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Old 12-10-2010, 01:27 PM   #1
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Mass Effect 2 Mission Structure

Hey all,

So I spent the last 2 weekends (well, last weekend + last night) finishing ME2, I played the first, kind of was very meh it is decent about the whole thing, and by the end I was very interested in the story and the universe and so forth.

Played ME2 thinking it was more of the same, but quite honestly it is one of the worst games I have played this year. To be fair, and before everyone gets their keyboards firing, let me say it isn't a bad game, moreso that putting all of the games I have actually had time to play, it isn't anywhere near the top.

Reasons being, the missions are very bland, as well as the story, extremely boring and lackluster. Because of all of the press about "will you survive" and so forth things, I kept an eye out for places where I was making a decision, sitting and pondering whether or not it would be a place to cause someone to die. Essentially, the game boiled down to a very simple equation, do loyalty mission, and select correct person for certain role, and everyone will survive (or the person you actually care about will). For the large majority of the game I spend the time fighting the bad pc port controls, having large chunks of time yelling at the game for telling me to push/hold a specific key and the key actually not being the correct one, or in the controller config list. Apart from the fact that I dislike a lot of the changes between ME1 to ME2 (cartridges vs. energy, crosshair not actually being the acutal place where the gun fires from and the excessive requirement for cover over skill), the biggest and largest issues I have are as follows.

First, the missions are very "fly to here, run to here shooting these dudes, and push this button, then go back" over and over. I don't feel like I am discovering some hidden alien culture (apart from the mission with legion and grunt), which essentially means that the missions have the story removed.

Second, being that the dialog is just plain stupid, boring, or dumb. In the first game Shephard had to prove himself/herself as a spectre, and discover essentially everything about this world. I feel like in the sequel everything is about fast travel to a specific level, run to a shop, planet or whatever, and then do the above "run to here.... then go back" quest structure. Some of the loyalty or minion missions were slightly varied, relying on talk to a person and THEN you can "run to here.... then go back" quest (samara, jack, and that is all I can remember off of the top of my head). I mean, think about it, for the legion/grunt mission/loyalty stuff you had to do very similar things, you end up with this item and have to decide what to do. With the loyalty stuff it was almost always I need this item or this person dealt with, and the only thing I can think of as being unique would be Thane.

Third, why does bioware or wherever seem to feel like everything should be happening in the acutal last mission? From what I recall the first game had some very important missions throughout, like becoming a spectre in the beginning, the attack after that, the final mission, and I am sure others I am just forgetting.

Giant wall of text and so forth as usual, but I would like to have an actual discussion rather then the typical "dude you just hate good games" or "shut up noob" type discussions.

So.... Thoughts?
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Old 12-10-2010, 01:32 PM   #2
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If you didn't find the character's stories (and the choices that Shepard helps them make) gripping, then I really don't know what to say.

You have fathers abandoning their sons, treachery, decisions that change the fates of entire races, questions about cold blooded murder and its justification, exploring Shepard's opinion of the nature of law...and those are just the loyalty missions that I remember doing!

The characters were the best part of this game, and they were what got me to play the hell out of it. I was upset I couldn't take four characters on every mission.

If you didn't feel that, I think maybe you missed something somewhere.
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Old 12-10-2010, 01:38 PM   #3
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Shut up noob!

In all seriousness, I do get your point. The game was heavily centred about the last mission. Yet when it boils down to it, the formular for whether or not you came through ok was rather simplistic.

Since they focused so much on the last misison, it did kind of feel like the whole game was streamlining you to that. Whereas the first you could dick about, explore, try to find out 'what' was behind the attacks etc, what the threat was, then when things heated up you had several big missions with breaks in between them while you used the next tid-bit of information you learned to fit into the puzzle.

You can still boil the first down to the same formular (hey, its one that works!) and the second geared more towards action than rpg. Personally I would have loved the ability to lose people along the way, and make tough choices (say certain characters would not work with the other, but it would boil away and end with a confrontation where one dies for example) or you would lose people on the way.

Prime example, when I reached the part where you recruit archangel, I was being a 'good' guy and decided not to hit the guy repairing the aircraft, thus when it appeared in the final mission battle and hurt whatshisname really bad I went "Woah, I did that by not disabling it?"

Turns out though that it makes no difference either way.

Bioware make good games, but they have always been a bit too predictable with the whole choices and where they lead.

I found it better to think of ME2 as more of a linear story than a larger multiple branching one. It's still a good game imo, but because I don't catagorise it in the same place as I would put other choice based RPG type games.
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Old 12-10-2010, 01:43 PM   #4
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What Supes said. I've played ME2 all the way through six times already and I could easily play another six times.

