Mass Defect

Modern popular are (generally) not the creation of one person. Modern popular games are mostly made by teams which can number in the hundreds. When you look at a game, everything you can see was made by someone. The music was written and recorded and compressed and inserted into the game by people. People programmed your character to move when you move the thumbstick (or press W, or whatever). In order for people who make games to ensure that something is working, they have to play the game. Sometimes, games companies get other people from outside the company to play the game to see if they can play the game too. People. Playing.

So how come no-one realised that the combat in Mass Effect is so, well, weak? It feels like someone at Bioware read a review of Gears of War (or Operation Winback or wherever they nicked the cover system from) and thought “ooh, I could use that”, without ever actually playing the game that got it right first time. If you’re using a cover system, make sure there’s enough bits of cover. Make sure there’s enough open space around that cover, so that you can move round it and the enemy can also move round it. Don’t, for example, make a level out of a load of short corridors, none of which provide any cover, so all you can do is go backwards or forwards. If you’re going to do that, then don’t, for example, make sure all the enemies rush you all the time. Especially when the enemies can only damage you up close, and you’ll be dead as soon as just one enemy throws up on you (seriously!).

That’s a mistake. An error in judgement. A frustrating one, but it is understandable. The bugs though, ooooh. They make my blood fucking boil. Examples:

A boss battle whereby the boss has one offensive move – “push the player out the boundary of the level, thereby killing the player in one shot”. This offensive move works despite your character being in cover, too. I beat this boss battle by hiding behind bits of scenery (I found some which they couldn’t get me through) and making the others in my team shoot everything for me (cos the bugged move didn’t push them through the boundary, oddly enough).

The “scientists” plot line. Starts well enough – some crazy angry fuckers are killing scientists, you gotta go to a planet with the scientists on it. OK. You fly your spaceship to the star system with the planet on it. Go to land on the planet. Loading screen. Game crashes. That’s a massive chunk of plot I will never get to see. And Garrus (the alien cop in my crew) is involved in it, and he’s not had chance to do anything worthwhile up to now. I’m gagging to play it, but it just won’t fucking work. Fuming.

You have a crew. You must choose two people from your crew to join you for missions and stuff outside the ship. Most of the time, the two characters you choose will follow along behind you. Get into combat, and they’ll get into cover themselves, use their powers and stuff without me having to get involved. This is good, cos the orders interface is shite. Want your crew to go upstairs? Aim upstairs and press the “Go there” key. Of course, if you aren’t pointing directly at the top of the stairs (which you can’t do, cos you can’t see the top of the stairs, cos you’re at the bottom of them), then it won’t work. You can make them go halfway up, or you can tell them to go through the wall (which they’ll say no to, silly!). It’s like they are scared of heights. They need you to comfort them. They are meant to be ass-kicking alien bastard fucks! Stairs should be afraid of them! Not the other way around!

Grrrrrrr. It’s almost like everyone who ever played this in testing just played the dialogue and cut scenes. Cos they are generally of a very high standard. The actual play part though, it’s flawed to fuck. It can be good, when the level design compliments the challenge before you, and you’ve got the right people for the job, and you’re not having to order any of your characters about. It can be really good when it works. But sometimes it doesn’t, and it makes me want to hurt my PC. With a spoon.

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