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Minority Report: Mass Effect 2

ShepardgirlDon’t misunderstand it: “Minority report” is never about bad games. Rather it’s about enjoyable games full of flaws which, by well intentions, can be looked over during playing, but on the whole they bring the global impression about the game down. They are “ok, but…” and “I liked it, but…” types of flaws.

And there is another important thing: I don’t choose games for writing minority reports because they are favorites of one or other editor of GameDroid. Of course, my favorites can be subjects of articles like this. What’s more, I would gladly read that if someone would point at the lacks and misses I didn’t see.

Effect of the Masses

Here, on GameDroid I already lamented about the situation of CRPGs today, and I emphasized the genre-destroying works of BioWare when they qualify their excellent action-adventure games as RPGs, in which genre these otherwise outstanding games can be only weak flicks. I was also screaming in the past when they called Mass Effect 1 a CRPG, because the running-in-tubes-shooting gameplay and the unimpressionable story contradict the labeling too much.

Then Mass Effect 2 came to the shops as one of the main representatives of the genre – although, as some refinement it is often called action-RPG or shooter-RPG. For me, it remains an action-adventure game, and with this I consider the labeling topic closed.

Besides being a gamer and liking adventure games I was interested in ME2 also because not only the faceless masses, but some of my friends too speak about it in superlatives. So marketing worked well: The masses drew the attention of my friends, and their opinion drew mine too.

Smile_like_the_moonChief Miner

Let’s have a go at this: Mining is the lamest among the many legs of Mass Effect 2. Not just it eats up half or even quarter fifth of your playtime (it depends on you being exhaustive or not), but there are some major inconsequences in it.

It can be seen with half an eye that you are the only miner in the galaxy. Half of the planets have rich deposits which can be depleted completely – in the same time, on a few planets there are abandoned mining stations with heavy machinery and some refined raw materials left there.

Although this (heavy machinery + manpower) seems like the actual method of mining, you have to shoot only some probes instead, of course, which can suck up and refine any raw material for you. More than you need, furthermore, and you can’t sell it to even the scale a little. Because researches need raw materials, but you won’t have enough money to buy some of the prerequisites of certain researches.

I must mention the way of mining too. It is a petting of the planets with a scanner. Well, that’s another of my problems with mining: I simply do not understand how can it be that in the far future’s high technology there is no one who can write a rough-and-ready, three steps searching algorithm (scanner is going in spiral –> the sensors are signaling –> the scanner stops). Not to mention that the basic scanner may be considered laughingly slow even by today’s standards.

I understand that mining is a minigame. And to not just grumble, here is a suggestion: Mining minigame would eat up less from the gametime if the scanner would find the bigger raw material deposits automatically, then you would need to fine tune the scanner before starting the probe.

Omega_4_RelayOther Clumsy Things

I’ve decided not to make ungainly scales for the summed things below. I rather pour here my other problems without any order, and everyone can take their choice.

Let’s see the beginning, for example. You can bring Commander Shepard with yourself from the first part of the series, but it’s completely bootless. He/she will die and reborn, so you will upgrade his/her ability scores from the first steps again.

I must hold diversity against the developers, or to be more exact, the lack of diversity. Enemies are so similar that after a time I didn’t even look who I am shooting at, I just killed them without a shrug. I was only paying attention to the big ones, because it’s easier to bring them down with big guns – however, a biotic character practically runs through the 90% of the game with an SMG in hand. After a time I also didn’t use the skills of my companions, just let them run forward and kill everything on their ways. But what it means regarding the game itself? Only that it’s needless to use tactics in a product designed to be a tactical action game.

At first it seems a good idea that you may buy additional solar system maps. However, thinking it over, it is strange that Cerberus sends you to save humanity, but it wasn’t able to write a complete map of the galaxy into the navigational system, and left out only a few solar system maps which can be bought by a few hundred credits. I would understand it if they were some very expensive or hardly available stuff, but this way I must put it among the little inconsistencies.

It similarly hurts somewhere that when you navigate through a star mist and reach a solar sys with only one planet, but later a space station (Jarrahe) appears out of nothing. Because space stations are like this: They can disappear and appear as they like.

The similar method shows up if you come down from the sky and step on the field. Once I left a dose of heavy weapon ammo behind, because my gun was full at the moment and I wanted to go back later. I used my Collector Particle Beam a little, just to put my hand on the ammo left behind, but the door closed behind me and it couldn’t be opened never more.

There are other strange things on the field. Only those covers can be used by the player which are allowed to by the level designers. Everything else is just decoration. Besides, if you can’t save the game, you can be sure some shooting will come.

Some of the locations and personal stories are flawed too. See, for example, Sidonis in the story of Garrus. He is hiding, so if he don’t want to draw attention, he puts his most flamboyant yellow clothes on. Just to be invisible among the common people wearing mostly gray. The other sorry scene is Jacob’s: His hand sticks to the PDA found before we meet his father, so you cannot read it. In spite of everything is written down, you have to ask him about every detail.

The huge wreckage of the MSV Estevanico is balancing on the edge of a crag, attacked by enormous rushes of wind. Of course, it needs only the weight of a human to fall down. OK, I’m not so good at physics, but considering the numberless tons of the wreckage it is simply strange for me.

City_nightsThe Cruelest

In the face of the problems listed above I still keep my opinion up: Mass Effect 2 is not a bad game. Moreover, it is a really good action-adventure game indeed – with some annoying things here and there. Mining is a big bug in itself, but the cruelest developer was that who banned me from my most favorite place in the Mass Effect universe.

The paths, parks and statues, various shops and intrigues of Presidium are inaccessible now.

—Garcius—

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