This isn't so much a game about Shepard, although she does have a number of important decisions to make along the way about the various races and her opinion of Cerberus. It's a game about his crew, and if you didn't find their stories engaging then I can't convince you otherwise.
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Old 12-10-2010, 02:12 PM   #5
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What Supes said. I've played ME2 all the way through six times already and I could easily play another six times.

This isn't so much a game about Shepard, although she does have a number of important decisions to make along the way about the various races and her opinion of Cerberus. It's a game about his crew, and if you didn't find their stories engaging then I can't convince you otherwise.
Love how Shepard is always a woman in Ink's mind or so I thought.

Now to wait for Karak to defend ME2.
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Old 12-10-2010, 02:15 PM   #6
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Well, I've done three playthroughs as a guy and three as a girl (gotta try out all those romance options!), so I get confused sometimes.
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Old 12-10-2010, 03:06 PM   #7
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Cutscene. Dialogue. Be good or bad. Long corridors with set-piece battles culminating in a boss. New team member.

Rinse and repeat until the game concludes, wherein the conclusion strips you of some of the team members you fought so long/hard for, underlying your moral shortcomings.

I'm on the side of the fence that plays the game for the amazing storytelling (as an interactive fiction, it's probably one of the best sci-fi ones, even if it is rather bland and doesn't take half the chances that it should) but as a GAME they took most of that out when they moved from 1 to 2.
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Old 12-10-2010, 03:09 PM   #8
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I'm calling shenanigans. ME2 isn't one of the worst games you played this year. Your post only exists to incite a reaction.
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Old 12-10-2010, 03:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superman's Dead View Post
If you didn't find the character's stories (and the choices that Shepard helps them make) gripping, then I really don't know what to say.

You have fathers abandoning their sons, treachery, decisions that change the fates of entire races, questions about cold blooded murder and its justification, exploring Shepard's opinion of the nature of law...and those are just the loyalty missions that I remember doing!

The characters were the best part of this game, and they were what got me to play the hell out of it. I was upset I couldn't take four characters on every mission.

If you didn't feel that, I think maybe you missed something somewhere.
There is the whole situation with wrex's race and mortin, but in all reality it wasn't a decision (it was either kill dude or not kill him), which, I kind of feel like in the other game there would have been option z, kill them both and give the info to wrex/the krogans, choose a clan to give it to, etc.

There are very black and white decisions, Thane's son for instance, but I don't get the epic "you are now a spectre and you mission holds the fate of us all" or the "epic" citadel final mission. I mean, think about it, the final mission in game 1 compared to game 2, game 2 you had kill 2 dudes in the field, get the ship, shoot the guys to the door, then on the platforms, then shoot the boss, then again, while in the first game it was this epic 7 stage hour and a half long fight against some enemies never seen, new terrain stuff, all kinds of crazy shit as well as the story aspect of kill the people or not. I just don't feel like the second game has that impact of the first one because throughout the entire game the message was and always was "you are here to do this" and "I will not fail everyone".

For some reason I am pondering a second playthrough, but I feel like I need to talk it out or something. I get what you are saying, but I just can't get over the feeling that ME1 was vastly better by 5 fold it seems, either because EVERYTHING was unknown, or because there was everything to uncover and everything was foreign. Perhaps the DLC will change things, but I really hope 3 doesn't have the issues, or give me the same harsh buzzkill.

sidenote, kind of, even DA:O was the same way with the whole epic thing at the end and everything leads up to it, go around the world and do this to get help formula. Maybe I am just sick of doing it 3 times in a row now, or something. Very odd feeling to have, never had a game make me ponder it this way before, not sure how to express what I am thinking or how to say it exactly, but some of you seem to agree.

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I'm calling shenanigans. ME2 isn't one of the worst games you played this year. Your post only exists to incite a reaction.
Tell me, what other games have I played.... If you intend to be all "shut up noob" about it, then by all means....

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I'm on the side of the fence that plays the game for the amazing storytelling (as an interactive fiction, it's probably one of the best sci-fi ones, even if it is rather bland and doesn't take half the chances that it should) but as a GAME they took most of that out when they moved from 1 to 2.
Maybe this is the best way I have seen it worded so far. Are you referring to the gameplay elements or the story as what they took out?
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Old 12-10-2010, 03:24 PM   #10
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Shenanigans have been called, and it's 'guilty unless proven innocent'. The burden of proof is on you.
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Old 12-10-2010, 03:31 PM   #11
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There is the whole situation with wrex's race and mortin, but in all reality it wasn't a decision (it was either kill dude or not kill him), which, I kind of feel like in the other game there would have been option z, kill them both and give the info to wrex/the krogans, choose a clan to give it to, etc.
Actually, killing Mordin's assistant is less important than what you do with the data. You only have two choices, destroy it or let Mordin hang onto it, but that will likely have a huge impact on Mass Effect 3. A lot of ME1 and 2 is changing the galaxy's political and military situation as a set up for 3.

