Bros – Wii U:
No, I know this post is about games for the new consoles, but it is exactly because of this that I am forced to include Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros.
This one is simply great entertainment for the whole family. With so many gaming options, characters and modes to pick from, Super Smash Bros joins Mario Kart 8 as a game that offers endless fun of the type I am simply unable to grow tired of. My point is, the PS4 (and, for that matter, the Xbone) can have all the big titles they want, but the bottom line is that the “older” Wii U delivers where it counts the most: in the fun department.

Which, last I heard, is the whole point of gaming. Even with games that are not Mass Effect.

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