I have to admit, I haven’t turned on my Xbox 360 in a long time, but I recently did so and started playing my favorite type of game (RPGs) again.
So I’ve played: Fallout: New Vegas, Fable 3, and now Mass Effect 2.
Can I say something about the Fable franchise, first? I hate you. I’ve never actually hated an RPG series before. Sure, some are lacking and tedious and boring; but I actually hate Fable. I hate having to marry people. I hate the idea of having children in game. And, I really don’t see the need to murder my wife for a sword upgrade. I had been playing this for a while (suffering thru it more like) until I realized that I’ve actually grown to hate this thing. The quests are boring and there is too much backtracking. Every zone is “find the easter eggs” (books, gnomes, keys, whatever) just to lengthen a very short story line. Wander thru zones is just miserable, with preset encounters that respawn way too quickly and are just tedious exercises in wasting my time. No loot, no real reward. Just a time sink every time. Some stupid relationship quest made me drag a women from Bowerstone (or whatever its called) all the way to Mistpeak lake. Fuckin’ really? That’s like 8 zones away. And then I’m expected to drag her back? I guess she died or something half way there cuz after some little troll things attacked me, she vanished. I said “Thank god.”
Sure, you could argue that you don’t need to get married or have kids in Fable 3. But if you don’t, you will not earn enough “guild seals” to upgrade your character and you’ll suck. What other game requires you to kiss a girl to get more powerful attacks? Makes no sense at all. Buy a house? Maintain a house, too? Decorate it? WTF is this shit.
Yes the combat is fun and intuitive. It -is- cool to swing your sword, shoot your gun, and fire off a spell very quickly. Granted. But the sword is wholly un-necessary. Link 2 AoE spells (when you get that ability) and fire your rifle and every fight is a guaranteed win.
The part of the game that annoyed me least was the overt advertisements for paid download content in the quest hub area. It bugged me at first, but I kind of liked the easy accessibility to new stuff and if the game were better, I might have even bought some of it. Yes, the guy reminding you to buy stuff got old, but I kind of liked that feature to be honest. It’s a trend I wish would continue, more along the lines of “content” addons and less with vanity addons. I’ll get to that post one day.
I never finished this game because, why bother? I wasn’t enjoying it. Unless I’m totally bored, I cannot imagine buying Fable 4 when it comes out. I feel like I’ve been punished enough by this company.
Now, onto the main point of this post.
Bethesda Softworks and Bioware. Can these companies possibly make games that are any better? Everything they make is fuckin’ awesome.
After my Fallout 3 review (and minor gripes), I’m sure it’ll come no surprise to you what I thought of Fallout: New Vegas. Odd, that the same radscorpion problem exists. They still become landsharks all the time. Weird.
The New Vegas story did kind of suck, though. After you get to Vegas (I got to Vegas at near max level cuz I did everything I could outside the city, first) and start helping Mr House, the game takes a turn where you know you are helping the bad guy but still are forced into doing so. No choice you make at the end is acceptable. I decided to help the Yes Man. Killing Mr House and Caesar’s Legion/NCR. Oh well. The ending was pretty bad. Just a bunch of lame screen shots with summaries of what I did and how it affected things in the end. If that was more interesting, I might have tried helping Mr House and seeing what happened there, but the incentive was gone. Although the dam battle was pretty fun, especially seeing the Boomers fly in with that bomber you pulled from the lake and nuke the place. That was sweet.
Up until that point, I totally loved the game. I love the looting system. With humanoids dropping the gear they are using, it really makes it seem like they are playing by the same set of rules as you are. I like that. It’s fair. Except Deathclaws, of course. Bastards. I did end up killing the mother and alpha in the quarry. And I even killed the legendary one in the deathclaw cave. Riot shotgun made that a ton easier – with a mini nuke appetizer of course.
Everything I loved about Fallout 3 was here and it was easy to get into this one again.