There are a ton of decisions in ME2 that will likely have profound impacts on ME3. In ME1 your main decisions were about the Rachni, Wrex, and the Council, but in ME2 you're making a ton of decisions that will have equal or greater impact if Bioware follows through.

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For some reason I am pondering a second playthrough, but I feel like I need to talk it out or something. I get what you are saying, but I just can't get over the feeling that ME1 was vastly better by 5 fold it seems, either because EVERYTHING was unknown, or because there was everything to uncover and everything was foreign. Perhaps the DLC will change things, but I really hope 3 doesn't have the issues, or give me the same harsh buzzkill.
Lair of the Shadow Broker is the best DLC pack, so if you just want to try one try that. Since you're more of a fan of ME1 you'll also get more out of the story in that DLC.
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Old 12-10-2010, 03:35 PM   #12
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For discussion sake, from the dude who said "no way", here is what I can remember playing:

CS:S, DOD:S, VVVVV, Super Meat Boy, Beat Hazard (GOTY, likely), BF:BC2 (MP Only), Blood Bowl, Dirt/2, Grid, NFS:Shift, DA:O (Very good), Flotilla, Civ V (Very good), Heavy Rain (Very Good), Indigo Prophecy, Shatter, Killing Floor (God this game was complete shit), Saw (good environment/Atmosphere), Mount&Blade, PvZ, Poker Night, Serious Sam, Civ IV, SW:TFU, Torchlight, and Zombie Driver (very cool).

So, Banacek, feel free to tell me why that game is last or nearly last and why I think others are better?
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Old 12-10-2010, 03:50 PM   #13
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Love how Shepard is always a woman in Ink's mind or so I thought.

Now to wait for Karak to defend ME2.
Wait what? Why me?
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Old 12-10-2010, 04:11 PM   #14
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Well, I'm not sure what kind of response you're looking for. This is more of a blog post than a discussion topic :P

I loved the game, it's probably my favourite game ever, but if you don't like it then you don't like it. I can't convince you that it's good and I'm not even going to try. I myself often don't like the biggest games of the year, people have different tastes.

But anyway, I guess I can talk about what I liked.
You said the missions were 'bland' which is quite vague, so I'm not sure exactly in which way you think they're bland, but needless to say I didn't find them bland. First of all, I really enjoyed the combat, so much so that I replayed the game multiple times just because of it. On a base level I found the weapons very satisfying, and on a deeper level I enjoyed discovering how much depth there was in the combat on the higher difficulty levels. So I enjoyed the combat, that made me enjoy the missions a lot. Related to the combat are the enemies; the enemy variety in the game was great, better than most shooters. Most of them are humanoid but I still found them distinguished enough. Just the sheer number of enemy character models is nice.

Still on the missions, I really, really enjoyed the presentation. Both the art style and the actual environments and models. The missions take you to a lot of different places and that was certainly a big part of my enjoyment of the game. edit: and lets not forget the music, it added so much.

Mainly though I enjoyed the characters. Whether or not you like them is of course a subjective thing, but I thought Mordin was great, Legion was great, the Joker / EDI interplay was hilarious and the Illusive Man also worked for me. Naturally since I liked the characters I liked doing missions that were essentially about those characters.

It's true that the main story took a back seat for this game, but I think that's for the better. Allowing you to do the main story missions in any order, like BioWare have in their previous games, means giving up a lot of control over the pacing. The story progression is more rigid in ME2 and I think that lets them tell a better story. Furthermore it's hard to stretch out a story over such a long game. I don't mean time wise I mean content wise. There is less content in the main story but that meant it was more focused and, in my opinion, more well told.

Finally, the game just had some awesome moments, the Joker sequence in particular, but also so many awesome interrupts and subtle things in the cutscenes like Jack anxiously closing and opening the lid to the detonator as you're flying away from the Pragia facility.

ME2, mostly on the strength of its presentation and overall design in almost every part of its universe, completely sold me on its world. I think it's a super cool sci-fi world and I love being in it, I love walking around the Normandy, I love my Shepard being a complete badass and I enjoyed so many of the conversations in the game.

