I tweeted this earlier today, but felt it deserved a mini-blog post too…
An article on PCGamer made me aware of this first, essentially there’s a fairly new service out there called Gaikai that streams game Demos to your web browser without the need to download and install them, using a combination of Flash and Java – two things most people on the web these days have installed already. The only downside is that you need a pretty beefy internet connection to enjoy the experience, around 10Mb/s is recommended, probably a bit beyond a lot of home ADSL connections in the UK at the moment.
Still, it’s very nice and works very well, there’s a couple of demos out there at the moment, including Dead Space 2, Spore and Mass Effect 2.
I tried the Mass Effect 2 demo of course.
Have I mentioned that I love the Mass Effect series?
I’ve always been a bit of a sucker when it comes to a good RPG game – I enjoy being immersed in fiction.
So it struck me as kind of odd that i’d never gotten around to playing the Mass Effect series from Bioware (whose Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic game I thoroughly enjoyed a few years back).
So, a couple of clicks on Steam later and hey presto – Mass Effect was downloading. And when it was finished downloading, I found myself in a wonderfully rich, engrossing sci-fi environment with well defined characters and a gripping story line (Hell, the Mass Effect universe even has it’s own Wiki let alone a series of books and comics and toys!)… i’d discovered the Mass Effect effect.
The game begins (after you have crafted your character – one Commander Shepard – out of some predefined choices) with you being sent on a mission to recover an ancient artifact from a Human colony world of Eden Prime – no sooner have you learnt of this fact then the shit hits the fan and people start dying when Eden Prime comes under attack from a hostile alien force intent on claiming the artifact for themselves.
From here it all spirals into a magnificantly crafted storyline which hinges on your choices and decisions in the game. With it’s themes of freedom of thought, man vs machine, racial intolerance, love, morality and politics it won me over almost straight away.
Throughout the game you dialogue choices can steer you towards being a ‘nice’ person (the Paragon path) or a ‘nasty’ person (the Renegade path) – both of which have some wonderful outcomes and consequences, if sometimes a little extreme – but still fun!
It’s a wonderfully rich world that Bioware have created here and it has been wonderfully brought to life by the voice actors and graphic designers. Overall it took me approximately 33 hours (according to Steam) to finish my first play through – in which my character was fell into the Paragon path. Which is when I moved onto this;
Yep, before I’d even finished the first game, i’d already buttoned the sequal in Steam. And oh boy am I glad I did. The familiar world created in the first game is back, but seems richer and deeper (and more menacing) than ever before! In a brilliant stroke of genius, you can directly import your character from the first game into the second one, which also imports all of your decisions and actions – resulting in an in-game world in the second game that has been shaped by how your played the first game.
The storyline is a bit darker in the sequal and in some places verges towards horror in some subtle (and some not so subtle) ways. It certainly opens with shocking action sequence that is not only unexpected but also has somewhat unexpected consequences for the rest of the game. Some old characters crop up from the first game (if they survived) and you meet some new and interesting ones too.
Whilst the sequal does sometimes feel a bit like it’s a more action/’bang-bang’ focused than the first one, it also has a greater choice of paths and decisions for the player to make and take – all of which can result in some vastly different endings. Without including any spoilers – no one is safe, no one.
So having finished my first play through of the sequal (achieved in about 36 hours) including some awesome DLC (I definitely recommend the ‘Lair of the Shadow Broker’, ‘Kasumi’, ‘Crash site’ and ‘Overlord’ packs) I find myself returning to Mass Effect 1 with a brand new Commander Shepard making some very different choices and most definitely leaning towards the Renegade path… and I love it and can not recommend these games highly enough!