Chandler, Arizona, United States

There's an old saying. If you don't want someone to join a crowd, you ask them, "If everyone were jumping off of a cliff, would you?" Well, I have. So my answer would be "Yes". True story.
Profile continued . . .


Saturday, April 12, 2014

this entry brought to you by savages, "city's full"

1. Mass Effect 2 (2010)

I had spent the prior 60 hours of Mass Effect 2, lavishing time and dedication with my team, the game repeatedly prepping me for the reality that the final climactic mission could leave absolutely anyone on my team dead permanently, and here I was. We had crashed onto the Collector's home base, there was no turning back, and now it was time to make decisions. We were going to split into three groups, and I needed to decide who was leading what team, who would be hacking terminals, who would be capable of controlling a force field through a deadly cloud. In any other game you would be presented with your characters' stats that said this character was good at leadership but a poor shot; this character was good at technical things but a poor medic; this character was a good shot but didn't get along well with others, etc. There were no stats for this final mission.

I had spent 60 hours with them, first gathering my disjointed family through amazing, explosive means. Backing up my old friend Garrus who, through becoming vengeful spirit of justice, had managed to piss off every gang on Omega and was currently walled up for a last stand. Pulling a dangerous test subject, Jack, from being transferred like a prisoner. Climbing to the top of a tower, always one step behind master assassin Thane, trying to reach his destination before he does. I gained my crew's loyalty by helping them out during times of crisis. Helping my beloved friend Tali clear her family's name after it had been discovered her father might have betrayed their species. Becoming my test tube Kroga Grunt's mentor to help him endure his clan's test of manhood. Finding warrior Samara's serial killer daughter, luring her into a trap so her mother could get closure. And of course, when I wasn't on my ship, I couldn't wait to get back to talk to everyone, getting to know them better, giving advice, solving interpersonal quabbles.

And, for once, I found the combat as deeply satisfying. Mass Effect would probably bore as a mere stop-and-pop cover based shooter, but when you added in biotics, the game's sci-fi version of magic, I never felt wanting for options. I could shoot a bad guy, use a force pull on a group, order my team to shoot them down, then charge to a distant bad guy across the room to take advantage of the cover near where he was, as well as a myriad of other options at any time. In fact, I loved Mass Effect's combat mechanics so much that when I was done playing it, I went for another play through on the hardest difficulty, where team placement became vital and being in total control of their powers a must.

I had leveled my team to be the most bad-ass crew of getting-shit-done in the galaxy, but more than any other game, including Mass Effect 1, where I was fond of my teammates but found them to be filling stock action story archetypes, here I genuinely adored all of my team, watching all of their story arcs, watching them all grow, and there was no one I wasn't completely attached to. I couldn't stand the thought of anyone dying, and I felt utterly, nail-bitingly stressed when it was time to plan out our attack. What was genius about this moment was you weren't allowed a sneak peak at any numbers as to who had the best chance to do anything. The game treated you like the leader of your crew-- you know these people, so, who do you think can do these jobs? Who do you trust? One job in particular came to only two people in my mind, one of them my most beloved character in the game who I knew could do the job but I did not, under any circumstances, want to put her in harms way. Another character was awesome but I had spent less time with him, so my heart could easier put him in harms way, but did I trust him as much?

The stress of Mass Effect's final hour to 90 minutes was palpable, and once the final boss was destroyed, I had suffered not one casualty. I felt pleased with myself, but also a bit underwhelmed-- was that too easy? Had all the hype of being able to lose all my crew been overblown? I took to the Internet to find not only were plenty of people reporting multiple team mates dead, some people could not figure out how to save one particular crew member, who seemed to be dying no matter what. It was when I was listening to the gamer community at large, hearing everyone else's experiences-- which made me happy to have bought the game on day 1, and was able to be a part of the community's experience with the game as it was happening-- when I filled with pride and accomplishment, and it was an emotional satisfaction rarely found in games, in every way possible, both through its solid, intense game play, but also, and this is much rarer, through its incredible writing. Mass Effect 2 has not only easily made my number one game of the last generation, but has taken the top spot on my favorite games of all time.

with love from CRS @ 11:07 AM 


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