Besides being one hell of a video, with a great (and addictive) song, "Still Alive" also describe my status. Yup, I'm still here, although I've not been very active lately. You know, with Christmas and all I ended up forgetting/not having time to post or comment. Im also fucking lazy...
Anyway, I hope you all had a great Christmas. I surely had! Here's what kept me busy lately. No, it's not Super Mario Galaxy, since I don't have a Wii. What I have is a lovely Xbox 360, so I got myself what is without doubt one of the best games released this year. I'm talking about Mass Effect, of course!
Bioware's latest masterpiece sure is a great game. I've been a fan of the company for quite some time, specially after playing Knights of the Old Republic (I will never forget that twist in the middle of the story), which actually has some similarities with Mass Effect, both being about space, planets, alien races and all that stuff. But there are a lot of differences between the two.
ME isn't about a galaxy far, far away, it's about our own world in the year 2183. The whole setting of the game takes a different, more "realistic" approach than Star Wars. For once there's blood when you kill someone and the guns, although futuristic, sound like actual firearms instead of toys shooting lasers. Then there's the Spectres, ME answer to the Jedis. The Spectres aren't good by nature, nor are the "bad" ones corrupted by their own quest for power. They are just tools of the Council and they're just people. Whether they take a more polite approach or just kill everything in their way, as long as they get the job done, all is well in galaxy.
But enough with comparisons, let's talk about the game itself. For a start this is one of the most cinematic games I've ever played. There are times were you really feel like you're in a sci-fi movie of something. This is in most part due to the cinematic feel of the cut-scenes and the rather excellent dialog system, but the combat also takes a part on this. Forget turn based shit, this is real-time, baby!
Ok, pardon me, all you traditional RPG fans out there, but I have to admit, I always felt that fighting in turns (I attack now, you attack next...) is stupid and boring. Now Bioware has proven that it's not scared of taking risks and gave us a game that, if you ignore all the powers you can use, feels almost like a pure shooter. Of course throughout the game you actually feel you're getting stronger as you level up and buy new gear, unlike a real shooter we're you're as strong in the end as you are in the beginning, so the RPG component is always present.
(SPOILER warning, don't read if you're planning on playing this game)
But what I truly love about RPG's is the ability to make choices, and ME is full of them. The consequences of you're actions can vary from just making an NPC like or hate you to deciding whether a member of your team lives or dies or if the Council lives in the end or its time for humanity to lead all the other races when they're gone. You can even convince the main villain to surrender! Unfortunately he is so messed up by then that he kills himself if you do that. Imagine that, how many games have you played where you spent hours tracking down a guy that looks like Hitler himself just for him to shoot himself in the head in the end? Not to mention that later in the game you find out that, despite what you believed earlier, the guy's not that bad, he actually had good intentions but was brain-washed.
There are some issues that really bothered me, though. For once, the game is not as big as they want you to believe. Of course, you can explore an entire galaxy, with lost of systems and planets, but in every system there's usually just one planet you can land on, and after a while they're just to damn predictable. Basically all you can do in this uncharted worlds is look for crashed satellites, ruins, bases or whatever and recover treasures.
Also, the game is just too short! Yeah, I know I once said that I like short games, but not when it comes to games I expect to be fucking epic. Look at Oblivion for example, I already spent 111 hours with it and I don't even have the expansions yet! Compared to that, ME is kind of a disappointment. It took me 12 hours to beat the main storyline on my first try and little more than 20 on my second run-trough, now with almost all side-quests done. The bad thing is, I watched the ending of the game and I kind of felt empty, you know? Almost ripped-off, as when you pay for a ride on the roller-coaster and what should be a long ride full of adrenaline ends within 2 minutes.
My last complain is about the fact that, once you beat the game you can't go back. The reason why I ignored the side-quests during my first play was due to my belief that, once I beat the main-quest, I would be free to explore the rest of the galaxy. How I was wrong...
Meh, fuck it. This is still a great game. I would even risk to say it's a must have for every 360 owner, fan of RPG's or not, so if you have one, now you know. *looks at Father from the corner of the eye*
Now that I don't think I'm going to play it again (hey, I just beat it twice in a row!) all I can do is enjoying the bonus DVD that came with my limited collector's edition while I wait for Bioshock to arrive (I finally bought it, I've been dying to play it ever since I played the demo).
By the way, here's a video review so that you can see the game in action.