Wednesday, June 09, 2010

leave it open

I just finished Mass Effect 2. Excellent. Bioware fixed problems, introduced some cool new dynamics, and cranked everything up a notch. A very memorable game, and one I'm anxious to play again with different choices.

But (an observation, rather than a complaint) I again ran into situations in which the "right answer" I hoped to choose was not among the dialog options. And, this time around, that situation came right at the end... at the most important decision my character makes in the game.

It wasn't the choice of action that disappointed me, but the reason behind it. Sometimes it's good to leave characters' motivations unstated so that the audience can inject his or her own. This is a game, afterall, so the player should have as much control as possible over the protagonist's implied thoughts.

If you're curious how I was disappointed at the end of Mass Effect 2, the explanation is below.


Shepard has the options of destroying the Collector space-station or keeping it for research. Research could provide valuable insights into Reaper technology and play a pivotal role in defeating them. But that research could also be used by the Illusive Man, apparently devoted to protecting and advancing the human species, to gain power for Cerberus alone and either act as dictator over everyone or aid only humans so that other species becomes subordinates.

I chose to destroy the station. And all my crew, whose loyalties I had earned, agreed with me. They all recited the above reasoning back to me... that the Illusive Man lacked the wisdom to wield such power generously or that other species would suffer, and so on.

But that's not why I chose to destroy the station. Whatever the dangers of giving the Illusive Man that much power, I agreed that researching Reaper tech could prove vital. I thought saving the station was worth the risk; better to ensure survival and fight for justice later. But I chose to destroy it because I thought the danger of the Reapers still holding sway with their indoctrination ability, despite the Illusive Man's proposed radiation sweep, was too much to risk.

In other words, I would have given Cerberus the power if I was certain its researchers would be beyond the Reapers' mind control. Unfortunately (but understandably), I wasn't given the option of that motivation for Shepard.

Oh well. I actually think the dialog options, on a whole, were much improved in the sequel.

I'd say Mass Effect 2 is one of the best games on the 360 now.

It will be interesting to see next time through if I can earn my crew's loyalties and complete every mission using the neutral dialog choices, as opposed to paragon or renegade choices. I'm a pretty even-keeled person, but it is fun to shoot a criminal in the foot now and then. :)

It will also be interesting fighting without the soldier's ability to slow time. That plus the Viper sniper rifle plus cryo ammo was a lot of fun.

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