Really, if you didn't like characters like Mordin, who have so much personality both in their acting and in their animation, then you're probably not going to like the game. You have to like the characters and the world to get into it. I almost never do in games though so I get where you're coming from, except I don't see how you didn't like the ones in this game :P

edit: btw, not targeted at you specifically nabakov, but being reductionist as a way of criticizing a game is a really poor way to go about it. To you say that all you do in the game is "x then y then z then repeat" is in most cases a pointless criticism since you in your reductionism removed everything about that gameplay that might be interesting. Don't do that.

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Old 12-10-2010, 04:20 PM   #15
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Wait what? Why me?
Thought you loved it more than anyone on the site and would have thought more about the game as such.
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Old 12-10-2010, 04:23 PM   #16
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Lies! I love it more than anyone else :P
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Old 12-10-2010, 04:27 PM   #17
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I loved ME, but I haven't got past like 5 hours in ME2, I just doesn't grab me and every time I try to pick it up again it still doesn't do it for me. Maybe it's because I played a lot of Bioware games in the last year and the formula is wearing thin.
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Old 12-10-2010, 04:37 PM   #18
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I think Nabok's point is more that he doesn't like the Bioware formular for games.

Granted, as others have said, there's plenty that makes this the game it is, the characters, the art direction, the unniverse and its races etc.

But I think (well I thought this was where he was coming from) and I agree in that the Bioware morality and mission structure can be rather samey.

They could have had missions where taking two characters with opposing views could have resulted in one of their deaths, etc.

The whole run up to the last mission was easily broken down into Recruit Mission, Loyalty Mission, Story Mission. Do the first ones to open up the third, and the second to ensure everyone lives in the third. It didn't feel like you were taking any risks! I walked into the last mission sure I could walk away with my crew intact and did. It would have been great for them to have thrown in a curveball and made some of it a bit random.
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Old 12-10-2010, 04:57 PM   #19
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Quote:
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Well, I'm not sure what kind of response you're looking for. This is more of a blog post than a discussion topic :P

edit: btw, not targeted at you specifically nabakov, but being reductionist as a way of criticizing a game is a really poor way to go about it. To you say that all you do in the game is "x then y then z then repeat" is in most cases a pointless criticism since you in your reductionism removed everything about that gameplay that might be interesting. Don't do that.
Kind of, but I was really wanting to discuss this and get others opinions and experiences rather then tuck it in some dark domain for myself and my shadow.

Regards to the edit, that is very much why I want to go back and re-experience it all. I took a long break because the combat pissed me off with the assault rifle, but when I switched classes by editing the save I enjoyed the game much more.

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I think Nabok's point is more that he doesn't like the Bioware formular for games.
Honestly, I think it is and isn't that, I enjoyed the first one, and DA:O, both of those I played 40 or so hours, and on this one I ended up with around 25 and I had nearly 0 missions left (maybe 1, jacks loyalty). I don't feel like I am sick of the final mission thing, just that in this case EVERY little thing was about the final mission rather then things being about discovery or unlocking what the hell just happened in the intro.

I will elaborate or what not when I am able to sit and read, but thanks to all for actually discussing!
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Old 12-10-2010, 09:08 PM   #20
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I felt disappointed by ME2.

ME1 had huge environments. Everything about the planets, exploration, travel, etc. in ME1 gave a feeling that you were in an actual place and part of the game. In ME2 you don't just walk between places; instead, you load and see small sections at a time only. It takes away from the feeling that you're actually there.

The story in ME1 was far more engaging to me. You start out investigating a colony only to find some kind of beacon that gives you visions and nightmares. The rest of the story that follows is all about gaining power, discovery, plot twists, the Reapers, etc. Every mission feels like it advances the overall story and plays a part in it. All of the little details and logs you find exploring planets gives little hints and details about what happened. Everything about the first game just had a great feeling to it.

The story in ME2 is really boring and not engaging. You get attacked at the start, you get revived, you spend 99% of the game recruiting your crew, then you go after the ship that attacked you. The missions are all based around the characters, most of whom I do not give a shit. There's very little progression in the overall story regarding the Reapers. All you find out is that they enslave races and use them to build more Reapers. There aren't really any surprises, mysteries, or plot twists. You can pretty much figure out the whole story right away.

It just feels like to me that they took a decent RPG with a great story and turned it into some kind of arcade shooter with a lacking story.

With all of that said, I still enjoyed ME2 a lot. I just don't like it anywhere nearly as much as ME1.
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