Mass Effect 3 Demo: First Impressions
Thursday, February 23, 2012 2 Comments
With the release of Mass Effect 3 just around the corner, I’ve gotten the opportunity to get my filthy mitts on the ME3 demo. My early impressions of the demo? Disappointment. Maybe I’m old school, but I used to think that the next game in a series is supposed to provide something, well…different.
Mass Effect 3, so far, feels like the exact same game as Mass Effect 2. I was never really a fan of the combat/action portions of the game. The reason I play it is for the story. For the record, I thought ME2 was a disappointment. It seemed like the game developers “dumbed down” the RPG elements of the game, and it seems that trend continues in ME3. With that said, let’s get right into the demo.
The demo has both single-player and multi-player offerings, but this review is only about the single-player portion. There are two chapters in the single-player portion, and I thought the first chapter seemed really uninspired. It seems to really cater to the “average joe.” The setup is simple: Aliens are invading, and you’re humanity’s only hope in the fight against them.
I find these kinds of plots EXTREMELY dull. It’s not fun for me to fight nameless robots. It’s just too simple. There’s no complexity at all, and it’s just boring. I like multi-faceted characters, with different motivations for what they do. They don’t have to be necessarily right or wrong; good or evil. They just need to have some depth. Now, this is the demo, and they can’t include too much story, I understand that. But still, it was almost nauseating how cheesy and uninspired it was. Of course they included a wide-eyed child in the midst of all the chaos. I usually find the inclusion of children to be a sign of weak/lazy story writing. You’ll also find this in horror movies sometimes. Children usually represent innocence, and it’s easy to get a cheap emotional pull from your audience. I also have to mention the generic “aliens invading city” montage I’ve seen about a million times in movies like “Independence Day.”
Onto the gameplay. I feel almost like the game designers don’t get it. They throw in explosions, and destruction that occurs in your path, but I didn’t even bat an eyelash as they occurred. They don’t realize that there’s no excitement if there’s no danger. If I don’t take damage from the explosion, and I can’t fall into the hole, what’s the point? It’s not fun to walk from point A to point B, period. It’s not fun because it’s so linear; I didn’t cause it and there’s nothing I can do about it. Having shit blow up on you is a cheap way to make a boring game exciting. If something blows up, at least give me the choice of two different paths to walk. Involve some strategy. It requires a great suspension of disbelief to think that it’s cool when something blows up, and there’s magically a perfect new path to walk that is also the only way to progress in the game.
Basically, what I’m saying is that it’s not fun for me to run from point A to point B on a linear path, fighting generic enemies.
The second half of the demo is definitely better than the first. Especially because I knew the backstory, and the motivation involved for the characters. At the same time, it’s not really anything new. Maybe I play too many videogames, but the whole section felt like something out of Mass Effect 2.
One thing that they seem to consistently improve upon in each iteration of the series is making the character model of Ashley Williams consistently hotter. So, well…that’s one good thing, I guess.
Now this is an EA game, so I guess I’ve got to take that into account. Bioware was acquired by EA in 2007, and the decline in the quality of their games is noticeable. Although this took place before the original Mass Effect was released, I think it’s safe to say EA had less influence on that game compared to the sequels. EA has never been known for creating exciting, original intellectual properties. What they do is take one idea, and milk as much out of it as they can. How many times have you heard that Madden is the same game, year after year? It’s totally true. Take a look a the list of games they have published. It makes me less angry, when instead of thinking of this as the third game in the series, I think of it as Mass Effect 1, Chapter 3.
It’s tough to say if the decline in quality is a result of EA’s influence, or if it’s just the nature of the sequel. Would I rather be playing no game than playing Mass Effect 3? No. But it definitely does feel like that original inspiration, that initial creativity is gone. I guess it depends on your expectations. If you expect a reimagining of the series, or something that will blow your mind, you’re not going to find that here. I’m sure ME3 will release to rave reviews, and of course I’m going to play it, but I can’t help but feel disappointed from what I’ve seen so far.