Mass Effect 2 (which I quit Fable 3 to play) has got to be the best game ever made. It’s fuckin’ ridiculous how awesome it is. Just about everything in there is perfect. Combat is awesome. Quests are fun. Sidequests from scanning planets are short, sweet and varied. The cut scenes are still the best ever. Bioware rules at this. I haven’t finished this yet, but I have a sneaking suspicion of where it’s going. I have a feeling that the Shephard you play is genetically modified by the Reapers much like the Protheans – possibly by Cerberus while you were reconstructed cuz the Illusive Man clearly knows more than he’s letting on. Just a hunch, but it feels that way or that one collector dude wouldn’t have such a hard-on for you personally.
I have to admit that after you get your ship and Joker comes around the corner again, I smiled. I thought he had died in the beginning along with you – I didn’t think the escape pod made it out. That was cool. I also like that what you did in Mass Effect 1 matter in the sequel (if you imported your saved game). I also like that the enemy is pretty much the same and it continues the story, rather than just a new villain. And where it’s going seems to make a little sense too. I also like that your companions from Mass Effect 1 are in the game and that they still exist. Some are even team members again. That’s real cool.
Complaints. Fuckin’ zombies (husks). I am so tired of zombies in games, it is unreal.
Anyways, I find myself playing this for 4-5 hours at a time because I just can’t put it down. Love this thing. It’s crazy how much fun it is. The planet where, if you stand in the sun, your shield takes damage. Awesome. The mini quest where you escort this robot around with a power defect and need to find him power cells. Cool. (Reward made that a total waste of time, though). Jacob’s companion quest. That was fucked up. Jack’s was very interesting and unexpected.
Each game has its downsides though. And, oddly, the other company is strong where the other is weak. I’m going to list those differences and how interesting I think that is.
Bioware: Excellent at story telling and making you feel part of the action.
Bethesda Softworks: Kinda weak at the main story. Side stories are a lot better than the main one. Your part of a story but you don’t really feel part of it. I can’t explain it better than that, sorry.
Bioware: Loot system practically non-existent.
Bethesda Softworks: Excellent loot system.
Bioware: Not “open world”. Way points and places to travel to. Yes, I get that there are planets and you have to fly to them. I counter with: Dragon Age. Imagine that as open world.
Bethesda Softworks: Open world. Do anything you want, when you want.
Bioware: Because of the loot system and non-open world, you feel throttled (money, gear, etc – you get stuff when the story dictates it) by the game.
Bethesda Softworks: Because of the loot system and open world, you are not throttled. You can progress (money, gear, etc) based upon drops, random finds and hoarding everything you find. You don’t even have to do a single quest forever, just kill shit and loot shit to your heart’s content. I imagine some gamer out there has amassed a huge pile of every tin can, wrench, empty soda bottle in the game somewhere just for the hell of it.
Bioware: Nothing, really, to pick up in the environments. Everything looks pretty (really pretty!) but nothing is tangible. It’s just a back drop.
Bethesda Softworks: Nearly everything can be touched, moved, looked at, picked up, looted, etc. A hoarder’s dream!
Bioware: Awesome cut scenes. Unbelievably awesome. Like a movie.
Bethesda Softworks: What’s a cutscene? We don’t even give you a movie at the end of the game for you to enjoy.
Bioware: Enemies seem to have a different rule set than you do. They can fire more quickly than you, move more quickly and make up abilities than you cannot perform. This has its pluses and minuses.
Bethesda Softworks: All monsters (well, humanoids) seem to play by the same set of rules. You can see their weapon in VATS and know it’ll drop when they die. This also has its pluses and minuses.
Bioware: Varied side quests that keep the interest level up.
Bethesda Softworks: All quests pretty much amount either: go here get that for me or go there kill that.
Bioware: Companions to talk to, get quests from and help you in combat. The, sadly, inevitable sex scene with one of them that is poorly done.
Bethesda Softworks: Limited companions (1 at a time, it seems) with a quest. Fallout New Vegas started this trend, maybe it’ll continue.
I sometimes imagine these 2 companies getting together and making some sort of epic game where one picks up where the other is lacking. A Bioware story with Bethesda open world and loot system. Thing would probably cover 4 DVDs but it’d be worth it, I’m sure.
Anyways, after I finish Mass Effect 2, I’ll wait Bethesda’s next chance to suck my life away.