This week’s column is a partial deconstruction of the Mass Effect 2 plot. This should be old hat to most long-time readers here. We’ve been over this material.
If I can paraphrase Mr. Plinkett: The unfortunate thing about Mass Effect 2 is that it will be around. Forever. It will never go away. It can never be un-done.
No matter how good Mass Effect 3 might be, it will always take place in a universe where Shepard died inconsequentially, Kashley was an unreasonable irrational bitch for no reason, the Reapers were comically inept, guns suddenly required magazines, the Council didn’t believe in reapers, the Alliance wouldn’t help you, you worked for Cerberus, and Miranda wasn’t unemployed because her personality was too grating to get work as a waitress or a stripper. Worst of all, Mass Effect 2 didn’t move the overall story forward. A new threat was revealed, and then dealt with, and we wound up right back where we started. It inflicted all of this damage on the Mass Effect 2 setting in order to accomplish nothing.
When I hate on a game, I’m usually told one of a variety of things:
- Nothing this game could have done would have pleased you.
- You decided to hate the game ahead of time.
- You’re prejudiced against this game.
- You’re just looking for things to complain about.
Basically, anything to suggest that I’m irrational and my complaints have no merit. Of course, none of these make a lot of sense. I liked Portal 2 better than Portal. I liked Starflight 2 better than Starflight. I liked Master of Orion II better than the original. I’m not somehow inherently biased against sequels. I’m not averse to gushing about games when they work for me. Mass Effect 2 didn’t work for me. Sure, the recruitment missions were good, but the story of the Collectors (which is part of the ongoing story with the Reapers) was sophomoric. It failed thematically. It failed logically. It failed at capturing the tone of the first game. It failed to advance the established story. It didn’t even feel like a BioWare game. It felt like a game from Capcom, where you’re supposed to enjoy shooting the bad dudes and not think too much about the how or the why.
Love Mass Effect 2 all you like, but don’t accuse me of harboring some sort of secret agenda. My reviews are an honest response and an extension of the experience I have while playing a game. Your indignation, no matter how intense, will not cause me to suddenly retroactively enjoy this game.
And now we have The Arrival, the DLC for Mass Effect 2. Here is a guy named Seamus (no relation) playing through it:
I know I complained that in Mass Effect 2, nothing happened. Now I wish we could go back to that. I’m so angry at this that I don’t think it would be wise to tackle it until I’ve calmed down. In any case, this is not BioWare.
Back in October of 2007 I said some things about the EA buyout of BioWare. I wasn’t exactly prescient, but it’s an interesting retro-read.
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